Lehigh Valley Event Highlights Joint Business Opportunities Between Israel and Pennsylvania
By Colin McEvoy on February 7, 2018
The Israeli Ambassador and Consul General in New York visited the Lehigh Valley this week to discuss a new agreement seeking to promote cooperation and shared business ventures between Israel and the state of Pennsylvania.
Dani Dayan, who The New York Times described as a “worldly and pragmatic” leader of Israel’s settler movement, was among the speakers at an event at Lehigh University in Bethlehem entitled “Israel-Pennsylvania Joint Venture Opportunities in the Lehigh Valley.”
“Israel is open for business,” Dayan said.
The Feb. 6 event, held at Lehigh’s Iacocca Hall, highlighted a memorandum of understanding recently signed by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) and the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA).
The new agreement, which was signed in November, seeks to help the state of Pennsylvania work closely with the IIA to support startups from Israel, and to shepherd joint ventures between Israeli and Pennsylvania innovators, according to Vered Nohi, Executive Director with the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, and a representative of the U.S.-Israel Binational Industrial R&D Foundation (BIRD).
The DCED will be issuing several requests for proposals (RFPs) in the upcoming months for companies seeking to submit ideas for joint projects, according to Michael Alexander, Director of Regional Affairs with the Consulate General of Israel in New York.
The deadline for submission for the RFPs is May 1. Click here for more information. Click here for more information.
The Feb. 6 event, which was co-sponsored by the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC), presented an opportunity for companies and organizations to learn how to benefit from the resources offered by the agreement, as well as how to obtain funding.
Dayan said Israel’s gross domestic product (GDP) has grown from $35 billion in 1987 to $357 billion in 2017, and the country currently has more than $40,000 in GDP per capita.
Speaking on behalf of DCED was Sherri Collins, Deputy Secretary of the Office of Technology and Innovation, and Joe Burke, Deputy Secretary of the Office of International Business Development.
Burke said Pennsylvania and Israel have a strong trade and investment partnership. He said while the state’s relationship includes companies across many sectors, Israel is particularly famous for its tech sector.
“Israeli tech companies such as Simlat, GB Wawa, and Atomation have chosen Pennsylvania as a place to start their North American business, and we work continuously to bring more Israeli companies here,” he said. “Our goal is to help innovative Israeli companies enter the U.S. market through Pennsylvania, and to help Pennsylvania companies make sales in Israel and form partnerships with Israeli companies.”
Young people in Israel are being encouraged to become entrepreneurs and form their own startups, Dayan said. Ben Weiner, founder and managing partner of Jumpspeed Ventures, and an an Allentown native, said there are about 250 active startup companies in Israel.
“Jerusalem has become an exciting place to invest in startups,” Weiner said.
Jumpspeed Ventures is a venture capital fund that invests in and creates startups in Jerusalem, particularly early-stage software companies. It will invest between $100,000 and $500,000 in startups born or based in the Jerusalem area, Weiner said.
The IIA is an independent public entity that operates for the benefit of the Israeli innovation ecosystem and Israeli economy as a whole. Its role is to nurture and develop Israeli innovation resources, while creating and strengthening the infrastructure and framework needed to support the entire knowledge industry.
BIRD is a foundation that was was established by the U.S. and Israeli governments in 1977, with a mission to stimulate, promote, and support industrial research and development of mutual benefit to the United States and Israel.
Matthew Tuerk, LVEDC Vice President of Economic Development and Marketing, served as host of the event. Don Cunningham, LVEDC President & CEO, was also in attendance. Barry Halper also spoke on behalf of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.
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