Israel, Massachusetts expand technology collaboration

Bar-Or: Massachusetts can offer a lot to Israeli companies, given its position as “the capital of higher education”.

By NADAV SHEMER
July 7, 2011 23:25
2 minute read.
HADAS BAR-OR

HADAS BAR-OR 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The northeastern US state of Massachusetts is home to nearly 100 companies with Israeli founders or Israeli-licensed technologies, and the relationship between the two advanced technology hubs is only set to grow now that the Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership has been formalized.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Israel’s Chief Scientist Avi Hasson announced the creation of MIIP in Washington, DC, last Wednesday. It was set up to encourage collaboration in life sciences, clean energy and technology sectors.

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As part of its promotion of business ties with Israel, Massachusetts has also appointed its first trade representative to the country: economist Hadas Bar-Or, who previously worked for the Chief Scientist’s Office, the Bank of Israel and as a lecturer at Tel Aviv University.

She will oversee the opening of a Massachusetts trade office in the Tel Aviv area, which will operate on the same level as other state offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Berlin.

Massachusetts can offer a lot to Israeli companies, given its position as “the capital of higher education” and as a hub for the development of various technologies, particularly in life sciences, Bar-Or told The Jerusalem Post Thursday.

Several mentoring bodies operate in the state, she said, in addition to “quasi-organizations... which are semiprivate, semi-governmental and give many benefits and grants to companies, across the board and over the whole cycle of the company… from grants for the workforce to grants for interns from the universities.”

Bar-Or said the aim was not necessarily to see Israeli companies relocate, but to offer them packages that would see them do business in Massachusetts.

“Most of the technology companies do business in the US, and especially in life sciences, where they need the approval of the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] in order to operate,” she said. “It’s a very serious market, and most of the companies during their life span open an office in the United States.

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“The market is there, the regulation is there, the distribution is there. So at some stage in their development we can offer them added value if they choose Massachusetts.”

The establishment of the innovation partnership and the appointment of a trade representative follow a visit to Israel in March by a delegation headed by Patrick.

Massachusetts “came to the decision that Israel is a country with which it wants to work, with which it wants to trade and cooperate,” Bar-Or said.

MIIP was modeled partly on the BIRD Foundation – the Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation, she said.

The BIRD board of directors in Washington, DC, also approved a major initiative last week: an $8.1 million investment in nine new bilateral projects, including advanced developments in life sciences and information technology for medical applications.

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