June 2016 is truly a mind opening month with full of inspiration. I write this blog series to share some inspiring moments I have during my four week stay in Rehovot when I enrolled in a short course, ‘Clean Technologies – Environment technology, innovation and management systems as a means for regional and local economic development’ run by the Weitz Centre funded by MASHAV. A combination of classes, project workshops and visits give me an incredible insight on how a society can leapfrog many barriers and turn them into innovative and cutting-edge solutions to highly complex issues.

At one occasion, I did not expect that a visit to the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIZ), which is located at the opposite of where I did my short course, is going to be an inspirational one. But actually it is and I use its story as the opening of my blog series: technologies for life (#Tech4Life) to reflect upon experiences gained from a MASHAV short course I did back in June 2016.

I decided to dedicate a blog for my visit to WIZ because it tells me a lot about the process of how nurturing ideas until they can become commercial commodities and applied in society. I am interested in this tricky process because often many great ideas missing on the way, either kept in the library’s stacks, online journal articles or in scientists’ head. To me being able to solve this issue is one of the secret recipes of Israeli’s success which many do not replicate or maybe too neglectful to follow. This whole story about WIZ visit gives an answer to a question that I always have in mind, how basic research can be very impactful in the world and also provide a sustainable financing for its future research?

A simple answer that I rarely see applied by many education institutions in the world: a knowledge transfer company embedded in a wholistic system of a research institution. This has been applied smartly by the Weizmann Institute of Science, which has its own knowledge transfer company called Yeda Research and Development Company, Ltd. (means knowledge in Hebrew).

Thanks to a bunch of engineers and scientists who spent thousands of their hours in lab to do a basic science work that can fundamentally change the World's systems. Yet all these important scientific works and their groundbreaking scientific research findings won’t go anywhere without knowledge transferring to commercial world. In the case of WIZ, Yeda promotes ground work scientific findings, manage patents and fundraise for the WIZ to pay for most of WIZ's scientific research. To date, Yeda contributes to the pool of WIZ funding so that all of WIZ students can study with a full scholarship to peacefully do their post-graduate research degrees. Having a functional knowledge transfer company as part of a wholistic system of a research institution is key in having impactful research on society. 

 

I give my respect to the effort of finding ways for bringing solutions to the world’s problems. But I do have a lot of hope that there are more change agents like people who initiate and run a knowledge transfer company like Yeda that inform the existence of knowledge and promote its use by our current and future generations. Evidence based research can bring better living for humankind and provide more sustainable solutions. It is real, it is possible and it role in building an innovative society is well proven.