State-to-State Cooperation: Michigan 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)||
|Michigan’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2021)||12|
|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 Michigan from U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
Agricultural Research Center, East Lansing
Amigo Mobility International, Inc.
Computer Methods Corp.
Gelman Sciences Inc.
Henry Ford Hospital
Michigan State University
Michigan Technological University
TESCO Group Companies
University of Michigan
University of Michigan Medical School
USDA Avian Disease & Oncology Lab
USDA Fruit & Vegetable Harvesting Lab
USDA Regional Poultry Lab
Wayne State University
Michigan-Israel Business Bridge - Founded in 2007, the MIBB is a non-profit organization established to facilitate business and investment opportunities between Michigan and Israel for their mutual economic benefit. MIBB brings new business to Michigan and creates jobs by encouraging Israeli businesses with new technologies to establish their North American business centers in Michigan. In the first year of existence alone, the MIBB arranged a meeting between 16 Israeli auto-related companies with ten Michigan-based auto companies and helped foster business deals that would never have been possible without its help.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed his state’s anti-BDS legislation on January 10, 2017, making Michigan the first state to stand against the BDS movement that year. The bills, HB 5821 and 5822, were passed by the state House and Senate during the previous month. Michigan state agencies, according to the legislation, “may not enter into a contract with a person to acquire or dispose of supplies, services, or information technology unless the contract includes a representation that the person is not currently engaged in, and an agreement that the person will not engage in, the boycott of a person based in or doing business with a strategic partner.”
In February 2011, the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Rochester signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Emek Medical Center in Haifa, Israel. The agreement encourages collaborative research and the sharing of scientific knowledge between the two institutions and leveraging the medical expertise of both institutions to advance the science and practice of medicine. It is hoped that this collaboration will foster economic development through biomedical discovery in Michigan as well as in the region served by the Emek Medical Center.
In November 2008, during her trade mission to Israel, Governor Jennifer Granholm signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai to establish a working group between the two governments that will focus on energy efficiency and technology that will improve water quality and increase water re-use. The so-called Michigan/Israel Water Technology Working Group was originally led by Lt. Governor John Cherry and resulted in a major partnership when the “Green Jobs for Blue Water” initiative was launched in April 2009.
In 1988, the Michigan-Israel Technology Venture was established to foster exchanges of information and technology, and an Economic Development Cooperative Agreement was signed the same year to promote trade and investment between the two governments.
Michigan Government Missions to Israel
November 2019 - Michigan’s Governor Gretchen Whitmer traveled to Israel to meet with government, business, and nonprofit leaders. The aim of the trip was to establish ties with Israeli start-ups and leading innovators in the fields of mobility, cybersecurity, and water safety, in hopes that the connections will help Michigan attract more businesses and jobs to the state.
December 2009 - Lieutenant Governor John Cherry spent close to a week in Israel on a trade mission and returned to Michigan after having inked deals for start-up technology projects with two Israeli water companies. The companies, EPC Ltd.’s Onsite Wastewater Solutions, and EMEFCY, both signed letters of intent to establish facilities and programs in Michigan to help the state solve various water-related issues. “One of the things I was trying to convey was that Michigan could be a great platform for them to launch an effort in the U.S. market,” Lt Gov Cherry told a group of reporters after returning to the States. “We have done a number of things, such as advanced battery activity, that show we are a good partner with companies that are seeking to do business throughout the United States.”
November 2008 - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm led a delegation to Israel and Jordan in which she met with business leaders to encourage them to invest and grow their companies in Michigan. This was Gov. Granholm’s first mission to Israel and the Middle East, and she was joined on the trip by Michigan Economic Development Corporation President and CEO James C. Epolito.” These missions are part of my go anywhere, do anything strategy to grow Michigan’s economy by encouraging international companies to invest in Michigan,” Granholm said. “Our focus on expanding high-growth sectors and our new economic development tools give us real advantages in winning new investment and jobs from companies around the globe.”
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, 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. Michigan is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2021, Michigan exported more than $227 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Michigan’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $3 billion and Israel now ranks as Michigan’s 27th leading trade partner. Michigan ranks 12th among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, Michigan companies received nearly $12 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, Michigan companies have received more than $652 million in FMF. These include Novodynamics, Inc. in Ann Arbor, Automotive Equipment in Detroit, and Gerdau Macsteel, Inc. in Jackson.
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 Michigan.
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.
Michigan has also received more than $9 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 Michigan is limited only by the imagination.
Michigan 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.
Roughly 100 Michigan companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including General Motors, Chrysler, Aeroquip, and Gelman Sciences.
“General Motors does considerable business with Israel and expects to do more,” according to J. David Hughes from the company’s International Communications department. The company sells passenger cars and trucks as well as military vehicles. The Israeli military buys products from GM’s Hughes Electronics subsidiary. GM also buys components and tools from Israeli suppliers.
