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May 2024

British Council team conversation with HMA Simon Walters

We were delighted to host HMA Ambassador Simon Walters at the British Council Israel office last week. During our team lunch, we discussed the unique and enduring relationship between the British Council and the British Embassy in Israel. The Ambassador shared his professional journey and insights on UK relations in the Middle East. We had a valuable opportunity to talk about the challenges and future development of our programmes. We all agreed that this special connection, cultivated over the years, has become a valuable asset that we are committed to preserving and strengthening.

As a valued part of the Embassy's Prosperity Team, which includes the Science and Innovation Network (SIN), the Department for Business and Trade (DBT), and the UK-Israel Tech Hub, we aim to foster connections and support each other's initiatives. Our collaborative efforts are integral to our success, and Ambassador Walters' visit underscored the importance of these partnerships.

During our meeting, we had the chance to present the programmes renewed under the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the UK and Israel. This MOU emphasises scientific and academic collaborations, showcasing the breadth of our joint endeavours. Additionally, the visit served as an excellent occasion to introduce our newest team members, who are eager to contribute to our mission.

We at the British Council are grateful for the ongoing partnership and support from the British Embassy. Together, we look forward to further strengthening our connections and achieving even greater successes in the future.

Meet Rawan Abulafi, our new programme manager!

Rawan Abulafi has recently joined the British Council as the Project Manager for the Wohl Clean Growth Alliance. With a B.Sc. in Architecture and Urban Planning, she brings valuable experience from her previous roles, including leading the Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow (MEET) Alumni Program and working as a consultant for the innovative global consultancy Designit.

As the Project Manager for the  Wohl Clean Growth Alliance, Rawan will shape and lead its second phase, focusing on growing and diversifying the alliance offerings and partnerships while ensuring the initiaitve achieves meaningful impact.

"I'm truly excited about this role as it seamlessly merges my passion for clean growth and social impact. If you share similar interests and would like to connect, feel free to reach out via email. Let's grab a coffee and discuss how we can make a difference together."

Insights from the Law, Climate, and Environment Conference at Bar Illan University

This month, our senior programme manager and focal point for higher education sector, Iris Barner, attended the annual Law, Climate, and Environment conference at Bar Ilan University (BIU).

The conference hosted the State Comptroller of Israel, Matanyahu Englman who presented the principles of his report on legislation and governmental action on the topic of climate change as well as a series of leading experts in government and academia. See the latest follow up report March 24 

As part of our focus on clean growth researchers we see the importance of supporting research of law, regulation and policy in this field. Effective policies and regulatory frameworks are essential for fostering sustainable development and addressing pressing environmental concerns. Moreover, understanding the legal and governmental implications of clean growth initiatives is crucial for overcoming barriers and ensuring successful implementation.

There is much value in UK/IL collaboration on environmental law. As part of the WCGA programme we are pleased to have various funded UK-Israel research collaboration that focus on Climate legislation, including the conference organiser, Prof Oren Perez from BIU, collaboration withh Prof. Veerle Heyvaert from London School of Economics who together focus on Knowledge exchange on climate legislation, with the goal of Israel learning  from the UK experience. Other grantees partnering on the topic are Prof. Yael Lifshitz from King's College London and Prof. Yotam Bar-Ilan from BIU  who resently held a conference on Energising Private Law.  

The WCGA, is dedicated to advancing research-linked cooperation between the UK and Israel in key areas of clean growth, such as food, water, and energy. We welcome interdisciplinary research efforts, recognising the pivotal role of law and government policy researchers in driving progress in clean growth sectors. Researchers from the field of law and public policy are encouraged to apply to our next call for proposals, coming soon. Stay tuned for updates on upcoming initiatives and opportunities for engagement with the WCGA!

