BOSTON – From new companies opening their doors in Massachusetts and across the region, to an economic development law to support the ties between the state and Israel, the highly touted success story between Massachusetts and Israeli businesses continues to progress, said a variety of leaders from the worlds of diplomacy, business, and nonprofits.
The ties extend beyond the Bay State, with Israeli-based businesses establishing footholds in southern New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and elsewhere in the Northeast.
In 2015, some 200 Israeli-founded companies based in Massachusetts brought in $9.3 billion in revenue, representing nearly 4 percent of the state’s economy, according to a 2016 study conducted by Stax Inc. for the Boston-based New England-Israel Business Council and supported by Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
In the last year, 10 new Israeli companies opened offices in the region, according to Zeev Boker, Consul General of Israel to New England, who delivered the news in his remarks at the consulate’s 10th Annual Executives Forum earlier this month in Boston.
“Endorsing business relations between Israel and New England is one of the main goals of the consulate,” said Boker, a longtime Israeli ambassador who began serving as consul general to New England last October.
Boker also announced a new collaboration for the region, the first ever start-up incubator between IBM Israel, Brown University, and the University of Rhode Island.
The theme of this year’s forum was social investment, a term that broadly refers to mission-driven companies and organizations that focus on areas such as education and environmental, or “green” businesses.
The keynote presentation was a wide-ranging conversation between former Governor Deval Patrick, now managing director of Double Impact, a social investment arm of Bain Capital, and Bradley Bloom, a senior adviser to Berkshire Partners, another investment firm.
Khouloud Ayuti, a director for Presentense, spoke about the Israeli nonprofit’s bold, innovative social impact programs that target underserved minority, multiethnic, and low-income communities in Jaffa.
The strength of business relations between Massachusetts and Israel is continuing to grow, according to Dan Trajman, chief executive officer of the New England-Israel Business Council.
“It’s an evolution, not a revolution,” Trajman told the Journal in a phone conversation following the consulate’s forum. “During the last four years, over two dozen Israeli-related companies set up shop in the Boston area.”
He pointed to the diversification in the growth of Israeli businesses locating here, including Shamaym, a company launched by former Israeli Air Force pilots that specializes in an adaptive debriefing-based learning framework aimed at creating openness and personal accountability in corporations. Another company, Cupixel, has developed software that allows anyone to create artwork by hand.
Trajman pointed to the 2018 economic development law, passed by the Massachusetts Legislature and signed last August by Governor Charlie Baker. The bill authorizes $250,000 for the facilitation and support of the Massachusetts-Israel economic connection, Trajman said.
Massachusetts and New England stand out as a strong region for successful collaborations in innovative technology, according to Andrea Yonah, director of business development at BIRD, the Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation that provides matching funds of up to $1 million for collaborative projects between American and Israeli companies.
On Feb. 11, Eitan Yudilevich, BIRD’s executive director, will discuss funding opportunities at an event offered by the New England-Israel Business Council at the Newton Innovation Center.
Among the 94 BIRD-supported projects in Massachusetts are successes such as ReWalks, a worldwide company based in Marlborough that creates robotics to help paraplegics walk, and Desalitech, a water purification company with a global presence that set up its headquarters in Newton.
The robust programming sponsored by these groups are invaluable in introducing Israel’s thought leaders to people across sectors and from all walks of life, said Austin Sedaghatpour, the consulate’s director of economic affairs.
In a phone conversation, Sedaghatpour said the consulate’s office views the work as “a great light for diplomacy, through innovation, and how that serves to better society.”