The advertising slogan once used by the state of New Jersey’s Department of Tourism, “New Jersey and You Perfect Together,” is being revived, only this time it applies to the growing business and technology relationship between New Jersey and Israel.
New Jersey and Israel already have “a rich historic relationship,” that was further strengthened during a four-day mission ending Feb. 13 by Choose New Jersey (CNJ), according to its president and CEO, Jose Lozano. The mission ended with deepening cultural connections, new partnerships and new investment opportunities for both Israel and New Jersey.
CNJ is a non-profit economic-development organization whose mission is to encourage job creation and attract capital investment in New Jersey through a network of state agencies and private partners.
The group of 16 met with government representatives and leaders in cybersecurity, unmanned aerial vehicles technology, life sciences and healthcare industries, Israeli venture capitalists, and startups.
The New Jersey-Israel Commission (NJIC) “gave a lot of guidance and worked for months to plan this trip and discussing how to best pair the assets and needs of New Jersey to the assets and opportunities in Israel,” its executive director, Andrew Gross, told The Jewish Link.
“We met with dozens of companies and institutions and hundreds of individuals, and many are interested in coming to New Jersey and establishing an office here,” said Gross.
Among the highlights of the mission were memorandums of understanding signed by the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT), Fort Lee-based Cross River Bank and Rowan University in Glassboro; a bilateral business collaboration between the Jerusalem Development Authority (JDA), CNJ and NJIC to promote collaboration between private-sector companies, academic institutions and government agencies through business-development assistance, exchanges and professional consultation; and the announcement by the Jewish National Fund, CNJ and NJIC that 11 faculty members from the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), and Rutgers and Princeton universities have been selected for the prestigious summer 2020 academic fellowship program pairing them with Israeli counterparts in their fields of study to encourage academic exchange.
“The talent and capability of the workforce in Israel is unmatched in the technology space by any other country in the world,” said Cross River Bank’s senior vice president of public affairs, Phil Goldfeder, in an interview with The Jewish Link. “It’s allowed us to strengthen our workforce in New Jersey.”
While the company operates a traditional bank in Teaneck, most of its operation is focused on combining banking with technological services to leading marketplace lenders and technology companies. It already employs 63 in its Jerusalem office, and Goldfeder said the company pledged to hire 100 more employees there by the end of the year. It employs another 300 in the United States, most of them in Fort Lee.
“We at Cross River rely on Israel to develop the technological expertise that serves as an important bridge for our staff to expand service capabilities,” said Goldfeder, and act as a link between New Jersey and Jerusalem.
He said the bank also has a longstanding relationship with NJIC, and based on its own positive Israeli experience, has encouraged other companies to also establish Israeli offices.
Rowan University vice president for research Beena Sukumaran told the Jewish Link she was impressed with both the Israeli university system and government support given startup enterprises, which encourages more people to risk establishing a company.
“The bureaucracy is much less,” she said of Israel. “You can start a company in a day.”
The university now has $60 million in research grants and Sukumaran’s job encompasses finding funding sources for faculty research projects at the 20,000-student institution. It also operates the South Jersey Technology Center providing office and laboratory space for academic research and for private tenants, including the Rowan Technology Business Incubator for startup companies.
While in Israel, Sukumaran also took it upon herself to visit the Hebrew University to see how their faculty engages in technology transfer, “taking it from the lab straight into real life.”
Rowan already has a longstanding collaboration with the dean of engineering and computer science at JCT and she hopes the Israeli trip will result in other educational partnerships, including in the humanities, Jewish studies and Holocaust education.
New Jersey and Israel’s skills mesh particularly well in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries companies—New Jersey is home to 14 of the world’s 20 largest pharmaceutical companies—noted Gross. Teva Pharmaceutical, the Israeli company that is the world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, recently moved its American headquarters from Pennsylvania to Parsippany.
Gross said the mission also visited such innovators as SOSA, which he described as “an incredible Israeli incubator that pairs technology companies with industry leaders like a matchmaker.”
The group also met at the Ra’anna offices of Sanara Ventures, which invests largely in pharmaceutical and medical technologies, and Mobileye, an Israeli subsidiary of Intel Corporation that develops vision-based self-driving cars and advanced driver-assistance systems.
“This mission helped to spark a lot of interest in Israel in New Jersey,” said Gross. “I am extremely optimistic about future collaborations between institutions in New Jersey and institutions in Israel. The governor has put forth a mission to increase innovation in the state and in building an innovation economy and this trip did just that. He has made it very clear that he wants New Jersey to be represented in Israel in some capacity. We showcased the exciting opportunities in New Jersey and the message that New Jersey is the ideal home for Israel.”
The other institutions sending representatives on the mission were the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness; Hackensack Meridian Health; McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter LLP; New Brunswick Development Corporation; Public Service Enterprise Group; NJIT and Princeton and Rutgers universities.
By Debra Rubin