State-to-State Cooperation: Massachusetts and Israel
Trade and Population Statistics
|Exports to Israel (2021)|| |
|Percentage Change (2020-2021)|| |
|Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)|| |
|Israel’s Trade Partner Rank (2021)|| |
|Massachusetts’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2021)||15|
|Military Contracts with Israel (2015)|| |
|Jewish Population (2022)|| |
|Jewish Percentage of Population|| |
Binational Foundation Grants
|Agricultural Research & Development (1979-Present)|| |
|Science & Technology (1999-Present)|| |
|Industrial Research & Development (1977-Present)|| |
|Total Binational Grants|| |
Grant Recipients in Massachusetts from U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
Alpha Industries Inc.
Analog Devices, Inc.
Automated Medical Instruments, Inc.
Basicnet Technology Group
BBN Systems & Technology Corp.
BID Medical Center, Inc.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston Children`s Hospital
Boston Technology, Inc.
Boston University Medical
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Brooktrout Technology Inc.
Children's Hospital Medical Ctr
Circe Biomedical, Inc.
Dana Faber Cancer Institute
Data General Corp.
Data Translation Inc.
Diatech Diagnostics Inc.
Digital Equipment Corp.
Energy Sciences Inc.
Fibronics Intl Inc.
Grace W R & Co.
Harvard School of Public Health
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Index Technology Corp.
Intermetrics Microsystems Software, Inc.
IRIS Grpahics, Inc.
Joslin Diabetes Center
Lantheus Medical Imaging
Laser Data, Inc.
Marine Biological Laboratory
Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary
Massachusetts General Hospital
McLean Hospital Corporation
Mitchell Management Inc.
National Bureau of Economic Research
Office Channel Inc.
PARA Research Inc.
Phoenix Technologies Ltd.
Qteros (formerly SunEthanol)
Scitex America Corp.
Shriver Center for Medical Retardation
Siemens Medical Sys. Inc.
SilverPlatter Information Inc.
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
SoftKey International Inc.
Software Devel. Co., Inc.
Spaulding Rehabilitation Network
Stratus Computer Inc.
Summit Technology, Inc.
The DATA Group Inc.
Thermo Fisher Scientific
University of Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth
University of Massachusetts Medical School
Univision Tech., Inc.
US Geological Survey
US WEST Media Group Co.
W.R. Grace & Co.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute
Xyvision Design Systems
Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership -
Formed in June 2011 through a collaboration between Governor Deval Patrick and Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), the MIIP focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship in the life sciences, clean energy, and technology. The partnership was started with $2 million in investments - half from three Massachusetts companies (Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center) and half from Israel’s OCS. This partnership makes Massachusetts the first U.S. state to establish a significant industrial R&D program with Israel. “Massachusetts does billions of dollars in trade with Israel today, and there’s much untapped potential,” Governor Patrick said when he announced the program. “We’ll use the $1 million investment on each side to leverage private investment.”
New England-Israel Business Council -
Home to approximately 100 Israeli-affiliated companies and more than 600 regional U.S. companies that do business with Israel, New England, and Massachusetts in particular, is a great region to develop even greater collaboration between the U.S. and Israel. the NEIBC provides a variety of formal and informal venues for networking, for making connections between Israel and New England people and companies – and for seeking advice on doing business in these two regions. NEIBC hosts annual business summits and setups various other conferences.
Boston-Israel Cleantech Alliance -
BICA connects cleantech investors, entrepreneurs, academic researchers, and government officials in Israel and Boston. Among their main objectives, BICA aims to foster increased economic, scientific, and educational relations between Boston and the State of Israel; coordinate cleantech trade and investment events; and, facilitate investments in, and partnerships with, Israeli companies developing renewable energy, water, and environmental technologies.
March 2011 - Governor Deval Patrick, Israel’s Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, and Israeli Chief Scientist Avi Hasson signed a memorandum of understanding that will allow for further collaboration in research and development programs between Massachusetts and Israeli companies. Both states have made a mutual commitment to life sciences and clean and alternative energy research, and this new MOU will strengthen the partnership between Massachusetts and Israel to facilitate greater economic development and job creation opportunities in the years ahead.
March 2011 - Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki announced a collaboration between UMass Lowell’s NanoManufacturing Center of Excellence and Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel. Researchers at both institutions will investigate fabrication processes for materials with the potential to reduce costs for maintaining and servicing aircraft. Shenkar College is extremely pleased to be cooperating with the University of Massachusetts Lowell, one of the leading institutions in the field of nanotechnology,” said Prof. Yuli Tamir, President of Shenkar College.
