By Barry Bogage
Maryland/Israel Development Center
Governor Martin O’Malley led a very exciting trade mission to Israel and Jordan this past April 20 to 29 with a delegation of nearly 50 Maryland businesses, academic, Jewish and Muslim community leaders. Organized by the Maryland/Israel Development Center (MIDC), the goal of the mission was to promote bi-lateral trade and investment between our business communities as well as research collaboration and exchanges between our academic institutions.
It was a very successful mission. Governor O’Malley announced that four new high tech companies from “The StartUp Nation” which MIDC has been working with are opening offices in Maryland. They are:
Shekel Scales, which builds precision scales for the retail and healthcare industry, opened their Owings Mills office earlier this year. The company already counts GE Healthcare, IBM and Fujitsu among its customers and plans to hire 30 people in Maryland.
“We’re glad to be here. This is a great opportunity for Shekel Scales to innovate new products and introduce them to the U.S. market,” said Shekel Scales Chairman Yoram Ben-Porat. “Our new and existing customers appreciate that we have a local presence.”
Robo-team’s new Maryland office will support the development of robots that collect tactical intelligence, dispose of explosives, conduct search and rescue operations and survey hazardous material spills.
“The R&D we are doing in Israel is fascinating and exciting, but the real challenge starts when the systems hit the ground,” said Shahar Abuhazira, CEO of Robo-team North America. “Maryland is the best location for our training and Customer Support Center. We will benefit from the high-quality personnel there and by being so close to the key organizations we are working with.”
Hybrid Security, developer of artificially intelligent cyber security solutions, will establish a Maryland office within six months.
“We chose Maryland for our U.S headquarters because we see it becoming a leader in the cyber industry,” said Hybrid Security CEO Raviv Raz. “Hybrid Security is a technological leader and Maryland was also the first state to reach out and offer its generous support. I believe it is the right time and the right place in light of emerging cyber threats against the American economy and national security.”
Askimo, an online education startup, will open a Montgomery County office with four employees by the end of the summer. The company is currently headquartered in Tel Aviv.
“Our intention is to establish the company’s global headquarters in the U.S. and to be close to the world’s capital of communications, Washington D.C.,” said Askimo CEO David Butnaro. “We found Maryland very suitable for our needs and goals — the geographic location, the marketing and business opportunities there, and especially the connections and help we are getting through the Maryland/Israel Development Center. I’m looking forward to opening Askimo’s office in Maryland and am sure success, creativity and innovation will evolve there.”
Governor O’Malley said, “These companies are great additions to our high-tech entrepreneurial community and it is a testament to our highly-educated workforce and strategic location that they are choosing Maryland to grow. Israel and Maryland share a commitment to education and innovation, and to making this world a safer place. These companies exemplify those commitments and the strength of the bond between Maryland and Israel.”
The Governor also announced the formation of a high level Israel Advisory Board for MIDC, which he will co-chair along with newly elected Member of Knesset and “native son of Maryland” Rabbi Dov Lipman. Originally from Silver Spring, Rabbi Lipman is also a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Ner Israel in Baltimore. Twenty Israeli leaders in business, investment, education and medicine agreed to join the board and help identify new business opportunities.
Members include Orna Berry, head of EMC Israel and Israel’s former Chief Scientist, Dr. Raphael Beyar, President of Rambam Hospital who has had a number of sabbaticals at Johns Hopkins Medicine, Noah Lasson, General Counsel of Verint and former MIDC staff member, and David Goren, head of AstraZeneca’s Israel office. AstraZeneca is the parent company of Maryland biotech company, MedImmune.
Governor O’Malley also visited Hadassah Medical Center and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Dr. Jay Perman, President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, Menahem Ben-Sasson, President of the Hebrew University, and Brig. Gen. Dr. Yitshak Kreiss, Surgeon General of the Israel Defense Forces, that will launch collaborative research on trauma care and emergency medicine.
Governor O’Malley also had a very interesting meeting with Intaj@, the information technology association of Jordan. The association had planned to send a delegation of IT companies to Silicon Valley later this year and is now adding Maryland to their agenda.
All in all, it was a very exciting and productive trade mission to will expand Maryland’s trade and research relationship with Israel and launch new opportunities in Jordan.
Learn about MIDC and what they are doing at marylandisrael.org.