Successful Mission Highlighted by Joint Declaration between Illinois and Israel to Encourage Technology Collaboration; More Than 100 Meetings for Delegation Members to Explore New Opportunities in the Homeland Security Industry
CHICAGO ¬– Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich welcomed back delegation members from the State of Illinois Trade Mission to Israel, who recently took part in a week-long trip to develop ties and explore opportunities between Illinois-based homeland security companies and Israeli homeland security industry leaders and firms. The mission was sponsored by the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) Homeland Security Market Development Bureau (HSMD) and comes as part of Opportunity Returns, the Governor’s comprehensive economic development strategy to create jobs and expand economic growth throughout Illinois.
“As the global economy continues to evolve, we must open doors for Illinois companies to build relationships with research institutions and businesses across the globe. This trade mission to Israel strengthened our already solid relationship with this key trading partner, providing an opportunity for Illinois companies to establish new trading partnerships in the robust homeland security sector with Israel’s leading science and technology providers. We are also pleased to have launched a business-focused fellowship program between Illinois and Israel that will help attract the best and the brightest from both countries in order to commercialize research, develop products and create jobs,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
The June 16th to 22nd trade mission helped to increase trade, investment and collaboration on R&D efforts between Illinois and Israel in high growth business sectors, such as homeland security and biotechnology. The mission began with the signing of a Declaration between Illinois and the State of Israel to encourage Industrial R&D Cooperation in Biotechnology, Homeland Security, Life Sciences and related Sectors. The Declaration recognized Illinois’ and Israel’s mutual interest in advancing common trade and investment opportunities, providing a framework for establishing specific programs to encourage scientific exchange and increase trade.
Mission activities also included more than 100 one-on-one meetings among the participants with potential Israeli trading partners, including major Israeli defense and homeland security companies; and Israeli business and industry leaders, such as the Israel Manufacturer’s Association and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce. The delegation also hosted an “Invest in Illinois” seminar, which brought together more than 60 attendees, to help attract Israeli firms interested in locating new facilities in Illinois.
Trade mission participants included State Senator Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston); representatives from Motorola Ventures, Cognitor, Inc., Hi-Grade Paint Co., the Kern Group and the Action Marketing Group, Inc.; Margaret Larson, Director of Gov. Blagojevich’s Washington, D.C. Office; Matthew Summy, Deputy Director of the HSMD Bureau; and Bret Johnson, Director of the Homeland Security Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center at Northwestern University.
“Illinois is very proud to partner with Israel, and this trade mission and new fellowship program strengthened and deepened these ties, paving the way for stronger collaboration within the homeland security and biotechnology sectors. Illinois and Israel both possess rich research and development and business resources, and Gov. Blagojevich and I are excited about the many collaborative opportunities that lay ahead,” State Senator Jeff Schoenberg (D-Evanston) said.
“This was a tremendous opportunity for my company that has opened many new doors and provided several new business leads. There is nothing like meeting with people face-to-face. I want to thank Gov. Blagojevich and his administration for a chance to grow our business in an important new market,” said Scott Kern of the Peoria-based The Kern Group, who had more than 15 business focused meetings in Israel.
As a tangible way to establish real ties, the Israel trade mission marked the start of the Illinois Business Applied Science Exchange (IBASE), a new mutual exchange program that will make it possible for Illinois-based industry leaders to work in R&D settings in emerging markets, as well as for researchers and scientists from those markets to work in Illinois corporations and universities for three, six or 12 months. The objective is to encourage commercialization of new technologies across both sectors. The program will further match Illinois’ and Israel’s common strengths in research and business development and foster stronger, lasting economic ties.
“We have received excellent reports from participants on the recent Illinois Homeland Security trade mission to Israel. The new Memorandum of Understanding on trade between Israel and Illinois will certainly boost commerce and place our bi-lateral economic relations on a new and firmer footing. Israel especially appreciates being selected as the first foreign country to be involved with the Illinois Business Applied Science Exchange program. Israel’s research institutions have a well-deserved reputation as being among the most innovative in the world, and the partnership with Illinois’ excellent institutions will unquestionably benefit participants from both states. We applaud the initiatives of the State of Illinois to strengthen trade relations with Israel, and I can assure you that the profile of the state, as well as the city of Chicago, has been raised significantly in Israel during the past year,” Deputy Consul General of Israel to the Midwest Andy David said.
“Illinois has advanced as a real leader in the homeland security industry, and this trade mission to Israel has allowed us to share our policies, innovation and research and development activity and establish ties for even more collaboration down the road. Gov. Blagojevich and I look forward to working with more foreign delegations and promoting Illinois’ tremendous resources and opportunities for companies to grow and expand,” DCEO Director Jack Lavin said.
Gov. Blagojevich’s Opportunity Returns regional economic development strategy is the most aggressive, comprehensive approach to creating jobs in Illinois’ history. Since a one-size-fits-all approach to economic development just doesn’t work, the Governor has divided the state into 10 regions – each with a regional team that is empowered and expected to rapidly respond to opportunities and challenges. Opportunity Returns is about tangible, specific actions to make each region more accessible, more marketable, more entrepreneurial and more attractive to businesses. It is about upgrading the skills of the local workforce, increasing the access to capital, opening new markets, improving infrastructure, and creating and retaining jobs. Opportunity Returns is about successfully partnering with companies and communities, both large and small, to help all of Illinois reach its economic potential.