The New England Israel Business Council is building a technology pipeline between the two regions.It’s no longer news that Israel is a hotbed of technology research and development. Much of the world knows that cutting-edge technologies ranging from Intel’s Centrino chip to Given Imaging’s ‘camera-in-a-pill’ have been developed in Israel, and that Microsoft, Motorola, Google, Siemens and other iconic, technology-driven brands have chosen to establish research, investment or development centers in Israel.
Moreover, with two Technion researchers having been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, there is little doubt that Israel occupies its rightful place on the global science and technology stage.
It takes more than a reputation for world-class technology to bring ideas from concept to reality, however. There are many challenges that investors outside of Israel face as they seek to explore and assess new technologies from Israel’s relentless entrepreneurs, and there are innumerable Israeli inventors, start-ups and even mature companies struggling to secure investment, marketing, development and even mentoring support with larger partners in North America and Europe.
While creative and motivated partners may eventually find each other, investment opportunities and partnerships generally can often be hastened and facilitated by a community of willing, interested and highly able supporters dedicated to the bigger picture.
It is in the spirit of community – and the pursuit of profit – that the potential of a unique business development pipeline is rapidly being realized. Through the efforts of entrepreneurs with feet firmly planted in both the United States and in Israel, a New England-Israel connection has not only been established, but is now being formalized and given both shape and direction.
Much of the credit for this encouraging state of affairs goes to a highly active and engaged community of Israeli ‘ex-pats’ in the Boston area, many of whom repeat a familiar story: “I came to New England to run the US office of my company for six months, and I ended up staying ten years!”
A textbook example is Yuval Malinsky, CEO of Vigorous Mind, Managing Director of Stage 1 Strategies LLC, and now president of the newly formed New England Israel Business Council.
A self-described ‘serial entrepreneur’, Malinksy, like many of his compatriots, came to Boston to establish the North American office of his Israel-based company. The company’s largest customer was located in the Boston area, so in order to serve that client better, Malinsky made the move. He expected to stay for two years. That was in 1994.
Since that time, Malinsky has invested in, operated and spun off a number of successful ventures, and today continues to dedicate his time to various business and consulting interests.
What may turn out to be Malinsky’s most lasting contribution, however, is his work initiating and leading the New England Israel Business Council. Building upon a network of investors, entrepreneurs, local supporters of Israel and a vibrant New England technology community, the NEIBC was formed in late 2006 to promote economic development and investment in both New England and Israel.
The organization provides a forum for leading technology ‘players’ to discuss their companies, their challenges, and cross-development opportunities in synergistic industries such as information technology, security, biotechnology, medical devices, clean tech, semiconductors and nanotechnology. Attendance at these events is strong and growing rapidly.
In some respects, the NEIBC stands on the shoulders of New England-based and American investors who have already shown their faith in Israel and Israeli technology, including Greylock Partners, Charles River Laboratories, Battery Ventures, Polaris and many others. An important element of the NEIBC mission is to bring these success stories to the wider community, and then to bring like-minded businesspersons together to create an ongoing flow of business and opportunity.
And the word is getting out. One firm that received the message loud and clear is Portland, Maine-based Pierce Atwood LLP, which I’m associated with. The law firm, which is more than 100 years old, recently opened a Boston office and sent one of its intellectual property and life science partners to Israel. As a result, the firm anticipates that at least one Israeli start-up will be admitted to the firm’s innovative Catalyst Program, which supports entrepreneurs and technology companies by deferring all or a portion of the firm’s fees until agreed success benchmarks are achieved.
The development of a pipeline, i.e., an established flow of intellectual property and investment, between New England and Israel, has been in the works for some time, but never has it been as well defined and productive as it is today. By creating a framework for investors and entrepreneurs, and a vehicle for the public at large to learn more about outstanding and ongoing business opportunities in Israel, the New England Israel Business Council is likely to make a lasting contribution to the technology scene in both countries for years to come.