Celebrating Inclusivity: Alma Gadot Perez Meets Oren Itzhaki

Our Country Director, Alma Gadot Perez, recently met with Oren Itzhaki, CEO of Na Laga’at Center, to congratulate him on his latest achievement at the Disability Smart Award in the UK. Na Laga’at is a unique non-profit cultural and arts centre, home to the Na Laga’at Theater, the BlackOut Dark Restaurant, the Kapish Event Center, and a workshops centre.

Na Laga’at presents an innovative model for integrating people with disabilities into society, providing an equal platform for interaction between the deaf, blind, and deaf-blind communities and the general public.

The British Council is committed to promoting the work of disabled artists and inclusive arts organisations globally.  Disability Arts International,an initiative supported by the British Council, aims to increase access to the arts for disabled people and showcase the work of exceptional disabled artists.

Diversity is one of the creative opportunities of our time, and many artists are using their exploration of disability to challenge and transform the artistic mainstream.

Congratulations to former BIRAX grantee!

It's always gratifying to witness our support contribute to the success of individuals. In Israel, Prof. Michael Glickman, Dean of the Faculty of Biology at the Technion and a world-renowned researcher into diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, has received a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) research grant worth 2.5–3.5 million euros over five years.

Professor Glickman generously acknowledged how participation in the British Council’s prestigious BIRAX programme in Israel helped him in his career:

"Indeed, I am very proud that BIRAX 'discovered me' early on and believed in our project. The BIRAX funds helped generate a proof of concept, and the first joint paper published in 2023 was undoubtedly instrumental in solidifying our status as authorities in the field."

Read about Prof. Glickman's research through BIRAX ageing alongside Prof. Thimo Kurz, Glasgow University

The Blavatnik Cambridge Fellowship programme- recent update

The Blavatnik Cambridge Fellowships Programme, founded in 2014 through a partnership between the Blavatnik Family Foundation, the British Council, the British Embassy, and the University of Cambridge, has successfully strengthened British-Israeli scientific relations. Thanks to the generous support of Sir Leonard Blavatnik, the Blavatnik Family Foundation, and the British Council, this programme has enabled 34 of Israel's brightest young scientists to conduct postdoctoral research at the University of Cambridge in life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering.

“These young researchers are all inventive trailblazers with stellar accomplishments in their respective fields and great future promise,” said Sir Leonard Blavatnik, “Their research  in the coming years will lead to discoveries that will improve the world and benefit mankind.”

As of June 2024, the administration of the programme and new Calls for Applications will be undertaken by Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Reflecting on the programme, Alma Gadot Perez, British Council Israel Country Director, shared her thoughts: "We are proud of this important programme’s achievements and the role our alumni play in forming and cultivating lasting and positive collaborations in science, innovation, and technology between Israel and the UK. It was our privilege to co-create and run this unique programme with our distinguished partners. We look forward to seeing how the programme develops going forward."

Recently two of the five 2023 fellows spoke about their  experiences saying:
"This prestigious opportunity has allowed me to conduct research under the guidance of a globally recognized PI in one of the world's top universities. The scholarship, together with its Personal Development Funds, provides me with the necessary resources to focus on my research and present it at prominent international conferences. My heartfelt gratitude
goes to the British Council for affording me this extraordinary opportunity." Dr. Arad Lang from the Technion Institute. Where as Dr. Dolev Bashi from Tel Aviv University expressed,

"I am profoundly grateful to the British Council and the Blavatnik Family for enabling me to advance my research in planetary science at Cambridge University, reflecting their dedication to academic excellence and innovation. This fellowship is a pivotal milestone in my career, embodying the principle that 'through the support of others, we reach the stars'—a guiding principle that will guide my exploration and discoveries in the cosmos."

Reflecting on the programme and its achievments through the years, Alma Gadot Perez, British Council Israel Country Director, shared her thoughts: "We are proud of this important programme’s achievements and the role our alumni play in forming and cultivating lasting and positive collaborations in science, innovation, and technology between Israel and the UK. It was our privilege to co-create and run this unique programme with our distinguished partners. We look forward to seeing how the programme develops going forward."

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