|Exports to Israel (2021)||
|Percentage Change (2020-2021)||
|Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)||
|Israel’s Trade Partner Rank (2021)||
|California’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2021)||3|
|Military Contracts with Israel (2015)||
|Jewish Population (2022)||
|Jewish Percentage of Population||
|Agricultural Research & Development (1979-Present)||
|Science & Technology (1999-Present)||
|Industrial Research & Development (1977-Present)||
Grant Recipients in California From U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
3M Unitek Corp.
Hydrologic Research Center
Silicon Graphics Inc.
BioDesign Innovation Institute:
In 2013, Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Center opened the BioDesign Innovation Institute in Jerusalem in cooperation with Stanford University. The institutes teach a course on developing new medical technologies and how to bring them to market. The institute has so far announced four new technologies including a device to fight obesity, a new process for accelerating denture fabrication, an infra-red guided system for intubation, and a semi-automatic device to assist with IV insertion.
California-Israel Technology Collaborative:
Founded in the early 2000s by a group of physicians, students, alumni, and faculty of UCLA, the “CAL-I-TC” is based on finding and encouraging opportunities for high-technology transfer and innovation. It encourages partnerships between the major Israeli universities and the California business and investment communities. The CAL-I-TC strives to harness one of Israel’s greatest assets, its capacity for innovation, nurturing it with teachable social and business networking skills, to accelerate the commercialization rate of Israeli technology.
California-Israel Chamber of Commerce:
The CICC is a not-for-profit, non-governmental membership-supported organization dedicated to strengthening business and trade relations between California and Israel. With its wide and dynamic network of more than nine wide and dynamic networks of over 9,000 companies, business executives, and investors, CICC is positioned to serve as a facilitator and active supporter of joint venture programs between the two communities. Through networking events, mentorship programs, investment forums, and educational seminars, CICC contributes to a stronger business and commercial alliance between California and Israel. Famous Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi found and CEO of Better Place, as well as numerous other innovators, headline the advisory board leadership of the CICC.
Southern California-Israel Chamber of Commerce:
The SCICC is a non-profit, non-governmental organization dedicated to fostering bilateral business, trade, and investment opportunities between Southern California- cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego- and Israel. It is an essential gateway for individuals and companies of all sizes who currently conduct business in Southern California and/or Israel; plan to initiate or expand into these areas; seek strategic trade and investment partners, or simply want to stay informed about their respective business and investment climates and opportunities.
In 1992, then-Gov. Pete Wilson signed an agreement to promote bilateral trade and tourism with Israel. The California Israel Exchange (CIX) was established to promote mutual business development in the areas of biomedicine, energy, telecommunications, high technology, and agrotechnology. In May 1998, a new R&D cooperative agreement in the area of biotechnology was formed and, in October 1999, signed by Gov. Gray Davis when he visited Israel.
California Assembly Bill 2844 was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on September 24, 2016 The law requires those who enter into contracts with state agencies to certify that they are not involved in activities that violate the Unruh Civil Rights act, including support for the BDS movement and its programs.
In February 2016, Israel’s Science and Technology Minister Ophir Akunis signed an agreement between Israel’s Science and Technology Ministry and the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. The agreement provides a framework for collaboration on stem-cell research, which will be jointly funded by both participants.
Governor Jerry Brown and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed an agreement to cooperate on research and technology in July 2014. Chief Scientist Avi Hasson called the deal another in a series of “votes of confidence in Israel’s economy, industry and innovation from a large number of US states and companies.” This agreement would export Israeli desalination, water recovery and recycling, water filtration, and water security technology to water-needy U.S. states.
In March 2014, Governor Jerry Brown signed a pro-business agreement with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expand Israel-California cooperation. The pact will cover collaboration in cybersecurity, biotechnology, health, water conservation, and effective strategies to fight drought. “California doesn’t need to have a water problem,” Netanyahu said. “Israel has no water problems because we are the number one recyclers of wastewater, we stop water leaks, we use drip irrigation and desalination.”
