State-to-State Cooperation: Oregon 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)||
|Oregon’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2021)||2|
|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 Oregon From U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
Electro Scientific Industries Inc.
Oregon Grad. Inst. Science & Tech.
Oregon Health Sciences University
Oregon State University
Portland State University
Shriners Hospital for Children
University of Oregon
University of Oregon Medical School
Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Oregon-Israel Business Alliance
Formed in 2010 under the leadership of Governor Ted Kulongoski and various Israeli government officials, the OIBA held its inaugural event on the campus of the University of Oregon in Portland and was attended by officials from the State of Oregon, the City of Portland and businesspeople from the biotech, high-tech and cleantech industries. During his speech at the event, Gov Kulongoski described “the secret” to cooperation between the two sides as relating to Israel’s advancement in water technologies and Oregon’s expertise in forestry.
In October 2010, Governor Ted Kulongoski signed a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli government “to develop and strengthen economic, industrial, technological and commercial cooperation.” According to the Governor’s press release, the agreement “is in the best interest of the people of Oregon. Israel is a strong and democratic friend of Oregon and the United States. This agreement will build on our existing trade relationship with Israel, open new opportunities to share information and foster commercial ties in areas that are vital to Oregon’s economic future.”
Oregon Government Missions to Israel
November 2010 - Governor Ted Kulongoski led another business development mission to Israel, his second such trip since taking office in Oregon. The Governor’s delegation included business leaders who helped Kulongoski with the goal of promoting Oregon as the ideal partner for green energy, security, and manufacturing projects, while also opening new markets for Oregon products.
April 2008 - Governor Ted Kulongoski led a business development mission to Israel where he met with representatives from Intel’s Israeli research and development (R&D) facility among several other such companies operating in Israel. “Oregon is home to Intel’s largest production facility in the world, which is the backbone of Oregon’s renowned ‘silicon forest’ semiconductor industry,” Kulongoski said. “I want the state to do everything it can to keep Oregon on the cutting edge of silicon technology, which is such a driving force of Oregon’s economy.”
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. Oregon is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2021, Oregon exported more than $1.5 billion worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Oregon’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $5.2 billion and Israel now ranks as Oregon’s 6th leading trade partner. Oregon ranks 2nd among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, Oregon companies received more than $1.2 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, Oregon companies have received more than $65 million in FMF. These include Freeman Marine Equipment, Inc. in Gold Beach, Engineering Design Team Inc. in Beaverton, and Service Steel, Inc. in Portland.
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 Oregon.
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.
Oregon has also received more than $4.7 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 Oregon is limited only by the imagination.
Oregon 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.
Many Oregon companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including EDX Engineering Inc., Mentor Graphics, and Electro Scientific Industries.
Jennifer Dunkin, customer relations manager at EDX Engineering Inc., has been selling engineering software to Israelis for at least five years. “They are always very kind and interested in training and using software correctly. They are high-level users,” says Dunkins. She also enjoys the contacts she has made working with Israelis and trusts their references. Dunkin finds Israelis easy to work with and looks forward to working with them in the future.
Another Oregon-based company, Mentor Graphics, has been doing business in Israel since 1986 selling graphic software tools and applications to the Israeli government. These tools are used for telecommunications, consumer electronics, semiconductors, and aerospace. Most of the purchases are made through the New York Office of the Israeli Ministry of Defense. According to Judy Erdmann, European Liaison for Mentor Graphics, “it is very worthwhile to do business in Israel” and she “highly recommends that other companies do business in Israel.”
Joe Reinhart, Vice President of Business Development at Electro Scientific Industries, also feels that “Israel is a good place to do business.” Electra Scientific supplies equipment to Israel to produce semiconductors and makes close to $5-10 million dollars a year. Electra Scientific has a good deal of business in Israel and has cooperative projects with many Israeli companies, including Vishay Israel.
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.
nCUBE and Electro Scientific are two of several Oregon-based companies that have profited from more than $1.5 million dollars in BIRD grants.
Oregon 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.
Institutions such as Oregon State University, Reed College, Oregon Health Science University, and the University of Oregon are among the Oregon institutions that have received more than $1.5 million in BSF grants.
