A search on the website of the Israel Innovation Authority (formerly the Office of the Chief Scientist) for its address gives a single result - the Jerusalem Technology Park in Malkha. Officially, this is correct. The Innovation Authority moved its offices from Airport City last April following the government decision to transfer the activity of all government units to Jerusalem. However, the Israel Innovation Authority has found an innovative way to circumvent this edict. "Globes," has found some of the Israel Innovation Authority's employees are working secretly in Givatayim.
In February, the Israel Innovation Authority rented offices and workstations in the 25-floor HaShachar Tower on Ariel Sharon Street in Givatayim, close to the city's boundary with Ramat Gan and Tel Aviv. HaShachar Tower was opened in 2017 by the Be All shared workspaces company, controlled by Ness Shoval. In early 2019, the Israel Innovation Authority rented a large area on the floor, including 10 offices, 20 workstations, and two meeting rooms, and is entitled to office services for its activities in the building.
Even a conservative estimate of the annual cost of these facilities is over NIS 500,000, based on the prices at which properties of this type are rented: NIS 1,550 per month for a workstation and NIS 2,100 per month for an office. A visit to the site in recent days revealed an advanced workspace with a large kitchen, armchairs, and many shared seating areas, plus workstations and offices.
The logos of the companies operating in the section of the building for offices are clearly visible, but we had trouble finding the name or logo of the Israel Innovation Authority. Some investigating revealed that when the Israel Innovation Authority moved into the building, its name was listed on the offices, but was afterwards removed completely. All that now appears above the offices rented by the Israel Innovation Authority is "Occupied."
An Israel Innovation Authority employee on the site explained to us, "The move to Jerusalem was a little traumatic for Tel Aviv residents, so the Israel Innovation Authority temporarily rented offices for getting used to it."
"Globes" has also uncovered that the Israel Innovation Authority is also operating on a similar format in Haifa, where it rents two offices, also in a shared workspace. The Israel Innovation Authority is trying to implement a similar model in Beersheva, too.
Failures in carrying out the move to Jerusalem
In May 2007, the government, under then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, decided to move all of the national units of government ministries to Jerusalem within eight years. As shown by a report last year by the State Comptroller, many ministries did not comply with the decision, and have remained outside of Jerusalem.
The State Comptroller's report states that the delay in carrying out the decision wasted hundreds of millions of shekels, among other things, because an office building constructed in Jerusalem was left partly empty. The Jerusalem municipality also complained that it lost tens of millions of shekels in revenue from municipal property taxes because many ministries simply did not move to Jerusalem.
According to figures accompanying the report, 133 national units of 25 government ministries with 2,700 employees were to have moved to Jerusalem by 2015. 33 units from this list were exempted from the move. To date, only 10 of the other 100 units have moved to Jerusalem.
Starting in early 2018, an exceptions committee in the Prime Minister's Office has held a number of meetings to discuss requests by various government units for complete or temporary exemptions from moving their activity to Jerusalem. Only nine of these requests, one fifth of the requests for full exemptions, were accepted by the committee.
Units that received exemptions included the L. Greenberg National Institute of Forensic Medicine (also known as the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute), ADI - the National Transplant Center, and the Israel Meteorological Service. The Israel Innovation Authority is not on the list of units that received permission to operate outside Jerusalem. At the same time, a party with whom we spoke claims that the Government Housing Authority is aware that the Israel Innovation Authority was working in this format, and that both the selection of Be All and the offices in Haifa were found through a tender.
Israel Innovation Authority: The offices involved are temporary and aimed at streamlining work
The Israel Innovation Authority said, "The Israel Innovation Authority is located in the Jerusalem Technology Park, where its offices have been since April this year. The site contains offices for all 130 of its employees, and they work exclusively from there. The Israel Innovation Authority's core activities takes place in Jerusalem.
"An average of 400 visitors a week come to the Israel Innovation Authority's offices in Jerusalem. The Israel Innovation Authority receives over 3,500 grant requests annually from companies all over Israel, and also employs 180 professional external examiners, who meet with the companies and assess their plans.
"In order to streamline our activity and provide good service to the technology industry, the Innovation Authority operates 20 hot stations at Be All in Givatayim and two stations in Haifa for meeting with our customers.
"These stations are temporary - no one has a permanent station there - designed to save on payments to examiners and provide services to the Israel Innovation Authority's many customers visiting it daily at a location close to them. Hot stations like this streamline the work and save money for Israel."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 5, 2019
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