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Mass. looks to strengthen clean-tech ties with Israel
Boston Business Journal - by Jackie Noblett Boston Business Journal
Massachusetts and Israel have a number of long-established business and research partnerships, but now area clean-technology leaders are looking to leverage the relationship to boost the cluster’s international profile.
Several investors and professionals have made pilgrimages to Middle East nation, including a recent trip by Andrew Friendly of Advanced Technology Ventures and Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky & Popeo PC attorney Tom Burton to identify key research and potential stateside business opportunities.
“I went to see what kind of novel technology is there, who the leading researchers are and what we can partner with,” Friendly said. ATV focuses on early-stage emerging technology companies and has about $1.6 billion under management. It has seven clean-tech firms, but none are Israeli-based.
The increased focus on Israel is driven by what observers describe as a race with other tech centers to win over Israeli clean-tech researchers.
They see such a relationship is important in two ways. First, as technology is spun out of Israeli universities, the Boston region could capitalize on the commercialization process. Secondly, Israel’s strong alternative energy policy initiatives make it an potentially strong market for clean technology developed by Boston-based companies.
“Clearly a lot of these companies in Israel end up creating a U.S. headquarters, the question is whether it’s here or Silicon Valley,” said Jonathan Shapira, who recently launched the Boston Israel Cleantech Alliance networking group. Shapira, a recent Boston College Law School graduate who spent his final semester studying in Israel, was recently hired by Goodwin Procter LLP.
Shapira’s 50-member networking group hopes to organize several visits a year for Israel and Boston-area firms and hopes to co-sponsor a clean-tech conference next spring with Combined Jewish Philanthropies.
Massachusetts already has connections with some of Israel’s clean energy movers and shakers. After founding Cambridge’s GreenFuel Technologies Corp., Isaac Berzin returned to Israel earlier this year to focus on alternative energy policy and entrepreneurship. And Glen Schwaber of Israel Cleantech Ventures is a Boston area native and Harvard University graduate.
“We’ve seen several individual business trips from Boston-area executives to Israel as well as more structured delegations over the years,” Schwaber said.
But what many insiders say is missing is a state-sponsored pitch. In recent months New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom have each gone to Israel.
Sources say the Patrick administration is planning a formal visit, but state officials wouldn’t provide any details.
“Like Massachusetts, Israel is widely regarded as an international leader in technology and innovative thinking,” said Kofi Jones, an Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development spokeswoman. “Partnerships between Massachusetts and Israel have the potential to grow the economies of both locales and lead to advancements in clean tech that will change the way people live throughout the world.”
Jackie Noblett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Boston Business Journal - August 18, 2008
Edited by Jonathan Shapira on Aug 20, 2008 12:19 PM