Newsletter April 2012


Dr. Eitan Yudilevich
Executive Director

 BIRD, Innovation and Competitiveness

Alarms are going off warning of threats to U.S. competitiveness¹. Similar warnings are heard from time to time in Israel, as well. In today’s increasingly global economy, not only companies must be competitive, but countries and societies need to carefully and continuously examine their competitive position.

It is now universally accepted that there is a direct connection between innovation and growth: “…..innovation and technological change are undoubtedly central to the growth process².  The development of new industries, new businesses and high quality jobs are directly related to the innovation capacity of advanced nations.

The private sector, when fed by a quality educational system and supported by a strong public infrastructure, is key to achieving the goals of competitiveness and growth. Firms have come to the realization that it is no longer possible to achieve sustainable success without collaborating with elements external to the organization, including competitors. Motivated by the need to expand exports for sustained growth, companies are seeking more opportunities to cooperate internationally. This is obvious to Israeli technological companies, which have little or no local market. It may be less obvious to U.S. companies, especially small and medium size enterprises (SMEs).

In the U.S., SMEs account for a large percentage of the GDP, but only a small percentage of them are involved in exports³.  Many SMEs dealing with products or services related to technology are highly innovative and exports from SMEs have been identified as a significant source of potential economic growth.  For example, in the U.S., SMEs represent about 80% of the medical device industry. However, SMEs have limited resources, which is one important reason they often do not pursue export markets. One way of overcoming these barriers is by creating collaborations, including those with both domestic and international companies. Israeli companies have developed increased expertise in dealing with markets outside the U.S. and Israel, so that they can potentially be good matches for U.S. companies seeking to expand their own markets.

For many years the BIRD model typically applied to the combination of a small Israeli start-up and a large, mature U.S. company. In recent years, we’ve seen the increased participation of smaller U.S. companies in BIRD projects, a trend we welcome.

Click here for the whole article

Eitan Yudilevich, Ph.D.
Executive Director



¹ The Competitive and Innovative Capacity of the United States, U.S. Dept. of Commerce, January 2012
² Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, May 16, 2011
³ SMEs: Overview of Participation in U.S. Exports, USITC, January 2010

BIRD Energy 

Opportunities for Funding U.S.- Israel Cooperation for Renewable Energy and Efficiency 

The current call for proposals announced by BIRD Energy is in its fourth funding cycle for U.S.-Israel joint Project Proposals with a focus on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency.

To be considered, a project proposal must include R&D cooperation between two companies or cooperation between a company and a university/research institution (one from the U.S. and one from Israel). The proposal should have significant commercial potential and the project outcome should lead to commercialization.

The following areas of research and development themes are within the scope of this call: Solar Power, Alternative Fuels, Advanced Vehicle Technologies, Smart Grid, Wind Energy or any other Renewable Energy or Energy Efficiency technology.

The conditional grant per project is up to 50% of the R&D costs associated with the joint project, and up to a maximum of $1 million per project.

The application process is web-based and requires prior discussion with the BIRD Foundation.  Initial concept submissions are due by May 3, 2012, and full proposals are due by June 28, 2012. Decisions on projects selected for funding will be made by September 6, 2012. Please refer to BIRD’s website for submission details 

BIRD Energy Submission Deadlines
The following are the upcoming deadlines for BIRD Energy submission:

Executive Summaries
(using BIRD’s template)
May 3, 2012

Full Proposals
(following BIRD’s detailed instructions)
June 28, 2012

September 6, 2012


For further inquiries please contact:
In Israel: Ms. Limor Nakar-Vincent,, Tel: 972-3-698-8315
In the U.S.: Ms. Andrea Yonah,, Tel: 609-356-0305

 Latest Investments

BIRD – Israel - U.S. Binational Industrial R&D Foundation to invest $8.1 million in nine new projects
December 20, 2011

The approved projects involve innovations in the areas of healthcare IT, technology for education, energy efficiency and biofuels.

The nine projects approved by the Board of Governors are in addition to the 830 projects in which the
BIRD Foundation has invested over its 34 year history. To date, BIRD’s total investment in these projects exceeded $290 million, helping to generate sales of more than $8 billion.

Click here for the full press release  

 Spotlight on BIRD Projects

Desalitech collaborates with GE

Desalitech collaborates with GE on a joint R&D project, financed by Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research & Development (BIRD) Foundation. The first product of this collaboration is a 100 m³/d test system featuring the integration of Desalitech's Closed Circuit Desalination and GE's ultra-low energy membrane reverse-osmosis technologies. The test unit will be evaluated at Mekorot's Research and Development Center in Shafdan, Israel, where treated municipal wastewater with approximately 1,000 ppm of dissolved solids will be purified with a single stage of membrane elements at a recovery rate of 92% or higher for agricultural reuse, in a test which purpose is to demonstrate superior performance and cost effectiveness over any existing RO wastewater treatment solution.

