In 2011, Israel’s exports totaled $90 billion – a full 40 percent of the country’s GDP that year. That calls for a celebration, and on Monday, President Shimon Peres threw one for some of Israel’s most creative and successful exporters. Eight companies were awarded the President’s Export Award for 2011. “The companies you represent,” said Peres as he distributed the awards, “reflect the wide range of creativity and imagination among Israeli companies. These awards are a lesson for the next generation as well, showing them the possibilities for their futures.”

Awardees included some of Israel’s most active exporters and best-known companies. Objet, the Rehovot-based maker of 3D printers, sold $121 million worth of products and services in 2011, 98% of it outside of Israel. Israel’s Kamada, a pharmaceuticals firm which has developed an advanced medication for cystic fibrosis, sold over $20 million in products in 2011, nearly all of it to the foreign market. And ColorChip, which sold nearly $5 million of optical components and subsystems almost all of it abroad, was also, along Objet and Kamada, awarded for its high level of exports.

Other winners included a textiles firm from Kibbutz Masuot Yitzhak, a maker of polyethylene sheets for agricultural and industrial purposes from central Israel, and a processor of tehina, which exported $10 million of the white stuff in 2011.

A special award was given to soft drink machine maker SodaStream. In 2007, Peres said, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy, but by 2011 the company was exporting $584 million worth of machines and soda cartridges. And in a sign that the company has really made it, a commercial for SodaStream will be broadcast in this year’s Super Bowl. With all that, Peres said, the company maintained its Israeli identity, presenting itself as a “blue and white” exporter in the 45 countries where it sells its products.

Also singled out for a special honor was the Israeli R&D facility of Broadcom, the international technology company. The award was accepted by Broadcom corporate vice president Shlomo Markel, an Israeli who has been with the company since 2001 and has been responsible for much of the technology cooperation between Israel and the company. Over the past decade, Broadcom has acquired 10 Israeli companies, and those acquisitions, now R&D labs, have helped develop some of Broadcom’s most advanced technologies.

It was companies like Broadcom, Peres said at the event, that were the engine of Israel’s economic advancement. “Israel is today rated as the world’s top country in the quality of its research and development,” Peres told the company’s representatives. “You are all an important part of the country’s economic success.”