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The State of Israel and the U.S. State of Florida have a strong relationship, sharing many common areas of business activity. In 2013, Florida and Israel signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote collaborative research, development, and commercialization of projects related to aviation, aerospace, and life sciences. Under this agreement, the governments of Israel and Florida are matching each other, dollar for dollar, to establish a fund to provide grants to Israeli and Florida companies that present joint R&D projects for innovative technologies.
Florida and Israel also have a history of strong cooperation in the defense and homeland security and life sciences sectors. Both of these high-tech industries are highly developed in both Israel and in Florida, and Israeli companies are increasingly looking to Florida when seeking to expand to the U.S and/or Latin America.
Florida’s information technology sector is a global leader in Modeling, Simulation and Training, Photonics/Optics, and Software & Computer Systems Design. Home to iconic IT pioneers such as IBM and Citrix Systems, as well as home-grown start-ups with a global reach, Florida has the nation’s third-largest tech industry and is a leader in the production of graduates in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
Florida has much to offer Israeli companies and is home to a large and active Jewish community. The Florida-Israel Business Accelerator (FIBA), launched in 2016, is a technology accelerator designed to establish and grow successful Israeli high-growth tech ventures in the Tampa Bay Area. Furthermore, Florida has numerous accelerators and soft landing programs available to assist Israeli companies with market-ready products or technologies to expand in the U.S. market – and beyond.
In May 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis led a historic Business Development Mission to Israel with more than 100 Florida delegates. This mission further strengthened the bonds between Florida and Israel through deeper cooperation among academia, government, and private-sector business, resulting in the concluding of more than 20 Memoranda of Understanding between Israeli and Florida entities.
Total merchandise trade between Florida and Israel was $309.8 million in 2019, making it Florida’s 54th largest bilateral merchandise trading partner. In the past five years bilateral trade has grown 18.2%, and by 44.5% in the last ten years.
According to Dun & Bradstreet, there are 42 Israeli companies with 72 branch locations across the state of Florida. Israeli companies based in Florida span key sectors including financial services, agriculture, aerospace and defense, production and distribution and pharmaceuticals. As the twentieth-largest foreign investor in Florida based on employment, Israel accounts for 2,000 jobs across the state.
Florida allocated $1 million from the state’s fiscal year 2020 budget for Space Florida, the state’s aerospace agency, to work with Israeli companies in research, development and commercialization of aerospace and life sciences projects. Also, another $400,000 from the budget was assigned to the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator, an economic development initiative of the Tampa Jewish Community Center.
The state of Florida has a large and active Jewish community of over 620,000 individuals, 3% of the Jewish population in the U.S. Florida and Israel continue to support and grow their shared community through several active Sister City partnerships, including Cocoa’s partnership Beit Shemesh, Israel, Sarasota’s partnership with Tel Mond, Israel, and more.
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