State-to-State Cooperation: Minnesota 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)||26|
|Minnesota’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2021)||21|
|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 Minnesota from U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
ADC Magnetic Controls Co.
American Paging, Inc.
AVR Sonovation, Inc.
Department of Veterans Affairs
Network Communication Corp.
TRO Learning Inc.
University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota Medical School
Wicat Systems Inc.
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.
Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed his state’s anti-BDS legislation into law on May 3, 2017, after it had passed the State House and Senate with respective votes of 98-28 and 57-8. The Minnesota legislation prohibits state dealings with entities that participate in boycotts of Israel.
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 officials. 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 Committee (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 primarily 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 business opportunities through new technologies.
August 2007 - Representative Keith Ellison joined a group of 19 Congress members, mostly freshmen Democrats, on a weeklong 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.
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 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, 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. Minnesota is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2021, Minnesota exported nearly $122 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Minnesota’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $2 billion and Israel now ranks as Minnesota’s 26th leading trade partner. Minnesota ranks 21st among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, Minnesota companies received more than $13 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, Minnesota companies have received nearly $104 million in FMF. These 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 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.
Minnesota has also received more than $7 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 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 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.
Minnesota companies have received BIRD grants worth more than $2.3 million.
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 underway 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.
Keystone Heart of Caesarea Business Park and SurModics from Eden Prairie received a BIRD grant for a novel medical device for cerebral protection during cardiovascular procedures. Another BIRD recipient was Nortech Systems in Wayzata, which teamed with Marpé Technologies of Haifa to develop a total-body Tele-dermatology scanning system.
The Minneapolis-based American-Israel Chamber of Commerce can provide additional information about BIRD and other business opportunities in Israel.
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 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 U.S.-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 and Mayo Clinic are among the state’s recipients of more than $1.5 million in BSF grants.
H. Ted Davis is interested in the 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 a microscope. “No other person in the world has my colleague’s expertise in this area,” Davis said.
In addition to BSF projects, the Mayo Clinic and Israel’s Vocalis Health are conducting a joint research project on the use of artificial intelligence to identify vocal markers of pulmonary hypertension.
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 Minnesota has received 30 BARD grants worth more than $3.1 million.
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 Ministry 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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UJA Partnership 2000 Communities
Hillel Campus Profiles
|Matthew Heilicher, Executive Director
American-Israel Chamber of Commerce
13100 Wayzata Blvd., #130
Minneapolis, MN 55305
Email. [email protected]
|JCRC of Minnesota and the Dakotas
12 North 12th St., #480
Minneapolis, MN 55403
1602 E 2nd St
Duluth, MN 55812-1656
|United Jewish Fund & Council
790 South Cleveland, #201
St. Paul, MN 55116
|Sherwin Pomerantz, Director
American -Israel Chamber of Commerce
c/o Atid EDI Ltd
Bldg. 2, Har Hotzvim, P.O. Box 45005
Email. [email protected]
|Minneapolis Federation for Jewish Service
5901 South Cedar Lake Rd.
Minneapolis, MN 55416
|Minnesota Dept. of Trade & Economic Development
1000 Minnesota World Trade Center, 30 East 7th St.
St. Paul, MN 55101-4902
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).