Message from Executive Director
BIRD and the Relationship between the United States and Israel
Twenty years after that report was issued many things have changed, in some ways, dramatically. Think, for example, about the Internet and try to remember (if you were old enough) what you were able to do on the Internet in 1992. Not much! You could send e-mails and (slowly) download files. The World Wide Web concept was just being launched.
Although the “BIRD model” has essentially remained the same (two companies, one from Israel and one from the U.S. co-develop a product which BIRD partially supports financially with a “conditional grant”), BIRD has also evolved considerably since the time of that report. There have been significant developments in technology sectors and in the type of companies that are eligible, especially relating to U.S. companies. In 2012, close to 50% of the U.S. awardees were companies with less than 50 employees, demonstrating the growing participation of U.S. SMEs in BIRD projects.
The “technical compatibility” referred to in the quote from the CRS report has actually become stronger and more broadly recognized by U.S. companies across the spectrum, large and small, in all technology sectors.
In a much more recent report** which provides a Global Startup Ecosystem Index, five out of the six leading regions/cities are American (Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York City and Boston). The additional city, which ranks second is…..Tel Aviv. A more detailed examination of this index reveals that the “compatibility” between the U.S. and Israel relating to the technology and entrepreneurship culture has grown stronger with time. From the analysis of this index one can also conclude that both nations benefit from strong collaboration: U.S. companies benefit from the talent abundant in Israeli start-ups, while the Israeli start-ups increase their ability to reach market success and revenue.
These are not easy economic times, not in the U.S. nor in Israel. U.S. companies face global competition and the need to reduce Government spending will most probably have a negative effect on many businesses. Israel is also on the verge of implementing severe Government spending cuts. U.S. businesses will be looking more and more for markets outside the U.S. and although Israel is not a large market, Israeli companies can be beneficial to U.S. companies both in innovation and outreach to select export markets. Israeli hi-tech companies will still look to the U.S. as their preferred market for launching their products. U.S.-Israel collaboration remains of great value for both sides.
We look forward to another year of joint innovations, which we hope will provide outstanding solutions and contribute to the future economic prosperity of both nations.
Eitan Yudilevich, Ph.D.
*The Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD), Congressional Research Service, March 26, 1992.