In November 2009, Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield (D-San Fernando Valley) visited Israel and officially signed, together with prominent business leaders from California and Israel, a copy of his legislation, AB 1032, calling for immediate implementation of technology development, business development, and educational opportunities in solar energy and the environmental technology industries. In a Tel Aviv press conference, Blumenfield spoke about the legislation which had been signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. “As California takes on the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, there is much we can learn from the experience and expertise of Israel,” Blumenfield said. “In turn, Israel can benefit from improved communication with, and access to, California’s emerging green-technology sector.”
In June 2008, the mayor of Los Angeles, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, and the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) in Herzliya, Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to tighten the existing relations between the ICT and the City of Los Angeles Homeland Security apparatuses and academic institutions, including the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Los Angeles World Airports. Under the agreement, the ICT will offer innovative homeland security training and education programs to Los Angeles decision makers and lay leaders, first responders, and law enforcement; the ICT will give two 50% tuition scholarships to its homeland security executive studies for two homeland security practitioners, to be selected by the Mayor, in 2009; the ICT will accept up to 4 homeland security interns annually from Los Angeles universities and/or research centers, and the ICT will host LAPD officers at the 9/11 annual international conference.
In October 1999, Governor Gray Davis and Avishay Braverman of Ben Gurion University of the Negev signed a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation in biotechnology, bioinformatics, and bio-agriculture to create increased commercial and research linkages. The MOU was officially for cooperation between the Israel Biotechnology Organization and the California Commission on Bioscience. The MOU is still in effect today and it has no known sunset.
In June 1998, Governor Pete Wilson and Israeli Minister of Trade and Industry Natan Sharansky signed a memorandum of intent to encourage the growth of trade and investment relations with the prospect of expanding the growing economic cooperation between California and Israel. Sharansky noted that California and Israel are “natural partners in high tech” and Governor Wilson added that the pact “encourages...investment, supports international industrial research and development and encourages a free exchange of ideas and wisdom between businesses, trade associations and commercial institutions.”
January 2018 - California State University Northridge President Diane Harrison and San Jose State University President Mary Papazian visited Israel in January 2018 to tour Israeli universities and learn from their curriculum, techniques, and procedures. She was joined by other University and College Presidents from Georgia State University, Hunter College, New College of Florida, and Wake Forest University. The group held working meetings with administrators from Bar Ilan University, Ono Academic College, Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, the University of Haifa, and Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art.
February 2013 - Representative Mike Thomson (CA-05), a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), traveled to Israel and the Palestinian territories with the HPSCI to gain perspective and assessment of the security environment from officials in the field. Thompson met with Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Salam Fayyad, and Interior Minister of the Palestinian Authority Said Abu-Ali. Thompson also met with Israeli and Palestinian intelligence officers.
August 2011 - House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R) led the Republican delegation of 56 congressmen to Israel in the largest-ever U.S. lawmaker visit to the country. Additionally, Congresswomen Janice Hahn, Loretta Sanchez, and Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and John Garamendi went on the trip which gave politicians an opportunity to learn about the U.S.-Israel relationship and the U.S. role in Israel’s national security.
November 2009 - Governor Schwarzenegger participated in a forum on Middle East policy in Jerusalem sponsored by the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and the Brookings Institution. Former President Bill Clinton, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), and various Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, were also included in the forum.
May 2008 - Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) visited Israel as part of an official, bipartisan American congressional delegation which came to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Jewish state’s founding. While in Israel, Rep. Pelosi took the opportunity to speak with Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni with whom she discussed the various regional threats to Israel and ways that the United States could help combat these threats.
April 2008 - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom joined a mission organized by the Jewish Community Federation’s Business Leadership Council (BLC) whose stated goal was to build ties between business leaders in the greater Bay Area and Israel and to provide first-hand exposure to Israel’s vast potential for investment, networking, and business partnerships. The mayor joined the mission with an eye toward fostering greater relationships between local entrepreneurs and business leaders in the high-tech, biotech and clean-tech industries, and their counterparts in Israel.