May 1987 - The Massachusetts Office of International Trade and Investment signed a general accord with the State of Israel to stimulate trade, investment, education, and medicine collaboration between the two regions.
Massachusetts Government Missions to Israel
December 2016 - Governor Charlie Baker and 40 various business leaders from Massachusetts visited Israel for 6 days in December 2016. The mission’s focus was to facilitate further cooperation between Massachusetts and Israeli cybersecurity and health industries. During the trip, which was funded and planned by the New England Israel Business Council and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the representatives from Massachusetts attended a summit with over 400 Israeli leaders and business executives.
May 2014 - Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick made his second trip to Israel during his term in May 2014. Massachusetts has a positive relationship with Israel, and Patrick stated that the purpose of this trip was to allow for the continued growth of the important relationship between the two states that have created thousands of jobs for Massachusetts residents. Projects announced during the trip include a fund established between MIT and Ben Gurion University to facilitate cooperation in research, a partnership between the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and a partnership between software company PTC and Technion Israel Institute of Technology. 200 Israeli-founded businesses are based in Massachusetts.
March 2014 - Senator Stephen Lynch (D-MA) visited Israel with two colleagues and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. The trio of senators presented Peres with a Congressional medal for his years supporting and nurturing the U.S.-Israel alliance. Lynch affirmed that “the [bilateral] relationship is at the citizen level,” and that regardless of occasional high-level disagreements, the relationship remains strong. Tensions are nothing new and Lynch said “we get past those things” to focus on what matters.
March 2011 - Governor Deval Patrick led a delegation of business and government leaders as part of the Massachusetts Innovation Economy Partnership Mission to Israel and the United Kingdom. The coalition explored growth opportunities within the Commonwealth’s innovation-based industries technology, life sciences, and clean energy, and areas of common interest between the state’s established and emerging partners in Israel and the UK. Governor Patrick met with various high-ranking Israeli government officials, among them President Shimon Peres, took an emotional tour of Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Museum, and signed several MOUs to expand relations between the two states. In general, the mission focused on business expansion, job growth, and collaboration during industry forums, company visits, and meetings.
January/March 2011 - Senator John Kerry (D) traveled twice to the Middle East at the beginning of 2011 to meet both with senior Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Kerry used these trips as a tool in his effort to jumpstart Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations and discuss the growing threats in the Middle East.
June 2010 - Senator John Kerry (D), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited Israel and met with President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem. In addition to congratulating Israel on its advancements for the cause of peace with the Palestinians, he echoed the American belief that Iran is out to develop nuclear weapons and must be stopped.
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. States can benefit from Israeli innovations in these areas as well as through collaboration.
In addition, 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. Massachusetts is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2021, Massachusetts exported nearly $190 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Massachusetts’s exports to Israel have totaled nearly $5 billion and Israel now ranks as Massachusetts’s 28th leading trade partner. Massachusetts ranks 15th among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, Massachusetts companies received more than $10 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, Massachusetts companies have received nearly $332 million in FMF. These include Raytheon Company in Boston, Mathworks, Inc. in Boston, and Pierce Aluminum, Co. in Franklin.
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 Massachusetts.
Israel has developed several 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.
Massachusetts has also received more than $23 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 Massachusetts is limited only by the imagination.
Massachusetts 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 U.S. and Europe. Moreover, because of its deep pool of talent, particularly in high-technology areas, Israel provides excellent investment opportunities. Some of America’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 600 Massachusetts companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including Boston Systematics, Datel Intersil, Mathworks, and Genzyme. In the last decade, some 40 Israeli companies have opened offices in Massachusetts. Boston is, in fact, the fourth largest air passenger market between the U.S. and Israel. Avi Hasson, the Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy stated that “Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to establish a collaborative R&D grant program with Israel, and has been one of the largest recipients of funds from the U.S.-Israel grant program BIRD.”
The New England-Israel Business Council (NEIBC) released a study in 2013 that showed that Israeli companies have had a significant positive contribution to the economy of Massachusetts. This study was the first in-depth analysis of the impact of Israeli firms on the economy of any individual city or state. The NEIBC study found that in 2012, the 211 Israeli firms that had business operations in Massachusetts accounted for 2.9% of the entire state’s GDP and employed 6,700 people with an additional 17,000 jobs supporting the operations of these companies. According to the findings, these Israeli companies had a combined economic impact of $12 billion on the Massachusetts economy. Between 2010 and 2012 revenue at these Israeli-founded companies grew three times faster than the overall economy of Massachusetts.
