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U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations:
Binational Industrial Research &
Development Foundation (BIRD)

Binational Foundations: Table of Contents | BARD | BSF | Total Grants

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What is BIRD?

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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 800 projects.

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.

Current Areas of Interest

Agrotechnology, Cleantech and Environment, Communications, Electronics, FinTech, Gas, Homeland Security and Cyber Security, Life Sciences, Software, etc. 

How Does BIRD Operate?

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.

Full–Scale Projects

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.

Mini 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. The budget of a BIRD mini-project is limited to $400,000. Therefore, the grant is a maximum of $200,000, or 50% of actual project costs, whichever is less..

Projects in 2014

For Fiscal Year 2014, the BIRD Foundation Board of Governors approved $10 million in funding for eleven new projects between Israeli and American companies. In addition to the grants from BIRD, the projects will access private sector funding, boosting the total value of all projects to approximately $23 million.

The eleven projects approved by the Board of Governors for 2014 are in addition to the 878 projects which the BIRD Foundation has approved for funding during its 36 year history. To date, BIRD’s total investment in  these projects has been over $308 million, helping to generate direct and indirect sales of more than  $10 billion.

The 2014 project approvals are as follows:

• Bonus BioGroup Ltd. (Israel) and Cellora LLC (Massachusetts) will develop personalized regenerative medicine technologies.

• Cliniworks (Israel) and Pfizer, Inc. (New York) will develop a healthcare quality analytics and patient engagement portal.

• Eyesight Mobile Technologies Ltd. (Israel) and TriLumina (New Mexico) will develop combined smart light sources for touchless gesture and sensing applications.

• Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd (Israel) and Kymeta (Washington) will develop a portable satellite terminal.

• Lingacom Ltd. (Israel) and Rapiscan Laboratories Inc. (California) will develop a secondary detection system based on muon technology.

• MeMed Diagnostics Ltd. (Israel) and Diagnostic Consulting Network (California) will develop a point-of-care device to diagnose bacterial vs. viral infections.

• New NI Medical 2011 Ltd. (Israel) and Athena GTX (Iowa) will develop a telemedicine system for use in the emerging home health care monitoring market.

• PetPace Ltd. (Israel) and BluePearl Management LLC (Florida) will develop an integrated in-hospital and outpatient pet remote monitoring system.

• RADiFlow (Israel) and Patriot Technologies, Inc. (Maryland) will develop a secure smart-grid solution.

• Rescuedose Ltd. (Israel) and ec2 Software Solutions (Nevada) will develop a robotic dispensing device integrated with a nuclear pharmacy management system.

• WeldObot Ltd. (Israel) and Heller Industries Inc.(California) will develop an innovating new welding device.


Contact Information

Israel Headquarters Office

Eitan Yudilevich, Ph.D., Executive Director
Kiryat Atidim, Building 4, 15th Floor
Tel Aviv 61581, Israel
Tel: 972-3-698-8302
Fax: 972-3-698-8327
Mobile: 972-52-665-6902

Israel Mailing Address
P.O. Box 58054
Tel Aviv 61580, Israel

U.S. Offices

Michal Miasnik,
West Coast Representative (California)
Tel: 408-727-6777                   
Fax: 408-727-6166                  

Andrea Yonah,
East Coast Representative
(New Jersey)
Tel: 609-356-0305

Sources: Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation

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