Gov. Martin O’Malley and an entourage of Jewish and other thought-leaders will board a plane on April 20 and head to the Holy Land. This is the governor’s second mission.
The trip is being called a “trade mission,” a trip put on by the Maryland/Israel Development Center with the support of the Baltimore Jewish Council. The purpose of the mission, according to MIDC’s chairman, Abba David Poliakoff, is to explore — and in some cases, solidify — economic development opportunities for Maryland with Israeli businesses and institutions.
“As our economy strengthens, we know we must look beyond our borders for new avenues for trade and investment, particularly those countries, like Israel, that have invested heavily in supporting entrepreneurs and growing an innovation economy,” said Gov. O’Malley.
Poliakoff said there are talks happening with a number of Israeli companies interested in setting up satellite offices in Maryland. In an article published on the MIDC website, three such companies are named: Hybrid Security, Robo-Team and Askimo.
Hybrid Security has a cyber-security product named Telepath that monitors the behavioral aspects of all Web application users, inside and outside the organization. Robo-Team has created a family of robotic hardware and software solutions designated for numerous operational missions, such as gathering tactical intelligence, explosive ordnance disposal, subterranean/tunnel investigation, urban search and rescue, HazMat surveying and many others. Askimo was the subject of a recent JT article. It is creating a worldwide video encyclopedia.
Poliakoff said working with Israeli companies is good for the State of Maryland; as companies open here, they bring job opportunities.
Dr. Jay A. Perman, president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore, seconded Poliakoff’s sentiments. He is traveling on the trip, making his first journey to Israel. He told the JT he expects the mission to be “a tremendous opportunity for me personally, for the university and for the state.”
“With the leadership of the governor, we are going to have the opportunity to meet with educational leaders and business leaders; this includes educational leaders at Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University in Jerusalem, at Tel Aviv University and at the Technion in Haifa,” said Dr. Perman. “We are going to explore opportunities whereby our university, together with these universities, can find common ground in biomedical research, in educational opportunities, in terms of delivering the kinds of professionals our state and the State of Israel need.”
Dr. Perman said he will be looking for potential relationships with representatives of the biopharmaceutical industry and is interested in recruiting companies for the University of Maryland BioPark.
Dr. Wallace D. Loh, president of the University of Maryland, is also traveling with the group.
A working itinerary includes meetings with newly elected Knesset member Rabbi Dov Lipman, originally from Silver Spring, with the minister of industry, trade and labor, Naftali Bennett, with President Shimon Peres and with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro. O’Malley will also talk with Elta System Ltd. CEO Nissim Hadas. Elta opened an office in Maryland last year. He will talk with leaders of the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and with Israel’s chief scientist.
Part of the visit will be meetings with Palestinian leaders as well, including Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. On April 22, the governor will visit Jordan and meet with Prince Faisal bin Al Hussein.
Howard Libit of the Rogers Forge area will be traveling to Israel with the group, too. He is on the executive committee of the Baltimore Jewish Council. He said he has never been to Israel, and he knows this is an atypical first experience, but he is not deterred. He told the JT he is grateful the governor had room for him on this trip.
“I am looking forward to seeing the governor’s tremendous economic development role and to see the relationships he has helped nurture along,” said Libit. “You hear so many stories and so much about life there [in Israel]. I am really just excited to see it firsthand and get a better understanding of what it means.”
The mission returns on April 29. Throughout the trip, the governor and his staff will be blogging for the JT.