March 2007 - Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi led a Congressional delegation on a “fact-finding” mission to the Middle East that included stops in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, and Israel. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim-American elected to Congress, joined the trip as well. The delegation met with numerous high-ranking government leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and discussed the viability of the proposed Saudi Peace Initiative for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Rep. Pelosi also addressed the Knesset to explain the importance of the partnership between the U.S. and Israel.
May 2004 - Governor Schwarzenegger visited Jerusalem as part of his trip around the Middle East and paid tribute to Holocaust victims while at a ceremony at the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem. Gov. Schwarzenegger also met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
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.
Today’s interdependent global economy requires that trade policy be developed at the national and state level.
Many states have recognized the opportunity to realize significant benefits by seeking to increase trade with Israel. California is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2021, California exported more than $1.4 billion worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, California’s exports to Israel have totaled nearly $39 billion and Israel now ranks as California’s 24th leading trade partner. California ranks 3rd among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, California companies received more than $109 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, California companies have received nearly $1.3 billion in FMF. These include Marvin Land System, Inc, Check Point Software Tech, Inc based out of Redwood City, Spirent Federal Systems, Inc from Yorba Linda, and the Boeing Company.
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 California.
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.
California has also received nearly $80 million worth of grants from binational U.S.-Israel foundations for joint research in science, agriculture, and the promotion of commercial ventures.
A variety 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 California is limited only by the imagination.
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 U.S. and Europe. Moreover, because of its 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.
More than 1,500 California companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including Facebook, Google, KLA, Hewlett Packard and Silicon Graphics. Israel is California’s 2nd largest export market.
Intel Corporation first established its design center in Haifa in 1974, then a sales office in Tel Aviv, a manufacturing facility in Jerusalem, and, later, a $1.6 billion fabrication plant in Kiryat Gat to add to its semiconductor manufacturing capability there. Today, Intel operates four design centers and two production facilities in Israel. The Pentium MMX chip was designed in Israel, as were the 286 and 386 microprocessors and parts of the 486 and Pentium processors. The Israeli team has also worked on the new processors designed for netbooks (Cedarview) and Windows 8 machines (Cloverview). Former Intel President and CEO Andy Grove told the Israel California Trade Review that, “there were many highly talented engineers coming from Israel’s institutions.”
In 2011, Intel announced it would invest roughly $19 million over a five-year period in the establishment of an institute to conduct research on computational intelligence. The institute is to be jointly managed by Intel and academic researchers in Israel.
In May 2012, Intel announced the establishment of the Collaborative Research Institute for Computational Intelligence in Israel, focusing on applying machine learning, brain-inspired computation and advanced computer architecture to software. “Within five years all of the human senses will be in computers, and in 10 years we will have more transistors in one chip than neurons in the human brain,” Mooly Eden, president of Intel Israel told Tel Aviv Tech. “The expectations from the Institute for Computational Intelligence is that it will provide a leap forward in research and in ideas that will be translated into products and applications.
Intel is also working to help Israel retain its competitive edge in technology. Intel CEO Paul Otellini visited Israel in November 2012 and announced a new $5 million program aimed at doubling the number of Israeli students with a scientific and technological matriculation certificate. Working in cooperation with the Education Ministry, the program will be launched in 25 schools in southern Israel.
In 2021, Intel announced plans for a new $200 million facility in Haifa. The company is also investing $400 million in Mobileye, a Jerusalem-based maker of self-driving technologies it acquired in 2017 for more than $15 billion. In 2019, Intel bought artificial intelligence chipmaker Habana for $2 billion and, a year later, Moovit for $1 billion.
Israel’s Finance Ministry said in May 2021 it would provide Intel with a $10 billion grant to build a new plant to build microchips. Intel is the largest employer of Israel’s high-tech industry with nearly 14,000 workers.
During a visit to Israel to announce the new investments, Intel Chief Executive Pat Gelsinger predicted “a vibrant future for Intel and Israel for decades to come.”
Another sign of Israel’s high-tech prowess is the acquisition of Israeli companies by U.S. companies, such as Intel’s purchase of Telmap, which develops navigation and location-based services.
