State-to-State Cooperation:
Minnesota and Israel

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Minnesota Jewish History



Trade and Population Statistics

Exports to Israel (2015)
      Percentage Change (2014-2015)
      Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)
Israel's Trade Partner Rank (2015)
Military Contracts with Israel (2015)
Jewish Population (2015)
      Jewish Percentage of Population


Binational foundation grants shared by Minnesota and Israel

Agricultural Research & Development (1979-Present)
Science & Technology (1996-Present)
Industrial Research & Development (1977-Present)
Total Binational Grants

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

ADC Magnetic Controls Co.
American Paging, Inc.
AVR Sonovation, Inc.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Guidant Corp.
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Foundation
Network Communication Corp.
Square D
TRO Learning Inc.
University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota Medical School
Uro-Care Laboratory
Wicat Systems Inc.


Bilateral Institutions

American-Israel Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota -
Established in 1980, AICCM serves its members by being the best resource and catalyst for developing strategic alliances between the business communities of Minnesota and Israel. The Chamber's goal is to provide services to companies in Minnesota and Israel who want to do business together. To learn more about the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota, CLICK HERE.


Cooperative Agreements - "Memoranda of Understanding"

In 1987, Gov. Rudy Perpich established the Minnesota-Israel Exchange (MNIX) to foster cooperation and promote trade, investment, science and industry.


Minnesota Government Missions to Israel

July 2012 - St. Paul Mayor Norm Coleman traveled to Israel as a "show of support" for Israeli official . Coleman's agenda includes meetings with Israeli mayors and senior politicians.

November 2011 - St. Paul Mayor Christopher Coleman traveled to Israel with the American Jewish Comittee (AJC) and four other major U.S. city mayors as part of Project Interchange, and AJC-run educational institute.

December 2008 - Governor Tim Pawlenty led a trade mission focusing primarly on the technology sector and possibly collaboration with Israeli and Minnesota companies. Gov Pawlenty's delegation included state officials, representatives of the state's Jewish community as well as executives with numerous Minnesota technology firms. The idea of the trip was mainly to help Minnesota-based companies find bbusiness opportunities through new technologies. Read more about the trade mission, CLICK HERE.

August 2007 - Representative Keith Ellison joined a group of 19 Congress members, mostly freshmen Democrats, on a week long trip to Israel sponsored by the America Israel Education Federation. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) personally invited Rep. Ellison, the first Muslim-American elected to Congress, to join the trip. While in Israel the group met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The delegation also viewed the Israeli border with Lebanon to get a personal understanding of the proximity of Hezbollah strongholds to northern Israeli towns and cities. Rep. Ellison made headline news when he announced that Israel would not allow him to travel to Gaza to see the situation in the strip for himself; a year and a half later, though, in February 2009, Rep. Ellison did in fact travel to Gaza. Read more about Rep. Ellison's trip to Israel, CLICK HERE.

March 2007 - Rep. Ellison joined a Congressional "fact-finding" mission to the Middle East which included stops in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Israel. The group met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and also discussed the viability of the Saudi Peace Initiative. Rep. Ellison visited Islam's third holiest site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, while on the mission and called the trip very "personally moving."

April 1994 - Governor Arne Carlson hosted a business and trade development mission to Israel with a delegation that included representatives from 14 different Minnesota companies. The trip was organized by the Minnesota Trade Office and the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce of Minnesota. The group left with the possibility of developing manufacturing agreements with Israeli companies that have technology expertise.


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. Minnesota is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.

In 2012, Minnesota exported over $84,403,090.00 worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Minnesota exports to Israel have totaled more than $1,135,368,202.00 and Israel now ranks as Minnesota’s 24th leading trade partner.

Additionally in 2012, Minnesota received more than $6,499,866.83in 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: Polaris Industries in Medina, Shield Technologies Corporation in Eagan and Hysitron Inc. in Minneapolis.

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 Minnesota.

