State-to-State Cooperation: Virginia and Israel
Trade and Population StatisticsTrade and Population Statistics
|Exports to Israel (2021)||
|Percentage Change (2020-2021)||
|Total Exports to Israel (1996-Present)||
|Israel’s Trade Partner Rank (2021)||
|Virginia’s Rank as Exporter to Israel (2021)||28|
|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 Virginia From U.S.-Israel Binational Foundations
|America Online Inc.
Bosch Telecom Inc.
George Mason University
James Madison University
Janelia Farm Research Campus
Kollmorgen Motion Technology Group
National Aeronautics & Space Agency
Naval Research Laboratory
Naval Surface Weapons Center
|Old Dominion University
Old Dominion University Research Foundation
Pulse Communications Inc.
Rockwell Collins, Vision Systems International
Secure Systems Innovation Corporation, dba X-Analytics
University of Virginia
University of Virginia Medical School
Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences
Virginia Polytechnic University
Virginia Commonwealth University
Virginia State University
William & Mary
Bilateral Institutions top
Virginia Israel Advisory Board - The VIAB serves as the bridge for Israeli companies who want to establish and/or expand their business in the USA and locate in Virginia. VIAB does this by opening doors using the right contacts and providing the best support to help grow their U.S. business. Due to its proximity to Washington and the nation’s seat of power, the VIAB has made connecting with various government departments and institutes much easier and more streamlined.
Virginia Israel Commission - Established in 1986, the Virginia Israel Commission is dedicated to investigating the cultural, educational, and economic development opportunities between the two states. In 1988, Gov. Gerald Baliles signed a new agreement with Israel, but the commission’s activities waned. In 1995, Gov. George Allen created a new Virginia-Israel Partnership to focus on promoting trade, art, education, and general government.
Norfolk Program / Tochnit Norfolk - Instituted in 2005 during Norfolk’s mayors trip to Israel, the Norfolk Program seeks to lure Israeli companies to Norfolk, home to the world’s largest naval base, by using incentives, for collaboration between Israeli companies and Norfolk-based companies. Israeli firms that take advantage of the program are eligible for financial assistance of up to $1 million to defray such costs as moving, transport, and setup.
Virginia Israel Technology Alliance - Located in Blacksburg, VITAL was created out of a partnership between the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center (VTCRC) and the VIAB. Its mission is designed to help post-incubator, commercial-ready Israeli companies build strong foundations for growth in the U.S., and bring their products to market. The VITAL program offers specialized assistance in business development, advanced research for applications, and marketing expertise.
US-Israel Business Exchange - Based in Vienna, US-IBEX is an independent, non-profit organization. It was created as an initiative of the Embassy of Israel in collaboration with the Greater DC business community in March 2000 to help Israeli and American companies to create opportunities for collaboration.
Both Virginia Houses of Delegates passed identical resolutions condemning the actions of the BDS movement in early March 2016. The legislation voices support for a negotiated two-state solution, and states that Virginia “oppose[s] all attempts to economically and politically isolate Israel within the international arena, including promotion of economic, cultural, and academic boycotts.” Virginia lawmakers referred to the BDS movement as “inherently antithetical and deeply damaging to the causes of peace, justice, equality, democracy, and human rights for all peoples in the Middle East.” Virginia’s Jewish community issued a statement thanking the legislators for passing the resolution.
Cooperative Agreements top
In September 2008, Governor Timothy M. Kaine of Virginia and Ambassador of Israel Sallai Meridor signed an agreement to strengthen bilateral cooperation between the Commonwealth of Virginia and the State of Israel on private-sector industrial research and development. Under the agreement, an approved joint research and development project will receive financial support from the governments of Virginia and Israel, which will significantly reduce the costs that Virginian and Israeli companies would normally have to incur if they were to conduct the project independently.
Virginia Government Missions to Israel top
November 2019 - Governor Ralph Northam traveled to Israel for three days of meetings. An Israeli Ministry of Defense delegation of 16 companies subsequently came to Virginia.
