May 20, 2013
Florida commits $1.1 million in recurring funds to the economic partnership with Israel
Today, the annual budget legislation of the State of Florida was signed by the Governor into law.
This year's budget includes authorization for Space Florida to enter into a Florida-Israel Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Agreement with the State of Israel to support collaborative research, development and commercialization of projects related to aerospace and other technology and life sciences. The budget will provide $1 million of recurring funds, which will be matched, dollar for dollar by Israel, to support innovative technologies for the economic benefit of both sides. Both the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate included funding for this agreement in their budgets and Governor Rick Scott approved the funding for the MOU Agreement this past weekend.
The Government of the State of Israel will now finalize details for the MOU Agreement with the State of Florida, and the operating modalities with Space Florida and Israel's Ministry of Industry and trade. It is expected that the first "Request for Proposals" will be issued in a matter of months, and will focus on the realm of small satellite development. Israeli and Floridian companies will be asked to present cooperative proposals, which will then be vetted jointly for feasibility, and research funding will be awarded to the most promising partnerships. Commercialization of the project will then provide for the repayment of the research award to the government funding bodies.
This initiative has been several years in the making, and many leaders were crucial in spearheading this agreement in this year's Florida Legislative session. Senator Gwen Margolis took leadership in the Senate (D-Miami), while Representative Ed Hooper (R-Clearwater) channeled the efforts in the House of Representatives. Moreover, it was just over a year ago when Governor Rick Scott led an economic delegation to Israel to explore trade cooperation and expanding economic ties between the two States, which lent crucial impetus to the MOU effort. The State of Israel thanks all those who took part in this effort, for bringing it to fruition.
In addition to the MOU and complementing it, the budget also allocated $100,000 dollars annually to the establishment of an Enterprise Florida office in Tel Aviv, that will provide Florida companies interested in Israel with a vehicle to introduce contacts, coordinate delegations, and facilitate trade between both states. Israeli companies interested in doing business in Florida will also be assisted by this Tel Aviv office.
Upon the signing of the budget, Consul General of Israel, Chaim Shacham, stated “the MOU Agreement highlights once again, how the strong ties between the people of Florida and Israel have to power to create vital economic benefits for both states – especially economic growth for Israel, and jobs for Florida. There are enormous untapped opportunities between Florida and Israel. The new MOU and Enterprise Florida office in Tel Aviv will most certainly create a ‘win-win’ situation for both sides.”