During his first official visit to Australia this week, Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy Avi Hasson signed a research-and-development agreement with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

With branches in New Zealand, Fiji, across Asia, the US and Britain, Commonwealth Bank is the first Australian member of a program in which the Office of the Chief Scientist helps multinational companies find relevant Israeli technologies and provides matching financial support for completing necessary R&D.

“This testifies to the program’s global nature and its benefits even for companies from distant countries, especially those that do not yet have a permanent presence in Israel,” said Hasson.

“In addition, this is the first bank joining the framework. The Australians were impressed with the program’s value and its potential contribution to banks and the financial industry in general.”

Hasson clarified that the private bank – with profits of $7.7 billion last year — is interested mainly in Israeli innovation in cyber-security.

In Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, Hasson is meeting with government and corporate officials to bolster bilateral scientific and technological ties between Israel and Australia. Among them are Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science Christopher Pyne, Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy, New South Wales Premier Mike Baird, Australian Industry Group Chief Executive Innes Willox, Minister of Trade and Investment Andrew Robb, incoming chair of Innovation Australia Bill Ferris, and Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade Philip Dalidakis,

Hasson also is re-launching the VISTECH R&D cooperation program with the state of Victoria.

“This visit is clearly a testament to the high regard Australia has for the Israeli innovation economy,” said Hasson. “A number of Australian government and trade delegations have visited Israel in recent months, focusing on lessons from the ‘Startup Nation’ in promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.”