Michigan Business Delegation Explores Israeli Startup Ecosystem, Cybersecurity Innovation

By Daniel Lai

The Detroit Regional Chamber recently joined 15 organizations across the state for a five-day fact-finding mission on Israel’s booming startup culture and cyber innovation hosted by Deloitte and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

The mission is part of an ongoing effort to build relationships with key government leaders in the country while also connecting Michigan companies with startups and business accelerators in order to develop collaborative technology solutions to strengthen the state’s leadership in connectivity and next-generation mobility.

In addition to the Chamber, the delegation included representatives from AT&T, ChoiceTel, Consumer Energy, Cornerstone Schools, Crain’s Detroit Business, Downtown Detroit Partnership, General Motors Co., Henry Ford Health System, ITC Holdings Corp., Michigan State Police and The Right Place.

Highlights from the week included:

  • Attending the 2017 CyberTech Conference in Tel Aviv to hear from industry experts in cybersecurity
  • Touring AT&T’s latest innovation center in Raanana, GM’s Advanced Technical Center in Tel Aviv and Israel’s Startup Nation Central, a nonprofit focused on getting innovation in front of leading companies around the world
  • Meeting with Avi Hasson, Israel’s chief scientist
  • Hosting meetings with decision-makers from more than 12 technology companies

Israel has the highest density of tech startups in the world cultivated by highly trained graduates from the military establishment, robust government investment in innovation and STEM education. That public and private synergy is ripe for entrepreneurial growth.

“It is very clear that Israel is a market Michigan must have a close relationship with not only because of the volume, but also the quality of innovation taking place. They have a culture that asks partners, ‘bring us your problems’ – and there are no shortage of challenges in delivering autonomous driving to the world,” said Justin Robinson, the Chamber’s vice president of business attraction.

“The Chamber and MICHauto are committed to further enhancing the connections between our established automotive industry and venture capital community with the technology ecosystem in Israel. Doing so will be a win-win for both of our communities,” he added.

Daniel Lai is a communications specialist and copywriter at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

Economic Developers Find Collaborative Solutions for Regional Investment at MEDA Conference

This past August, 160 economic developers from across the state came together to discuss key issues impacting business development at the Michigan Economic Developers Association (MEDA) annual conference in Detroit. The conference was chaired by Maureen Krauss, senior advisor of economic development for the Detroit Regional Chamber. Discussions revolved around aging infrastructure, repurposing real estate, the auto industry, and community development.

It’s at the conference where relationships among economic developers are often built and cultivated.

“When you can get a wide range of people with diverse projects and communities in one room sharing what works and what doesn’t work for potential investors looking to expand in Michigan, that knowledge is invaluable. Everyone wins,” Krauss said.

The Conference also offered the opportunity to showcase Detroit and the auto industry’s comeback, with tours of the city and keynote speeches by Mayor Mike Duggan and Detroit Economic Growth Corp. President Rodrick Miller.

“Whether you are from Troy or Marquette or Holland, inevitably you are asked about what’s happening in Detroit from investors and site selectors,” Krauss said.

As a regional convener, the conference is only one part of the Chamber’s collaborative work with developers, private and public partners, and government leaders. With the competition for talent, jobs and investment showing no signs of slowing, Krauss said the Chamber is often called upon to be the “go to” source for everything from labor statistics and graduation rates to available office and retail space. A large component of that collaboration also takes place at the local, state and federal level when key legislation impacts business development.

An example of this, Krauss said, was a recent advocacy effort between the Chamber, Grand Rapids-based The Right Place and the Michigan Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) that eventually led to the passage of a series of bills in the state Legislature that exempt data centers from sales and use taxes. The legislation helped pave the way for more high-tech job creation. Most notably, it was a key catalyst for Switch, a Las Vegas-based company, that announced plans to expand its operations in Michigan, adding $5 billion in investment and 1,000 new jobs.

“You are always impactful when you act with one voice,” Krauss said, adding that the Chamber is currently working with partners to address proposed changes governing state tax increment financing (TIF) regulations and brownfields across the state.

Another positive example is the collaboration with the MEDC and Gov. Rick Snyder on investment missions overseas. Krauss said the Chamber often serves as a lead partner due to the depth of knowledge and diversity of opportunity in Southeast Michigan. Last year alone, the Chamber and its partners helped attract over $80 million and over 500 jobs to the region. Notable projects included YFS Automotive Systems investment of $26.9 million in Wayne County.

For more information on Forward Detroit, contact Marnita Hamilton at 313.596.0310. To view a full list of investors and past Investor Exclusive content, visit our Investor Resources page. For more information on Business Attraction, contact Justin Robinson at 313.596.0352.