November 2011 - Governor Bob McDonnell traveled to Israel with a delegation for four days in hopes of bringing more Israeli business to Virginia. He is very optimistic that he will soon be able to announce new joint business ventures. While there, he met with President Shimon Peres and was invited by Ofra Strauss of Strauss Foods to breakfast with leading Israeli industrialists. Gov. McDonnell’s delegation included the Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, Secretary of Commerce and Trade Jim Cheng, First Lady Maureen McDonnell, and senior officials from Virginia’s Economic Development Partnership, Virginia Tourism Corporation, and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
August 2011 - House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R) was one of three senior members who led the 56-member House Republican delegation of the politicians’ recent trip to Israel. The trip is the largest-ever visit of U.S. lawmakers to Israel and gave them an opportunity to learn about the U.S.-Israel relationship and Israel’s national security.
April 2009 - Governor Timothy Kaine, Secretary of Commerce and Labor Patrick Gottschalk, and Rick Richardson of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership led a delegation to the Middle East and Israel to promote Virginia to foreign businesses and government leaders. In Israel, Gov. Kaine met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres as well as will leaders of three businesses that had, earlier in 2009, invested heavily in infrastructure within the state.
September 2008 - Delegate Brian Moran (Alexandria) and State Senator R. Creigh Deeds (Bath) took a ten-day mission to Israel with the aim of bolstering economic ties between Israel and Virginia. The trip, sponsored by the Northern Virginia Jewish Community, was planned to help the northern Virginia communities get further insight into ways of expanding their businesses and companies into Israel as well as attract Israeli companies and venture capital to Virginia. “We’re continuing the globalization of our economy,” Del. Moran said. “This technology can be a great benefit to [Virginia], particularly with the struggling economy.”
October 2007 - Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell led a ten-day mission to Israel where he took the opportunity to learn about Israeli counter-terrorism efforts and other legal procedures for dealing with terrorism suspects.
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. Virginia is one of 33 states that have cooperative agreements with Israel.
In 2021, Virginia exported more than $80 million worth of manufacturing goods to Israel. Since 1996, Virginia’s exports to Israel have totaled more than $2.5 billion and Israel now ranks as Virginia’s 43rd leading trade partner. Virginia ranks 28th among all states in exports to Israel.
Additionally, in 2015, Virginia companies received more than $6.6 million in foreign military financing (FMF) to provide materiel for the Israeli Defense Forces. Since 1996, Virginia companies have received nearly $141 million in FMF. These include American Rheinmetall Munition, Inc. in Stafford, Ashbury International Group Inc. in Ruckersville, and Computer Marketing Associates in Tysons Corner.
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 Virginia.
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.
Virginia has also received nearly $9.2 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 Virginia is limited only by the imagination.
Virginia Firms Profit From Business With Israel top
Because of Israel’s unique status as the only country with free trade agreements with both the United States and the European Community, it can act as a bridge for international trade between America 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 and Intel have found that it is profitable to do business in Israel.
Indeed, more than 150 Virginia companies have discovered the benefits of doing business in Israel, including Philip Morris, Rubbermaid and Hamilton Beach.
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 seven Virginia-based companies — America Online, Bosch Telecom, GTE Spacenet, CACI International, Kollmorgen Motion Technology Group, Perceptronics, and Pulse Communications — have received BIRD grants worth more than $4 million.
Glenn Sacra, President of GTE Spacenet International Corp., wrote in the 1991 BIRD annual report: “GTE Corporation, a $21.4 billion multinational company, is among the world’s telecommunications giants. GTE Spacenet, a subsidiary...with satellite-based telecommunications experience in more than 50 countries, accepted a unique opportunity with Gilat Communications Systems Ltd. in 1988-89 to commence joint development of a new class of satellite communications systems.”
The BIRD Foundation’s encouragement and support were vitally important in bringing GTE Spacenet and Gilat together. Peter Nielson, from GTE Spacenet’s marketing group, noted that large companies are sometimes reluctant to work with smaller companies, but BIRD reduces the risk and, in this case, helped promote a very good investment.
The companies developed a revolutionary data communications network that is ideal for high-volume data transactions such as check and credit card authorization, reservation booking, inventory control and ATM transactions. The project was so successful, BIRD awarded the companies additional support to develop a new generation of ultra-small aperture terminals.
