Beyond beaches: Florida seeks to lure Israeli startups
The Times of Israel
December 5, 2017
Move over, Silicon Valley and New York. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is looking to put his state “on the map for innovation.”
Scott is visiting Israel this week at the head of an almost 70-strong delegation including businessmen and university heads hoping to whip up the appetite of Israeli startups to set up their businesses in the third-most populous US state.
“Over half a million people have moved to Florida recently because of its economic development,” Scott told a gathering of businessmen in Tel Aviv on Monday, in a bid to raise the state’s profile. “There are today opportunities for technology companies to access the US markets by setting up their headquarters in Florida, because of the comfortable terms offered by our good business environment. We have an extensive space industry — and there is lots of place for Israeli startups to integrate into the field.”
Scott is a supporter of the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator (FIBA), a technology accelerator that aims to make use of the local Jewish community to foster the growth of high-tech local and Israeli ventures in the Tampa Bay area and help Israeli startups make inroads in the US. The program was set up last year by the Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation.
“It is the first time, to the best of our knowledge, that any Jewish community has set up a business development platform together with a community engagement platform” to deal with Israel, said Jack Ross, a former executive director of the Tampa JCC and an investor in Israeli startup StemRad, for whom he is also a VP in charge of the North America market. “We wanted more people to intersect with Israeli culture and innovation and give Israel a community partner.”
“The idea is to put Florida on the map for innovation,” said Rakefet Bachur, the executive director of marketing for FIBA, and also “fill the gap” for Israeli startups who have “great technologies” but find it hard to navigate the process of starting sales in the US.
“Israelis don’t understand the local culture or the business culture. Our aim is to give them a solid understanding and the tools to navigate the process once they meet a big enterprise,” she said.