Silicon Valley companies with subsidiaries in Israel include Harmonic Light Waves, a leader in wireless communication technology, and DSP Communications. Companies with research and development facilities in Israel include BioRad, a leader in the field of biological radiation, Cisco Systems, a manufacturer of multi-protocol equipment, and Hewlett Packard.
In 2020, chipmaker Nvidia acquired Israeli-based Mellanox for $6.9 billion. Mellanox makes chips and other hardware for data center servers used to provide cloud computing services. As of March 2021, Nvidia had seven R&D centers employing more than 2,400 workers. That month, the company announced plans to hire 600 hardware and software engineers to work on AI-based technologies.
Google’s first office in Israel opened in 2006 when the company was just five years old. Since then they have expanded; with 600 engineers in the country as of October 2016 and a large dedicated start-up “campus” in Tel Aviv. Google has purchased five Israeli companies, most notably paying over $1 billion for the Israeli-developed GPS application Waze.
Don Dodge, the Google developer partner advocate, stated to Business Insider magazine that he has been to “every corner of the earth... [and] there is no other country on earth that thinks the same way that we [Google] do like Israel does.” Half of Google’s Israeli engineers are graduates of Tel Aviv University, and Dodge argues “there’s an amazing source of talent here.” He added, “Israel truly is the ‘Startup Nation.’ You think like us. You break things, you make things, you’re creative. It’s special.”
In April 2021, Google officially announced it would set up local cloud infrastructure in Israel. Once completed, the local Google cloud is expected to improve cloud services for the local startup industry which the state believes will benefit substantially from the move. Along with Amazon, Google will set up and operate Israel’s Project Nimbus, which involves the construction of local cloud server centers.
In 2022, Google announced it was investing $25 million over five years to increase opportunities in Israel’s hi-tech sector for underrepresented groups, including women, Arab citizens, ultra-orthodox Jews, and residents of the geographic periphery. Google and Reichman University also created a School of High-Tech that will prepare students for professions that are in high demand in the Israeli high-tech market: programming, software testing, business development, sales, data analysis, and more.
Oracle is also expected to open a cloud-related center in Jerusalem in the summer of 2021
In 2013, Facebook paid $100 million for Israeli startup Onavo, which develops mobile applications that allow users to track their cellphone data usage plans. This was the third startup purchased by Facebook but the first to remain in Israel. Facebook planned to convert Tel Aviv-based Onavo into an R&D center.
In 2022, Meta (formerly Facebook) partnered with Hebrew University’s Rachel and Selim Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering and Yissum technology transfer company in a Ph.D. program focused on advanced artificial intelligence (AI) research for the marketplace.
Why is Facebook in Israel?
“Israel is a world leader in all areas of tech,” Facebook’s Maayan Sarig told the Jerusalem Post. “Israel is the only country in the Middle East with no oil. No oil, no soil, no water. What do you do? You innovate.”
According to Facebook’s page on career opportunities in Israel, “Our teams in Israel build apps and services that help connect billions of people around the world, giving them ways to share what matters most to them. The office has an entrepreneurial spirit and a family feel. We move really fast and create impact at scale by building and shipping products like Novi, DataAI, Blockchain, Free Basics, Express Wi-Fi, Data Experiences, and Facebook Lite.”
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 companies 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 1977, the Foundation has approved investments in more than 1,000 projects, which have yielded direct and indirect revenues of more than $10 billion. More than $125 million worth of grants has been approved for projects in 37 states and the District of Columbia.
Dr. Eli Opper, the former Israeli chair of BIRD, has said that BIRD is a strong pillar of U.S.-Israel industrial cooperation and that the extreme success of BIRD has led Israel to adopt similar models of R&D with other countries.
Several California companies have taken advantage of the BIRD program, including Telkelec, Caere Corporation, and Harris Corporation, and have received more than $35 million in grants.
