January 04, 2011
Partnership Spotlight: Israel
Delegation seeks innovative international market opportunities
The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber led a delegation of 30 regional business leaders to Israel in November for a six-day trip. Israel, with a population the size of the state of New Jersey, has an amazing track record of entrepreneurialism, ingenuity and technological advancement. With the largest density of start-ups anywhere and the second-highest number of companies on the NASDAQ, Israel has attracted more than twice as much venture capital per person as the U.S., and more than 30 times more than Europe. This successful trip lays the foundation for a long-term scope of work that involves building relationships, business connections and understanding.
"We are not the first U.S. market to initiate working with Israeli companies, but we believe we have the potential to be the best. A big reason for this is our region’s existing relationships in Israel with organizations such as Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, P&G, Teva, Standard Textile and Michelman. By these firms sharing their expertise with us, they expedite our collective learning curve and made our trip more successful, said Doug Moormann, VP, economic development, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. "We also learned more about the speed and efficiency at which Israelis are able to commercialize research. Israeli research institutes have a dedicated approach to tech transfer that includes separate entities exclusively responsible for tech transfer and developing financial resources. This learning is an opportunity for us—we have the pieces in place but the process needs to be strengthened and accelerated."
While on the trip, the group was also able to pay a retention visit to an Israeli company with a presence here (Teva), learn more about developing business opportunities (Children’s Hospital) and explore potential new business opportunities with Israeli companies interested in establishing a U.S. presence. A few of these prospects are planning a trip to Cincinnati USA.
The Partnership believes Israel has the potential to turn into one of the region's key international markets. The next steps includes following up with the Israeli businesses planning a visit to Cincinnati, building a relationship with the Ministry of Trade and further exploring opportunities in technology investment and application--differentiating Cincinnati USA as a place where innovative, international enterprises should invest.
Now that I have had a few days to reflect upon our trip to Israel I offer this note as one data point of feedback. This was my first business centered exchange trip outside the country and I committed with some reservations about its value to a regional builder. I must start by saying that my expectations were exceeded. Overall I rate the trip excellent. The group dynamics were great, the arrangements were well done, the balance between business and cultural activities was very good, and most important the content of the many presentations and conversations was substantive and actionable. I came away with action items that will apply directly to Messer and with some new thinking about opportunities our region could embrace.
"I returned with a new understanding of the Chamber's role in building a strong, dynamic business environment. I have always believed that Chamber trips were about "selling" our region to potential investors. I am sure that remains an important strategy, but my interest in being part of the next Chamber trip is based upon the value I found in bringing actionable ideas back to my company and my community; the better understanding I gained of a unique country and its cultures; and upon the value I found in forging stronger working relationships with other regional leaders," concluded Pete Strange, president, Messer Construction and Chamber Board member.