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.