State-to-State Cooperation: Pennsylvania 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)||
|Pennsylvania’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2021)||9|
|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 Pennsylvania From U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
Allegheny Research Institute
Monell Chemical Senses Center
Bilateral Institutions top
America-Israel Chamber of Commerce Central Atlantic Region - Established in 1987, AICC-CAR, is an independent, member-based, not-for-profit network of business professionals who share an interest in furthering business relationships among each other and between the Greater Philadelphia Region and Israel. The organization’s offices are in Philadelphia and serve constituents in Southeastern PA, the Lehigh Valley as well as locations in neighboring states. AICC’s mission is to provide members with relevant intelligence on Israel’s economy and markets; present opportunities for trade and investment; cultivate an intimate network of like-minded business professionals, and connect companies in Israel and in the U.S.
Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania signed HB2107 into law on November 4, 2016. The bill, sponsored by Representative Matthew Baker, prohibits the government of the state of Pennsylvania from contracting with any entity that engages in BDS activities.
In June 1997, Governor Tom Ridge signed Pennsylvania’s first cooperative agreement with Israel, noting that “good trade makes good friends.” The objective of the five-year pact was to “seek to enhance technological research and economic development as well as to increase cultural awareness in order to promote a deeper understanding of shared values through the economy, arts, technology and education.”
Pennsylvania Government Missions to Israel top
August 2011 - Congressman Mark Critz traveled to Israel as part of an 81-member delegation to meet with top Israeli officials and learn more about the U.S.-Israel relationship.
February 2006 - Philadelphia and Pennsylvania state law enforcement, security, and public service officials were sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia for an educational mission to Israel to learn more about anti-terror security. The delegation of security officials focused on Israel’s anti-terror security procedures, facilities, and response tactics -- providing valuable information and hands-on experiences that can help enhance local homeland security and medical facility preparedness. In the buildup to the trip, Governor Ed Rendell commented on its importance: “Israel’s leadership in security preparedness and effectiveness is recognized worldwide. Now our security professionals will have a unique opportunity to meet with key security officials in Israel, exchange information and receive hands-on experience to learn anti-terror security measures that can significantly benefit Pennsylvania’s homeland security programs.”
July 1999 - Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher joined eight other attorneys general for a trip to Israel. The participants in the mission went to explore U.S.-Israel cooperation in legal affairs and discussed issues including youth violence, the death penalty, and extradition laws.
May 1998 - Gov. Tom Ridge led a technology trade mission to Israel and signed an agreement to create high-tech business incubators and family-sustaining jobs in Pennsylvania and Israel. The agreement will assist high-tech start-up firms by offering them low-cost or free office space; shared administrative services; development of targeted programs to stimulate joint ventures and research and development; investment banking and venture capital financing; marketing; networking and personnel recruiting. Pennsylvania also opened a trade office in Jerusalem.
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. Pennsylvania is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2021, Pennsylvania exported more than $266 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Pennsylvania’s exports to Israel have totaled nearly $4.9 billion and Israel now ranks as Pennsylvania’s 26th leading trade partner. Pennsylvania ranks 9th among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, Pennsylvania companies received more than $72 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, Pennsylvania companies have received nearly $321 million in FMF. These include Streamlight, Inc. in Eagleville, Columbus McKinnon Corporation in Pittsburgh, and Pall Aeropower Corporation in Philadelphia.
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 Pennsylvania.
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.
Pennsylvania has also received more than $14 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 Pennsylvania is limited only by the imagination.
Pennsylvania 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 National Semiconductor have found that it is indeed profitable to do business in Israel.
More than 350 Pennsylvania companies have also discovered the benefits of trade with Israel. Several own interests in Israeli companies or have subsidiaries there, including Ecogen, Kulicke & Soffa Industries, and Vishay Intertechnology.
The Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce provides information about trade opportunities and helps match Israeli and Pennsylvania companies that are interested in cooperative ventures.
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.
