Texas Governor Urges Deeper Collaboration With Innovative Israeli Tech

By Einat Paz-Frankel, Head of Content, Start-Up Nation Central

Innovative Israeli startups in a range of fields from aeronautics, digital health, smart cities, energy, and cybersecurity are a “natural fit” for businesses and institutions in Texas, visiting Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Thursday.

“There is a connection between businesses in Israel and Texas that make both Israel and Texas far better,” Gov. Abbott said during a visit to the Tel Aviv headquarters of Start-Up Nation Central, an Israel-based non-profit that connects innovative Israeli solutions to pressing global challenges. “We’re proud to make that connection while we’re here,” Governor Abbott added.

On Thursday, January 16, 2020, the Governor was leading a Texas economic development mission on an official visit to Israel sponsored by the Texas Economic Development Corporation. Governor Abbott’s immersion into Israeli tech and introduction to several key startups that are already working in Texas, or whose innovations could be a fit for Texan institutions, was facilitated by Start-Up Nation Central.

The Governor, who last week warned Texans that Iran could launch cyberattacks following the US drone strike that killed Iranian General Qasem Suleimani, heard from IntSights, a cyber threat intelligence and mitigation startup. “Following the US targeting of Suleimani, the Texas State agencies reported some 10,000 attacks per minute from Iran-based agencies. So our need for cyber solutions is not theoretical,” Governor Abbott said. A senior aide to Abbott said the frequency of cyber-attacks was significant, “more than normal.”

The Governor was also briefed on Start-Up Nation Central’s activities in Houston, where the Israeli organization has established a partnership with the Texas-Israel Technology Partnership (TITP), a Houston based non-profit that facilitates technology innovation between Israel and Texas with particular focus on institutions in the Texas Medical Center. As a result of this partnership, numerous Israeli start-ups are piloting their technologies and opening local offices in Houston.

Dr. Eyal Zimlechman, Chief Medical Officer of Israel’s largest hospital, Sheba Medical Center, presented its ARC innovation model, which was founded by Sheba to incorporate innovation into medical centers. ARC is partnering with over 50 medical centers around the world and is seeking partnerships with the State of Texas. The Governor, who is paralyzed from the waist down and travels in a wheelchair, expressed interest in the ARC model as a means for lowering health care costs through innovation, including tele-medicine solutions.

The Governor also endorsed the ‘Global Finder’ platform, an online innovation discovery platform created by Start-Up Nation Central, that maps local innovation hubs around the world and connects them to a global audience. Together with Houston Exponential, a non-profit growing Houston’s innovation ecosystem, Start-Up Nation Central is rolling out Global Finder Texas to map the Houston tech sector, and expose Houston start-ups, investors and corporate innovation groups in a data-centric fashion.  The initiative will be launched in Houston, with the aim of taking it state-wide.

Wendy Singer, Start Up Nation Central‘s Executive Director, briefed Governor Abbott on Israel’s innovation sector, opening with parallels between Israel and the State of Texas, referencing a comment made by former Israeli Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol, who said in a meeting with President Johnson, “We both know the thrill of bringing life from a hard yet rewarding land.”

Israel is a significant and important trade partner of Texas. In 2018, Texas ranked fourth among other states in exports to Israel, with $953.5 million of exports. In 2018, Texas imported more than $1.5 billion goods from Israel, making the state number three among other states. Israeli headquartered businesses operate in approximately 60 locations throughout Texas.

Photo by Vered Farkash for Start-Up Nation Central

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