Connecting University of Pittsburgh Graduate Students with Israeli Innovation

By Elliot Dater

I am currently in Israel with the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business Israel Global Research Practicum, which I am co-teaching with Professor Paul Harper, PhD. We are joined by Jacqueline Saslawski, Esq., PMIA, managing director of the Katz International Business Center. Fifteen graduate students are taking part in the practicum, including students from the Katz MBA program, the School of Law and the School of Engineering.

In this course, we are focusing on Israel as a center of global innovation.  We combine the academic study of entrepreneurship and the study of the factors that have helped Israel become a leading center for technology innovation.  In addition to the study of entrepreneurship, we are looking at industries where recent innovation is playing a significant role in both Pittsburgh and Israel, namely energy.  We believe that the development of the Marcellus Shale in Southwestern Pennsylvania and the offshore gas reserves in the Mediterranean provide overlapping fields of entrepreneurship and innovation that connect Israel and Pittsburgh.

After landing in Tel Aviv Saturday afternoon, we kicked off the visit with a festive welcome dinner featuring Katz alumna, Shahar Caro Herling, Adv., LLM, who is in the legal department of Afcon Holdings, and Ilan Cohn, senior partner at the Reinhold Cohn Group, Israel’s leading intellectual property firm.

Today was the first day of our one-week visit to Israel during which our students have a full schedule of meetings with Israeli innovators, investors, and leading academic institutions.  Today’s meetings ranged from IBR – Israeli Biotechnology Research Ltd., a small privately held company that develops, produces and sells natural, non-toxic active ingredients for the cosmetics, food and nutraceutical industries, to Elbit Systems, Ltd., Israel’s largest non-governmental defense electronics company, to Clal Biotechnology Industries, Ltd., Israel’s largest investment fund devoted to life sciences and drug discovery.

I was happy to be able to connect these companies with our students and have their representatives interact and share experiences.

Ruben Krupick, CEO of Clal Biotechnology Industries also shared his experiences in creating and managing Rafael Development Corporation, which was founded with the purpose of commercializing military technologies developed by Rafael Armaments for the civilian market. This was especially interesting for our students as they had studied Rafael Development Corporation and this gave them the opportunity to hear more about the history of that company straight from its founder.

Our students will have the opportunity to meet and learn about more Israeli innovation throughout this week.  Hopefully, these meetings will provide our students with good ideas for the final projects they will be working on in a few weeks.  The final project for this class will be innovative in and of itself, but more on that later.

Elliot Dater is a partner in Schnader’s Business Services Department,  and represents Israeli companies doing business in the United States and U.S. companies and investors doing business in Israel, as well as emerging growth companies in the technology and medical device industries

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