The deep and abiding passion for cutting-edge technology shared by Israel and Arizona may foretell expansion for Quad Cities economies and business incubators, as evidenced by a local trade mission with the Arizona Israel Technology Alliance (AITA).
Eighty-five attendees at the Aug. 10 event at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) represented an Israeli cybersecurity delegation, local educational institutions and Arizona companies eager to jumpstart potential business technology alliances.
An AITA promotional video touts Arizona’s accessibility to three of the world’s largest economies – California, Texas and Mexico – and its ongoing pursuit of aerospace and defense, biosciences and health care, agriculture technology (agritech) and autonomous vehicles. The state in March became first in the nation with a “regulatory sandbox” to shepherd emerging financial technology (fintech), blockchain and cryptocurrency interests.
Business collaborations between Arizona and Israel “only continue to get stronger, as we have seen over the past year,” said Jon Haass, ERAU’s department chair and associate professor of cybersecurity and intelligence. A prime illustration is Eviation, the Israeli startup pioneering the first all-electric commuter aircraft and setting up its U.S. corporate headquarters in Prescott.
Israel sustains a population smaller than New York City in a country tinier than New Jersey, yet boasts more venture capital, startups, scientists and technical professionals per capita than any other country in the world, the AITA video reports. The country also ranks third worldwide in Nasdaq-listed companies, per the video, after the U.S. and China.
AITA’s president and CEO Leib Bolel said that 300 multinational corporations operate research and development centers in Israel. With 600 new startups every year, he added, Israel is first worldwide in venture capital investments relative to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Advocating for bilateral trade and investment among entities ranging from startups to global economies, AITA fosters a network of members and sponsors who host reciprocal technology delegations between Arizona and Israel, a nation state of 8.2 million people that physically would fit 13 times within the borders of Arizona.
Multiple resources are available to help prospective business partners in Israel and Arizona identify potential alliances, initiate business contacts, develop and conduct worker training, and otherwise facilitate positive interaction and revenue generation. Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry, for example, maintains a database of 6,000 companies from which to match entrepreneurs to business connections in Israel.
That database complements exhibition pavilions hosting 20 to 50 Israeli companies at regional conventions, trade delegations within the U.S. and Israel, and scouting projects for U.S.-based companies. Such efforts are spearheaded by Moran Zilbershtein, new head of the ministry’s Economic and Trade Mission to the West Coast.
Bolel reported that response to the delegation’s visit has been “overwhelming” from multiple viewpoints, including the State of Arizona, City of Prescott and the businesses attending.
“The Arizona companies were excited to meet the caliber of companies that participated,” Bolel explained. “A couple of them identified potential partnerships to some solutions that their companies were faced with. Follow up with all of the companies will identify how partnerships emerge.”
Rene Kolga, senior director of product and marketing for Nyotron, said the firm is “always looking for new prospects and partners throughout the U.S. to accelerate growth.” The company offers technology to protect networks against evasive threats, and as such, is a member of the Israeli cybersecurity startup community.
Kolga said he was “impressed with the large number of businesses with offices in Arizona – PayPal, American Express and many others – not to mention large educational institutions like Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Yavapai College.” As such, he said, “We are open to consider Arizona for its strategic location, quality of life and skilled workforce when the company is ready to expand.”
Generating a strong pool of sustainable talent was emphasized as a benefit of Quad Cities’ workforce development. Another positive aspect cited is the much lower cost of living in Arizona compared to larger areas such as New York or California.
“Prescott seems like a great location,” said Arturo Cazares, executive vice president of Secret Double Octopus, an enterprise security systems provider that authenticates users with protocols, eliminating the need for user passwords.
Cazares shared that the company currently has a global customer base with a distributed sales and service presence in the U.S., and although management is not currently looking to expand, “it was good to get to know the area. We were very warmly received by the community. And it was good to see that there is a growing connection between Arizona and Israel.”
Nadia Malinoff-Kan, vice president of business development for incident response firm Intezer, described the company’s use of biological immune system concepts to isolate DNA code reuse by malware.
“We would be very happy to develop more business with local companies,” Malinoff-Kan added. “I would like to invite them to Israel to see the business potential like we see here.”
Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli lamented the loss of graduates from local colleges and universities to communities outside the region where jobs in their fields are available. He vowed support for companies moving into the area.
“We are looking at amazing intellectual talent at Yavapai College, ERAU and Prescott College, and they are leaving us every year as they graduate,” Mengarelli said. To stem that tide, “we are paving the way for what you would like to bring to our city. These partnerships are genuine. The schools and other communities really like working with each other and do everything we can to make sure you are successful in our city.”
Frank Ayers, chancellor at ERAU, and Richard Hernandez, director of the Regional Economic Development Center at Yavapai College, echoed Mengarelli’s commitment to cooperation through well-prepared graduates, workforce training and economic development assistance.
“We have the brightest student body in the state,” Ayers said of ERAU’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) orientation. “We received two national recognitions as No. 1 among universities in the state for placing students in their field of study within a year of graduation… We want them to stay here, to work with companies that are represented here. And you have the opportunity to partner with them.”
Yavapai College’s Hernandez said his department can help the Israeli companies with data analytics, reporting and networking. Currently offering a Cybersecurity Specialist Certificate, the college anticipates introducing a two-year degree option next fall. QCBN
By Sue Marceau, QCBN