In July 2011, two new California-based companies were awarded BIRD grants to begin collaboration with Israeli companies. Access Systems America, from Sunnyvale, will team with Human Monitoring to develop a social e-publishing ecosystem for interactive content. In San Francisco, Affine Systems will start coordination with Ron Soferman to develop an online video ad-targeting application using computer vision technology.
In December 2011, two California-based companies were awarded BIRD Foundation grants to partner with Israeli companies. San Ramon-based Mirion Technologies was awarded funding through the BIRD Foundation to partner with the Israeli-based company iFibers to develop a portable laser thermoluminescence radiation dosimeter. Also, Laguna Niguel-based company Daylight CIS was awarded funding through the BIRD Foundation to partner with Semantipedia to develop a web-based, semantic platform for Life Sciences. These grants are part of over $8.1 million awarded by BIRD to nine new projects in December 2011 to companies throughout the U.S. and Israel.
WaferScale Integration (WSI) in Fremont creates support chips called Programmable System Devices (PSD) that are used in telecommunication, industrial, and consumer products worldwide. WSI opened a design center in Netanya, Israel, and received several BIRD grants for new kinds of PSDs. They created Flash memory-based PSD products that enable product designers to speed up the design process, and allow manufacturing managers to insert final test and operating codes into a product as it goes down an assembly line. They also designed ZPSD devices that consume only microwatts of power and are used in cellular phones, 2-way pagers, medical instruments, and other mobile products.
San Diego-based ComStream Communications used a BIRD grant to collaborate with the Israeli company Orckit Communications. They developed a Digital Satellite Modem that was a technological and commercial success.
Squaw Valley-based Harris Corporation joined CTP Systems in Israel. They developed the communication industry’s first Wireless PBX systems, thanks to a BIRD grant.
Mindsense Biosystems Ltd., an Israeli company targeting the discovery of biological markers for psychiatric disorders, has teamed with Ciphergen Biosystems, Inc., a California-based developer and manufacturer of the ProteinChip System for protein discovery, characterization, and assay development. The Mindsense and Ciphergen collaborative plan include the use of proteomics tools such as the ProteinChip for the discovery of major depression biomarkers in blood samples. Currently available methods for diagnosis and monitoring of psychiatric disorders are based on the use of formal questionnaires/interviews. The introduction of biochemical tools will add objectivity to the current process and will shorten the duration of the assessment of therapeutic efficacy. This approach allows for the reliable comparison of clinical status over extended periods of time.
Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation Systems (NESS) Ltd., an Israeli company using Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for rehabilitation of the upper body extremity, has teamed with J&J Independence Technologies, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary whose mission is the development of products using innovative technologies to help meet the needs and desires of people with disabilities. The project focuses on the development of a system that assists in the rehabilitation and improves the quality of life of children suffering from cerebral palsy or from traumatic head injuries. The purpose of the system will be to activate the patient’s neuromuscular system to improve the condition of the malfunctioning limbs, normalize posture, and restore functional movements. The system will stimulate the child, encourage maximum participation and acknowledge success at a self-adapting level.
IBM Israel in Haifa and Tensorcom Wireless (San Diego) will develop an ultra-low power 60GHz wireless capability for short-distance applications through grants from BIRD.
In 2016, Evogene in Rehovot and Arcadia Biosciences in Davis received a BIRD grant to work on novel drought-tolerant wheat varieties. In 2019, AgroScout from Misgav and San Francisco-based Birdstop received support to develop a digital agronomy system for automated early detection of crop diseases and pests using a drone-in-a-box platform. Another grant that year went to Raicol Crystals in Rosh Ha’ayin and Qubitekk, Inc. in Bakersfield to develop an efficient miniaturized entangled photon source for quantum computing. Netanya-based 3PLW and Albany-based Corumat received support to develop Food Waste Derived High-Performance Compostable Packaging.
In 2020, BeeHero based in Tel Aviv, and Tauzer Apiaries from Woodland received funding to develop a smart pollination platform for better crop yields. Also, in 2020, Vaya Vision in Or Yehuda teamed with Trimble in Sunnyvale to develop a perception-based autonomous-driving system for vehicles and heavy machinery in the agriculture, construction, and mining markets.