Datel Intersil is an electronics company based in Mansfield that sells Israel electronic components and subsystems, such as data acquisition boards, power supplies and digital panel meters. Datel has been doing business with Israel for 25 years, and, according to Russell Mitnik, Datel’s International Sales Manager, has found it profitable. “Israel is stable financially and on the cutting edge of technology. Israel many times pushes us to advance,” said Mitnik.
Israel’s VRHealth, which has offices in Tel Aviv and Boston, is using virtual reality to assist with pain management and physical therapy.
EquipNet Ltd. is a spin-off of TICI Software Systems Ltd.- a leading Israeli contract engineering software house. Massachusetts-based PRI Automation is a leading U.S. supplier of factory automation systems for semiconductor manufacturers and OEM equipment suppliers. The teamed companies, serving the semiconductor industry, are applying Internet technology and methodology to software that controls, manages and connects equipment to its users. EquipNet’s solution translates data generated during the manufacturing process into a standard off-the-shelf database such as Oracle or SQL server. EquipNet’s technology essentially transforms any system into a Web site, thus enabling the application of standard commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) Internet communications protocols and access tools to control and monitor the equipment. System control and monitoring, which can be carried out anywhere, use standard Web browsers, such as Microsoft’s Explorer or Netscape, as the common interface and communications route. This will allow companies with multi-national production sites to accumulate data from many sources and analyze them online in a central corporate location.
SilverPlatter Information, a Norwood-based company that sells reference databases over the Internet, has been selling to Israel for “as long as we’ve been in business,” according to Vice President and General Counsel David Mirchin. “Most major universities and research facilities buy from us. Israel is one of our largest markets per capita,” remarked Mirchin. He added that Israel is a good market because “a lot of high-quality research is being done there.”
Nidec sells electronic components that can be used for computers, communications, and networking equipment. Marketing Manager Charlie Welsch said that Nidec has been doing business with Israel “ever since the company was formed in the 1970s.” He remarked that the advantage of selling to Israel is obvious - “we can make a profit.”
For the past 30 years, North Attleboro-based Mini System Inc. has been selling its products to Israel. Mini System manufactures chip resistors, which are films that are used by various industries, such as military and telecommunications companies. Elaine Tanos, Mini System clerk, commented, “Israel is a good market. They’re good customers.”
The Natick-based Mathworks, a manufacturer of software for engineers and scientists, has been selling its products to Israel for more than eight years. The company has a distributor in Israel and finds the country to be a “good market,” according to Liz Callanan, and “a great place to do business.”
Genzyme, the Cambridge-based biotech company, began its relationship with Israel because of its first therapeutic drug, Cerades. The drug is used to treat Gaucher’s disease, a genetic disorder affecting thousands of people around the world, including a disproportionate number of patients in Israel. Genzyme affiliated with Hadassah and Tel Hashomer to institute clinical testing, enhancing treatment for Israelis, and sales for Genzyme. Genzyme president Sandy Smith told Link magazine that the added value of working with Israel was the ongoing Israeli research on the disease. The company continued with Israeli collaboration even after the Gaucher drug testing was completed. Smith “loved being in Jerusalem” for the launch of a newer product, SepraFilm, used in tissue damages.
The Waltham-based software company Kollmorgen develops motion-control devices. When its CEO, Gideon Argov, realized the future of these devices was in digitalization, he sought another software/hardware company to help Kollmorgen. He found Israel’s Servatronix in the early 1990s and bought it in 1997. Argov told Link magazine, “It was interesting watching how this innovative Israeli company, with tremendous ingenuity but a lot of improvisational approaches to problem solving worked with, for example, a manufacturing plant we have where they are terrific at production but are run very much by the book...The Israelis learned from the Americans and the Americans learned from the Israelis.”
EMC2, a Hopkinton company that handles disk storage for mission-critical data storage, entered the worldwide disk storage market in 1990. EMC2 does so much business in Israel that it is able to maintain a Research and Development plant there, and also has its own sales office to handle customers like Bezeq (Israel’s telephone company), the Ministry of Defense, El Al and the Israel Discount Bank.
One company that took advantage of an FMS contract is Boston Systematics, a small business in Worchester that is the sole distributor of software such as Computervision and Unix. Boston Systematics has been doing business with Israel for more than five years and, according to Administrative Assistant Norma Foster, the company does business with Israel because it is a good market.
