Israeli laboratory scientist
Israeli laboratory scientistIsrael news photo: Flash 90

The Central Bureau of Statistics has released data on the Israeli economy in a report entitled Sustainable Development Indicators in Israel 2008. It reveals that Israel has dramatically increased its investment in research and development.

In 1995, Israel spent 2.6 percent of its GDP on R&D. By 2008, that number had nearly doubled to 4.9 percent - higher than any other OECD nation, and well over the European Union's target R&D investment of 3 percent.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu credited Israel's R&D for the country's success. “Our greatest assets are the brains, drive, and ingenuity of our people,” he said in a recent speech on Israel's ascension to the OECD. “They are the reason why Israel is today a global leader in technology and why the world’s leading firms conduct R&D centers and R&D activity in Israel.”

Israel is the greatest per capita producer of technology, Netanyahu said, noting that perhaps more importantly, Israel has a large absolutely number of start-ups and R&D centers. “The absolute size, the number of our start-ups, which is in the thousands, the number of companies represented in the NASDAQ, put us very high on the list – not in relative terms,” he stated.

The Prime Minister said his goals are to “increase competitiveness” and “free up Israel's economy with the right amount of regulation.”

Financial experts said last week that Israel may receive a credit ratings boost this year. The same criteria that led to Israel's acceptance by the OECD are likely to make it more attractive to foreign investors, they explained.