Also in 2020, the BIRD Homeland Security (HLS) program funded a project by Ception Technologies in Jerusalem and Hivemapper in Burlingame to develop a Fused Air and Ground 3D Mapping System.
BIRD Energy has provided a grant for Panoramic Power, Ltd, from Kidron, Israel, and Mazzetti Nash Lipsey Burch (MNLB) from San Francisco to develop and pilot a self-powered, wireless current sensor that will facilitate load management strategies in commercial buildings.
Over recent years tech giant Apple has invested significant money and manpower in the Israeli market. Israeli 3D sensor company PrimeSense was acquired by Apple for a reported $360 million in November 2013. There is no official word yet as to why Apple purchased the company but speculation suggests that they will be developing a similar program to Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect, or integrating more motion-based user interfaces into their next generation of devices. In August 2014 Apple announced five new Vice Presidents, including Israeli-born Johny Srouji as the Vice President of Hardware and Technologies. Johny is a former resident of Haifa and is now the top Israeli in Silicon Valley. International news sources reported on August 28 that Apple is poised to open a new office for marketing and sales in Herzliya, expanding its presence in the Israeli market and creating new jobs in addition to the 600 Israelis already employed by the company. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook met with Netanyahu earlier in 2014 to discuss market viability, and Apple now heads a list of tech giants with offices in Israel including LG, Toshiba, Samsung, and Asus. For more information on this expansion of Apple’s business into Israel.
California 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 fields for peaceful and non-profit purposes.
Since its inception, and in today’s value, BSF has awarded over $700 million to more than 5,000 research projects involving thousands of scientists from more than 400 U.S. institutions located in 46 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. Many of these projects have led to important scientific, medical, and technological breakthroughs with wide-ranging practical applications.
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.
Institutions in California have received nearly $17 million in BSF grants.
Highly sophisticated infrared optical fibers are being developed and fabricated jointly by research teams headed by Prof. Avraham Katzir (Tel Aviv University) and Prof. Amnon Yariv (California Institute of Technology), with BSF support. These fibers are to be used by NASA in its search of habitable extra-solar planets. The effort to identify habitable planets concentrates on the identification of a pair of stars similar to the earth and the sun and the detection of oxygen, water, and carbon dioxide. Each of these has a characteristic “color” in the infrared, invisible to the human eye, but which can be detected by sensitive infrared equipment. Both NASA and the European Space Agency have programs aimed at identifying the presence of life outside our solar system, and BSF-supported research is likely to play a key role in this effort.
In 2010, research taking place at UC San Diego together with their counterpart Israeli institutions through BSF Grants include extremely diverse projects such as:
- The study of human embryonic stem cells aimed at developing therapies for heart failure;
- The calculation of magnetic fields to design electromagnetic devices;
- The development of the largest cosmological calculation ever created;
- The development of information processing in two-way communication methods.
Vice Chancellor for Research at UC San Diego, Art Ellis, spoke about his institution’s ongoing collaborative work funded by BSF grants. “A BSF grant is highly prestigious in the scientific community,” Ellis said. “There are many examples of successful projects conducted by collaborating U.S. and Israeli scholars that were facilitated by BSF funding, this partnership is path-breaking.”
In 2009, Professor Thomas Anders of the University of California received a 4 year BSF grant to work with a team of scientists from North Carolina as well as Tel Aviv University in Israel on possible interventions for infant sleep problems. In early 2011, the project was just getting underway with the beginning stages of research about to start. The possibilities for this research are incredibly important as infant sleep disorders have been known to cause major problems and even, in some cases, can result in death.
With funding help through the BSF, Professor Jonathan Leor of Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv and his colleagues- Professor Robert A. Kloner and Professor Laurence H. Kedes of the University of Southern California (USC)- are starting to find new ways to solve heart failure.