In 1996, the New England Chamber of Commerce opened the Market Gateway, an office environment aimed at preparing companies new to America. Many of the first companies to use this service have been Israeli organizations, such as NCC and Oridion. Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci observed after his 1998 trip to Israel, “There are several Israeli companies in Massachusetts and Massachusetts companies in Israel. We are the first state to have a trade office there and it has helped generate a lot of trade.”
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 Massachusetts companies have taken advantage of the BIRD program, including ACME, Inc., Analog Devices, BID Medical Center, Inc., Elron Software, IRIS Graphics, Kopin, Inc., Brooktrout Technology and Data General Corporation. Massachusetts companies have shared nearly $13 million in BIRD grants, making the state the third-highest recipient after California and New York.
Elron Software is a Cambridge-based Internet software company that was acquired by Elron Electronic Industries of Israel two years ago to spearhead Elron Electronic’s expansion into the U.S. and worldwide software markets. Ivan Sullivan, President of Elron Software, explained, “The marriage occurred because we had access to the U.S. market and Elron Electronic had a very fine technology base.” In the two years since Elron Software has been acquired, it has come to hold “the number one position in producing integrated software for Internet risk management,” said Sullivan. The company has produced four separate modules of this software, two based entirely on technology acquired from two Israeli software companies that Elron Software bought. “The quality of Israeli software is world-class,” commented Sullivan, “Israel has fine technologists who produce market-savvy products in a short amount of time.” Elron Software used a BIRD grant to develop an innovative product to provide security to email.
Visus Ltd. is a leading Israeli designer of advanced non-imaging optical systems for lighting and other photonic devices, including efficient and compact backlights to various Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs). Massachusetts-based Kopin Corporation is a U.S. developer and manufacturer of advanced semiconductor wafers and electronic digital devices. Today it is a leading developer and manufacturer of state-of-the-art, high pixel density, small format flat panel display technology. The two companies will jointly develop and manufacture thin light-emitting diodes (LED) backlights, and market them with Kopin’s miniature LCDs. Their collaboration will result in new ultra-thin products with improved optical efficiency and uniformity. The backlight will be smaller, lighter, more uniform, and less expensive to manufacture than existing LED backlights. Since size is the key in the mobile data phone market, one of the critical features of the AM LCD is its compactness. Other markets with the backlight application include digital still cameras and camcorder viewfinders.
Since 1990, Bedford-based Iris Graphics, Inc. has been owned by Israeli-based Scitex Corporation. Iris Graphics manufactures digital color proofers, which are high-resolution color printers that are used by service bureaus, ad agencies, and commercial printers to make “contract proofs” that simulate what a final printed piece will look like when run on a printing press. The companies used a BIRD grant to create a remote-proofing system. “Working with Scitex has proven to be mutually beneficial,” commented Kelly Peterson, Marketing Manager. “Iris provides a valuable missing link in the Scitex product portfolio and Scitex promotes Iris through their tremendous worldwide sales and marketing channels.” She added, “The people who work at our Israeli headquarters are educated, gracious, forthright and outgoing. They’re a pleasure to do business with.”
In the communications industry, Analog Devices of Norwood joined with Libit Signal Processing in Israel. Analog Devices designs, manufactures, and markets a wide range of integrated circuits for the communications industry. The BIRD-sponsored project merged Analog Devices’ low-cost, high-performance circuits with Libit’s digital communications expertise. The result was a software and hardware platform capable of sending and receiving data at high rates. This technology can lead to improvements in fields such as encryption security, voice processing, and text-to-speech programs.
A 2008 partnership between Israel’s Applied Cleantech and Massachusetts-based Qteros funded by the BIRD Foundation was looking into creating efficient ethanol production from agricultural and municipal waste sources.
In 2011, Boston-based publishing company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was awarded funding through the BIRD Foundation to partner with the Israeli-based company Ginger Software to develop an advanced learning platform for English language learners. This grant was part of over $8.1 million awarded by BIRD to nine new projects in December 2011 to companies throughout the U.S. and Israel.
Some of the more recent BIRD grants include:
- Kfar Saba-based Cellect Biotechnology and Billerica-based Entegris for an improved stem cell selection system.
- MDI Health Technologies of Herzliya and Thermo Fisher Scientific of Waltham to develop a system for providing personalized & precise medication treatments.
- Check-Cap of Usfiya and GE Healthcare of Marlborough are working together on an advanced colon-cancer screening system.
