Phillip Singerman 150.
(photo credit: courtesy)
The Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD)
announced the approval Tuesday of $8.1 million in funding for nine joint
projects between Israeli and American companies in biofuels, health-care IT,
e-learning and other fields.
BIRD’s board of governors, which consists of
three Israeli government representatives and three US government
representatives, has approved $294m. in funding for 830 projects since it
was established in 1977 to generate cooperation between the two countries’
hitech sectors. Those projects have led to combined direct and indirect sales of
more than $8 billion.
This latest list of projects demonstrates a shift
in the balance of power between the Israeli and American hitech sectors, US
chairman of the board Phillip Singerman told The Jerusalem Post
from Washington, DC.
In the past, the foundation mainly paired small
Israeli companies with larger US companies, with the idea that the Israelis
would provide technological capabilities in exchange for market access, he said.
But the approval this time of three joint projects featuring US start-ups
indicates that Israel now offers the Americans more than previously, he
One of the US start-ups to be approved Tuesday was St. Louis,
Missouri- based EndoStim, which together with AGM Tonson will develop an
implantable medical device to treat acid reflux. Other projects include the
development by QualiSystems and New Jersey- based OnPath of an advanced platform
for network lab management and the creation by Semantipedia and California-
based Daylight CIS of a Web-based semantic platform for life
Singerman, who heads the US National Institute of Standards and
Technology’s innovation and industry services division, said BIRD does not
target any particular technological field, but rather allows the marketplace to
bring forward high-quality projects.
“This is consistent with my
experience at similar seed funding programs: that the small early-stage
companies are the ones at the forefront of new technological development,” he
However, Singerman pointed out that BIRD Energy, a program created
by the US Department of Energy and Israel’s National Infrastructures Ministry,
identifies projects solely dealing with energy efficiency.
HCL Cleantech, which was approved last year for a joint project with Wisconsin’s
Virent Energy Systems, received significant money from BIRD Energy and is now
being courted by a number of US states interesting in having it establish a
factory to extract sugars and special oils from biomass, Singerman said.
Mississippi is considering offering a $100m. incentive to build a plant using
HCL technology, he said.
As a result of the US economic troubles of the
past few years, Israeli companies large and small have increasingly been looking
eastward for new opportunities, which could be expected to affect demand for
joint US-Israeli initiatives. But Singerman said he sees this trend as a
“good thing” because it allows American companies to manufacture at home before
using their partnerships with Israeli companies to market
“The United States recognizes we’re in a global economy,
that we’re only five percent of the world’s population and that if we’re to
continue to have economic potency, we need to sell internationally... and
the BIRD Foundation helps support that,” Singerman said.
was not anticipated as a positive outcome of the program when it was
established,” he said, “but one of the program’s benefits is it has a very
strong flexible model that allows the projects to adapt to changing
international economic conditions.”