Resource-efficient water production and treatment are essential for human health, economic development and the environment. Desalitech’s mission is to simplify and improve water treatment and desalination processes.

Click here for the whole article


From left to right:

Yuval Weiss Ph.D. – BIRD Foundation
Yinnon Dolev – GE Global Research
Avi Efraty Ph.D. – Desalitech
Todd Anderson Ph.D. – GE Global Research
Nadav Efraty – Desalitech
Sivan Bleich – Mekorot, Watec
Jonathan Pulitzer – GE Energy Financial Services


Virent Biojet from Virdia Cellulosic Sugars Passes Rigorous Tests

Madison, Wis.-based biorefining technology developer Virent Energy Systems Inc. has successfully converted cellulosic pine tree sugar feedstock into drop-in hydrocarbon fuels such as biogasoline and biojet via its BioForming technology platform at its 10,000 gallon per year production facility in Madison. The feedstock was supplied by cellulosic sugar technology developer and provider Virdia, formerly HCL CleanTech.

The joint project is supported by a $900,000 BIRD (Binational Industrial Research and Development) Energy grant, a program for U.S.-Israel joint renewable energy development funded by the U.S. DOE, the Israeli Ministry of National Infrastructures and the BIRD Foundation, which officially launched in January 2011. The grant supported nearly half of the $2.1 million total project cost of the collaborative effort.

“Passing the Armed Force’s arduous test requirements for jet fuel further substantiates the superior value proposition of the advanced carbohydrates that Virdia is introducing,” commented Philippe Lavielle, CEO of Virdia.

“As demonstrated by the BIRD Energy project results, Virdia’s CASE process can deliver the high-purity, cost-effective cellulosic sugars needed as the primary raw material for jet fuels and other applications. We are pleased to work with Virent to prove that the value of cellulosic biomass can be unlocked.”

Click here for the whole article

Virdia's cellulosic sugars were converted to biojet via Virent's BioForming process
and passed rigorous military testing recently.
Photo: Virdia

 BIRD Events and Updates

South Carolina-Israel Collaboration to Focus on Neurotechnology

Organized just a year ago by the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Southeast Region (AICC), the South Carolina-Israel Collaboration ( is developing new ties with Israel.  A major business & research delegation to Israel in November included a significant group of life science and healthcare experts from the state with a particular focus on Neurotechnology.  In addition to meetings with leading researchers at Weizmann Institute, Technion, Tel Aviv University, and Ben-Gurion University, the delegation met with several innovative companies dealing with Neurotechnology as well as with Dr. Eitan Yudilevich of the BIRD Foundation and Dr. Rafi Gidron, Chairman of Israel Brain Technologies.  The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), is developing the Center for Applied Neuroscience to create companies from the universities research IP portfolio, and sees Israel as a logical partner in this project. 

Smart Cities Session at the Eilat Eilot Forum for Renewable Energy Policy
February 22, 2012

About 50 people participated in the round table discussion at the Eilat Eilot Energy Forum 2012 on the subject of "Smart Cities". The session was organized by the BIRD Foundation and focused on a vision for smart cities and the effect on energy efficiency and energy renewable policy. The panel was moderated by Dr. Edna Pasher, CEO, Edna Pasher Ph.D. and Associates.

Among the speakers were: Ms. Clara Gaymard, City Initiative Leader, Vice President, GE International and CEO of GE France; Mayor Don Plusquellic of Akron, Ohio; Mr. Rafi Rich, Senior Director for Building, Ministry of Interior & Ms. Limor Nakar-Vincent, Director, U.S. Business Development & BIRD Energy

Following the presentations the participants divided into small groups to discuss what policy needs to be designed to promote "smart cities" in Israel.


To view a list of BIRD's previous events, click here


 Upcoming  Events


BIRD Board of Governors Meeting
June 21, 2012, Boston, MA
Approval of funding for new projects between Israeli and U.S. Companies

Cyber Security Event
June 4, 2012, Santa Clara, CA  

The event will provide a unique opportunity to hear from industry leaders and innovative companies both U.S. and Israeli based about new technologies and initiatives related to the evolving Cyber Security Space. The event will focus on business opportunities and will discuss challenges we are facing and solutions that are developed to address them.

Conference: “Accelerating U.S.‐Israel Neuroscience & Neurotechnology Collaborations”  
September 12, 2012, Washington DC

The U.S.-Israel Neurotechnology and Neuroscience Conference will bring together leading scientists from academia and industry to highlight recent developments in the study  of brain function and brain disorders. Cutting edge technologies that will lead to breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders will be showcased, and opportunities for cooperation between companies will be explored.

Click here for further info about this event

BIRD on Facebook 


We have over 1000 likes! Join our Facebook Page and get the latest news about our activities, events and hot topics in the U.S. and Israeli high-tech scenes

PrintTell a friend
Jump to page content