The Post and Courier: South Carolina group finds common ground with Israel

November 28, 2011

Posted:  11/27/2011 11:00 PM

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They went to explain “Why South Carolina” and seemed to return with answers for “Why Israel.”

And therein may lie the success of the recent 26-member, weeklong research and trade delegation from the Palmetto State to the Middle East. “They’ve got lots of follow-up to do,” said Tom Glaser, president of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce, and one of the organizers of the trip. “The Israelis now know about South Carolina.”

Henry Taylor, the Charleston Regional Development Alliance‘s vice president of global business development, spoke highly of the technology transfer apparatus in place there, calling the public and private sectors “fully aligned.”

“I think we have all of the components” in South Carolina, Taylor said, “but it’s not as aligned as it could be.”

Stephen Lanier, associate provost at the Medical University of South Carolina, was wowed by Israel’s business incubators, an area that the Charleston region has been expanding into.

“They really got it down pat,” Lanier said.

Taylor and Lanier were two of the Charleston-area representatives who made the whirlwind tour of Israel from Nov. 12 to 17. They toured universities and hospitals and met with business leaders and government officials.

They learned about the possibility of joint research and development agreements, how Israel launches promising young businesses and about companies that might be looking to expand operations in South Carolina.

Taylor, for instance, met with two of the largest aerospace companies in Israel. Elbit Systems already has North American operations, having participated in a joint venture in South Carolina with General Dynamics, he said.

And Israeli Aerospace Industries builds planes and makes the kind of composite that forms the fuselage of Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliners. “They actually produce parts that go on the 787,” Taylor said.

In Lanier’s realm, one of his colleagues is on sabbatical at one of the hospitals the delegation visited, and a half-dozen Israeli professors from Technion University were attending a stem cell and regenerative medicine symposium at the Medical University of South Carolina the same week.

“Going over there and seeing what was going on was a great learning opportunity but I also think that it reinforced many of things that we’re doing in the state and trying to do are going in the right direction,” he said.

Organizers expect a reciprocal trip in the near future.

“I see out of this the potential for inviting delegations of Israeli companies and researchers to south Carolina for what we call industry-specific business exchanges,” Glaser said. “I’m confident that the course of 2012 we’ll have at least one of those Israeli delegations come to South Carolina for a matchmaker-type event.”

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