- AEYE Health of Tel Aviv and the University of Massachusetts Medical School to develop a diagnostic screening system for retinal imaging.
- XRHealth of Tel Aviv and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston are developing a perioperative VR platform designed to distract patients from pain while undergoing medical procedures.
- Nazareth-based Senso Medical Labs and Brookline’s Haystack Diagnostics to develop a multi-electrode device to advance electrodiagnostic medicine.
- GaitBetter of Haifa and Spaulding Rehabilitation Network of Charlestown to develop a motor-cognitive intervention to improve gait and mobility in stroke survivors by adding a virtual reality (VR) experience to treadmill training.
- Igentify of Haifa and Thermo Fisher Scientific of Waltham to develop Genomic Data Interpretation & Reporting Software Platform for Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)-based Expanded Preconception Carrier Screening Test.
- Israel Aerospace Industries in Lod and Headwall Photonics in Bolton to develop Precision Agriculture Decision Support System for Large Scale Areas Utilizing Wide Area Hyper-Spectral Imager and Fixed Wing Mobile UAV.
- Tel Aviv-based Netafim Irrigation and Somerville-based Onvector LLC to develop a Filter Based on Pulse Electric Fields for Advanced Disinfection of Irrigation Water.
- Shamaym Social Business of Tel Aviv and Karyopharm Therapeutics of Newton to develop a Drug Development Operations and Execution Debrief Checklists Platform.
- Pixellot of Petah Tikva and HockeyTech of Needham to develop a next-generation multi-angle, automatic remote system for ice hockey game production.
- GrayMatters Health of Haifa and the McLean Hospital Corporation of Belmont to develop personalized self-neuro-modulation therapy for major depression disorder using clinical biomarkers.
It was announced on September 30, 2014, that Waltham, Massachusetts-based company Raytheon had been awarded a contract from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd worth $149 million to manufacture Iron Dome interceptor components. Raytheon will manufacture products used in the Tamir interceptor, used by the Iron Dome weapons system. Raytheon is the world’s number one producer of guided missiles, and they will be the Israeli’s second source for Tamir interceptor missiles.
After Operation Protective Edge, Israeli defense professionals agreed that they needed to have a greater supply of Iron Dome rockets. Raytheon and the Israeli government have had a co-marketing agreement for the Iron Dome in place since 2011, and this is the first contract awarded since this agreement was forged.
Massachusetts 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.
Harvard University, MIT, Brandeis, Boston University, Tufts Medical School, and Boston College are among the Massachusetts institutions that have received more than $8.3 million in BSF grants.
In 2009, Dr. David Sabitini of MIT was put together with Professor Oded Meyuhas of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem for a four-year BSF grant in which they will research a cellular system called the mTOR pathway and its connection with various forms of cancer. The research only just became in practice at the beginning of 2011, but Dr. Sabitini is very confident about the future success of this BSF-funded collaboration. “I think the work will have important implications in how we can pharmacologically target mTOR which is hyperactive in a large percentage of human cancers,” Dr. Sabitini notes. “Although we know that inhibitors of the mTOR pathway can have clinical efficacy we so far have little information on how to predict which cancers will and will not respond. The collaboration with Dr. Meyuhas should help provide such information.”
In another BSF-sponsored project, David Latham, Senior Astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Senior Lecturer at Harvard University, joined with an Israeli colleague to answer the question, “Can there be life on other planets?” The scientists are currently searching for extrasolar planets, those surrounded by stars, and researching the frequency and characteristics of binary stars in various stellar populations. They are trying to find out how a star decides to have a stellar or planetary companion, a question that may lead to discovering whether there can be intelligent life on other planets. Latham commented, “This collaboration has been a lot of fun. It’s a good combination of different skills. We have observational capabilities here while my partner is more of a theoretician. We complement each other.”
BSF-supported collaboration between Profs. Israel Vlodavsky, from the Technion in Israel, and Ram Sasisekharan, from MIT, have led to important discoveries on heparanase, a unique human enzyme playing a key role in cancer progression. Their clinical observations demonstrate a highly significant correlation between enhanced heparanase expression, metastatic potential, tumor vascularity, and reduced postoperative survival of cancer patients. These observations clearly indicate that this enzyme is a most promising target for anti-cancer drug development. In addition, a newly developed, highly sensitive quantitative (ELISA) method revealed elevated levels of heparanase in saliva, urine, and plasma of cancer patients, supporting the relevance of heparanase as a promising tumor marker as well.
