Mass High Tech: Massachusetts, Israel form $2M deal on joint R&D projects

Mass High Tech: Massachusetts, Israel form $2M deal on joint R&D projects

June 2011

Massachusetts and Israel said today that they will commit $2 million to collaborate on innovation and entrepreneurship in life sciences, clean energy and technology.

In addition, Massachusetts Senate President Therese Murray announced a strategic R&D agreement on advanced tissue engineering R&D between UMass Dartmouth and universities in Finland and Northern Ireland. The universities are the University of Tampere in Finland, Tampere Institute of Biosciences and Medical Technology in Finland, the Technical Research Center of Finland, the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, and Queens University of Belfast in Northern Ireland. That alliance resulted from a trade mission Murray led to Finland in April and an earlier meeting with Northern Ireland. There is no immediate money tied to the collaboration, but funding will come as projects emerge.

Both deals were announced at the annual BIO convention in Washington, DC today. Boston is to host the BIO convention in 2012.

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS),the U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Foundation, and three Massachusetts economic development agencies formed the collaboration, to be known as the Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership (MIIP).

The agreement resulted from Governor Patrick’s trade mission to Israel in March.  It includes private-sector R&D collaborations between Massachusetts and Israeli companies.

Three Massachusetts agencies are involved: the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, which together are committing nearly $1 million in funding for Massachusetts companies engaged in cooperative industrial R&D projects with an identified Israeli partner company.

Israel’s OCS is to provide up to $1 million in matching dollars for the corresponding Israeli partner companies. Massachusetts is the first U.S. state to enter into such an agreement with Israel, according to Governor Patrick. However, Israel is moving ahead with similar projects with other states, including Ohio, Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina, said Ann Liebschutz, executive director of the U.S.-Israel Science & Technology Foundation in Washington, DC.

Three projects in each of the three areas of cooperation between Israel and Massachusetts are expected to be approved by the end of this year, said David Miron-Wapner, executive director of the U.S.-Israel Science & Technology Commissionin Tel Aviv, Israel.

“Massachusetts does billions of dollars in trade with Israel today, and there’s much untapped potential,” Governor Patrick said in announcing the agreement at BIO. “We’ll use the $1 million investment on each side to leverage private investment.” He added that the deal will promote research collaborations, industrial partnerships, and commercialization of new technologies, as well as expand opportunities and job growth in Massachusetts and Israel.

A request for proposals will be issued jointly by the Massachusetts agencies seeking applications for funding. The OCS will concurrently issue a solicitation seeking applications for funding from Israeli companies.

According to the press release, there are nearly 100 companies with Israeli founders or Israeli-licensed technologies in Massachusetts. In 2009, these companies employed nearly 6,000 people and generated $2.4 billion in direct revenue for the state. Local firms exported over $180 million worth of goods to Israel in 2009 and, at 12.35 percent; the United States is Israel’s largest source of imports.

Governor Patrick also announced today that Massachusetts has hired a new trade representative to Israel, Hadas Bar-Or. She will be responsible for increasing trade, investment and commercial partnerships between Massachusetts and Israel.