In 2009, Professor Hiro Nonogaki of Oregon State University was awarded a four-year BSF grant to collaborate with Dr. Aaron Fait of Ben-Gurion University. The BSF project, called “Spatial Diversification of Metabolism at Germination.” is amid ongoing research. The project focuses on the mechanisms of seed germination, which is an important initial step in agricultural production. Successful germination is the key to the establishment of vigorous plants that will lead to high crop yields. Germination is realized through many biochemical and molecular changes in seeds, which have not been fully understood. This project aims to elucidate the mechanisms underlying seed germination. The principal investigator in Israel is currently working on profiling small chemical substances in seeds while the U.S. researcher visited Sde Boker, Israel to train Israeli researchers and students for tissue-specific gene expression analysis. The integration of the different expertise will draw a complete picture of seed germination. The knowledge obtained from this project will contribute to technology development for seed enhancement and will contribute to the global seed business.
Professor Nonogaki is extremely excited about the possibilities that this BSF project could open for the agricultural community in the future. As Prof Nonogaki himself attests, “The support from the U.S.-Israel Binational Science Foundation provides excellent opportunities for U.S. scientists and their counterpart in Israel.” Without the support of BSF, it is wholly possible to realize that this project would never have gotten off the ground.
Oregon State University Zoologist Virginia Weiss has been collaborating with her Israeli counterpart for four years. She is researching soft coral, a symbiosis of animal and microalgae, which is commonly found in the Red Sea. Israel has one of the best coral reefs in the world, which is accessible year-round, and Weiss hopes to understand how the animal and plant parts interact in coral. In this collaboration, Weiss’s counterpart in Israel has access to the coral and special microscopes, while she researches the molecular biology aspects of the issue. “This research could not have happened without my partner,” states Weiss.
Another BSF recipient, C. T. Roberts, a scientist from Oregon Health Sciences University, has been collaborating with an Israeli counterpart since 1989. They are researching how tumor suppressor genes regulate and prevent growth factor action in cancer cells. “The BSF grant has allowed us to continue our international collaborations” states Roberts. The team has written more than 40 publications, with more in progress. Their research is especially relevant to the study of breast and prostate cancer.
Michael Kavanaugh, another Oregon Health Sciences University scientist, is studying how molecules found on the surface of brain cells transport glutamate. These molecules are involved in certain neurodegenerative diseases, such as strokes and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Through this collaborative work, Kavanaugh hopes to learn the role of these molecules in diseases. According to Kavanaugh, “the BSF grant has facilitated the collaboration and pushed our understanding further.” Over a three-four-year period, Kavanaugh and his Israeli counterpart have written six or seven papers together.
The University of Oregon’s William Trevarrow has been collaborating with Israeli scientist Clay Davis on research dealing with Zebrafish. The research has provided a novel approach to identifying genes that detect proteins in the early development of Zebrafish. He believes that it is a “technologically innovative and creative project.” Trevarrow hopes to collaborate with more Israelis in the future.
In 1978, the United States and Israel jointly created the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) to help fund programs between US and Israeli scientists for mutually beneficial, mission-oriented, strategic, and applied research into agricultural problems. Since its inception, BARD has 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.
Oregon institutions have received grants worth more than $1.6 million.
Valerim Dolja of the Botany Department of Oregon State University received a BARD grant in 1998 to study how viruses cause plant diseases. Dolja and his Israeli counterpart have produced trans-genetic plants that are resistant to the Poty virus, a disease prevalent in crops throughout the world. Half of the experiments are performed in the United States, while the other half are conducted at Israel’s Volcani Center. Access to cutting-edge technology, Israeli expertise on the Poty virus, and trans-genetic plants are just some of the benefits Dolja has gained by working with Israelis. “Everyone benefits from the interaction; without BARD support, the research would have been impossible,” said Dolja.
BARD research done outside the state has also been beneficial to Oregon. Studies to improve water quality, water availability, and the efficiency of water use is valuable because Oregon has 35% irrigated farming. Oregon’s $100 million potato crop may benefit from BARD research on the potato leaf-roll virus. Finally, Oregon’s flower bulbs can be protected thanks to solarization techniques designed by Israeli scientists.
Other Cooperative Programs
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UJA Partnership 2000 Communities
Kiryat Malachi - Hof Ashkelon
Hillel Campus Profiles
Jewish Federation Of Lane County
Eugene, OR 97405-0911
Jewish Federation Of Portland
6651 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, OR 97219-1914
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).