USAID’s MERC Program
USAID’s MERC Program funds peer-reviewed collaborative research projects between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Established as a result of the Camp David Peace Accords to promote Arab- Israeli cooperation, MERC has expanded beyond its original participants, Egypt and Israel. To date, the program has also funded Arab-Israeli projects with participation from Jordan, Morocco, West Bank/Gaza, Lebanon, and Tunisia. Other Arab countries are also eligible, including those in the Maghreb and Gulf regions. MERC currently supports nearly 40 active Arab-Israeli projects across a wide range of topics.
The dual goals of the MERC Program are:
- To contribute to development and the quality of life in the Middle East region through the application of research and technology.
- To contribute to Arab-Israeli cooperation by establishing strong working relationships that last beyond the life of the project.
MERC projects are not restricted to a particular technical sector. The program seeks applied research and technology development proposals within the broad areas of the natural, physical, and social sciences and engineering. Investigators are also encouraged to integrate social science approaches, economics and the use of computer technology into the research where appropriate.
MERC receives between 40-100 pre-proposals yearly. Usually 15-20 pre-proposals are invited to submit full proposals.
Only proposals developed jointly by Arab and Israeli investigators are accepted. Projects must include at least one Israeli and one Arab institutional partner. Projects involving three or more regional partners are also allowed and encouraged. The joint proposal may be submitted by any party in the collaboration. Partners may come from academic, private sector, non-governmental, or governmental institutions.
WHAT IS NOT FUNDED
MERC does not fund purely basic research, but rather, projects that will contribute to development in an estimated time frame of ten years or less. However, each project must be based on research and not merely on development or technology transfer. The program does not support projects that solely or predominantly represent the development of physical infrastructures, core support for organizations, or delivery of services.
Total MERC funding for all participants over the length of a project (usually 2 to 5 years) may not exceed $1 million, including overhead. Recently awarded grants ranged from approximately $120,000 to $900,000 with an average size of about $500,000.
Deadline for receipt of Pre-proposals is December 15, 2017