Thursday, July 28, 2011

South Carolina Israeli Trade Mission

By George Fletcher

For the past six months, I have had the privilege of working with a group called the South Carolina/Israeli collaboration. Chaired by Charleston’s Jonathon Zucker, the group is working with the American Israeli Chamber in Atlanta on partnerships between the SC research universities and Israeli universities, as well as establishing business relationships in six clusters. New Carolina was invited to join the collaboration because of our data base on clusters. The six target clusters are Biomedical, Advanced Materials, Sustainable Systems (water, energy, agriculture), Transportation (auto, aerospace), Defense/Security and Insurance and Health Information Technology. SC obviously has signficant strengths in these clusters.

Educational session were held at the Greenville Chamber and the Columbia Chamber on July 27th and at the CRDA offices in Charleston on July 28th. Background information on the collaboration was presented. Israel produces more high tech companies than anyplace other than Silicon Valley. Innovation that came from Israel included the DVD, the jump drive, the cellphone, voice over internet, voice mail, plasma and LCD TV’s, firewalls and many other innovations in medical devices, security and weapons. The culture for innovation was documented in the book Startup Nation which I highly recommend.

The collaboration would like to recruit a group of key SC people for a trade mission on the week before Thanksgiving. Details on the mission, itineraries and participant applications are on a recently created website

As many of you know, I am a recovering engineer who’s expertise was in water and wastewater. During the proposed week of the trade mission, Israel is hosting WATEC, an international water conference that will attract 20,000 people. Israel uses every drop of water 4 times. They have planted 450 million trees in the desert. They invented drip irrigation. The conference will showcase some of the Israeli innovations in water. Over the past two days, we have had 20 of the leaders in water meet with Booky Oren, the conference chairman and one of the great Israeli private sector innovators in water technologies. I believe that a separate partnership will develop in the area of water and wastewater reuse.

Thanks to Tom Glaser of the American Israeli Chamber of Commerce, and to Jonathon Zucker, CEO of Intertech, for driving this effort.

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