The Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation approved $7.2 million worth of funding for eight new joint projects last week, boosting Israeli-American research collaborations in various technological and security sectors.
The projects, which cover a wide range of sectors – such as agrotechnology, medicine, material sciences and homeland security – will each receive conditional grants of up to $1m.
from BIRD, a foundation managed cooperatively by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Israeli Economy Ministry’s Israel Innovation Authority. In addition to receiving grants from BIRD, the collaborating companies will have access to private sector funding, bringing the total value of all projects up to about $17m., the foundation said.
“The BIRD Foundation’s efforts to promote R&D collaboration between US and Israeli firms helped put Israel on the path to becoming the Start-Up Nation it is today,” said US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. “Both our countries benefit enormously from the many partnerships that BIRD supports. We applaud the BIRD Foundation for its contributions to Israel’s development as well as the dynamism it brings to the US-Israeli relationship.”
In the agrotechnology sector, one project that was approved is a collaboration between the Rehovot-based Evogene and the Rockville, Maryland-based Keygene to develop novel drought-tolerant wheat varieties using genome editing technologies.
The Tel Aviv-based Westham and Memphis, Tennessee- based Terminix International Company will be working on breakthrough technology for vector mosquito control.
A number of projects will be receiving funding in the medical and biotechnology sectors.
One partnership involves the Jerusalem-based NovellusDX and Newark, Delaware-based Christiana Care Health System to develop in-vitro mutagenesis for characterizing patient mutations and responses to drugs.
The Haifa-based Pluristem Therapeutics and the New York, New York-based New York Blood Center will be exploring how placenta-derived PLX-R18 cells could improve the efficiency of cord blood use for hematopoietic stem cell regeneration.
Another project in the medical sector is a partnership between the Ramat Gan-based Voiceitt – Technologies of Voice Interface and the Rochester, New York-based SCJ Associates to develop a wearable device enabling people with speech disabilities to communicate freely and naturally using their own voice.
In the material sciences field, the Petah Tikvah-based Dotz Nano and the Ewing Township, New Jersey-based Pflaumer Brothers will be working on manufacturing graphene quantum dots from coal sources.
As far as homeland security projects are concerned, the Airport City-based Motorola Solutions Israel and the Campbell, California-based Eclipse Identity Recognition Corporation will be collaborating on distributed enhanced video analysis.
Also involving video is a partnership between the Rehovot- based Vimmi Communications and the Wilmington, Delaware-based Tech Mahindra Technologies, which will focus on developing a system to significantly reduce the resources required for transmitting video on mobile networks.
“We can be proud of the diversity of projects presented to the Board and the joint selection process with our Israeli counterparts,” said Phillip Singerman, associate director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology and co-chairman of BIRD’s Board of Governors.
“As it approaches its 40th anniversary, the BIRD Foundation continues to be a valuable source of support for American and Israeli companies, for their common innovation and commercialization goals.”
Avi Hasson, chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority, likewise stressed the importance of continued Israeli-American research partnerships, emphasizing their contribution to the economy.
“The Israel Innovation Authority’s operations in the US, and in particular the BIRD Foundation, reinforce the innovation output and economic value that is consistently generated by helping Israeli and American companies to increase their competitiveness and accelerate commercial success in global markets,” said Hasson, who is also a co-chairman of BIRD’s Board of Governors.
According to BIRD’s operations model, the participating companies receive up to 50% of a project’s budget, beginning with the R&D stage and ending with the initial sales and marketing phases. The partners are only required to repay BIRD if their project reaches the sales stage – through royalties from the sales of products commercialized as a result of BIRD support.
“We conclude another year of fruitful collaboration between US and Israeli companies supported by the BIRD Foundation,” said Eitan Yudilevich, executive director of the BIRD Foundation. “We recognize in the newly selected projects the potential for business and social impact and wish the companies success in their R&D partnerships and their future commercialization efforts.”
On November 20, the foundation declared that its “NextGen First Responder Technologies” program was seeking proposals for $12m. worth of grants for emergency-services related projects. Just a week before, the foundation awarded $4m.
to five new clean-energy projects as part of its BIRD Energy arm, administered by the National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Ministry and the US Department of Energy.
The BIRD Foundation was established in 1977 with grants from the US and Israeli governments.
To date, BIRD has provided grants for 940 industrial research and development projects.
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