The signing of MOUs between the government of Israel and various U.S. states is nothing new, and often they merely represent good intentions that do not translate into anything tangible.  It was for this reason that I was elated with the announcement this week about the first two grant awards of the South Carolina – Israel Industrial R&D Program.

This joint R&D program was originally conceived in 2011 and became a key feature of the program of work of the South Carolina-Israel Collaboration that I helped organize in my capacity then as president of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, SE Region (now known as the America Israel Business Connector-conexx).   What made South Carolina go beyond good intentions was SCRA—the South Carolina Research Authority, an applied research corporation with over 30 years of experience delivering technology solutions with high returns on investment to federal and corporate clients.  SCRA was a founding partner in the Collaboration, and working with the Office of the Chief Scientist executive agency MATIMOP, all the details were hammered out and executed. For those who have ever tried to forge such a complex program involving multiple government agencies, the tenacity of the various parties to get the job done is deeply appreciated and respected.

The first project will create a centralized approach for structuring free text medical research data. This previously unstructured data will be made accessible in a standardized form, enabling access for the wider medical research community.  The two-year research program partners Columbia-based Health Sciences South Carolina and Ramat HaSharon-based CliniWorks.  I’m proud to have introduced these two eventual partners.

“This project will position South Carolina and our collaborator, CliniWorks, at the global forefront for coordinated, centralized access to health information. This work will help Health Sciences South Carolina and its supported organizations continue to improve health and well being for all South Carolinians,” said Dr. Todd Thornburg, HSSC Interim President & CEO

The second project will explore flame retardant chemicals and potential applications for the textile industry. The one year project partners Greenville-based Alexium, Inc. with Israel Chemicals, LTD.  “We expect great things out of this collaboration with Israel Chemicals. They are a world leader in the flame retardants industry, and I am excited to see what new products come out of this venture,” said Bob Brookins, Alexium’s Head of R&D.

In addition to the four companies receiving the grant awards, our congratulations and thanks should be extended to Russ Keller of SCRA, Liron Eldar of MATIMOP, Israel’s Economic Minister to North America Nili Shalev, Israel’s Consul General to the Southeast Opher Aviran, conexx president and CEO Shai Robkin, and especially to Jonathan Zucker, president of Charleston-based The InterTech Group who has served as chairman of the South Carolina-Israel Collaboration since its beginning.

“This collaboration furthers innovative research and collaboration, helping advance South Carolina’s Knowledge Economy.  We congratulate Alexium and Health Sciences South Carolina on these awards and look forward to positive outcomes from these partnerships,” said SCRA CEO Bill Mahoney.

“The success of this first funding round proves the benefits of bilateral R&D partnerships that accelerate innovation and economic growth. We are looking forward to launch the second round and utilize this platform in order to further strengthen economic ties between South Carolina and Israel,” added Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Economy Avi Hasson.

The South Carolina – Israel Industrial R&D Program seeks to stimulate generation and development of new or significantly improved products or processes for commercialization in global markets. The technology sectors that are the focus for this program are Biomedical and Life Sciences; Advanced Materials; Sustainable Energy/Water/Agriculture Systems; Transportation; Defense and Homeland Security; and Insurance and Health Information Technology.  The program is being managed by SCRA on behalf of the state of South Carolina under a contract with the State Department of Commerce, and by MATIMOP on behalf of the state of Israel. The next call for proposals under this program is likely to take place later this fall.