Howard Smith, Senior Astrophysicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics used a BSF grant for similar research. Along with a “substantial contribution” from Israeli scientists, Smith studied the formation of very small objects around stars. He tried to discover whether these companions were other stars, such as brown dwarfs, or planets. Even though a new planet has not been discovered, the search for planets around stars has attracted widespread public interest and has been actively reported in the press. Smith commented that his Israeli collaborators are “very smart, experienced and have great ideas.” He used money from the grant to visit their observatory in Mitzpeh Ramon.
Associate Professor Salomon Amar from Boston University is a step closer to finding a mechanism for controlling chronic inflammatory diseases, thanks to a grant from BSF. Although he only started this research recently, Amar has found that “we are in a position to learn how to control inflammatory diseases,” such as gum disease, Crohn’s disease, Rheumatoid arthritis, and autoimmune diabetes. Many genetic diseases are easier to study in Israel than in America because of the concentrated samples of various populations, such as Eastern European, Moroccan or Ethiopian Jews. Amar commented that he trained the Israeli researcher with whom he is working, and the grant “just cemented an ongoing relationship.”
Assistant Professor Paul Barbone from Boston University received a BSF grant to team up with Dan Givoli. They work to make computer simulations of mechanical systems more efficient and to assess the behavior of the systems. For example, they have simulated the vibrations of cars to test the effects of a crash and the vibrations of buildings to find the stability of the structures in an earthquake. This research has led to adjustments being made in the makeup of various cars and buildings. Barbone remarked, “We’re building layers on each other’s work. He’s following up on my work, which was a follow-up on his. Before, we would learn from the other’s work indirectly. Now we can have direct interaction.” Barbone has had three Israeli partners in his research and has found them all to be “very task-oriented and very good at getting the job done.”
Lawrence Scott, Professor of Chemistry at Boston College, used a BSF grant to look at the electronic properties of carbon-rich organic molecules. He tries to put electrons into molecules and then take them out, a process like that done in a battery, flashlight, cell phone, or electric car, only on the molecular level. This basic research sets ground rules for the future design of lightweight organic materials that can conduct and store electricity. Scott’s lab prepares and synthesizes the materials, then sends samples to Israel for measurements. Scott commented, “The things they do, they do well. But they have limited resources, so they’re eager to collaborate.”
Researchers Joseph Kost from Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Robert Langer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and Henry Brem from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore are all researching this project together. Using a group of molecules that combines to form a polymer, a timed release of a drug was developed. Langer and Brem saw the possibility of a polymer as a “remote control” device for the controlled release of drugs. The same idea has been developed for the use of women’s birth control and brain cancer treatment.
Science magazine attributed Israeli scientist Professor Nissim Benvenisty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with key findings in stem cell research. His research, along with his American colleague Douglas Melton at Harvard Medical School in Boston, showed the possibility of using cells for the treatment of different physical problems– heart, muscle, and neuronal conditions. The research team discovered a way to fish out the differentiated neuronal cells from the other cells by use of a Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). This gene is implanted into the cells and allows the scientists to find the cells that have been differentiated. By differentiating the cells, scientists may find cures in the future for many illnesses covering various limbs and organs of the body.
What precautions can a country make to ensure that its computerized elections are fair and accurate? Natan Linial and Gil Kalai of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem worked together with Jeff Kahn and Michael Sacks from Rutgers University in New Jersey and Stanley Richard at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge to attempt to prevent such events. Using a mathematical theory called influence theory, they constructed computerized models, assigning each method of government a certain probability of vote outcome. Using computers to generate random numbers, the researchers wanted to find whether another computer would generate the same random number without other computers realizing the encryption of the results. To prevent intentional changing of the results, it is best if one line of communication is not the sole method of transmitting the results.
Massachusetts lawmakers approved a $1 million life sciences initiative in 2008 that includes a unique relationship with Israel. The law would authorize joint academic and industrial research and business exchanges with Israel and calls for the creation of trade facilities for pilot projects with the Government of Israel and the Boston Haifa International Life Sciences Institute. Israel and Massachusetts are among the few places that are home to world-class research in the life sciences. The partnership provision, which survived several rounds of legislative committee scrutiny, was initiated by Rep. Dan Bosley, a key lawmaker who has gained a deep understanding of Israel, even though he has a relatively small Jewish constituency. Funding for the partnership is subject to appropriation, but key lawmakers anticipate $10 million over the next ten years.
