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State-to-State Cooperation:
Wisconsin and Israel


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Wisconsin Jewish History: Madison | Milwaukee

 

 

Trade and Population Statistics

Exports to Israel (2013)
$71,744,778
      Percentage Change (2012-2013)
+4.34
      Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)
$1,091,658,348
Israel's Trade Partner Rank (2013)
36th
Military Contracts with Israel (2012)
$12,089,933.65
Jewish Population (2012)
28,255
      Jewish Percentage of Population
0.5%

 

Binational foundation grants shared by Wisconsin and Israel

Agricultural Research & Development (1979-Present)
$2,715,810
Science & Technology (1996-Present)
$2,738,016
Industrial Research & Development (1977-Present)
$810,300
Total Binational Grants
$6,264,126

Grant recipients in Wisconsin from U.S.-Israel binational foundations:

Germania Dairy Automation Inc.
Johnson Controls
Manpower, Inc.
Medical College of Wisconsin
Nicolet Biomedical Inc.
Nicolet Instrument Corp.
University of Madison
University of Wisconsin
University of Wisconsin Medical
USDA-ARS Agronomy/Horticulture Research Lab
Virent Energy Systems

 

Bilateral Institutions top

Wisconsin Department of Commerce Global Ventures, Israel - In December 2010 the DOC officially announced plans to build and strengthen bilateral ties with Israel which they hope to do through their Global Ventures office. Currently, Governor Doyle has put out a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) to solicit companies and researchers interested in the development of joint Wisconsin-Israel R&D Partnerships. Learn more about the RFP and the budding program, CLICK HERE.

Committee for Economic Growth of Israel - Founded by by entrepreneur and Jewish philanthropist, Elmer Winter, at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1976. CEGI was established to help expand and grow trade between Israel and the state of Wisconsin, in particular, and the entire US in general. It deals with business promotion in both Wisconsin and Israel, much the same as the various Chamber of Commerce. Learn more about CEGI, CLICK HERE.

 

Cooperative Agreements - "Memoranda of Understanding" top

In November 2009, Governor Jim Doyle and Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor Benjamin Ben-Eliezer signed a memorandum of understanding and a bilateral cooperative trade agreement with the hopes of promoting collaboration and a strong working relationship between Wisconsin and Israel in research and development. In fostering this development, the Department of Commerce has partnered closely with the Israeli Economic Mission to coordinate targeted investment attraction and matchmaking events in areas of innovative technology. Read a press release on this MOU and the 2010 RFP, CLICK HERE.

 

Wisconsin Government Missions to Israel top

August 2011 - Congresswoman Gwen Moore accompanied the 81-member Congressional delegation to Israel to learn more about regional politics and the U.S.-Israel relationship.

November 2009 - Governor Jim Doyle and Department of Commerce Secretary Aaron Olver led a delegation from Wisconsin on a trade mission to Israel. The group arranged a number of targeted investment meetings with Israeli firms who could benefit by expanding into Wisconsin. During the trip, Gov. Doyle signed a cooperative agreement with the Israel Ministry of Trade that was facilitated by the DOC's Global Ventures office. See pictures from the mission, CLICK HERE.

2005 - Congressman Paul Ryan visited Israel as part of a large Republican Congressional delegation trip facilitated by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization associated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He and the other congressmen met with then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and visited strategic sites in Jerusalem, as well as Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon.

 

Partners For Change

The U.S.-Israel relationship is based on the twin pillars of shared values and mutual interests. Given this commonality of interests and beliefs, it should not be surprising that support for Israel is one of the most pronounced and consistent foreign policy values of the American people.

It is more difficult to devise programs that capitalize on the two nations' shared values than their security interests; nevertheless, such programs do exist. In fact, these SHARED VALUE INITIATIVES cover a broad range of areas, including the environment, science and technology, education and health.

As analyst David Pollock noted, Israel is an advanced country with a population that surpassed eight million people in 2013 and a robust, dynamic economy that allowed it to join the  Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Between 2005 and 2013, Israel has represented a larger market for U.S. exports than Saudi Arabia. Although Israel's citizenry make up just 3 percent of the total region's population, Israel accounts for 25 percent of American exports in the Middle East.

"It has also been one of the top 20 foreign direct investors in the United States since 2009," Pollock confirms. He adds that "$2.25 billion of the $3 billion in annual U.S. aid to Israel comes back via Israeli purchases of U.S. military equipment - and that is just 5 percent of the total bilateral trade each year."

