MultiNationals have been operating in Israel since the early 1970’s. In 1972, IBM opened its first research center in Haifa. Two years later, Intel followed suit, opening its research center. The early action of these companies was largely a decision by these firms to accommodate key employees who wanted to return to Israel.
Today, over 350 Multinational companies maintain facilities in Israel, almost all of which serve as R&D centers. Intel is the largest of the multinationals to operate in Israel. It has two R&D centers, as well as a significant wafer productions center, which has made Intel Israel’s largest exporter.
While Intel and IBM actively set up local subsidiaries, most of the multinationals purchased local companies, which they then converted into their local R&D center. America's four technology giants all have centers in Israel. Apple does much of its chip design work at its two Israeli campuses one, in Herzliya, and the other in Haifa. Amazon has recently increased its presence in Israel considerably. It is said to be doing considerable work on Alexa, as well as, work on its AWS cloud architecture here. Google has two R&D centers in Israel, where it does a wide range of work. Google's WAZE division continues to be based in Israel. Facebook has just moved into new offices in Tel Aviv.
While a high percentage of the companies doing research in Israel are in software, there are other areas, as well. Philips Healthcare has almost 1,000 engineers and scientists working at its Israel facilities.
Questions have been raised recently, regarding the value of the multinational R&D centers to Israel. Critics argue that the companies extract Israeli IP, paying little more than salaries to obtain crucial Intellectual property; while others point to the importance of Israel serving as a worldwide center of R&D.
An addition concern is that with the strengthening of the Israeli Shekel, Israeli R&D centers have become more expensive. So far that has not had an impact.
ming. Today, Israel relies on foreign labor to address much of the country’s farming needs.