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Pfizer, AstraZeneca Selected for Establishing New Innovation Labs

Dec 30, 2020

The National Digital Ministry and the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) have chosen pharmaceutical companies Merck, Pfizer, Teva, and AstraZeneca for establishing an Innovation Lab that will research computational biology and digital health. The lab will be established by the group at Rehovot Science Park. The companies will be joining Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Israeli Biotech Fund for assisting startups and early-stage entrepreneurs in meeting the challenges they come across in the healthcare industry, as announced by the IIA. 

The Innovation Lab will have its inauguration in 2021 and it will join existing labs as part of the Innovation Lab Program initiated by the Israel Innovation Authority. A government budget of NIS 32 million, which is the equivalent of $9.9 million, was awarded and the winning group’s partners had also given some additional financing. A five-year operational franchise was awarded to the group and the National Digital Ministry and the IIA will be financing 85% of the total budget of NIS 3 million for every startup that joins the lab. 

The National Digital Ministry and the Innovation Authority will also be participating in setting up the infrastructure of the lab and the operating costs. The Innovation Authority’s CEO, Aharon Aharon said that this year has shown that the healthcare industry is rapidly transitioning to the use and development of advanced technologies integrating biology and engineering, which has already produced more accurate results with a shorter time frame. The huge experience and expertise of the lab partners allow these companies to create a trailblazing and significant industry in Israel.

The National Digital Ministry’s Director-General, Asher Bitton said that researchers and startups will benefit from the Innovation Lab, as they will be able to cooperate with health organizations, develop unique knowledge and databases, advance groundbreaking studies and come up with innovative solutions for assisting the healthcare system. Over the last year, the Innovation Authority has been promoting the ‘Bio-convergence Strategy’ and the lab is part of it. It is aimed at establishing an innovative and successful ecosystem in the healthcare sector.

The goal of the Lab is to assist in establishing as well as advancing new startups in developing computational technologies based on AI, which will help in discovering personalized treatments and solutions. The lab will also assist startups in coming up with groundbreaking treatments and medications. The quick development of COVID-19 vaccines that are now being rolled out in the world owe their success partly to the Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities of top pharma companies, such as Moderna and Pfizer. In the upcoming years, these areas are expected to gain even more significance.

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