The Denmark model and Israel

Several countries have already recognized the great potential in the field of intelligent robotics, and they are investing a lot of money in it. Among them are South Korea, the European Union, Japan, the USA, Singapore, China and Australia.

Advanced industries develop in places where an integrated system of academic knowledge, industry and people (ecosystem) is created, which enables the efficient and evolving use of “building blocks”, which are a combination of knowledge and experience. The leading places where a significant ecosystem has developed in the field of smart robotics are the USA (in the Boston area led by MIT, Silicon Valley SVR, and the Pennsylvania ROBOTICS INSTITUTE (CMU), Germany (Fraunhofer), South Korea, and also China, which is today at the forefront of progress in the field. All are supported from government budgets.

One of the relevant examples for us is Denmark, whose number of inhabitants is smaller than that of Israel. Denmark made a decision about 20 years ago to invest in the field of robotics. Its government budgeted projects at the University of Odense (Odense), a medium-sized city, to establish an integrated and inclusive system of academia and industry. Within a decade or two, the system has become a world center in the field of Autonomous Mobile Robots. Today there are hundreds of companies with thousands of engineers that are a center of knowledge and excellence known to the whole world.

Robotics in Israel

In the Israeli robotics industry there are “islands” of excellence and it has a global reputation, at the same time it has not grown significantly. The reasons for this are varied and the main ones are a high technological entry level, a long and expensive development cycle, the multidisciplinary nature of the products and a lack of government support required to build an integrated system. 

In Israel, there is a limited number (a few tens) of companies that have created a breakthrough at the global level. There are also a limited number of attempts to combine academia and industry, but they are below the critical mass needed for the field to be considered a significant industry. It is important to note that the companies operating in the field, show high output per employee,  and are export-biased sales, compared to industrial companies, but still, the industry suffers from the fact that there is a shortage of skilled workers and there is a movement of professionals from Israel to abroad due to the lack of mobility between companies in Israel.

The activity in the field of robotics in academia is carried out in several universities. For example, at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev there is an interdisciplinary center for smart robotics (ABC ROBOTICS) on agriculture, health and human-machine interface led by Prof. Yael Iden. At the Technion there is a leading center in medical robotics under the leadership of Prof. Moshe Shem and Prof. Alon Wolf. 

The research in Israel is of a high level and receives international recognition, but as mentioned on a small scale. There are examples of Israeli companies pioneering in the field of robots for direct patient care, logistics and more. For example, skeletons Exoskeleton of ReWalk , or a robotic system for performing surgeries of MEMICMED, which was developed despite the lack of an ecosystem, the absence of which caused the duration of development to be extended to eight years.

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