Victoria Israel Science and Technology Research and Development Fund

Mr SOUTHWICK (Caulfield) — The matter I raise tonight is for the Minister for Innovation. The action I seek is that the minister update Victorian companies that currently have activities involving collaboration with Israel on how they can access support from the Victorian government in terms of opportunities for them to further collaborate and commercialise some of their research and development activities. We have had the launch of the Israel Innovation for a Better World exhibition in the Parliament this week. A number of very interesting and innovative companies have exhibited at the exhibition; there is no shortage of good ideas, and a number of companies are already collaborating with Israel on these projects.

A few years back it was a pleasure to be involved in kicking off the review of what initially was the Victoria‑Israel Science and Technology Research and Development Fund, known as VISTECH, and to look at how that program could be reformed to ensure that more companies could access government support. As chair of the Australia‑Israel Chamber of Commerce, Leon Kempler was involved in and integral to the work of reviewing the program, along with Alan Finkel, the chancellor of Monash University; Meir Itzchaki, the Israeli embassy’s deputy chief of mission; and Ethy Levy, the Israeli trade commissioner.

We looked at ways of being able to provide various forms of support. I note that a number of initiatives have already been launched and there have been a number of opportunities, but I think it is important, now that we are at the pointy end of this program, that there be opportunities for many of these companies that are out there doing some great things that will benefit Victoria, provide jobs for Victoria and more importantly create new markets and new opportunities. It would certainly be very beneficial for many of those companies to find out how they can access government support, how they can look further at collaborative means and mechanisms to identify potential partners in relation to these support opportunities and how they can look at growing these opportunities. It certainly is fertile ground. We are great researchers here in Victoria and there are great innovators in Israel, and that unique partnership offers a great benefit for Victorian companies wishing to grow and to identify these opportunities.

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