These aren’t the easiest of days for supporters of the U.S.-Israel alliance. Bibi is taking every chance he gets to tell the world that America’s about to cut a “bad deal” with Iran. Kerry is warning Israelis on prime-time TV of a third intifada should peace talks fail. Shimon Peres, unsurprisingly, just wants everyone to get along.
So U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who has emerged as the head cheerleader for the two countries’ friendship, was probably relieved last night to be the bearer of some good news. Speaking at a tony reception at the home of the U.S. embassy’s economic attaché in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya, Shapiro hailed the release of the first “U.S.-Israel Innovation Index,” a report that quantifies the strength of collaboration between the two countries on technological and business innovation.
Shapiro called the countries’ successful economic partnership “the unsung story of the U.S.-Israel relationship.” The countries’ political and security dealings “dominate the front page,” he said, “but we lose the story of the positive relationship in research and development an between innovators.”
The report does paint a rosy picture of U.S.-Israel collaboration. Measuring the strength of the two countries’ cooperation in four areas — government, private sector and industry, human capital, and research and development — the report found that the U.S.-Israel economic partnership ranks third in overall strength behind the U.S.-Switzerland and U.S.-Canada economic partnerships.
Switzerland topped the list because it leads the world in the pharmaceutical industry; Canada’s border with the U.S. is the main driver behind the countries’ strong relationship.
Not surprisingly, the report found that Israel’s cooperation with the U.S. is strongest when it comes to government-to-government partnerships.
Notwithstanding the frequent tumult in diplomatic relations between Obama and Bibi, the report found that “Israel’s strength in this category reflects the traditional special relationship between the governments of the U.S. and Israel.”
“This is a way to survey the strength of the relationship,” said Ann Liebschutz, the executive director of the U.S.-Israel Science & Technology Foundation, an organization jointly founded by the two governments, which put out the survey. “Things don’t change just because things look rocky.”
Israel also performed well in the other three categories, and Liebschutz hopes the findings will persuade even more companies to do business with Israel. Of nearly 300 international R&D centers in Israel, nearly 200 belong to U.S. companies.
Changes in the security arena don’t bother American CEOs looking to collaborate with Israeli companies, Liebschutz said: “Once they’re over here, they’re ready to do business.”
Washington, DC (April 17, 2013) – More than a dozen of Israel’s top academic and industrial biofuels research scientists and innovators will be arriving in Washington next week to begin a week-long dialogue with their American counterparts at the U.S. Departments of Energy and Agriculture, and the Navy, FAA and the private sector. They will be meeting with White House officials and with top government energy program managers and scientists and in Washington, DC and at DOE labs in Oak Ridge Tennessee and in California. The scientific exchange, April 17th – 25th, has been designed to help build U.S.-Israel collaboration mechanisms for research and innovation to produce alternative fuels (“advanced biofuels”) that can substitute for petroleum-based gasoline, diesel oil and aviation fuel currently produced from imported oil. The elite Israeli delegation was chosen through a competition held over several months, The U.S.-Israel Bio-Energy Challenge, in which the initial selection was made in Israel and the final participants were selected with input from the U.S. agencies.
The project has been sponsored and coordinated by two U.S. not-for-profit organizations, The Israel Energy Partnership (TIEP) and the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation (USISTF) and by the Israeli Industry Center for R&D (MATIMOP) on behalf of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) in the Ministry for Trade and Industry.
Project sponsors stress the importance of finding alternatives to petroleum imports at a time when high oil prices once again are a drag on the economy and some oil producing nations are using oil revenues to develop weapons that threaten their neighbors: “The one-half trillion dollars of oil revenue OPEC nations collect each year provides enormous geopolitical power to nations that oppose U.S. and Israeli interests, helps fund terrorism, undermines peace, and drains money from our economy. So, this effort to reduce the industrialized world’s dependence on oil imports will be of benefit to both Israel and the U.S.” explained TIEP President Jack Halpern. “One of the most important benefits will be the reduction of income for Iran, half of whose government revenue comes from the sale of oil. Without that oil revenue, it will be much more difficult for them to pursue their nuclear ambitions.”
“The Office of the Chief Scientist continues to expand the opportunities for collaboration between academic researchers and industrial enterprises from both countries” said Avi Hasson, Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Industry Trade and Labor. “We support this initiative that can significantly advance the development of applicative solutions for reducing our dependence in fossil oils – an objective that both nations share and strive for.”
“Israel’s role as a scientific, engineering and entrepreneurial leader is well known,” added TIEP Executive VP Neil Goldstein. “Cutting-edge research and development is taking place in Israel in the selection, bio-engineering and modification of fuel feed-stocks; in growing novel feed-stocks on non-arable land and without using fresh water; and in the more-efficient and cost effective production of fuels from feed-stocks using innovative chemical, physical and biological processes. Building on that research base, we are establishing a scientific, technical and economic collaboration between Israel and the U.S. to help both nations achieve our energy goals.”
Eyal Rosner, chairman of the Alternative Fuels Initiative in Israel’s Prime Minister’s Office, added: “Israel is committed to the development and implementation of alternative fuels for transportation.” The Initiative was launched in 2011, and is headed by the Prime Minister’s Office, with the cooperation of eight government ministries. The program has set an ambitious 10 year goal of reducing oil consumption within Israel by 60% by the year 2025. “We believe that by increasing collaboration between Israel and the US we will be able to accelerate biofuel development for the benefits of both nations and for the entire world.”
The USISTF had the privilege of presenting the U.S.-Israel Innovation Index to science and technology and Near East focused professional staff at the U.S. Department of State. They invited us to share our work as they believe that the USI3 could be used as a tool to measure relationships beyond U.S. relationships but for regions to evaluate the impact of their innovation relationships.
Some ideas that came out of our discussions were looking at metrics that specifically come from intellectual property sections of trade and investment agreements which help show the strength of the innovation partnership. We discussed the importance of examining aspects of investment environments to understand their linkages to innovation relations. There is also a continued interest in learning more about the venture capital relationships between the countries and a desire to continue utilizing the USI3 to illuminate the results of trade relationships.
We are looking forward to kicking off the development process of the 2012 Index next week and considering new countries to add and deepening our analysis of the factors that impact innovation.
Share your comments with us. What bi-lateral linkage indicators measure innovation relationships to you? How do you use the USI3 to guide your work?