US-Israel Tech Partnerships: What Works and What Can Be Learned from the Past

Warren Buffet once said, “Partnership is not a legal contract between two equal individuals. It’s an emotional alliance between two people who are committed to each other’s success.”

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Buffet has a point. When two or more entities, individuals, or organizations come together and work towards a common goal, there’s more than just legality involved – there are hopes, dreams, courage, effort, strategy, risks, ethics, success, and often failure which can come with unintended financial and personal consequences.

In today’s incredibly competitive global business landscape, partnerships have become essential for fostering strategic advantages and accelerating growth. This is particularly true for Israeli and U.S. companies, which have become a model representation of how two distinct business cultures can complement each other to perfection. While Israel brings to the table creativity, “chutzpah,” and speed, the US brings ambition, structure and processes, global leadership, and the kind of capabilities and resources that no other country has. With these two sets of contributions combined, the two countries have turned innovative ideas into products and services before anyone else many times.

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The US-Israel partnerships come with many other benefits. For Israeli companies, partnering with established channels in the vast US market helps gain smoother entry, save time and money, and avoid common pitfalls. Moreover, partnering at the R&D stage enhances innovation and reduces time-to-market, resulting in significant cost savings through shared resources and infrastructure. Lastly, aligning with reputable US companies enhances an Israeli company’s brand image and credibility, attracting attention from larger players in the market both in the US and globally.

For the US, these partnerships provide diversification and deepening of expertise. Collaborating on research and resources accelerates innovation and product development, as both countries boast strong academic and market credentials. Additionally, sharing the risks enables everyone to navigate uncertainties effectively. Americans’ grounded vision fused with Israeli risk-friendliness and boldness creates the perfect combination for the fastest growth in the shortest time.

Zooming out of the US-Israel dyads, we can say that successful global partnerships generally rely on several key requisites. To begin with, it’s crucial to define clear objectives, ensuring that each party understands and communicates their goals transparently. This is easier said than done – in some cultures, outright expression of goals is seen as greedy, while in others, it’s everyday business. This is why setting expectations from the start and continuously aligning them between both parties is a must.

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Along the way, while personal connections are essential, avoiding dependence on a single champion is important. Establishing multiple points of contact strengthens the relationship’s resilience and cultural diversity. Another aspect is addressing cultural differences, which requires awareness and understanding of various nuances, and it’s for that reason having experienced team members can be genuinely beneficial.

While Warren Buffet had a point, formalizing an international partnership with clear and concise legal contracts solidifies the business aspect of the relationship. Planning for success involves discussing IP arrangements, revenue/profit sharing, and other relevant factors in case the partnership yields positive outcomes.

Finally, partnering with significantly larger companies requires structure, reporting, and procedures to enhance communication and efficiency. Going back to the US-Israel case, one example of such a binational partnership could be seen in the BIRD grants, which have effectively encouraged many collaborations by introducing such a structure.

The US-Israel technology partnerships have brought about impressive achievements, and continue to offer tremendous potential for growth, innovation, and mutual success. By fostering strong alliances built on clear objectives, open communication, and structured processes, businesses can unlock the power of collaboration and achieve new heights in the global technology ecosystem.

About the Author
Jaron Lotan is the Executive Director of the BIRD (Binational Industrial Research and Development) Foundation. In the past 39 years served in key executive roles with leading Israeli-based technology companies.
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