Governor Deval Patrick today joined Israeli Chief Scientist Avi Hasson and MATIMOP, the Israeli implementation agency on behalf of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), to announce the first round of grants awarded under the Massachusetts-Israel Innovation Partnership (MIIP). MIIP is a formal collaboration between the State of Israel and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to encourage and support innovation and entrepreneurship between Massachusetts' and Israel's life sciences, clean energy and technology sectors. A total of at least $1.3 million is being awarded to four research & development (R&D) collaborations between Massachusetts and Israeli companies that have been jointly approved by the funding agencies on both sides. The total budget of the awarded projects is estimated at approximately $3 million. The Massachusetts awardees are located in Natick, Needham, North Billerica and Wilbraham.
"This partnership represents a significant commitment to ensure the long-term success of our economy in Massachusetts by exploring growth opportunities and common interests within the Commonwealth's and Israel's innovation-based sectors, including life sciences, clean energy and technology," said Governor Patrick. "We are proud to support these four R&D collaborations, and we look forward to seeing the new jobs and new technologies that will come as a result."
"The success of MIIP is a testament to the great contribution of the bilateral R&D program acting as an international bridge between nations and economies and as an accelerator for innovation and growth," said Chief Scientist Hasson, Israel Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor. "This positive and reassuring outcome reflects the close relations between the Commonwealth's and Israel's innovative industries and provides an important platform for strengthening these ties. We are committed to strengthening this cooperation scheme that benefits both of our economies."
The four winning projects are:
Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Project (1): SBH Sciences (Natick) and Improdia (Israel) will work together toward the development and manufacture of a Chronic Inflammation-dependent immunosuppression prognostic kit. SBH will receive $184,000 from the Center and Improdia will receive $202,000 from Israel's OCS. SBH Sciences is an innovative discovery and preclinical based CRO with strong expertise in production and analysis of cytokines and biomarkers. Improdia is a start-up in the life sciences field focused on the implementation of novel biomarkers for the benefit of improving treatment with immune system modulating therapies by means of a simple blood test for patients with chronic disease.
Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Project (2): Automated Medical Instruments (AMI - Needham) will work with STI Lasers (Israel). Together they will develop new technology involving radio frequency energy to perform circumferential ablation of the pulmonary veins. AMI will receive $116,000 from the Center and STI Lasers will receive $110,000 from OCS. AMI is a start-up medical device company developing novel technology to perform atrial fibrillation treatment. STI Lasers is a medical device company specializing in laser cutting, micromachining and finishing of miniature metal components.
Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) Project: Lantheus Medical Imaging, Inc. (North Billerica) and Check-Cap (Israel) will work together to develop a novel 3-D imaging capsule that can be used to screen for polyps and lesions associated with colorectal cancer. Lantheus has been selected to receive $300,000 from MTC and Check-Cap has been selected to receive at least an equal amount from OCS. Lantheus is a global leader in developing, manufacturing and distributing innovative diagnostic imaging agents. Check Cap is an innovative medical devices company located in Mount Carmel, Israel with a breakthrough solution for Colorectal Cancer Screening.
Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) Project: FloDesign Sonics (Wilbraham) and Transbiodiesel (Israel) have been selected as the clean energy award winners. Their joint project will use FloDesign's acoustic molecule separation technology to separate oil that can be used to create fuel from Transbiodiesel's oil-generating algae. FloDesign Sonics will receive $55,000 from MassCEC and Transbiodiesel will receive $20,958 from OCS. FloDesign Sonics uses a novel ultrasonic acoustophoretic separation technology developed at Western New England University for a more efficient approach to wastewater treatment and micro-algae harvesting for biofuels. Transbiodiesel is a start- up company with a novel technology for producing biodiesel fuels from a variety of oils.
The MIIP program was first announced in June 2011 at the BIO International Convention in Washington, D.C. and the first joint solicitation for proposals was launched in September 2011 by MATIMOP on the Israeli side and by the three participating Massachusetts agencies: the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC). Massachusetts and Israeli companies that are engaged in cooperative industrial research and development projects, and that were selected for funding within the MIIP framework, have been awarded R&D grants respectively by the OCS in Israel and the three Massachusetts agencies participating in the program. Massachusetts is the first U.S. state to establish a significant industrial R&D program with the State of Israel.