Today's interdependent global economy requires that trade policy be developed at the national and state level.

Many states have recognized the opportunity for realizing significant benefits by seeking to increase trade with Israel. Wisconsin is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.

In 2012, Wisconsin exported over $68,962,204 worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Wisconsin exports to Israel have totaled more than $1,019,913,570 and Israel now ranks as Wisconsin’s 26th leading trade partner.

Additionally in 2012, Wisconsin received more than $12,089,933 in foreign military financing (FMF) for US military aid to Israel. Some of those companies that have received funding through FMF in 2012 or past years include: Kearfott Guidance & Navigation in Milwaukee, Twin Disc Inc. in Racine and Therma-Stor LLC Boumatic in Madison.

Israel is certainly a place where potential business and trade partners can be found. It can also be a source, however, for innovative programs and ideas for addressing problems facing the citizens of Wisconsin.

Israel has developed a number of pioneering education programs. For example, AICE introduced an innovative Israeli peer tutoring program to North Carolina that educators adapted for use in the United States. Now known as Reading Together, the program is used in 28 states. The program is designed to help students achieve reading fluency and is mostly used for children in second grade. The hope is that with its implementation, increasing numbers of students will perform at grade level or above.

A range of other exciting approaches to social problems like unemployment, environmental protection and drug abuse have been successfully implemented in Israel and could be imported for the benefit of Americans.

The potential for greater cooperation with Israel for the benefit of Wisconsin is limited only by the imagination.

 

Wisconsin Firms Profit From Business With Israel

As the only country with free trade agreements with both the United States and the European community, Israel can act as a bridge for international trade between the United States and Europe. Moreover, because of the deep pool of talent, particularly in high-technology areas, Israel provides excellent investment opportunities. Some of the nation's largest companies, such as IBM, Microsoft, Motorola, Intel and McDonald’s have found that it is indeed profitable to do business in Israel.

At least 180 Wisconsin companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including Nicolet, GE Medical Systems, Manpower Inc. and Sunlite Plastics Inc.

Manpower Inc., a temporary help/staffing business based in Wisconsin, has 35 offices in Israel. James Fromstein, senior Vice President of Manpower Inc., said what attracted Manpower to do business in Israel is the high level of education of Israelis and their aggressive nature in structuring their economy. The company’s experience in Israel has been “very positive.”

In April 2010, Milwaukee based A.O. Smith Corporation entered into a strategic business cooperative agreement with Chromagen, a leading manufacturer of solar water heating solutions located in Sha'ar Ha'amakim in Israel, to develop advanced solar technology for water heating applications. Under the agreement, A.O. Smith will become Chromagen's exclusive marketer and distibutor in the USA and Canada of its solar collectors for both residential and commercial use. Chromagen, with estimated 2009 sales of $50 million, has two manufacturing operations in Israel and distributes products in more than 35 countries worldwide. A. O. Smith Corporation, with 2009 sales of $2.0 billion, is a global leader applying innovative technology and energy-efficient solutions to products marketed worldwide. The cooperation between these two powerhouse companies will only mean greater opportunities for both Israel and the USA. Read more about their partnership, CLICK HERE.

Wisconsin benefits by importing from Israel as well as exporting. GE Medical Systems has been exporting diagnostic medical equipment to Israel since the 1950's. Aside from exporting devices used for CTs, MRIs, X-Rays, and Ultrasounds, they also import medical nuclear scanners manufactured in Israel. According to Tony Hahn of the International Sales Department, “the business/medical clientele in Israel is very experienced and there is a good business community.”

Nicolet Instrument Corporation has been doing business in Israel for about fifteen years, says Bruce Jamison, area manager for Nicolet in the Middle East and South Asia. The company has been selling spectrometers used for analyzing chemical composition and materials to Israel. Jamison says it’s a reasonable market for the size of its population (roughly six million) and that, relative to other countries in the area, doing business with Israel is easy.

One good way to break into the Israeli market is through a joint venture with an Israeli company. Funding for such projects is available from the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD). BIRD funds projects in 36 states and the District of Columbia and hundreds of companies including AOL, GE, BP Solar, Texas Instruments and Johnson & Johnson have benefitted from BIRD grants.

The United States and Israel established BIRD in 1977 to fund joint U.S.-Israeli teams in the development and subsequent commercialization of innovative, nondefense technological products from which both the Israeli and American company can expect to derive benefits commensurate with the investments and risks. Most grant recipients are small businesses involved with software, instrumentation, communications, medical devices and semiconductors.

