To foster collaboration between Georgia and Israel’s “Startup Nation,” Atlanta-based Southern Company and the Israel Innovation Authority have each put up $1 million to fund technology-based and scientific projects that are a collaboration between the two regions. The $2 million will be allocated in non-dilutive grants.
On the U.S. side, the program will be managed by the Georgia Centers of Innovation (COI), a division of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. R. Steven Justice, Executive Director of the COI, says they will help collect and screen applications of the projects and ideas that apply for funding.
“After this screening, both the Southern Company and Israel Innovation Authority will embark on direct negotiations with the selected applicants on the specifics of the project,” says Justice.
Justice explains that Southern Company expressed an interest in connecting with innovation coming out of Israel, a country consistently recognized for its high-tech focus.
On the Israel side, Oded Shorer, Director of Economy and Commerce for the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast U.S., says the Innovation Authority first offered this program to Georgia two years ago, but it took until now to identify the company that would put up the initial funding.
“Luckily Southern Company has seen the advantage of leveraging the Israeli grant program and we thank it’s leaders for that decision,” he says. He points out that the advantages of the program include increased R&D, along with cross-exposure to different countries and markets on both sides.
The hope is the Israeli partners will also consider putting an operations base in Georgia — adding intellectual capital, economic development and jobs.
“We hope that Israeli companies that will be drawn to the joint-venture scheme will open a representative office in Atlanta, and will assist in boosting Atlanta’s profile as an important hi-tech hub,” says Shorer.
The same type of program has seen success in other countries and states, says Shorer.
“The Israel Innovation Authority with the Chief Scientist office, part of the Economy Ministry, is very aggressive in its role to promote Israeli hi-tech know-how and create “cross-pollination” between Israeli companies and foreign companies,” says Shorer. The Innovation Authority will help applicants from Georgia be matched with Israeli counterparts to complete their projects.
The collaboration is seeking projects focused on a range of industries, including vehicle automation/electrification; advanced materials; sustainable energy/water/agriculture; public safety; smart home; data analytics and more.
Justice and Shorer both agree that the hope is for the program to expand as other companies with an interest in fostering collaborative innovation step in.
“The Israel Innovation Authority is ready to match any financial commitments from such corporations,” Shorer says.
The application period for this round of projects will open on July 2, 2018. Average grant amounts will range from $125,000 to $400,000.