At least 17 Pennsylvania companies have benefited from more than $5.3 million in BIRD grants, including Kulicke & Soffa Industries, Ecogen, General Instrument Corp., and PDQ Industries.
In 2011, the hit American television show “Glee” featured the Israeli-invented ReWalk™ which was designed with the help of a grant from the BIRD Foundation. The ReWalk™ which was jointly developed by the Technion incubator SCP-Vitalife in Israel and Allied Orthopedics in the U.S. is the name for an exoskeleton that enables wheelchair-bound users with lower limb disabilities to walk. Since December 2010, the ReWalk™ technology has been engaged in clinical trials such as MossRehab in Philadelphia. Thanks to BIRD and joint research conducted in the U.S. and Israel, miracles such as this can help millions of people around the world.
BIRD provided matching funds to Purolite, Inc., a Bala Cynwyd-based resin manufacturer, and Israel’s Transbiodiesel to jointly manufacture and market biocatalysts to replace chemicals for diesel production with Israeli start-up Transbiodiesel. Chemical catalysts have significant environmental and operational drawbacks with substantial impact on cost-effectiveness that are eliminated by enzyme-based catalysts.
BIRD awarded a grant to Cooperative Clean Energy Projects to OMAT Ltd. of Jerusalem and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, Inc. in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This cooperative project will aim to develop and implement a system to monitor, control, and economize energy consumption in metal machining industries.
Ecogen Inc. is an agricultural biotechnology company specializing in the development and marketing of biological products to control plant pests and pathogens. The company received a BIRD grant to work with its subsidiary, Ecogen Israel Partnership, on the development of a new fungal agent to protect grapes, ornamental flowers, and grapes.
“BIRD brought together the resources of Israelis and Americans and expedited the research and development of the product,” said John McIntyre, Ecogen’s vice president of business development. “The grant enhanced the rate of technology transfer.”
Orbit Advanced Technologies used a BIRD grant for a joint venture with its Israeli subsidiary to develop an automatic near-field antenna measurement system. The project combined the Israeli company’s hardware manufacturing with the American side’s expertise in software design.
“BIRD made the bridge between the two companies quicker and more economical,” according to Orbit President Yossi Harlev. “The grant also softened the risk of undertaking the project. Since you don’t always know ahead of time if a product will succeed, BIRD made the project economical.” Harlev said the product was finished a year ago and the company is already beginning to pay back the grant from its profits.
Another BIRD grant allowed Freshpoint Quality Assurance Ltd. and West Pharmaceutical Services to jointly develop novel printable integrated threshold indicators for monitoring the quality of unit-level pharmaceutical products.
More recent grants include one for Somatix Technologies Ltd. of Ra’anana and Catholic Senior Housing and Health Care Services, Inc. of Bethlehem to develop a Digital Health System, SafeBeing – ‘Aging in Place’ Lifestyle with Exceptional Peace of Mind.
Nesher-based Atvio and Secant Group of Telford received a grant for a project using biomaterials to manufacture therapeutic cells.
Scientific Innovations top
Pennsylvania 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.
Institutions in Pennsylvania have received more than $5.8 million in BSF grants. Drexel, Carnegie-Mellon, Temple, Bryn Mawr, Hahnemann, Haverford, Penn State, and the University of Pennsylvania are among the grant recipients.
Charles Swindell, a chemist at Bryn Mawr University is working with a pharmacologist in Israel to develop a better understanding of the way a new anti-tumor drug called Taxol works. Currently, the drug is used to treat ovarian tumors, but Swindell noted that evidence suggests it may also help people with tumors in the lung and breast. “By better understanding Taxol,” Swindell says, “it may be possible to assist in the future development of more effective drugs to treat tumors.” He called the project a “truly collaborative one, where neither piece could be done without the other.”
At Carnegie-Mellon, physicist James Russ has been working for two years with a colleague at Tel Aviv University to develop equipment that will precisely measure the energy of photons that comes from atomic debris. One practical application may be to improve the precision of devices that are difficult to calibrate, such as CAT scanners. “This is a real team project,” Russ noted.