Since its inception, BIRD has funded more than 800 joint high-tech R&D projects through conditional grants totaling more than $210 million. Products developed from these ventures have generated more than $8 billion in direct and indirect revenues for both countries and has helped to create an estimated 20,000 American jobs. Dr. Eli Opper, the former Israeli chair of BIRD, has said that BIRD is a strong pillar of US-Israel industrial cooperation and that the extreme success of BIRD has led Israel to adopt similar models of R&D with other countries.

At least four Wisconsin-based companies - Manpower, Nicolet Instrument Corp., Germania Dairy Automation Inc. and Virent Energy Systems - have taken advantage of the BIRD program, and shared grants with Israeli partners totaling more than $700,000.

In the summer of 2010, BIRD awarded more than $4.2 million in grants for joint development projects between companies based in the United States and Israel in the areas of biofuels, wind energy, solar energy and energy efficiency. Five different projects awarded this funding will help address critical shared bilateral energy-related goals, and will leverage private sector cost-share for a total project value of $12.8 million. One of the projects awarded is based locally in Wisconsin. HCL CleanTech Ltd., from Tel Aviv, Israel and Virent Energy Systems, based in Madison, will jointly develop and test a process to produce biogasoline from cellulosic non-food sources.

In 2011, Milwaukee-based technology company Johnson Controls was awarded funding through the BIRD Foundation to partner with EnVerid Systems to develop a novel air handling technology for reducing energy consumption of HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, or the collective technology of indoor and automotive comfort). This grant was part of over $8.1 million awarded by BIRD to nine new projects in December 2011 to companies throughout the US and Israel.

Nicolet Instrument Corporation, a world leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of instrumentation for assessing nerve, muscle, hearing/vestibular, sleep, epilepsy and brain blood flow disorders, teamed up with Isorad Ltd., an Israeli company that develops mid-infrared fiberoptic materials. Their BIRD grant supported the development of a fiberoptic chemical sensor to identify harmful chemical materials in the environment and for the performance of safe quality control analysis on toxic chemical products. Once this “FiberCell” was developed, the two companies applied for another BIRD grant to develop a complete fiberoptic sampling system that could be integrated with commercial infrared spectrometers.

Nicolet also partnered with Medoc Ltd., an Israeli-based company that develops, manufactures and markets devices for the small fibers of the peripheral nerve system. Medoc’s creation of a Thermal Sensory Analyzer (TSA) is considered the best of its kind in the world. Through a BIRD mini project, Medoc’s TSA device has been modified into a compact accessory for Nicolet’s own diagnostic system, the Nicolet Sensation, launched in 1996. Since their original joint venture, the two companies have expanded their working relationship into additional marketing efforts.

Germania Dairy Automation, Inc. has been the sole distributor in North America of Afimilk, a milk meter and computerized dairy management system, made by the kibbutz-based company Afikim. In 1996, the two companies received a BIRD grant to create a milk component analyzer. This product analyzes the different components of milk such as the amount of butterfat and the somatic cell count, which indicates the level of bacteria in milk. “Germania and Afikim already had a good working relationship so we decided to go together on this project,” said Germania’s general manager Robert Russell.

 

Scientific Innovations top

Wisconsin researchers are making scientific breakthroughs and developing cutting-edge technologies in joint projects with Israeli scientists thanks to support from the Binational Science Foundation (BSF). BSF was established in 1972 to promote scientific relations and cooperation between scientists from the United States and Israel. The fund supports collaborative research projects in a wide area of basic and applied scientific field for peaceful and non-profit purposes. Since its inception, BSF has awarded some $480 million through more than 4,000 grants in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

BSF-sponsored studies are highly successful in achieving their two main goals: strengthening the US-Israel partnership through science and promoting world-class scientific research for the benefit of the two countries and all mankind. The BSF grants help extend research resources to achieve milestones that might not otherwise be attainable; introduce novel approaches and techniques to lead American researchers in new directions; confirm, clarify and intensify research projects; and provide unmatched access to Israeli equipment, facilities and research results that help speed American scientific advances. BSF has documented no less than 75 new discoveries made possible by its research grants and counts 37 Nobel Prize and 19 Lasker Medical Award laureates among its joint partners.

The University of Wisconsin and its medical school are among the institutions that have shared have shared with their counterparts in Israel nearly $2.5 million in BSF grants awarded since 1996 alone.

