Wisconsin companies working on innovative projects have a unique opportunity: to partner with an Israeli company and receive funding.
The Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation was established in 1977 by both the United States and Israeli governments to foster mutually beneficial cooperation between U.S. and Israeli companies. BIRD is a risk-sharing organization, covering up to 50 percent of project development costs, up to $1 million per project, and companies repay the foundation through a royalty arrangement only if they are successful, according to BIRD. If the project is unsuccessful, the funding is just a grant.
“It’s a risk-sharing mechanism between the two countries and between companies in the United States and Israel where everyone is sharing in the risk of joint development by creating innovative technologies that are being commercialized to market,” said Andrea Yonah, director of business development for the U.S. East Coast and Midwest. The Israeli and U.S. governments split the cost of funding BIRD.
BIRD funds projects in an array of fields, including agriculture, communications, construction technologies, electronics, life sciences and software during their general cycle, which has two application rounds a year. There are also additional funding cycles for projects related to energy and homeland security technologies.
Wisconsin currently has 12 projects that receive BIRD funding, including Wisconsin companies Fives Machining Systems, Inc. and Manpower, Inc. Established and start-up innovative companies in the United States can apply to work with an Israeli company in a related field to bring to life a new product or technology.
“We want to work with more companies in Wisconsin. We want to help them forge partnerships with companies in Israel. We think that companies in Israel have a lot to offer and bring to companies in Wisconsin,” Yonah said. “They can bring new technologies that can add to their product portfolio, it can bring new products for manufacturing, new jobs for people in Wisconsin and opportunities for the companies to get to know each other and to create more new technologies.”
Yonah said Wisconsin is performing well in relation to other states in the Midwest in terms of number of projects, but that there can be more development in the region.
“There aren’t as many Israeli companies in the area, and maybe there aren’t concentrated ecosystems like we see in New York City, Boston and Silicon Valley. It takes more of an effort to get the word out,” Yonah said.
The next deadline for proposals is for BIRD Energy on June 30. Israeli and U.S. companies apply jointly, though BIRD does have matchmaking services. Companies can find more information at Birdf.com.