In 1995, GM’s Electronic Data Systems subsidiary announced a joint venture with Kardan Technologies in the systems integration area. Peter Zaugg, chairman of EDS Israel said, “The Israeli marketplace will benefit from the presence of an IT [information technology] services supplier that combines EDS’ global capabilities and expertise and Kardan’s considerable knowledge of the market and business community.”
The Israeli IT market is estimated by the company to be worth approximately $1.6 billion in 1995, with the software and services segment projected to grow at an annual rate of 11 percent over the next five years.
Hughes added that GM Executive Vice President Harry Pearce visited Israel, along with other top executives, “and that the direction is clearly toward expansion of our business relationship with the country through the rest of this decade.”
Gelman Sciences has been doing business in Israel for close to 30 years, according to Bob Roszell, Director of Marketing Research. The company manufactures filtration products for laboratories. “Israel is a hotbed for innovative research,” Roszell said, and the company is interested in new opportunities there.
Bernard Coyne, a manager for Beaver Precision Products, said his company has been doing business with Israel since 1987. “It’s a selective market, the defense industry, but it’s extremely pleasurable to do business there. The Israelis are honorable men, good negotiators and terribly cooperative. They go out of their way to expedite matters. They went out on a limb to help us financially by advance billings.” Coyne also found it easy to make agreements. Instead of going through committees that stall contracts, the Israelis can reach an agreement “over the telephone or with a handshake.” Except for the Japanese, Coyne said the Israelis are the best payers he’s ever had. “I’ll do everything I can to continue doing business in Israel.”
Merlyn Gates, President of Abrams Instrument Corporation, has also found that Israeli clients do not waste his time. “When they need our products, they come to us. When the Israelis make an inquiry, you know they are going to buy. And they pay promptly.” Unlike many orders that get loaded down with ridiculous terms, the Israeli contracts are straightforward, he said. “Our relations have been very successful.”
Tzora Health Care Products, an Israeli manufacturer of power-assisted mobility devices, collaborated on a project with Amigo Mobility International, a U.S. manufacturer of carts and other mobility aids used by the handicapped worldwide. The companies jointly developed the Travel Mate-Scooter, an inexpensive, lightweight, foldable scooter for the handicapped that can be loaded into buses, trains, taxis, or other transportation vehicles. The concept of the three-wheeled platform mobility aid was introduced by Amigo over 30 years ago and has since changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of physically impaired persons. However, previous products were heavy, and loading them on other vehicles necessitated their disassembly into several parts of manageable weight by a complicated, and inconvenient process. Thus, the Travel-Mate Scooter met a critical and universal need of handicapped individuals worldwide. Currently, Tzora produces the innovative scooter and Amigo provides marketing, sales, and service.
Plasma Laser Technologies (PLT) Ltd., an Israeli developer of unique, advanced-technology solutions for welding and material treatment, is collaborating with DCT Utilase Systems, a leading American full-service supplier of welding and assembly lines, automation, and laser systems. The aim of the joint project is to develop hybrid Plasma Laser Welding (PLW), a method that will solve the problems encountered using either conventional Laser Beam Welding (LBW) or Electric Arc Welding (EAW) separately. PLW technology is expected to improve laser welding travel speeds of aluminum and steel automotive products. The benefits of PLW have been demonstrated in various applications, such as tailored blanks welding, thick pipe welding, enclosure welding, etc. In each of these applications, the use of PLW has resulted in a higher price-performance ratio of the total welding system, lower direct production cost, and increased competitiveness of the product.
In 2009, the Israeli company EMEFCY, which develops technology that can produce energy generation directly from wastewater that can be used in industrial and municipal wastewater treatment plants, opened a pilot project in Michigan in response to Lt. Governor John Cherry’s mission to Israel. “EMEFCY’s technology will be utilized in municipal/industrial/agricultural wastewater facilities,” said John McCulloch, water resource commissioner of Oakland County. “We hope the technology will help us to reduce energy costs at wastewater plants throughout Michigan.” Eytan Levy, the Israeli CEO of EMEFCY was also excited about the opportunity - “We are looking forward to successfully developing this project in the state of Michigan,” Levy said.
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.
Michigan companies have received more than $2.5 million in BIRD grants. One of those is Hudson-based Martin Technologies, which is collaborating with Netanya-based Redler Technologies to develop an advanced automotive electronic power distribution module.
Michigan 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.
The University of Michigan (UM) and Michigan State University (MSU) are among the Michigan institutions that have received BSF grants worth more than $1.7 million.
