U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations:
The Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) was established by the U.S. and Israeli governments in 1977 to generate mutually beneficial cooperation between the private sectors of the U.S. and Israeli high tech industries, including start-ups and established organizations. BIRD provides both matchmaking services between U.S. and Israeli companies, as well as funding that covers up to 50 percent of project development and product commercialization costs. BIRD's scope extends to Communications, Life Sciences, Electronics, Electro-optics, Software, Homeland Security, Renewable and Alternative Energy and other sectors of the hi-tech industry.
Since its inception, BIRD has funded more than 830 projects in total and more than 235 different projects since 2001 alone.
BIRD has teamed with many leading companies in the U.S., for example: American Red Cross, AOL, Bayer Pharmaceutical, Eastman Kodak, General Dynamics, General Electric, IBM and Johnson&Johnson, among many others. In addition, nearly 40 Israeli companies that have had projects sponsored by BIRD are now traded on Wall Street, adding to Israel's surge in the high-tech and industrial fields.
BIRD supports approximately 20 projects annually. The cumulative sales of products developed through BIRD projects have exceed $8 billion and BIRD has received nearly $100 million in royalty repayments from projects. The top five states in which BIRD has funded: 266 projects in California, 90 in Massachusetts, 88 in New York, 64 in New Jersey and 26 in both Virginia and Florida.
The BIRD Foundation model that has reached this broad, collaborative economic success in Israel and the United States is now being imitated elsewhere with the hope of spurring growth in other countries. For example, in 2012 the Turkish Economic Policy Research Foundation organized a meeting of the Global Entrepreneurialship Program-Turkey in order to discuss ways of using the BIRD model to foster better economic relations between Ankara and Washington.
Any pair of companies, one Israeli and one U.S.-based, may apply jointly so long as they can demonstrate the combined capabilities and infrastructure to define, develop, manufacture, sell and support an innovative product based on industrial R&D. The companies may be simply cooperating on an ad hoc basis, linked through a corporate joint venture, or commonly owned (in whole or in part). The key criterion is that each corporate entity shall have the ability to carry out its part of the joint development and commercialization. Their willingness to share in the financial risk of product development as well as in the financial gain of commercialization, are also key factors in BIRD's evaluation.
Typically the role of the larger company is product definition and specification, sales, and service, while the role of the smaller company is in product development and some manufacturing. Up to 35 full-scale projects and 20 mini-projects may be approved each year.
The BIRD Foundation offers conditional grants for joint development projects on a risk-sharing basis. The Foundation funds up to 50% of each company's R&D expenses associated with the joint project. Repayments are due only if commercial revenues are generated as a direct result of the project. If a project fails, BIRD claims no repayments.
A Full-Scale Project is defined as one in which the total development cost to the two companies (up to the point of commercial readiness) is at least $400,000. BIRD's cost-share is up to 50% of the total cost of such projects.
Decisions whether to approve or reject proposals for funding full-scale projects are made by BIRD's Board of Governors. The Board of Governors convenes semiannually to act on proposals for full-scale projects.
It is often appropriate for two companies contemplating a partnership to define an initial project of modest size rather than to plunge into a higher-cost, full-scale project of greater risk and duration. BIRD has, therefore, designed and introduced the Mini-Project, which has proven to be a powerful and successful tool for rapid and relatively low-risk involvement of U.S. and Israeli companies in relatively small but meaningful product developments of a cutting edge technology.
The Executive Director is empowered by the Board of Governors to allocate up to 20% of annual conditional grant funds for the support of mini-projects. Grants are a maximum of $200,000, or 50% of actual project costs, whichever is less.
During 2011, the BIRD Foundation approved more than $16 million in funding for eighteen new projects commencing between American and Israeli companies. These eighteen projects add to the more than 830 projects which have been sponsored by BIRD in the past 30 years.
The approved projects from 2011 are as follows:
December 2011 Approvals:
- AGM Tonson and EndoStim (St. Louis, MO) will develop a miniaturized implantable device for Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease.
- EnVerid Systems and Johnson Controls (Milwaukee, WI) will develop a novel air handling technology for reducing energy consumption of HVAC.
- Ginger Software and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Boston, MA) will develop an advanced learning platform for English language learners.
- iFibers and Mirion Technologies (San Ramon, CA) will develop a portable laser thermoluminescence radiation dosimeter.
- MedCPU and Cleveland Clinic (Cleveland, OH) will develop a patient care decision support system.
- QualiSystems and OnPath (Marlton, NJ) will develop an advanced platform for network lab management.
- RAFAEL and Covanta Energy (Morristown, NJ) will develop a biomass-to-fuel mobile system.
- Semantipedia and Daylight CIS (Laguna Niguel, CA) will develop a web based, semantic platform for Life Sciences.
- VivoText and Hasbro (Pawtucket, RI) will develop a life-like speech capability for embedded platforms.
July 2011 Approvals:
- ART Healthcare and Hydrofera (Willimantic, CT) will develop a device to reduce infections in intensive care units.
- BioMarCare Technologies and Ariadne (Rockville, MD) will develop a companion diagnostic test for metastatic colorectal cancer.
- Evogene and Pioneer Hi-Bred International (Johnston, IA) will develop soybean varieties tolerant to foliar diseases.
- Healarium and The Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) will develop an application for self monitoring of cardiovascular risk.
- Human Monitoring and Access Systems America (Sunnyvale, CA) will develop a social e-publishing ecosystem for interactive content.
- Mantis Vision and Direct Dimensions (Owings Mills, MD) will develop a 3D imaging system for facilities' measurements.
- RicorSolar and a U.S. company will develop a high efficiency energy system for small commercial applications.
- Ron Soferman and Affine Systems (San Francisco, CA) will develop an online video ad targeting application using computer vision technology.
- Semantic Medical Solutions and Sitel/MedStar Health (Washington, D.C.) will develop a semantic medical simulation platform.
Israel Headquarters Office
Eitan Yudilevich, Ph.D., Executive Director
Kiryat Atidim, Building 4, 15th Floor
Tel Aviv 61581, Israel
Israel Mailing Address
P.O. Box 58054
Tel Aviv 61580, Israel
West Coast Representative (California)
East Coast Representative (New Jersey)