Medivision Medical Imaging Ltd., an Israeli manufacturer of ophthalmic digital imaging systems, and Sacremento-based Ophthalmic Imaging Systems, Inc. (OIS), a U.S. manufacturer of ophthalmic digital imaging, image enhancement systems, and analysis software, are collaborating to develop Computerized Guided Laser Therapy (CGLT) for ophthalmologists. CGLT is a unique, non-invasive therapeutic device that allows manually guided or semi-automatic laser treatment, using diagnostic images. The system consists of an optical integration between a camera and a laser therapeutic system. The two optical channels of the imaging system and the laser are combined so that the ophthalmologist is able to observe a real-time, processed image while carrying out the treatment intervention with the laser. The main advantage of CGLT is to provide the physician with an accurate, efficient, automatic, and user-friendly tool to diagnose and immediately treat various retinal diseases using standard laser therapy techniques. It is expected to improve the quality of therapeutics, saving a significant portion of the physician’s time and cost. In addition, using the new technique specifically in Macular procedures is also expected to eliminate the possibility of partial blinding due to misguided laser burns.
Micro Components Ltd. (MCS), an Israeli company, having rich experience in semiconductor packaging technologies, and California-based Flextronics, a leading electronics design and manufacturing service provider, will jointly develop an advanced Flip Chip (FC) Ball Grid Array (BGA) package and a flip chip module. The BGA package is for high density, fine pitch and high pin count packages. The flip chip module includes CSP, flip chip, 0201 on RF, and Baseband module applications. The objective of the project is to develop the capability for design and manufacture and to start marketing a superior highly complex package for FC silicon dies and flip chip modules, for various applications. Flextronics has developed a system-level interconnect solution that addresses the electronic industry’s need for a high-performance, more reliable, and cost-effective interconnect solution.
In June 2013, scientists Dr. Segev Barak of Tel Aviv University and Professors Dorit Ron and Patrician Janak of the University of California at San Francisco published the findings of their study on brain pathways linked to cravings for alcohol. The authors were able to identify and deactivate a brain pathway in lab rats that prevented the rodents from seeking alcohol and drinking it. Although the research was conducted in lab animals, the authors believe it is quite possible that similar studies will soon test the same treatment strategy in humans, and that the study paves the way for the treatment of other addictions, including tobacco.
“One of the main causes of relapse is craving, triggered in the memory by certain cues - like going into a bar, or the smell or taste of alcohol,” said Barak, the lead author. “What we learned is that when rats were exposed to the smell or taste of alcohol there was a small window of opportunity to target the area of the brain that reconsolidates the memory of the craving for alcohol and to weaken or erase the memory - and thus the craving.”
California began experiencing increasing drought conditions in 2013, after a slight recovery from the drought lasting from 2006-2011. Israeli company IDE Technologies established a water desalination facility in San Diego to help combat this recurring drought, which will be operational by November 2015. Able to produce 7-10% of the San Diego area’s freshwater needs, this plant will produce upwards of 50 million gallons of drinkable water per day. This project had been in development since 1998, with a feasibility study conducted in 2000 and building permits for the facility preliminarily approved in 2002. It is estimated that this water will cost approximately twice as much as the water imported from Northern California and the Colorado River.
In 2021, Google and Tel Aviv University launched a three-year program to promote AI-related multidisciplinary research to address global social, economic, and environmental challenges. Google will provide funding for seven projects and the TAU Center for Artificial Intelligence and Data Science will support three. Some of the approved projects include the use of AI to decipher ancient scripts, study mother-child interactions to look for communication and behavioral patterns, and examine the behavior of fish.
The idea is to get AI researchers together with others from social sciences and humanities, so they can benefit from each other and build “bridges” between the different disciplines, said TAU president Prof. Ariel Porat.
On April 20, 2021, a binational team of U.S. and Israeli archaeologists inaugurated the joint University of Haifa-University of California San Diego Marine Archaeology Research Station in Akko.
“We are joining an international community of excellence in the exploration and research of submerged cultural heritage around the world,” explained UC San Diego Department of Anthropology distinguished professor Thomas E. Levy. “Our Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology (SCMA) vision is to examine climate, environmental and cultural change in the connected ancient world, stretching from the Mediterranean world to India and China.”
