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JIIS Bulletin - January 2011
Policy making: Right on TARGET
Israel is ranked in first place among Western countries in its rate of investment in research and development relative to the Gross Domestic Product. However, as in many other countries, these investments tend to be ad hoc rather than the product of an informed and targeted procedure based on clear policy. "Therefore," says Dr. Dan Kaufmann, who heads the JIIS Economics Unit, "their full potential is not reached, nor are they as efficient as they could be." The Economics Unit, in collaboration with the Israeli Ministry of Science, joined forces with five European Union states – France, Scotland, Lithuania, Slovenia and Spain – to create a model that will help decision makers target their R&D investments in an effective way. The project has set for itself a focus in the field of biotechnology investments as this sector has been identified as one of the most important future growth engines. At the same time, it is assumed that the knowledge gained will be useful for other sectors as well.

The TARGET project, now in its second year, aims to help policymakers form a strategic "road map" for their R&D policies. To this end, the JIIS team has been working on creating a toolkit of strategies that will help them to evaluate technological gaps, identify potential system failures, and formulate effective targeting policies. The toolkit will encourage relevant policy makers and/or ministries to determine feasible interventions that lead to a functioning biotechnology system of innovation within a country or region. "The TARGET Toolkit offers a way for policymakers to work through the complexities associated with targeted policies and come up with a tailored, context specific strategy based on realistic assessments of their country or region’s resources and capacities," Kaufmann says. 

Just as 2010 came to an end, the JIIS team finalized its draft of the TARGET toolkit and presented it before a panel of policy makers. After receiving positive feedback, the kit was sent to the project's five EU partners for tweaking.  Once feedback is available from them, the Israeli team will travel to Slovenia and Lithuania, where the toolkit will be used by local policymakers and its applicability will be challenged. The lessons learnt from these studies will then be incorporated into a publishable version of the toolkit later in 2011.
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