A view of the Charles River with the Boston skyline in the background.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In March 2011, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport for his first-ever trip to Israel, along with a delegation of business leaders from across the state. Before even setting foot in his hotel, he headed directly to the El Al hangar to meet the airline’s CEO and kick off what would be a multi-year campaign to lock in a direct flight between Massachusetts and Tel Aviv.
Two months ago, flanked by government and business leaders, Governor Patrick and El Al CEO David Maimon announced to a thankful Massachusetts business community and an ecstatic Massachusetts Jewish community that an agreement had been reached and that direct service would begin in June of 2015.
In so many ways, the creation of a direct flight between Boston and Tel Aviv – only the fourth direct El-Al flight to the United States (the others are between Ben Gurion and JFK, Los Angeles and Newark airports) – is an exclamation point at the end of the latest extraordinary chapter of cooperation, mutual economic benefit and partnership between Massachusetts and Israel.
Massachusetts is positioned to match Silicon Valley and New York City as a preeminent American destination for Israeli innovators looking to grow their global footprint in the United States. Israel, in turn, has emerged as a hot spot for Massachusetts investors and entrepreneurs looking for opportunities and potential partnerships with companies that are changing the world.
The foundations of the Israel- Massachusetts economic relationship are many. Like Israel, Massachusetts is no stranger to innovation.
Our state leads the nation in health care coverage for our residents, in investment in life sciences, in commitment to clean and alternative energy, and in students’ educational achievement ranking.
With its extraordinary colleges and universities, an innovative and talented workforce, world-class hospitals, vibrant Jewish community, a strong appetite for public-private partnerships and a favorable time zone, Massachusetts is an ideal partner in a relationship representing the model for global partnerships that promote mutually beneficial long-term economic development.
More and more, the facts make the case that this relationship is not an abstraction. A 2013 study by the New England Israel Business Council found that Israeli-founded companies contributed more than $6 billion to the Massachusetts economy in 2012, and 6,600 new jobs.
Adding the multiplier effect for the suppliers and service workers that support those workers, the number soars to more than 22,000 jobs.
Just as impressive are the findings that Israeli-founded businesses secured $700 million in venture capital from 2010-2012 across 73 deals in Massachusetts, reflecting more than 6 percent of all venture capital funds raised in the state during that time.
Massachusetts is now home to more than 200 Israeli-founded companies that are making a global impact in robotics, water technology, cyber security, health care, and many other sectors.
Few examples of the partnership speak more to its value than the work being done at EMC between Massachusetts and Israel.
EMC, the Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based software giant, has had a prominent presence and a long history of investments in Israel since 1996. The company has strong ties to the Israeli high tech scene through acquisition of 10 Israeli startup companies and several other strategic investments. EMC has established a wide and powerful presence in Israel, with more than 1,000 employees spread across its facilities in Israel: The Center of Excellence, one of eight international EMC sites that drives innovation in a dynamic, challenging, and forward-thinking environment; three R&D centers in Hertzliya, Be'er Sheva, and Haifa; and a business organization located in Petach-Tikva.
EMC is taking advantage of Israel’s go-get-it spirit, fresh ideas and tireless productivity to propel EMC’s strategic competitiveness and emerging technology offerings in the fields of advanced storage technologies, high availability, cyber security, big data, cloud computing and data science. EMC is encouraging personal development, challenging career opportunities, and growth paths, and is fostering innovation through its strong relationship with the leading academic institutes in Israel. The most advanced and fruitful program has been initiated with the Ben-Gurion University in Be’er Sheva. EMC was the first multinational corporation to establish a research and development center in the Advanced Technologies Park, located in the outskirts of Be’er Sheva, a city recently identified in a joint study by T3 Advisors and the Brandeis International Business School as one of seven locations worldwide that are emerging, up-and-coming hubs for growth in technology and life sciences. In addition, in May, 2015, Brandeis International Business School, in partnership with EMC and Ben-Gurion University, will bring twenty international graduate students (and future business leaders) to Israel as part of their Hassenfeld Immersion Program where they will experience first hand the dynamic and innovative sectors of the Israeli economy.
The many successes of the Massachusetts-Israel economic relationship are noteworthy, yet there is so much more we can do to realize its full potential, particularly in the areas of education and public-private partnerships. History tells us that few initiatives have done more to spur this relationship than those that bring Massachusetts and Israeli business leaders, government officials and students together face-to-face to interact, engage, learn, and innovate. If we continue to build and enhance that relationship, surely its most profound impacts for Israel and Massachusetts lie ahead.
Bruce Magid is the dean of Brandeis International Business School and Orna Berry is corporate vice president for EMC.
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