In 2021, BIRD funded a project involving Cyberint Technologies of Petah Tikva and Secure Systems Innovation Corporation, dba X-Analytics of Arlington to develop an operational cyber threat intelligence capability to inform cyber risk financial decisions. MIL-SAT of Surry and Over-Sat or Netanya also received a BIRD grant to develop a LEO Satellite End-User Mobile Terminal capable of tracking multiple satellites.
In addition to the BIRD projects, GTE Spacenet does a great deal of business in Israel related to earth stations and telecommunications.
Medical Electronic Systems (MES) Ltd., an Israeli manufacturer of medical electronics focusing on male infertility, has teamed with Progeny Systems LLC, a U.S. veterinary instrument company specializing in the application of high-technology information solutions to agriculture. The two companies are jointly developing a next-generation system for sperm analysis both for the human fertility market as well as for the animal food production market. The goal of the project is for this new analytical approach to set a new standard in the human and veterinary markets. The innovative Sperm Quality Analyzer will offer a more reliable, simple-to-use, and inexpensive solution than exists today for the evaluation of sperm quality. In addition, the application of new hardware and software techniques will increase market penetration of instruments and disposable kits in both the human and veterinary markets. InSightec Ltd. (Israel) and Focused Ultrasound Surgery Foundation (Virginia) received funding from BIRD to develop jointly non-invasive brain surgery for movement disorders.
Israeli companies also have a presence in Virginia. In 2019, for example, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI), Israel’s largest aerospace and defense company, announced plans to expand its North American headquarters operation at a new location in Fairfax County. The project was expected to bring more than 50 new jobs to Fairfax County.
Scientific Innovations top
Virginia 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 Virginia have received more than $1.1 million in BSF grants. Those that have benefitted from the program include the University of Virginia, University of Virginia Medical School, Virginia Commonwealth, George Mason, Virginia Tech, and William & Mary.
The world’s food supply is limited by the available fertilizer, according to Prof. Dennis Dean, a microbiologist at Virginia Tech. Working under a BSF grant, he is trying to understand the enzyme involved in the mechanism by which nitrogen is converted to ammonia. The goal is to improve the biological process so that fertilizer can be produced more cheaply and without the use of fossil fuels. “If the fertilizer can be controlled so that more goes directly to the plant, it helps reduce pollution,” he says.
Dean is “delighted” with the collaboration, which gives him access to new information about proteins. “The Weizmann Institute in Rehovot has developed a technique for looking at proteins that Virginia does not have,” he said.
Gary Long is also a professor at Tech who is working with scientists at Weizmann. He is interested in understanding how heavy metals interact with the environment and, more specifically, groundwater. In Virginia, a significant amount of water comes from wells, he says, and it is important to filter out particulates. Israel has developed a sampling device that collects water and colloidal materials and allows environmental engineers to get a better look at metal concentrations in water. The tool is especially useful in locating industrial spills in a scientific and cost-effective manner.
According to Long, the Israelis were interested in measuring the water quality of the coastal aquifer around Herzliya, which could be vital to the nation’s security if the peace process alters their access to other sources. Herzliya, Long adds, is like the West Coast, particularly Los Angeles, which relies on aqueducts for its water. “It is therefore important to know about contamination of underground water sources,” he says.
Long adds that he has excellent relations with his collaborators and considers Weizmann’s scientists “the best in the world.” He also believes the grant was important. “BSF allowed us to verify our research; otherwise, it would have been another unproven technology.”
Less tangible benefits come in fields like mathematics. Prof. Charles Johnson of William & Mary believes BSF plays an important role in supporting “extraordinarily high quality” math projects and helping to insure a flow of top mathematicians to the university. Johnson finds it extremely useful to talk to someone with a different point of view. “I get more things done and pursue ideas I wouldn’t otherwise be able to do,” he says.
In 2010, a Virginia-based technology company called Cupron which has offices in Herzliya, Israel sent its Cupron Enhanced socks to the Chilean miners on day 36 of their entrapment in the San Jose copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert. The socks helped the miners fight foot fungus and their foot symptoms significantly improved or were resolved within four to seven days after being rescued.