Professor John W. Valley is the chairman of the department of geology and physics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1995 he received a BSF grant to do joint research with Professor Matthews of Hebrew University in Jerusalem to study the geology of rocks in Greece. Through this study they learned that the rocks of the Alpine belt were once at sea level and then due to tectonic forces, such as the formation of mountain belts, they were then buried 50 km. below. Today these rocks are once again at the mountain surface. This discovery has helped geologists to better understand the geological history of Southern Europe. Practical applications resulting from this research include exploration for metallic ore deposits as well as oil and gas deposits. Valley has been to Israel twice and will likely go back when Professor Matthews takes his sabbatical at the University of Wisconsin next year. A postdoc who was also working with the two professors built her own geochemistry lab at Hebrew University based on her experience working with Valley and Matthews.

Professor Arthur B. Ellis of the University of Wisconsin received a BSF grant in 1996. Since then he has been working with the Weizmann Institute of Science to research chemical sensoring. This consists of putting certain molecules on the surface of semiconductors to create a sensor that can determine the presence of other compounds and their concentration in the gas and liquid phase. “This is basic scientific research,” said Ellis, “we are not engineers so we don’t actually create the sensors, but we do background research.” Professor Ellis has “had a very positive experience” and said that “the professors at Weizmann were very good colleagues [to work with] and had great ideas.”

University of Wisconsin Professor of Chemistry Robert C. West has received several BSF grants and has been collaborating with Israel since about 1988. Professor West works with Professor Yitzchak Apeloig at the Technion in Haifa to research novel types of multiple bonds to silicon. The team in Haifa does all of the theoretical work and calculations behind the creation of new compounds using the element silicon and then the scientists at Wisconsin do the experimental and laboratory work to create new compounds. When comparing the experience of collaborating with Israel to other countries, West said that he has “never been so successful as [he has] been in Israel.” Professor West has also been doing joint electrochemistry research with James Becker at the Ben-Gurion University in Beersheva for the past five years.

 

Agriculture Benefits top

In 1978 the United States and Israel jointly created the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) to help fund programs between US and Israeli scientists for mutually beneficial, mission-oriented, strategic and applied research into agricultural problems. Since its inception, BARD has funded more than 1,000 projects in 45 states and the District of Columbia with a total investment of more than $250 million. In 2000, an independent and external economic review of 10 BARD projects conservatively projected more than $700 million in revenue by the end of 2010, a number which far outweighs the total investment in all BARD projects over its 33 year existence and helps to continually strengthen the foundation.

Most BARD projects focus on either increasing agricultural productivity, plant and animal health or food quality and safety and have been influential in creating new technologies in drip irrigation, pesticides, fish farming, livestock, poultry, disease control and farm equipment. BARD funds projects in 45 states and the District of Columbia and at present is beginning to administer collaborative efforts between Australia, Canada and Israel as well. It is difficult to break down the impact on a state-by-state basis, but overall, BARD-sponsored research has generated sales of more than $500 million, tax revenues of more than $100 million and created more than 5,000 American jobs. Wisconsin institutions have shared grants worth more than $2 million since 1979.

Professor Gary Splitter of the University of Wisconsin is closer to his goals of finding a cure for T-cell leukemia and stopping the Brucella Melitensis endemic thanks to his joint research under the auspices of a BARD grant.

Professor Splitter has received BARD grants every few years since 1989 to study the bovine leukemia virus, which is very similar to T-cell leukemia in humans. These viruses are major problems in both countries—approximately 30,000 cattle in Wisconsin alone are affected. Splitter is working with a collaborator from the Israeli Veterinarian Institute, part of the federal laboratory, to monitor the disease in Israel. Together they are trying to learn why the virus persists in the host that eventually causes cancer.

Splitter and his Israeli colleagues are also studying Brucella Melitensis, a bacterium which is currently a serious problem in sheep, goats and cattle in Israel. These bacteria can be found in the milk of these animals and transmitted to humans when they eat non-pasteurized dairy products, which is extremely common in Israel. Because this disease is not found in the U.S. anymore, going to Israel gives him a better perspective of how the disease occurs worldwide. He can see the disease up-close and talk to Bedouins, Israelis, Palestinians and kibbutzniks who have been affected. Through this collaboration, Wisconsin and Israel not only share data but also send reagents back and forth. Overall, this joint research has been “very, very helpful,” said Professor Splitter.