In 2012, the Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership (MIIP) awarded four Massachusetts companies a total of $1.3 billion as part of the collaborative partnership that was launched in June of 2011. The MIIP is a formal collaboration between Israel and the State of Massachusetts to encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship between Massachusetts’ and Israel’s life sciences, clean energy, and technology sectors. The partnership, which consists of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, and Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist, awarded the following companies joint grants: SBH Sciences of Natick and Improdia of Israel to develop and manufacture a medical prognostic kit; Automated Medical Instruments of Needham and STI Lasers of Israel to develop radio-frequency technology to treat heart arrhythmia; Lantheus of North Billerica and Check-Cap of Israel to develop a novel 3-D imaging capsule that can be used to screen for polyps and lesions associated with colorectal cancer, and FloDesign Sonics of Wilbraham and Transbiodiesel of Israel to produce a joint project using FloDesign’s technology to separate oil that can be used to create fuel from Transbiodiesel’s oil-generating algae.
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.
Massachusetts institutions have received grants worth more than $2.5 million.
Professor Peter Hepler of the University of Massachusetts received a BARD grant to work with an Israeli lab to study the role of calcium during the cell death of parsley leaf cells. Hepler tried to determine exactly what causes parsley to lose its shelf life and die after it is picked. The Israeli lab started the research and Hepler helped them with measurements and a lab for calcium work. The team was successful in discovering that calcium levels do elevate during the death of cells. Hepler said the Israelis “are very smart, capable folks.” He added, “BARD gives funds for lab support and grad student support. I wouldn’t be involved in this research without BARD.”
Michael Peleg, professor of food engineering at the University of Massachusetts, was awarded a grant to collaborate with Israelis to test a gelling agent to give textures to food products. For example, he used a kind of gum to mold fruit pulp into various shapes and textures. The otherwise useless pulp can then be utilized in foods such as ice cream or baked goods. Peleg and his collaborators completed tests on the properties of a gum called alginate and then turned the results over to industries to use for commercial purposes. Peleg remarked, “It was truly cooperative research. As far as I’m concerned, it was an enjoyable experience and a productive project.”
Professor Robert Langer of MIT received a grant to study the usefulness of drug implants in controlling the release of drugs into the systems of fish. These implants can help the growth of fish, prevent infection or make a group of fish breed at the same time. While Langer knew how to control releases, his Israeli partner was an expert on fish farming. Langer described his Israeli colleague as, “Hard-working, bright and able to get things done.”
Israeli agricultural technology firm AutoAgronom placed in the final 25 in 2014’s Massachusetts-based MassChallenge, the largest startup contest in the world. 2014’s MassChallenge awarded over $1.75 million in grants and over $10 million in other prizes to startup technology companies around the world, and AutoAgronom was the only agricultural technology firm in the contest. AutoAgronom produces advanced drip-irrigation systems with smart technology and sensors to help farmers significantly cut down on water use. The company is also pioneering a process known as fertigation (fertilization + irrigation), in which sensors are attached to plant roots and the surrounding soil that analyze soil conditions, weather, water, and nutrient levels. After conducting this analysis, the system uses computer algorithms to determine when and how much water, fertilizer, and pest control to deliver to the individual plants for maximum growth. Farmers in the United Kingdom who have been using AutoAgronom’s system have been able to cut down their water usage by 30% while increasing crop yields by 28% and decreasing pesticide use by 70%. As of November 2014, AutoAgronom’s smart-drip fertigation system has been implemented in 13 countries and used with 70 different types of crops.
Other Cooperative Programs
MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) expanded its portfolio of eight countries with the launch of a new internship and research exchange program with Israel in 2007. MISTI funds intensive, tailored, hands-on professional internships abroad with leading companies, research labs, and universities for students at all academic levels and postdoctoral researchers. “MISTI-Israel will serve as a lighthouse program--a bridge between the U.S. and Israel that will be the first of its kind at a major university,” said Jake Seid (S.B., M.Eng., 1998) of Lightspeed Venture Partners, who is a member of the founding team.
The United States-Israel Educational Foundation (USIEF) and Brandeis University offer a joint grant to a postdoctoral scholar in the field of women’s studies who is about to begin a program of research at the Women’s Studies Research Center of the University. The program grant provides $20,000 in partial support of the recipient’s first year of activity at Brandeis.
