Lehigh Valley

Israel Consul General speaks at Lehigh University, talks business innovation

BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Israeli Ambassador and Consul General in New York Dani Dayan wants Pennsylvania to know that Israel is open for business.

Dayan spoke at Lehigh University’s Iacocca Hall early Tuesday afternoon about a recent agreement aimed at promoting cooperation between companies in Pennsylvania and Israel.

The Pennsylvania Office of International Business Development on Bilateral Cooperation in Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) and the Israel Innovation Authority signed a memorandum of understanding November 2017.

The MOU would help the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development work with the IIA to support startups from Israel and to facilitate joint ventures between Israeli and Pennsylvania innovators.

The aim of the agreement is to create opportunities for conducting joint industrial research and development projects between Israeli and Pennsylvania companies.

The PA DCED will be issuing several requests for proposals over the next few months for companies to submit ideas for joint projects. 

Dayan said in his speech that Israel’s pace of economic change and growth has been rapid over the last 30 years, calling the trend an “economic miracle.” The country’s GDP has grown from $35 billion in 1987 to $358 billion in 2017, Dayan said.

In 2017, Israel boasts more than $40,000 in GDP per capita, Dayan said.

Dayan called Israel the “cyber security capital of the world,” noting that a significant amount of investment in cyber security goes to Israeli companies.

Dayan said that “Israel is open for business,” saying that the country aims to foster a “culture of entrepreneurship” by encouraging young people in the country to become entrepreneurs, to perhaps become the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

Contrary to opinions that the country has become isolated from the world, Israeli investments in China, India and Japan have been growing over the last few years and vice versa, Dayan said. Relations between India and Israel have been growing more “intimate” over the last 30 years, when the two countries had no relations at all.

Matthew Tuerk of the PA DCED noted before the speech that the Lehigh Valley, home to Lehigh and Northampton Counties, boasts a high-quality workforce. 750,000 residents live in the two counties, 100,000 of whom drive in and out of the Valley every day, Tuerk said.

Barry Halper of Halper Associates and the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley said that water purification, energy efficiency and biomedical technology are some of the fields that are common to both Israel and Pennsylvania.

Ben Weiner of Jumpspeed Ventures, a company that invests in startup companies in Jerusalem, said there are now 250 active startups in Jerusalem. Wiener said Jerusalem has become an “exciting place to invest in startups.”

Consul General Dayan is also due to speak on Israel’s upcoming 70th birthday at the Jewish Community Center in Allentown  7 p.m. Tuesday.

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