Israel Brain Technologies (IBT), a non-profit organization dedicated to the furtherment of brain-related science in Israel, recently announced a one million dollar (.6m GDP) B.R.A.I.N. (Breakthrough Research And Innovation in Neurotechnology) Prize for ‘a recent, practical breakthrough in the field of brain technology.’ Israeli President Shimon Peres, although not directly involved in IBT, is said to have inspired both the formation of IBT and the B.R.A.I.N. Prize itself with his progressive views towards neurotechnology.
Peres has the ambitious goal of turning Israel into the ‘brain nation’, a globally leading force in neurotechnology. He and IBT see this as a real possibility, and indeed when a country that has the highest percentage of GDP investment in R&D (4-5% yearly, as compared to the U.S’s 2.7%) the potential is certainly there.
“There is no doubt that brain research in the next decade will revolutionize our lives and impact such major domains as medicine, education, computing, and the human mind, to name but some,” stated Mr. Peres, sounding more like an enthusiastic futurist than a typical politician. “Moreover,” he continued, “it will not only relieve the suffering of patients of such debilitating diseases as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, but it will also engender large economic rewards as well.”
The most immediately obvious economic reward is the B.R.A.I.N. prize itself, which has no restrictions on age or affiliation, and allows for projects submitted by individuals, non-corporate groups, and established corporations alike. Prize funds are given to the winner for further development of their project which could be almost anything brain-technology related. IBT’s objective with the prize is best stated by Dr. Rafi Gidron, Founder and current Chairman of IBT: “The B.R.A.I.N. Prize will bring together the best minds across geographic boundaries to create the next generation of brain-related innovation, from Brain Machine Interface to Brain Inspired Computing to urgently-needed solutions for brain disease. It’s a global brain-gain. Our aim is to open minds… quite literally.”