In October 2012, an Israeli company called Argo Medical Technologies Ltd. which makes devices allowing paraplegics to walk announced it will open its US headquarters in Massachusetts within the next three to five years. Argo made the announcement at the AdvaMed 2012 medical technology convention at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center, and a US Army veteran who is usually wheelchair-bound climbed down from a podium and ambled her way through the convention and exhibition center, thanks to Argo’s innovative technological advancements.
In April 2013, after a terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon, Israeli expertise helped save the lives of countless civilians and helped lead to the eventual capture and arrest of terrorist Dzhokar Tsarnaev.
Dr. Pinchas Halpern, director of emergency medicine at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center, stayed in contact with doctors in Boston for a week following the bombing. “Unfortunately, we have great expertise,” he said. Dr. Alasdair Conn, chief of emergency services at Massachusetts General Hospital, acknowledged the day of the attack the help provided by Israeli experts. “About two years ago in actual fact we asked the Israelis to come across and they helped us set up our disaster team so that we could respond in this kind of manner,” Conn told reporters.
To help Boston police and federal agents find and capture the bombing suspects, Israeli hi-tech company BriefCam provided surveillance technology that enabled investigators to summarize an hour of surveillance video footage into only one minute and also zoom in on people and objects whose movements changed during the filming. The system by BreifCam, with its American branch based in nearby Farmington, is based on the concept of allowing the simultaneous display of several events. Once a certain movement or area is identified, the system then tracks it during the entire film. U.S. Park police technological service director David Mulholland explained, “There may have been 500 people who walked in that general area, but the analytics piece will ignore that and flag anything that changed in that one specific area, such as a backpack being left behind. So instead of spending 20 minutes looking at video in which nothing happens, the investigator can hit a button and in 30 seconds go to the area of interest and then begin to dissect what happened.”
The MIT-Israel Program celebrated its 8th year of supporting collaborative research between MIT and Israeli Universities in February 2016. The program places star MIT students in internships across Israel and has grown exponentially since its inception, with 60 students participating in the 2015/2016 academic year compared to 15 participants in 2008. Students are placed in internships in industry, start-ups, non-profits, and research. The MIT-Israel Seed Fund was launched in 2016, which awarded over $148,000 in funding to MIT departments and Israeli academic institutions to begin collaborative research. The MIT-Israel Seed Fund will join the MIT-Israel - Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Seed Fund in providing funding for new programs between faculty and student researchers at MIT and their Israeli peers.
The New England-Israel Business Council published a study in June 2016 that found that over 200 companies in Massachusetts had ties to Israel, generating $9.3 billion in revenue and employing approximately 9,000 individuals. This represented a revenue increase of more than $3 billion and an employment increase of 2,000 people since these statistics were last measured in 2012. Israel-connected businesses in Massachusetts grew at a rate twice that of the state’s economy according to the publication, and their employee base grew four times as fast.
UJA Partnership 2000 Communities
Mazkeret - Batya
Afula - Ta'anach - Gilboa
Afula - Ta'anach - Gilboa
Afula - Ta'anach - Gilboa
Hillel Campus Profiles
P.O. Box 2005
Brookline, MA 02146-0017
Jewish Federation Of the Berkshires
196 South Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
Jewish Federation Of North Shore
4 Community Rd.
Marblehead, MA 01945-2766
New England-Israel Chamber of Commerce
Suite 3000 West One, 212 Northern Ave.
Boston, MA 02110
Email. [email protected]
P.O. Box 428
Boston, MA 02258
Jewish Federation Cape Cod Community
396 Main St
Hyannis, MA 02601-3900
Jewish Federation Of Worcester
633 Salisbury St.
Worcester, MA 01609-1120
Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston
126 High St.
Boston, MA 02110
Jewish Federation Greater New Bedford
467 Hawthorn St.
North Dartmouth, MA 02747-3714
Leominster Jewish Community Council
268 Washington St.
Leominister, MA 01453
Office of International Trade
100 Cambridge St., #902
Boston, MA 02202
20 Park Plaza, Suite 1020
Boston, MA 02116
Email. [email protected]
Jewish Federation Greater Springfield
1160 Dickinson St.
Springfield, MA 01108-3122
Massachusetts Trade Office
Binyanei Haooma, #201
JCRC of Greater Boston
126 High St.
Boston, MA 02110
Jewish Federation of Merrimack Valley
805 Turnpike St.
North Andover, MA 01845-6122
Massachusetts Trade Office/Massport Trade Office
c/o MAKWA Ltd
Jerusalem International Convention Center, P.O. Box 6001
Jerusalem, Israel 91060
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).