March 25, 2023
Innovation Partner
Rachel Marks Feinman oversees the Florida-Israel accelerator.

Photo: Mark Wemple

Innovation Partner
CEO Warren Milstein demonstrates StemRad's radiation-protection technology.

Southwest Florida Roundup

Innovation Partner: Florida hopes to capitalize on Israeli business success.

Art Levy | 3/27/2019

According to the 2019 Bloomberg Innovation Index, Israel has the fifth-most innovative economy in the world, in large part because of its abundance of successful high-tech startups. When those companies look to grow, they typically open offices in Europe, Boston, New York or Silicon Valley, but the Tampa Jewish Community Centers & Federation is asking: Why not Florida?

The JCC launched the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator (FIBA) in 2016 to introduce Israeli high-tech startups to the Florida market. So far, the accelerator has worked with 16 companies and, earlier this year, it introduced 12 more companies, each looking to use the state as a platform to enter the U.S. market.

The Florida accelerator, which gets funding from the state Department of Economic Opportunity, Hillsborough County, the JCC and other sources, has a full-time staff of six, plus numerous part-time consultants and volunteers to help the Israelis do business in Florida. The assistance includes introducing the executives to potential customers and investors, as well as offering a cultural education. In Israel, for example, business meetings are often blunt, and decisions are made quickly, without the layers of bureaucracy that the executives often encounter here.

“Our focus is to give them the tools and the understanding that they need to be successful in going to market and selling in the U.S.,” says Rachel Marks Feinman, the accelerator’s executive director.

Some of the companies have had quick success, setting up locations in Tampa Bay and hiring workers. Among those are StemRad, which has a product that protects people from radiation exposure; UC-Care, which makes medical devices used by urologists; and ECOncrete, which makes an environmentally friendly concrete mix for marine construction.


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