Ontario’s Premier Kathleen Wynne was in Israel last week heading a group of close to 130 representatives of business, government and academia intent on further expanding cooperation in all three sectors between Israel and Ontario.
At the closing reception on May 18th, the Premier announced that agreements had been signed during the week valued at over $118 million and the expectation is that at least 200 high tech jobs will be created in Ontario as a result.
Some of these agreements included:
*Ontario’s Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine and six Israel-based universities and medical research institutions signed a five-year agreement valued at $50 million to create a Centre for Regenerative Medicine in Israel. This project will generate an estimated 150 new high-tech jobs in Ontario and position the province as a leader in the global commercialization of regenerative medicine.
*Ontario’s True Phantom Solutions signed a five-year agreement valued at $5 million with Israel-based Microtech Medical Technologies Ltd. to develop the first-ever thoracic phantom, which will create realistic mechanical representations of the rib cage, heart, lungs and spine. The device will enable better medical training and research.
*The Canadian Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation at Baycrest Health Sciences in cooperation with the Office of the Chief Scientist in Israel signed an agreement valued at $4 million to collaborate on innovations and bring new programs to the fore in aging and brain health solutions for seniors.
*Ontario-based University Health Network signed an agreement valued at $3 million to use Israel-based Insightec‘s ultrasound technology for clinical research and development in Ontario.
Of course, in addition to the business and academic activities, the Premier had a full political schedule, meeting with senior political officials both in Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
For our company, as Ontario’s trade and investment representative in Israel, it was the largest mission of its kind that we have ever been involved with from a sub-federal entity in either the U.S. or Canada. In our experience, groups of 30-35 are common and make an impact, but nowhere near the impact of close to 130 people plus staff traveling around the country seeking opportunities for cooperation.
Building new relationships and helping businesses compete globally are part of every government’s economic plan aimed at delivering on one of government’s top priorities, to grow the economy and create jobs. Most state and provincial governments understand that encouraging greater exports and promoting inward investment are the two key elements of job growth.
What this mission proved, once again, is that even in this age of advanced communication, Email, Twitter, Skype, Instagrams and the like, nothing beats sitting down face-to-face with potential business partners as a vehicle to get the message across that there is serious potential for cooperation between the two parties. As always, coming to the market is the best catalyst for jump starting business relationships.
We applaud Premier Wynne and her staff for committing a week of their time and significant resources to make this happen and are sure that the investment will be a worthwhile one for Ontario in the long term.
Sherwin Pomerantz is president of Atid-EDI Ltd., an economic development consulting firm with 26 years’ experience in assisting overseas companies and public entities in their export promotion and foreign direct investment attraction efforts.