Helmholtz to Open New International Office in Israel

(PresseBox) ( Berlin, )
Germany’s largest research organization is stepping up its cooperation with Israel: Today’s ceremony marks the opening of the Helmholtz Association’s new international office in Tel Aviv. By taking this step, Helmholtz is aiming to expand its long-term collaborations with outstanding partners in academia and business - and to establish new ones as well.

The new Helmholtz Office will be the research association’s fourth international office and will be officially opened today in Tel Aviv as part of the Germany embassy’s celebrations commemorating the Day of German Unity. “We are very pleased that the Helmholtz Association wants to play an even more prominent role in Israel in the future,” German Ambassador Susanne Wasum-Rainer says. “Productive scientific cooperation between the two countries forms an essential basis for our unique ties with one another.”

Helmholtz is a pioneer in the area of scientific cooperation with Israel. “We chose this location because we have found our long-term collaborations with Israeli partners to be incredibly dynamic,” Helmholtz-President Otmar D. Wiestler adds in Tel Aviv. “This country is capable of cutting-edge research at a top international level in many areas of science, including medicine, chemistry, physics, climate and energy. And Israel is among the best in the world when it comes to the broad field of digitalization. For this reason, we want to use the outstanding foundation we have to take our cooperation to a new level of quality and open up a new dimension in our partnership.”

The high number of research prizes that have already been awarded to scientists in Israel are in themselves sufficient evidence of the small, highly innovative country’s research performance. These include, for example, six Nobel Prizes in chemistry and two in economics. “But Israel’s start-up scene is equally impressive,” Wiestler continues. “No other location in the world can boast a higher density than the area surrounding Tel Aviv, where an estimated 6,000 start-ups are active.” Wiestler notes that this opens up many interesting opportunities for translating technology and expertise into applications even more rapidly.

The new office will be located in a central co-working space in Tel Aviv. “Many young entrepreneurs are based here,” Billy Shapira, Head of the new Helmholtz Office in Tel Aviv, says. “This start-up scene has a fascinating energy, and it puts us in close proximity with potential new partners.” Prior to taking up this role, Shapira held positions of responsibility at Hebrew University of Jerusalem for many years, serving most recently as chancellor and Vice President. Wiestler emphasizes that Helmholtz is very lucky to have her on the team.

In April 2017, Helmholtz established a cooperation with the Weizmann Institute, one of the most prominent scientific institutions in Israel. The Weizmann-Helmholtz Laboratory for Laser Matter Interaction (WHELMI) aims to serve as a bridge between basic and applied research in the field of laser particle acceleration. Researchers here are working to develop high-intensity lasers that make it possible to observe extremely rapid chemical or biological processes. The technology will also be used in radiation therapy to treat tumors. “WHELMI is a cooperative effort with the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Rehovot, Israel,” Wiestler says. “Our hope now is that this showcase project will be followed by many more.”

The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges facing society, science, and the economy through top-level scientific achievements in six research areas: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, and Aeronautics, Space, and Transport. With more than 39,000 employees at 18 Research Centers and an annual budget of 4,5 billion euros, Helmholtz is the largest scientific organization in Germany. Its work is rooted in the tradition of the great natural scientist Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).

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