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ISRAEL SEEKS COLORADO PARTNERS FOR MEDICAL AND BIOTECH VENTURES

 ISRAEL SEEKS COLORADO PARTNERS FOR MEDICAL AND BIOTECH VENTURES
 DENVER, June 11 /PRNewswire/ -- "Scientists are pouring into Israel," said Dr. Ido Simon, founder of Israel's new Applied Biotechnology Center. "Not only are they bringing ideas, one Moscow microbiologist actually came to Israel with his bacteria in his pocket, eager to work and collaborate on his silicate bacteria research."
 Generous funding, Soviet scientists, access to the European Community (EC) and "chutzpa" were just a few of the reasons given to local medical and biotech business leaders for joint ventures with Israel during a seminar held June 9 at The Brown Palace.
 Joel Edelman, president of Rose Medical Center and moderator of the "Israel: Your Partner in a High-Tech Future" seminar, attested to the high quality of Israeli medical instruments. "When Rose Medical Center chose to enter the field of laser surgery, it relied on Sharplan," a subsidiary of Israel's Laser Industries, for its "outstanding laser product."
 According to Meir Buber, Israel's New York-based trade commissioner to the United States, it's the 400,000 immigrants Israel has absorbed in the past few years who have given the country its cutting edge. "The proportion of engineers to Israel's overall population is 6 percent as compared to the U.S. which is 1.6 percent." Buber added, "Israel has more scientists and engineers engaged in research and development, with 135 per 10,000 in Israel as compared to 17 per 10,000 in the U.S."
 One of the U.S. companies taking advantage of this scientific talent is Ecogen, a Pennsylvania-based agricultural biotechnology firm that develops and markets genetically altered pesticides. "We were surprised by the quality of the equipment," said David Olson, Ecogen's director of regulatory affairs, in Israel and the incredible "access to research centers. The interchange of ideas is excellent." Olson credited access to biopesticide technology developed at Hebrew University in Jerusalem for "broadening our technological innovation and our product base."
 Ecogen also benefits from Israel's position as the only country in the world that enjoys free-trade agreements with both the United States and EC. Israel "provides an excellent link to Europe, the Middle East, Australia and Africa and is turning out to be our central location for distribution," Olson said.
 Joint ventures between Israeli and U.S. companies also can benefit from conditional grants issued through BIRD, the Israeli-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation. Nearly 300 companies of all sizes, including Ecogen, Motorola and Digital, have been supported by BIRD grants since its founding in 1977.
 BIRD is "a Matchmaker," explained Samuel Kramer, a board member of BIRD and deputy director of the National Institute for Standards and for the U.S. Department of Commerce. "We have an annual budget of $14 million and accept proposals twice a year." BIRD takes no ownership of intellectual property; if the project is successful, it takes royalties of up to 150 percent of the initial grant. High-tech proposals are preferred. Recently approved projects include epilepsy monitoring systems, a dynamic imaging project, new drugs, and information processing systems.
 Dr. Shulamith Harel, director of biological research for Israel's Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), added that funding also can be obtained from this department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
 i Sight Inc., a two-year-old New York-based high-tech start-up, has received two OCS grants (and one BIRD grant) used to commercialize revolutionary imaging technology developed at the Technion, Israel's "MIT-equivalent." i Sight's technology gives electronics the clarity of the human eye and has applications for endoscopic surgery and camcorders, explained the firm's founder, Jerry Lichtenberger.
 Lichtenberger added that he chose to establish a wholly owned Israeli subsidiary last year due to government incentives that included: reduction of tax rates as low as 10 percent for 10 years, grants of up to 38 percent of the fixed assets, full tax exemptions for up to 10 years under certain conditions, and government-guaranteed loans.
 Lichtenberger enthusiastically agreed with Joel Edelman's description of Israel as a "small but technically potent nation." However, he advised the audience to be prepared for the "sabra" mentality, referring to the fruit Israelis sometimes compare themselves to -- "tough and prickly on the outside, but soft and sweet on the interior."
 -0- 6/11/92
 /CONTACT: Steven Silvers of Hill and Knowlton, 303-623-7772, for the State of Israel/ CO: ST: Colorado IN: SU:


MC -- DV002 -- 9147 06/11/92 10:00 EDT
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Date:Jun 11, 1992
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