By Martin Kidston/Missoula Current
A statewide team of business leaders will set off for Israel this spring with the Montana World Trade Center to nurture new commercial ties in a number of fields, including biomedical and agriculture.
The trade mission is set for May and will coincide with Biomed 2017 in Tel Aviv.
“Our goal is always to increase trade,” said Brigitta Miranda-Freer, executive director of the Montana World Trade Center in Missoula. “That happens one business deal at a time.”
To nurture those deals, Miranda-Freer said the trade mission will arrange individual meetings between Montana participants and prospective Israeli partners, including importers, distributors, agents, and collaborators in research and development.
Opportunities may also exist for the state’s agricultural industries. Miranda-Freer said Montana could supplant Canadian lentil and pulse crops that are currently imported by Israel. The country also imports hard red winter wheat and, last year, Montana closed its first sale of cattle embryos to Israel.
“I think Montana firms can also expand sales of security and related products to Israel,” Miranda-Freer said, citing Polson-based Adelos as an example. “We also have much to gain from partnering on water-related technologies with a country that recycles 84 percent of its water.”
Last January, Israeli Consul General Andy David visited Montana to learn more about potential trade opportunities between this state and Israel. He returned last month to serve as the keynote speaker for Accelerate Montana, a new program at the University of Montana that houses seven different programs aimed at helping startup businesses succeed.
While here, David discussed Israel’s reputation as the startup capital of the world. He attributed much of Israel’s growth to knowledge-based industries and saw parallels in Montana’s growing technology sector.
“Today’s industries are less and less dependent on distance,” David told the Missoula Current at the time. “It’s not about how many grains you can sell, or how many oranges you can sell, as in our case. It’s about how many ideas you can sell, and with ideas, distance doesn’t matter.”
According to the Montana World Trade Center, Israel serves as a global center for high-tech design and research, with defense dominating its trade portfolio. Opportunities for commercial partnerships with Montana include cybersecurity, defense equipment and biotechnology.
“On the tech side, I’d like to see more collaboration with R&D and commercialization in the bio and photonics space, perhaps leveraging funds available through the BIRD Foundation,” Miranda-Freer said.
The BIRD Foundation is a funding group that provides capital to fund U.S.-Israeli research and development projects up to $1 million in value.
Contact reporter Martin Kidston at email@example.com