In a 2009 study supported by the BARD Fund, Professors Jess Reed and Mark Richards of the Department of Food Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison collaborated with a number of Israeli scientists to investigate the effects of red wine, which contains polyphenols - chemical substances found in many fruits, vegetables, and their derived beverages believed to protect the body against some common health problems - on the stomach's production and body's absorption of malondialdheyde- an "advanced lipoxidation end product" (ALE) that is involved in the thickening of arteries, a disease that has been known to cause heart attack, stroke or even death.

Overall, the scientists' research results indicate that while a diet consisting solely of red meat leads to an increase in malondialdheyde levels, both in the stomach and in the blood's plasma, the addition of wine to the meal helps maintain malondialdheyde at healthy levels. These findings have led the scientists to suggest that the main benefit of including polyphenol-rich fruits, vegetables and their derived beverages, such as wine, in the diet as an integral part of the meal arises from their ability to counteract the generation and absorption of ALEs.

The collaborative team from Wisconsin and Israel has already published two papers about this BARD-supported research, one of which is being used to help secure future funding for related projects. As Professor Richards attests, "Collaborating with Dr. Kanner [Volcani Center, Israel] was a rewarding experience that has provided knowledge that I utilize today in my own teaching and research." Without the help of BARD, this research and the important findings it entailed may never have been possible. To read more about the research and the findings in layman's terms, please CLICK HERE.

On another BARD project, Professor Thomas German from the University of Wisconsin collaborates with researchers from the University of California-Davis, University of Georgia and Hebrew University in Jerusalem to find a way to control the tomato tospovirus. This virus affects more than 1,000 species of plants including tomatoes and peppers, causing billions of dollars of damage worldwide. This virus is transmitted by a tiny insect that is hard to control because of its enormous reproduction rate. These collaborators are studying the mechanism by which the insects transmit the disease in hopes of finding new methods to prevent it.

Wisconsin produces more than $100 million worth of potatoes a year. Today, many U.S. seed potatoes are checked for debilitating diseases, which may cause substantial economic losses, using a new test developed by BARD grantees. Wisconsin, being a large dairy farming state, also benefits from research done regarding inert fats in the diet. Since BARD grantees proved that inert fats in the diet are healthy, nutritional and also affect fertility, they have become part of commercial rations in both the U.S. and Israel.

Madison's Saxon Homestead Farm invested in the Israeli-based company SCR that makes a system involving electronic cow collars that help farmers use data to determine when to breed them. Karl Klessig, whose family owns a dairy farm and cheese-making business in eastern Wisconsin, was the among the first American to invest, in 2009, in the SCR-sold system. This technology is just one example of how Israeli agricultural innovation is helping farmers around the United States, like previous inventions such as Netafim's drip irrigation that revolutionized crop growing.

Other Cooperative Programs top

GE Medical Systems of Milwaukee received a grant from the U.S.-Israel Science & Technology Commission for a joint project with ISORAD to develop high performance imaging cameras for medicine.

 

Sister Cities: top

None.

UJA Partnership 2000 Communities:

WISCONSIN. . . . . .. . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ISRAEL

Milwaukee

 

State Contacts: top

Hillel Campus Profiles

Elmer Winter
Committee for Economic Growth in Israel
5301 Ironwood Rd.
Milwaukee, WI 53201
Tel. 414-961-1000
Fax. 414-906-7878
Email. barbarad@inc.net

Kenosha Jewish Welfare Fund
600 68th Place
Kenosha, WI 53143
Tel. 414-697-0300

Madison Jewish Community Council
6434 Enterprise Lane
Madison, WI 53719-1117
Tel. 608-278-1808
Fax. 608-278-7814

Milwaukee Jewish Council for Community Relations
1360 North Prospect Ave., 2nd Fl.
Milwaukee, WI 53202-3091
Tel. 414-276-7920
Fax. 414-276-7902
Email. mjccr@aol.com

Milwaukee Jewish Federation
1360 North Prospect Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Tel. 414-390-5700

Sherwin Pomerantz, Israel Director
Wisconsin Department of Commerce
c/o Atid EDI Ltd
Bldg. 2, Har Hotzvim, P.O. Box 45005
Jerusalem
Israel 91450
Tel. 2­571­0199
Fax. 2­571­0713
Email. atidedi@netvision.net.il
URL: www.atid-edi.com/wisconsin.htm

Wisconsin Dept. of Development
123 West Washington Ave., P.O. Box 7970
Madison, WI 53707
Tel. 608-267-9330
Fax. 608-266-5551


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