Virginia company Appalachian Biofuels opened a new production facility in Russel County, Virginia in November 2014 that will use an enzyme manufactured and developed in Haifa to produce biodiesel.
ImmunArray, based out of Richmond Virginia, and Rehovot Israel was awarded a $300,000 grant from the NFL’s Head Health Challenge in late 2014. The company is a developer of a breakthrough microchip technology that detects certain antibodies in the human bloodstream.
Virginia-based Lockheed Martin, and Yissum Research Development Company based out of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem signed an agreement in late 2014 to conduct collaborative research in different scientific fields.
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.
Virginia institutions have received grants worth more than $3.8 million. Virginia Tech, the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, and the University of Virginia are among the recipients.
The Virginia State project focused on ways to improve the aquaculture potential of hybrid striped bass. According to Prof. Scott Newton, Israel developed a diet to help young fish survive and thereby increase the number available for possible export. If the diet works, it could be manufactured in Virginia and marketed on the east coast.
In February 2011, Professor Eric Hallerman, of Virginia Tech, published the results of his 3-year collaborative study with scientists at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at the National Center for Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture in Leetown, West Virginia that was facilitated by BARD funding. The original goal of the project was to provide the scientific and technical basis for initiating certain breeding protocols in the common carp to make the fish more resistant to viral disease.
Professor Hallerman’s research was incredibly important because the common carp is one of the most widely farmed freshwater fish species in the world. Additionally, edible carp is second only to tilapia in Israeli aquaculture production and ornamental carp (koi) is an important product in both the U.S. and Israel. In recent years, the carp industry worldwide has suffered enormous economic damage due to a viral disease caused by Cyprinid herpes virus 3 (CyHV-3). The BARD-supported research was important to find a sustainable solution to this problem that will lead to the establishment of a genetic improvement program for the fish.
For such an important and timely project such as this, it was of utmost importance that all the researchers could work well together and complement each other’s skills. BARD facilitated excellent communication between the groups in Israel and the United States and the research was greatly promoted by this good exchange of materials, practices, and theory. Overall, the collaboration led to the publication of three joint studies in peer-reviewed journals, one that has been submitted for publication and yet another one that is in the process of preparation to be submitted for publication.
BARD has also supported several projects at Virginia Tech related to the poultry industry. One, for example, examined factors that determine the rate at which chickens lay eggs.
Israel has developed a DNA fingerprinting method that Prof. Ann Dunnington was using under another BARD grant to identify specific traits in chickens. The idea is to develop the ability to screen the DNA so that producers can breed chickens with the traits consumers want, such as less fat.
Prof. Paul Siegel has worked on several BARD-sponsored projects at Tech and gives high grades to BARD. “It wouldn’t have been possible to do the research without the Foundation’s support.” He also lauds his Israeli counterparts as “first-rate scientists, doing first-class research.”
Some of the benefits to Virginia from BARD research are more indirect. For example, BARD grantees have developed techniques to help preserve the color, taste, and texture of apples, one of the State’s important crops.
A team of agricultural economists from the University of Maryland and the University of California found that the economic benefits of just five projects — related to cotton, pecans, and solarization — exceeded all U.S. investment in BARD.
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.
Other Cooperative Programs top
In October 2012, the Virginia Israel Advisory Board ran a three-day business development program called “Gateway USA: Defense & Homeland Security” in Virginia to help Israeli companies enter the U.S. market. During the intensive program, companies benefited from interactive development meetings with specific U.S. companies and other top experts.
UJA Partnership 2000 Communities
State Contacts top
Hillel Campus Profiles
Jewish Federation of Richmond
5403 Monument Ave., P.O. Box 17128
Richmond, VA 23226
Zvi Yanai (Turbo)
Email: [email protected]
United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula
2700 Spring Rd.
Newport News, VA 23606
Email. [email protected]
United Jewish Federation of Tidewater
5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Suite 200
Virginia Beach, VA 23462
Email. [email protected]
Virginia-Israel Advisory Board
CIT Tower, Suite 107
Herndon, VA 20170-4200
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).