The partnership came as a direct result of Governor Patrick's Massachusetts Innovation Economy Partnership Mission, a ten-day trade mission in March 2011 that included travel to Israel, where a coalition of the state's leading business executives and senior government officials explored growth opportunities of common interest for Massachusetts' and Israel's innovation industries. During that mission Governor Patrick and Shalom Simhon, Israeli Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, signing on behalf of their respective states, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Jerusalem. MIIP was established to implement the MOU's framework.
"This partnership was a direct result of the Governor's recent trade mission to Israel," said Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. "The Life Sciences Center is pleased to be funding two R&D projects in this first round, both of which hold promise to improve human health in significant ways, and create jobs in both Massachusetts and Israel."
"The Massachusetts Clean Energy Center is excited to support this important research on creating biofuel from algae with a cost-effective method," said Patrick Cloney, CEO of the MassCEC. "It is innovative partnerships like the MIIP program that are going to move us all closer to achieving a clean energy future."
"The strength of Massachusetts' innovation economy affords us the opportunity to partner across borders to enhance technology innovation," said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the MTC. "Collaborations like this partnership with Israel enhance both our global connections and our local economy."
"Today's announcement is a testament to the strong and vibrant economic partnership between the Commonwealth and Israel and further affirms that the Commonwealth is Israel's home away from home when it comes to economic development in the United States," said Ken Brown, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Office of International Trade & Investment (MOITI).
"MIIP first year's results prove that the concept chosen for facilitating this collaboration is valid and effective", said Israel Shamay, Executive Director and Head of the Americas Operations in the Israeli Industry Center for R&D (MATIMOP). "The private sector and governments are joining forces in order to accelerate innovation and MIIP already provides four excellent examples."
"AMI is developing the CircumBlator, which is being designed to be the first product to offer a reliable and curative, minimally invasive treatment for millions of patients with atrial fibrillation, a disease that causes over 20 percent of strokes and untold misery," said Martin Sklar, President and CEO of Automated Medical Instruments. "The MIIP Award, along with our Israeli partnership, will bring the day closer when this groundbreaking product will become available, while also generating many high paying and rewarding jobs in Massachusetts."
"We are pleased to have been selected to receive this important new grant that enables us to collaborate with Check-Cap on an innovative imaging product that can potentially change the way colon cancer is detected," said Don Kiepert, President and CEO, Lantheus Medical Imaging. "As a global leader in diagnostic imaging, Lantheus is dedicated to providing physicians with breakthrough new tools to enhance patient care. Teaming up with Check-Cap to develop and manufacture a cutting-edge imaging capsule further advances this ongoing commitment."
"Check-Cap is developing an ingestible imaging capsule that utilizes X-rays to screen for pre-cancerous polyps and colorectal cancer," said Guy Neev, CEO of Check-Cap. "The technology is developed to create a three-dimensional reconstructed image of the colon and to detect clinically significant polyps with a very high degree of sensitivity and no bowel preparation. The product has the potential to greatly expand the size of the colon screening market and reduce annual deaths from CRC. The MIIP Award can stimulate cooperation between Israeli and Massachusetts based partners. This partnership has the potential to develop into a long-term collaboration that could greatly benefit both economies."
The New England-Israel Business Council, the US-Israel Science and Technology Foundation, the Government of Israel Economic Mission to North America, the Consulate General of Israel to New England and MOITI have all played an important role in promoting the program.
Today there are nearly 100 companies with Israeli founders or Israeli-licensed technologies in Massachusetts. In 2009, these companies employed nearly 6,000 people and generated $2.4 billion in direct revenue for the state. Local firms exported over $180 million worth of goods to Israel in 2009. Home to 377 hospitals and 37,000 practicing physicians, Israel is an important market for health-related technologies.