The recently established Milken Innovation Center at the Jerusalem Institute is aiming at "scaling-up" Israel’s growth through new financial and economic opportunities. The new Center is supported in part by the Milken Institute, based in the US, and from public and other philanthropic sources; it is headed by Prof. Glenn Yago. The Center's team works with government ministries, local and regional authorities and cities, universities, and other think tanks in Israel and around the world to answer the question of how to finance new policies, programs, and projects.
According to Yago, "We focus on policy questions that need solutions, and seek them out. These questions may concern regional development, environmental challenges and needs, capital markets, global competitiveness, or human capital development. "
The Center "will serve as a platform to build robust and results-oriented programs and to continue to explore their expansion with other partners.”
An example of this type of partnership is the Center's California-Israel Global Innovation Project – "a hub for organizing, managing and strengthening networks that lead to research and development collaborations, financial innovations and practical, ready-to-go solutions." This initiative, which is the result of a formal Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Israel and the State of California signed in 2014, has already mobilized practitioners from Israel, California, and elsewhere to address challenges facing both Israel and California, including the challenges and opportunities in health technology, water, energy, agriculture, and cyber-security.
The Center has two main programs to accomplish its goals. The first is the Milken Fellows Program, which places outstanding university students in government ministries, training them in financial economics and working with them to develop new ideas for solving Israel's biggest social, environmental and economic challenges.
The second program is its Financial Innovations Labs, a series of focused, intensive policy workshops that bring together a relevant group of public officials, business leaders, and financial experts to tackle specific financial, economic, and policy questions. Each Lab leads to a roadmap of specific actions for policymakers. Recently the Milken Innovation Center held Labs on how to increase access to credit for those segments of the country that are excluded from financial services; how to finance the long-term and capital-intensive needs of new biomedical technologies; and how to develop affordable housing in Israel.
Since joining the Jerusalem Institute, the Milken Innovation Center has been able to add a new dimension to the wide range of services offered by JIIS. At the same time, the Institute provides valuable staff and research support for many aspects of the Center's programs and projects. It is a new and productive partnership for Israel.