“This is the culmination of a most fruitful collaboration in the field of underwater and coastal archaeology,” said University of Haifa professor Assaf Yasur-Landau, who directs the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies. “Our partnership combines decades of experience in underwater archaeology in the Recanati Institute with the world-leading oceanography at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.”
In 1978, the United States and Israel jointly created the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) to help fund programs between U.S. and Israeli scientists for mutually beneficial, mission-oriented, strategic and applied research into agricultural problems. Since its inception, BARD has awarded more than $130 million to U.S. institutions for 1,352 joint projects. A 40-year review in 2019 involving 20 case studies estimated the foundation’s contribution to the U.S. economy at $2.7 billion. BARD research has resulted in the adoption of approximately 200 new agricultural practices, around 40 commercial engagements, and approximately 100 patents and breeding rights licenses.
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.
Seventeen California institutions, including every University of California campus, Stanford, and the Los Angeles County Fire Department have received 277 BARD grants worth nearly $27 million.
Through a grant from BARD, Joseph Smilanick, a researcher with the U.S. Department of Agriculture stationed in California, collaborated with the research wing of Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture to find more effective storage and treatment options for harvested grapes. The ethanol-based formula they created reduces the chance that the grapes will harbor diseases such as E.Coli that would affect its safety and possibly harm consumers.
This BARD-supported research is extremely important to the economies of both Israel and California, where the grape crop has a wholesale value of almost $1.5 billion. In both places, farmers are already using these new techniques for harvesting and for keeping produce fresh. Mr. Smilanick was impressed with how successful the BARD collaboration and administration went and has already submitted a proposal for additional BARD grants.
In a separate BARD-funded program, Michael E. Adams, a professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Riverside, collaborated with a group of scientists from Pennsylvania, Washington, and Israel on a BARD-sponsored project that examined the production of non-hazardous insecticides. The group’s work is not yet completed, though they have made great strides toward developing a new class of insecticides that are highly effective, not harmful to animals and humans, and environmentally friendly; research that has generated much interest in the scientific community worldwide.
This research has been ongoing for nearly two decades and, as this is very important to the farming industry in both the US and Israel, BARD continues to support the project today. With the increase in insecticides used by farmers across both countries, they are raising pollutant levels and, by sheer irony, also increasing incest resistance to these agents. The insecticide the scientists are making will nullify these ill effects.
Carol Lauzon, a professor at California State University, received a BARD grant to collaborate with a research team at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem to study the relationship between the Mediterranean fruit fly- a major agricultural pest - and the bacteria it carries in its gut. The fruit fly, and its destructive bacteria, are believed to be the cause of up to $1 billion in annual losses to the farming business worldwide. The BARD-funded researchers are hoping to find an improved means of dealing with pests and of creating a technique for preventing their bacteria from harming fruit crops.
Two California corporations, McDonnell Douglas Aerospace and Silicon Graphics Inc. have received grants from the U.S.-Israel Science & Technology Commission. The former received $100,000 for a feasibility study conducted with the Weizman Institute/Yeda on developing high efficiency, modular solar central receiver. The latter involved a joint project with Elbit for the production of ultrasound imaging systems.
Researchers Naama Goren-Inbar from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Kenneth Verosub from the University of California at Davis uncovered the remains of a 1.4 million-year-old prehistoric man at a site called Ubeidiya in the Jordan Rift Valley. Goren-Inbar was able to use the Paleomagnetic method with the help of Professor Verosub and the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation to determine the age of the Benot Yaa’qov area. It is approximately 750,000 years old.
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Sources: World Institute for Strategic Economic Research.
Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD).
United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) .
United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF).
Meir Orbach, “Google to invest $25 million over next five years to diversify Israeli tech workforce,” CTECH, (February 20, 2022).
Abigail Klein Leichman,
Google, Meta launch programs at Israeli universities, Israel21c, (October 27, 2022).