The state of Ohio's Cleveland Clinic is in advanced talks to partner up with five Israeli biomed companies, The Jerusalem Post has learned. "Israel has become a remarkable innovative place. This is a hotbed," Tom Sudow, director of business development at the Cleveland Clinic's Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center, said at a press briefing in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. "What Israel lacks is a market to expand. We are here to attract and help Israeli companies to set up partnerships or operations in the State of Ohio as a base for expanding their markets to North America." During the Ohio delegation's visit at the Israel Biomed 2008 Conference this week, Sudow has scheduled 35 meetings with Israeli companies. "We are very excited about cardiovascular research companies in Israel," he said. "As a result of these meetings, we are now in the final stages to partner up with five local biomedical companies who will be able to expand their reach in the US." "The State of Ohio is investing $1.6 billion in new clusters of technology, including biomedical - the largest investment by any state in the US," Sudow said. "This is a unique opportunity for Israeli companies to partner up with us and enjoy the benefits of this investment." Ohio boasts 800 bioscience-related firms, out of which 125 focus on medical imaging, 150 have a cardiovascular focus and 175 focus on pharma. About 20 percent of the nation's cardiovascular clinical trials are done in Ohio. To attract business investments, Ohio has phased out corporate tax, with a 100% exemption from taxation on sales outside the state. Labor, energy, building and transportation costs are up to 20% below coastal cities. Over the course of the past few years, 40 Israeli companies have started operations in Ohio. "We have a very vibrant health-care industry, which is not affected by the subprime mortgage crisis," said John F. Lewis, vice president of BioOhio, the main membership organization for more than 230 biotech companies in Ohio. "Israeli biomed companies are very focused and determined to enter the Ohio market. At the same time, they are very knowledgeable about their target market but they still need a bridge-maker to become a success story." In 2006, a public/private partnership organized by the greater Akron community announced the investment of a minimum of $1 million in the Targetech incubator in Netanya. The incubator will be known as the Targetech-Akron incubator; it is the first such partnership undertaken by any Israeli incubator and a US city. At a meeting with Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley on Wednesday, Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd, which purchased biopharmaceutical company CoGenesys in February for $400m., affirmed its commitment to Maryland. Following a meeting with Teva company officials at corporate headquarters in Petah Tikva, Teva said it planned to keep its current operations in Rockville, Maryland, including approximately 80 scientists and professionals working in a state-of-the-art biotech facility. Teva is also planning to greatly enhance its global biologics business, while utilizing Teva Biopharmaceuticals USA as a center of excellence. The announcement is one of the first during O'Malley's weeklong economic development mission to Israel, which began Tuesday with the aim of encouraging more foreign direct investment in Maryland by Israeli companies. In addition to Teva, nearly 30 Israeli companies maintain offices in Maryland, including the US business development offices of the country's largest defense contractors, Rafael and Israel Military Industries. Other Israeli companies in Maryland include Controp Precision Instruments, Verint Systems, Vuance, Compugen and Medispec. O'Malley, accompanied by a number of Maryland business and Jewish community leaders, is taking part in the conference, and is also meeting with government officials and businesses considering expanding or establishing offices in Maryland.