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 Minnesota is limited only by the imagination.


Minnesota 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.

More than 100 Minnesota companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including 3M, American Paging, Radisson Hotels Worldwide, Cargill and National Car Rental.

ADC Telecommunications has been selling telecommunication products to Israel for more than a decade. The company provides fiber optic transmission equipment for Israeli cable television and the national phone company.

“Israel is a very good market for us,” says Jory Steinman, Director of Global Distribution Sales. “We do well in small markets that want the highest quality and latest technology. And that's what the Israelis want." Steinman said Israel is also one of the most competitive markets in the world, but an easy place to do business.

Tim Walsh, Vice President of the Edina-based Plato International division of TRO, has had a “very positive experience” selling educational software to Israel. The company has the largest library of educational courses for schools, and has been working with Israeli software developers for about four years. “Israel has very talented people, and the quality of the companies attracted us to Israel,” says Walsh.

Plato's Israeli partners have developed good products for its clients, according to Walsh. “With the possible exception of the United States, Israel is probably the leading software developer in the world in certain areas.”

Many Minnesota companies do business with Israel through the U.S. Government, which has an extensive program for buying and selling military equipment. Napco International, for example, sells components for military vehicles and buys Israeli electronics. The company is also involved in joint ventures with Israeli companies for projects in third countries. “Trade benefits both countries,” says Vice President of Marketing Shimon Pelleg.

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. More than eight Minnesota companies have benefited from nearly $2 million in BIRD grants over the last three decades.

In 2011, the Mayo Clinic, based out of Rochester, was granted a BIRD sponsorship to collaborate with the Israeli-based company Healarium to develop an application for self monitoring of cardiovascular risk. As of July 2011 the coordination between the two international companies was getting under way and great successes are expected.

Another Minnesota company, American Paging, has teamed with Nexus of Israel on two BIRD projects to develop, manufacture and market wireless personal communications systems.

The two-way paging system the companies have developed will allow a person to use their pager to respond directly to a message rather than having to make a phone call to reach the contact, according to Manager of Business Development Stuart Shwiff.

The pager can also be used to initiate communications, for example, to call the office. The system is less expensive and does not have to be charged as often as a cellular phone.

Shwiff says his company benefitted from Nexus' expertise. "Nexus is at the cutting edge of technology in Israel," he said. The product is still in the pre-commercial phase in the United States, but systems have already been sold in Australia and Russia.

The Minneapolis-based American-Israel Chamber of Commerce can provide additional information about BIRD and other business opportunities in Israel.


Scientific Innovations

Minnesota 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 Minnesota is among the state's recipients that have shared nearly $2.3 million in BSF grants awarded since 1996 alone.

H. Ted Davis is interested in structures of colloidal solutions. This has practical applications for a wide variety of consumer products, from toothpaste to soap to lotions and creams. By gaining a better understanding of the properties of these solutions, Davis said, it is possible to make improvements in these products.

This is the third BSF grant Davis has shared with one of his former Ph.D. students. He has continued to work with the Israeli scientist because he is "a rich intellect" and "better at electron microscopy than I am." The researchers have discovered new structures and how they can be manipulated. They also have pioneered techniques in freezing solutions so they can be examined under the microscope. "No other person in the world has my colleague's expertise in this area," Davis said.

BSF-sponsored studies benefit the United States by extending research resources to achieve milestones that might not otherwise be attainable; introducing novel approaches and techniques that can lead American researchers to move in new directions; confirming, clarifying and intensifying research projects; providing access to Israeli equipment and facilities and early access to Israeli research results that speed American scientific advances. BSF documented no less than 75 new discoveries that probably would not have been possible without foundation-supported collaboration.

Agriculture Benefits

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.

The University of Minnesota and other Minnesota institutions have shared BARD grants worth more than $2.2 million since 1979.