UM’s Anthony Francis and his colleague are involved in the spectroscopic study of semiconductors, which has potential applications for solar energy storage. “It was a very good collaboration,” Francis said, adding that he benefitted from having access to some facilities and equipment the Technion had that his lab did not.
Another UM scientist, Will Pearson, is interested in techniques used to synthesize molecules. “The pharmaceutical industry is very interested in our techniques,” he said because it allows them to develop new drugs. The BSF grant allowed Pearson to work with someone whose work he had followed. “We are productive because we each know things the other doesn’t,” he explained. “We each provide a different perspective and expertise, so we make a pretty good team.”
MSU’s Lee McIntosh and his colleague are studying photosynthesis at the molecular level. By manipulating genes, they hope to obtain a better understanding of how herbicides affect photosynthesis. Ultimately, the research could be used to make herbicides safer and more effective. He said he benefitted from the collaboration because his Israeli colleague is a “superb geneticist.”
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.
The University of Michigan (UM) and Michigan State (MSU), have received BARD grants worth nearly $5 million.
UM molecular biologist Eran Pichersky has received several BARD grants in recent years with which he has collaborated with his Israeli counterparts to find ever-better ways of growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables.
In 2008, Professor Pichersky received a three-year BARD grant to work with Israeli scientists at the Volcani Center and at Ben-Gurion University to research and help produce better-tasting fruits such as tomatoes. In recent years, farmers and growers have sacrificed flavor in their fruits and vegetables to produce ones that are more attractive to the eye and have a longer shelf life. Professor Pichersky and his colleagues from Purdue and Rutgers University have found a way to genetically enhance the aroma and taste of these fruits without harming their look or shelf life.
Thanks to the support from BARD, these researchers from the United States and Israel also believe that these genetically enhanced fruits and vegetables will also be marked by improved quality. Their achievements so far have been widely praised in print media and television and they hope this research will lead to improved crop yields and better produce at your local grocer.
Professor Pichersky received another BARD grant to examine nonfunctional proteins in chloroplasts. The research relates to the efficiency of photosynthesis, which affects plant growth rates and fruit growth. “In Israel, some plants don’t photosynthesize at high temperature,” Pichersky explained. “By changing the proteins, it will allow plants to grow in hotter climates.” This could have particularly valuable applications for crops like tomatoes, he said.
MSU’s Ken Sink is using cell fusion techniques to transfer genes in plants, with the aim of ultimately making them resistant to verticillium wilt, a fungus that affects eggplant worldwide. Sink says he has a good rapport with his Israeli colleagues, who are leaders in this field. This is Sink’s third BARD grant.
Lyman Crittenden, of MSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, have had two BARD projects. The first studied disease in chickens was caused by a retrovirus. “We were trying to detect transmission of the virus from the mother to its offspring to reduce the infection rate. It turned out one line of chickens had a high rate of infection. By changing the line, we eliminated the virus.”
Crittenden’s second project involved identifying genes that control egg production and other important traits in chickens. This is an ongoing project that will ultimately benefit breeders.
Other projects involving Michigan researchers helped develop a test to detect tomato leaf curl virus, a new machine to harvest peppers, a damage and simulation detection system to predict and lower shipping losses of perishable fruits, and a test to detect Mareks Disease Virus in the feather tips of chickens.
David Dilley, an MSU scientist who’s been working with Israel for 30 years, said BARD grants are highly competitive, “so ideas have to be good, investigators excellent and projects of mutual benefit.”
BARD research done outside the state also benefits Michigan. For example, the State’s apple growers can benefit from a BARD project to preserve the fruit’s crispness longer. Dairy farmers benefit from research to boost milk fat and protein quality in cows.
Other Cooperative Programs
Taubman Institute-Israel Initiative - In 2008, the A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute launched this collaborative initiative with various university laboratories in Israel to promote collaborations between the finest medical scientists at the University of Michigan and Israeli research centers. “We were very impressed by the ground-breaking research being done in Israel,” said Alfred Taubman. “And we immediately recognized the opportunities for collaboration between U of M and the talented scientists in Israel. That’s why we launched the Taubman Institute Israel Initiative - to foster a new level of cooperation that will lead to the medical breakthroughs we’re all hoping for.”
UJA Partnership 2000 Communities
Hillel Campus Profiles
Michigan Israel Business Bridge
Pamela B. Lippitt-Executive Director
6735 Telegraph Rd
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301
Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
Flint Jewish Federation
619 Wallenberg St.
Flint, MI 48502
JCC of Metropolitan Detorit
6735 Telegraph, #100
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301
Jewish Federation of Grand Rapids
2727 Michigan NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Phone 616-942-5553, ext. 207
Email. [email protected]
6735 Telegraph Rd.
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301-3141
Jewish Federation Washtenaw County
2939 Birch Hollow Dr
Ann Arbor, MI 48108-2301
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).