The Source of Innovation
The Idea Promotion Center (IPC) is responsible for implementing the government's policy to support investors and acting as a link between the inventor and Israeli industry.
IPC - Idea Promotion Center - is the implementing arm of the Israeli government according to its policy of supporting inventors. The Center also acts as a link between the inventor and Israeli industry. IPC is a non-profit public organization which operates as part of MATIMOP, the Hebrew acronym for the Israeli Industrial Center for Research and Development.
The objective of IPC is to assist the individual inventor and entrepreneur in developing concepts which have commercial potential and to adapt them within Israeli industry. This objective is reached by careful examination of ideas which have the potential to be developed into products or new, beneficial processes which can be adapted for use in industry or agriculture, and which constitute inventive advancement.
The successful application of these ideas in industry helps to simultaneously achieve two important goals: the development and manufacture, by local industry, of innovative products which raise the level of manufacturing activity and enhance the competitive ability. As a result, new and stable places of employment are created.
In today's industrialized Western world, innovation constitutes a very important factor in industrial development and in the creation of new places of employment. Today, private inventors are universally recognized as important sources for ideas which can be exploited to develop innovative products.
As most Western countries, Israel too has decided to provide support for inventors during the development process and assistance for the commercialization of the ideas.
Several different and varied methods of support and promotion exist, including free counselling and guidance, subsidized data collection, grants for the development and commercialization of inventions, and tax breaks for inventors.
In 1996, 546 inventors and entrepreneurs applied to the IPC, 264 applications for financial assistance were to the Pre-Industrial Research Promotion Fund, and following a professional examination of the applications, 167 were approved and began the process of development. Some of the projects were placed in the category of excellence, 31 projects were recognized as compliant with the criteria of excellence, and 21 projects received funding.
In 1996, four entrepreneurs raised venture capital from outside investors, enabling them to continue the development of their projects. Five projects were adopted by technological incubators, and four additional entrepreneurs established independent companies together with private investors.
"If you want to turn your idea into a product," says Jacob Fisher, IPC's general manager, "it is important to examine a number of factors which may cause difficulties with the development of your invention.
"For example, it is possible that someone else has already thought of and registered a patent for the same idea. It is also possible that your idea has no market, or that your idea may be too expensive to bring to production. At IPC, we endeavor to take all these considerations into account when offering assistance to inventors."
Q: What assistance does the inventor receive from IPC? Jacob Fisher: IPC helps the individual inventor and entrepreneur in the earliest stages of idea development, prior to the phase of technological incubator or introduction to the Office of the Chief Scientist.
An application engineers examines the idea, helps formulate it and prepares an initial opinion regarding further processing of the idea. We examine the idea's technological and economic viability, assist in the preparation of the portfolio for patent registration at the Patent Office and in the assembly of an initial model for the presentation of the idea. IPC also assists with the drafting of a business plan, contacts industrial plants and technological incubators, and finds investors.
Q:How does the IPC help the inventor find investors? Fisher: The entrepreneur does not operate in a vacuum. IPC has a forum of experts in raising venture. The forum helps the entrepreneur to formulate the right marketing strategy and to locate investors in the private and institutional sectors. The forum includes people with managerial experience in sophisticated industries, in raising capital and in establishing high-tech firms.
Q:Do you provide financial assistance as well? Fisher: Certainly! Financial assistance is provided through a special fund, established by the Office of the Chief Scientist at the Ministry for Industry and Trade and managed by us. The fund offers funding of up to $25,000 for the development of their ideas. Of course, this amount is not deducted from later assistance awarded by the Chief Scientist.
Q:How do you examine the project's degree of innovation and market potential? Fisher: At IPC, we employ a computerized system which comprises CD-ROM based databases and links with on-line databases abroad. This enables us to access information on patents registered in Israel, in the United States and in Europe, and to access technological and business databases. All this information is available to the consultants when evaluating the projects' technological and commercial potential. The inventors can also receive regular and rapid updates in their specific areas of interest. This service enables the Israeli inventors to join inventors in other countries throughout the world, in real time.
Q:Can you cite examples of successes? Fisher: With IPC's help, several start-up companies have come into being. Negatec developed a unique technology for the rapid transfer of data between optic drives. IPC assisted the entrepreneurs in the preparation of a business plan and registration of the patent. The company has already reported revenues of $2 million.
Voice Diary developed an electronic diary which responds to human speech and which is designed for use by the visually impaired. IPC helped the entrepreneur assemble the first product model, prepare a business plan and register a patent for the product. IPC also helped with the development of a product prototype which is currently being launched on the market.
Avionitech developed and manufactured a small computer which contains all the information legally required by the pilot of civilian aircraft, including maps. The product has been sponsored by Elisra Ltd., and has gained substantial financial support from venture capital investors. El Al and North West Airlines have already shown interest in the product and have begun tests.
High-Sense manufactures Baby Sense which alerts users to babies' respiratory problems. It comprises a sensor and a monitor and, as a result of its early warning facility, helps avoid sudden infant death (SID). The sensor is located under the baby's mattress and sounds an alert generated by the baby's respiratory movements.
The product's main advantage is its low price and easy operation. The product has been successfully marketed in pharmacies throughout Israel and in Europe and has already proved its effectiveness. Most of the companies which are still at the start-up phase received development grants from the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.