Israel, el país de los seis Nobel científicos

Desde 2004, seis ciudadanos israelíes han conseguido un premio Nobel científico. Tres de ellos trabajan en el Instituto Weizmann, la principal institución investigadora de un país que apenas supera los ocho millones de habitantes. En 2014, las ventas de productos que usaban tecnologías descubiertas o desarrolladas en sus laboratorios alcanzaron los 30.000 millones de euros.

Pero su éxito, asegura Daniel Zajfman, presidente de este centro de investigación, viene de no pensar nunca en la posible utilidad comercial de su trabajo. Si la tiene, tendrá que identificarla una empresa. Sus científicos se dedican a transformar dinero en conocimiento, y no al revés. Según Zajfman, que ha acudido a España para dar una conferencia invitado por la Fundación Ramón Areces, el único objetivo de su institución es hacer descubrimientos que puedan beneficiar a la humanidad. «Eso es lo que nos mueve y lo único que nos interesa», asegura. «Nuestro motor es la curiosidad. Tenemos 250 grupos de investigación que abarcan todos los principales campos de la ciencia, pero ni escuelas de negocios, ni de ingenierías». Ni siquiera, recalca, eligen los proyectos en los que se embarcan sus científicos ni tienen un plan a medio o largo plazo.

«La historia nos muestra que no es fácil determinar cuáles van a ser los próximos campos que despunten en ciencia. Sin embargo, también nos dice los individuos más excepcionales son los que acaban por hacer los descubrimientos más importantes», explica. «Así que a esos son a los que intentamos contratar».

El Instituto Weizmann tiene un presupuesto de unos 350 millones de euros al año y en él trabajan unos 2.500 científicos y estudian 1.500 más. Por comparación, en España, el Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) tiene más de 10.000 investigadores y unos 650 millones anuales.

La mayoría de sus científicos son israelíes o, cuando menos, judíos. «No tenemos cuotas, pero entendemos que la situación del país hace que vivir aquí sea una cuestión de compromiso personal», reconoce Zajfman. Sin embargo, el sistema educativo de Israel, como el español, siempre está entre los peor clasificados del informe PISA. «Los rankings educativos no significan nada, probablemente porque no miden lo importante», afirma. Donde sí hay grandes diferencias es en la inversión en ciencia que realiza el país, más del 4% de su PIB, solo por detrás de Corea del Sur. Israel está considerada una gran potencia emprendedora.

Y muchas de sus empresas, grandes y pequeñas recurren al Instituto Weizmann para licenciar tecnologías o descubrimientos nacidos allí. Y pese a que un tercio de su presupuesto viene de los rendimiento de su propiedad intelectual, Zajfman asegura que su trabajo es crear un muro de separación entre los científicos y los empresarios.

Scoop

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