Chemist Irwin Rose of the Fox Chase Cancer Center collaborated with an Israeli biologist on a study of how protein is broken down in a cell. Rose said many medical problems are associated with inadequate protein breakdown and their research may provide a better understanding of degenerative diseases in humans.
Researchers Ze’ev Seltzer from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem along with his colleague Professor Gary Bennett from Allegheny University in Philadelphia may have discovered the genes that cause chronic pain and additional genes that cause related symptoms including depression, anxiety, and epilepsy. Seltzer and Bennett are researching the cause of chronic pain.
Agriculture Benefits top
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.
Pennsylvania institutions have received grants worth more than $3 million. The Fox Chase Cancer Center, Monell Chemical Senses Center, and U.S. Department of Agriculture research labs are among the recipients.
Roland Kallen, a professor in the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, collaborated with a group of scientists from California, Washington, and Israel on a BARD-sponsored project that examined the production of non-hazardous insecticides. The group’s work is not yet completed, though they have made great strides toward developing a new class of insecticides that are highly effective, not harmful to animals and humans, and environmentally friendly; research that has generated much interest in the scientific community worldwide. This research has been ongoing for nearly two decades and, as this is very important to the farming industry in both the U.S. and Israel, BARD continues to support the project today. With the increase in insecticides used by farmers across both countries, they are raising pollutant levels and, by sheer irony, also increasing incest resistance to these agents. The insecticide the scientists are making will nullify these ill effects.
Beverly Cowart, a psychologist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, worked with chemists at Hebrew University and the Agricultural Research Organization in Haifa to study the enhancing purity of spice flavor in herbs.
Israelis have been heat-shocking apples and found that this process inhibited the fruit’s growth. Peter Irwin used money from BARD to buy a special probe for the USDA lab, and time to do spectroscopy to help the Israelis understand the inhibition of ripening fruit.
In an older BARD study, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that inert fats in the diet of cows boosted milk fat and protein quality while improving reproduction and the general health of the animals. According to the BARD publication Partnership for Tomorrow, inert fats have subsequently become part of commercial rations in both nations.
A joint BARD project between researchers in Israel and at Penn State, Michigan State, and the University of Delaware led to the invention of a new machine for harvesting peppers.
Some of the benefits to Pennsylvania from BARD research are more indirect. For example, BARD grantees have developed guidelines for vaccines to prevent egg production losses due to infection and DNA probes that can detect the onset of disease. These innovations can lead to significant savings for Pennsylvania’s multimillion-dollar egg industry.
BARD grantees have also developed techniques to help preserve the color, taste, and texture of apples, one of the state’s important crops.
Other Cooperative Programs top
In May 1998, the University City Science Center in Philadelphia signed an agreement with the Technion that will allow Israeli start-up companies to locate in the Science Center, and Pennsylvania start-ups to have incubator space at the Technion.
eV Products of Pittsburgh is collaborating with GE Medical Systems of Wisconsin and ISORAD of Israel on a $2.2 million project funded by the U.S.-Israel Science & Technology Commission to develop high-performance imaging cameras for medicine.
Pennsylvania schools also have ongoing relationships with counterparts in Israel. Temple University in Philadelphia has a relationship with Tel Aviv University Law School, and Philadelphia’s Drexel University has a presence in Israel as well.
Sister Cities top
UJA Partnership 2000 Communities
State Contacts top
Hillel Campus Profiles
The America-Israel Chamber of Commerce
Central Atlantic Region
200 South Broad St., #700
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Email. [email protected]
225 S. 15th St., 8th Fl.
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Jewish Community Relations Council
226 South 16th Street, 17th Floor
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Email. [email protected]
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
2100 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Email. [email protected]
Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition
204 State St.
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development
c/o Atid EDI Ltd.
Bldg. 2, Har Hotzvim, P.O. Box 45005
Email. [email protected]
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).