Israel, California sign major tech cooperation deal

Under the agreement, companies are invited to submit R&D projects – which could get funding from both sides

California Governor Jerry Brown, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. (AP/Eric Risberg)
California Governor Jerry Brown, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. (AP/Eric Risberg)

Israel and California have signed a major tech cooperation deal, promising funding from both for research and development projects in a variety of fields. Chief Scientist Avi Hasson called the deal another in a series of “votes of confidence in Israel’s economy, industry and innovation from a large number of US states and companies.”

Under the deal, companies from California and Israel will submit potential R&D projects in areas like high-tech, mobile network development, agricultural technology, and clean tech.

Of special interest to California is Israel’s water management tech. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently signed an agreement with California Governor Jerry Brown to export Israeli desalination, water recovery and recycling, water filtration, and water security technology to water-needy the US state.

The tech cooperation agreement was signed last week at a major biotech conference in San Diego, where 17 Israeli biomed companies presented their technology to thousands of visitors from around the world. Under the accord, approved deals will be eligible for various levels of funding from both California and Israel. The Israeli side will be administered by MATIMOP, the executive agency of the Office of the Chief Scientist.

Presidents and chancellors from top US universities are visiting Israel this week to explore opportunities for bilateral academic partnerships and collaboration with Israeli schools — and among the delegation is a large contingent from California, including representatives of the California State University system, the largest granter of bachelor’s and graduate degrees in the United States.

The academic visitors are in Israel through the AJC (American Jewish Committee) Project Interchange, which “offers broad exposure to the complex issues facing Israel and the region, with the delegation scheduled to meet with senior government, academic and civil society leaders across the Israeli social and political spectrum, and traveling to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders,” the AJC said.

The US visitors are meeting their Israeli counterparts from Bar-Ilan University, Haifa University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv University, among others, to discuss research, water and environmental sustainability, biotechnology, urbanization, and diversity. This is the eighth year the AJC is sponsoring Project Interchange, the organization said.

Both economically and academically, there are many reasons for Israel and California to work together, said Hasson. “Collaboration agreements like the one with California will contribute to the Israeli economy, job creation, advancing R&D, entrepreneurialism, technology, and more in both places,” he said. “We are extremely pleased by this ongoing vote of confidence in Israel’s economy, industry and innovation, which have become an international brand.”

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