BioWorld International Correspondent

ZICHRON YA'AKOV, Israel - Despite the troubled political situation, investors and potential partners are not shunning Israel.

The Israel Biotechnology Organization (IBO) together with the Israel Export Institute will be presenting 12 Israeli biotechnology companies at the annual Biotechnology Industry Organization conference in San Diego next month, with the participation of Israel's chief scientist at the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Carmel Vernia.

For the Greater Kansas City World Trade Center (WTC), it is the "Year of Israel." The WTC is sending a monthly business development mission to Israel with related trade events through the end of 2001, and perhaps longer.

"The Year of Israel has been in the works for two years focusing on Israel's biotechnology, health care, hi-tech telecommunications and life sciences companies," said Chamber of Commerce President Peter Levi. The Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute was formed in 1999 to plan biotechnology research activity, and "the Stowers Institute for Medical Research is becoming one of the best-funded research facilities in the world, having received a $1 billion grant," Levi said.

Other grants for medical and pharmaceutical research totaling $261 million came into Kansas City in 2000, "and our interest in developing biomedical connections with Israel are mutually motivated," Levi said.

Across the Atlantic, Israel is anticipating joining the European Union's 6th Research and Development Framework program with projects valued at an estimated EUR180M, said Marcel Shaton, general manager of ISERD, Israel Directorate for Fifth Framework Program, the body that coordinates Israel's participation in the program. One new recipient is start-up Biota in Nesher, a developer of natural tissue adhesives for the closure of skin lesions, which recently joined a consortium of eight European, American and Israeli partners to evaluate and develop algae-based adhesives for human use.

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