In 2010, Professors Carl Rosen and David Mulla of the University of Minnesota completed the first year of a three year BARD grant in collaboration with researchers in the Israel Ministry of Agriculture. The focus of their joint project has been to investigate novel remote sensing techniques to identify nitrogen and water stress in irrigated potato crops. The overall goal of this BARD-sponsored research is to help potato growers in both Israel and Minnesota manage nitrogen and water more efficiently to reduce impacts on the environment and at the same time optimize potato yield and quality.

Finding successful partnerships that will continue to grow in the future is another great advantage of BARD grants. While more definitive results and findings for this research will only be available in the coming years, the researchers are excited about the opportunity to work together and believe that their strengths complement each other tremendously. As Dr. Rosen said, "The collaboration [between the U of Minnesota and the Minsitry of Agriculture] would not have been possible were it not for the BARD funding," and added that they, "expect that our collaboration will continue even after this BARD grant has ended."

Wesley Hackett is interested in learning why some tree species can be propagated and others cannot. Ideally, he would like to clone species that have more desirable characteristics. For example, it would be beneficial to capture the characteristic of a tree that produces better fruit.

"The Israelis are good scientists," Hackett said. "They are aggressive in tackling practical problems, especially related to horticultural products." Hackett also benefits from the intellectual interaction, but the bottom line is the research could not be done without the money BARD provides.

Israel is well-known for its cooperative farms, but economic reversals in recent years led critics to question whether they could compete with investor-owned farms. Economist Claudia Parliament and her Israeli colleague compared American and Israeli structures and found the latter worked quite well. In fact, Parliament found "the Israeli cooperatives performed as well or better than investor-owned farms." The collaboration was a good match of abilities, she said, because the Israeli had a strong background in finance and understood the political influences on the Israeli coops. Parliament's knowledge of coops and training in econometrics complemented his skills.

Minnesota geese lay eggs for only about five months each year. Another BARD project at the University found that artificial lighting could increase the length of the laying season, and stimulate geese to lay eggs more frequently.

Another project involving Minnesota BARD grantees relates to screening barley varieties to find cultivars resistant to brown leaf rust and other cereal diseases.

BARD research done outside the state also benefits Minnesota. For example, non-virulent fungi were found to promote plant growth and increase crop yields of wheat. Minnesota potato farmers can benefit from a test developed to detect potato leaf-roll virus. BARD grantees also found that inert fats in the diet of dairy cattle can boost milk fat and protein quality. Yet another project developed a new method to store wheat that reduces damage from insects.


Other Cooperative Programs

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Sister Cities

MINNESOTA. . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ISRAEL

St. Paul


UJA Partnership 2000 Communities

MINNESOTA. . . . . . . . . .. . .. . . .. . . .. . . .. .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ISRAEL

St. Paul

State Contacts:

Hillel Campus Profiles

Matthew Heilicher, Executive Director
American-Israel Chamber of Commerce
13100 Wayzata Blvd., #130
Minneapolis, MN 55305
Tel. 612-593-8666
Fax. 612-593-8668
Email. [email protected]
JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas
12 North 12th St., #480
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Tel. 612-338-7816
Fax. 612-349-6569
Email.[email protected]
Jewish Federation
1602 E 2nd St
Duluth, MN 55812-1656
Tel. 218-724-8857
United Jewish Fund & Council
790 South Cleveland, #201
St. Paul, MN 55116
Tel. 612-690-1707
Sherwin Pomerantz,  Director
American -Israel Chamber of Commerce
c/o Atid EDI Ltd
Bldg. 2, Har Hotzvim, P.O. Box 45005
Israel 91450
Tel. 2­571­0199
Fax. 2­571­0713
Email. [email protected]
Minneapolis Federation for Jewish Service
5901 South Cedar Lake Rd.
Minneapolis, MN 55416
Tel. 612-593-2600
Minnesota Dept. of Trade & Economic Development
1000 Minnesota World Trade Center, 30 East 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55101-4902
Tel. 612-297-4222
Fax. 612-296-3555


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