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Israel Science Foundation

When the Government of Israel decided in the 1970s to allocate funds for basic research in Israel on a competitive basis, on the grounds of scientific excellence, it entrusted The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities with the program’s realization. To this end, the Academy created the Branch for Basic Research, later renamed the Basic Research Foundation. The budget, managed by the Academy, came from government sources via the Planning and Budgeting Committee of Israel’s Council for Higher Education.

In 1995, following the steady and substantial increase in the scope of its activities over the years, the Israel Science Foundation (ISF) was established as an independent non-profit organization, registered as such with the Registrar of Associations, and drawing its authority from the scientific community. The ISF is the major organization supporting basic research in Israel on the basis of scientific excellence in the various fields of knowledge, via a wide variety of support channels. It maintains a close relationship with The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. According to its bylaws, the President of the Academy serves as the chairperson of the Foundation’s council.

The Foundation evaluates proposals for basic research in the fields of the humanities, social sciences, life sciences, medicine, and the exact sciences and technology and supports selected proposals via research grants. The proposals are evaluated and selected in a competitive process, based on criteria of scientific quality and excellence, most of them in a dual judging process that includes professional committees and peer review. Approximately 97 percent of the Foundation’s 2022 budget comes from the Planning and Budgeting Committee. The remaining three percent comes from direct donations, awards, dedicated foundations, and various funds managed by the Academy.

In 2021/22, ISF had an operating budget of nearly ILS 750 million for all of its grant programs, including the following:

Core programs: Programs funded each year from the core budget, open to submissions in all fields of knowledge and not focused on any specific topic
Earmarked programs: Programs funded from a supplemental budget, intended for a specific research community or topic and usually time-limited
Within the framework of the core programs, the ISF funds some 2,222 individual research grants at universities and other research institutions, 10 research centers, and 18 research grants under the auspices of the Focal Initiatives in Research in Science and Technology (F.I.R.S.T.) program. In this framework, too, the Foundation supports the purchase of advanced research equipment for new faculty members at the universities, publication of books in the humanities, and international research workshops.
In addition to these core programs, the ISF runs the following programs:
  • Research grants for hospital-based physician-researchers
  • A program for centers of excellence to encourage research in the field of alternatives to oil for transport
  • A fellowship program for continuing education for post-doctoral researchers in the social sciences
  • A program for centers of excellence in the field of Meaningful Learning
  • The I-CORE Program (Israeli Centers of Research Excellence), the product of an initiative of the PBC and the Government of Israel. The program combines encouragement of research excellence, establishment of crucial research infrastructures, and hiring of new scientists in Israel’s higher-education institutions. The total budget for the program is ILS 1.35 billion. Sixteen research excellence centers were approved in the first two rounds of submission.
  • A program for personalized medicine
  • A program for researchers in the field of quantum science and technology
  • A rapid program supporting research to curb COVID-19
  • A program for centers of excellence for research in type 1 diabetes
  • A program to support research infrastructure within the framework of the program for individual research grants
  • A program to support the purchase of equipment for mid-career researchers
The ISF has expanded its international activity in recent years, cooperating with various research foundations for the advancement of scientific collaboration between Israeli researchers and peers abroad. Among these foundations are the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the Canadian Institute for Health Research (CIHR), the International Development Research Center (IDRC) in Canada, the Azrieli Foundation, the National Research Foundation (NRF) in Singapore, and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS).
The ISF is a member of the Global Research Council (GRC) and is active in its European regional leadership.
More information about ISF’s activities may be found in its annual report for 2021/2022 (in Hebrew) and on its website,