Working groups to explore Michigan-Israeli economic partnerships

William Arsn

Justine Burdette, vice president of technical services for The Right Place and regional director of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West Courtesy The Right Place

The Michigan Israel Business Accelerator this month will bring together business leaders from Israel and Michigan — including The Right Place — to leverage Israeli innovation for Michigan’s economic restart.

The Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA) said last week that it is launching business working groups with strategic partners across Michigan, including the West Michigan economic development agency The Right Place, through a strategic initiative called Innovation vs. Corona. The groups will meet during a series of virtual business-to-business (B2B) meetings, with the first one from 8:30-9:45 a.m. Aug. 31.

The series will bring together business leaders from across Michigan and Israel to identify Michigan’s needs and discuss opportunities in defense, mobility, cyber/artificial intelligence, health and life sciences, and food and agricultural technologies.

MIBA’s goal is to pilot and implement Michigan-Israeli collaborations starting at the end of the year.

“We have an opportunity, and it’s time to shift our thinking on COVID,” said Scott Hiipakka, CEO of MIBA. “Six months from now, where are we going to be? We must leverage what we have learned these past few months and push ourselves to think beyond face coverings, hand sanitizer and plexiglass. We have to look forward four to six months, determine our shortfalls and create opportunities and business partnerships that will take our economy forward.”

“These are challenging times, but through this crisis, we can create prospects for partnerships and overall economic expansion.”

The Aug. 31 virtual B2B meeting is designed to set the table for the working groups, which will convene September through November to identify long-term strategic challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic upheaval. Once those challenges are identified, the MIBA will curate partnerships across ecosystems to unearth potential solutions that can be tested.

“The MIBA is well-positioned to facilitate matchmaking within the working groups,” Hiipakka said. “We can introduce Michigan businesses to Israeli partners, who can help address current and future opportunities. A key component of the working groups is to ask the right questions upfront. In doing so, we are well-positioned to do better matchmaking and can set up better partnerships for the future.”

Justine Burdette, vice president of technical services for The Right Place and regional director of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center-West, said she believes the workshops will “offer multifaceted benefits to Michigan businesses.”

“Short term, I’m confident we’ll see innovative ideas take shape among those (who) participate,” she said. “Long term, we’re creating an environment to build international relations, setting the stage for future collaboration and partnerships. The Right Place and MIBA are creating a pathway for Michigan businesses to form new connections and identify future opportunities beyond the challenges we’re currently facing.”

In her leadership role in West Michigan, Burdette said while she finds many business people who are interested in leveraging technology in new ways to move forward out of this crisis, there is a renewed desire for truly personal connections. She said she believes these connections will be an outcome of the working groups.

Those who would like to participate in the Aug. 31 virtual event should visit

Michigan Israel Business Accelerator

MIBA was founded in 2007 to elevate the scope and scale of the Michigan-Israel economic relationship, targeting the convergence of technology, industry and research in sectors such as advanced manufacturing, mobility, cyber, defense, water, health and life sciences, and agriculture.

The organization is the state’s lead point of contact for all things Israel and implements solutions by leveraging its network of committed partners, according to MIBA.

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