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Top US life sciences execs in Israel

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Friday, May 4th, 2012

A delegation of top life sciences executives is in Israel to visit local companies for possible collaborations or investment. The delegation will also meet representatives from academic institutions.

The US Chamber of Commerce, Israel America Chamber of Commerce, and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor attach? in Washington organized the visit. The delegation will stay in Israel until Tuesday, March 27. The delegation members include the heads of Boston Scientific Inc.‘s (NYSE: BSX) R&D center, the heads of GE Healthcare’s diagnostics division, Medimmune LLC’s VP R&D, the head of Merck & Co.‘s (NYSE: MRK) emerging markets chief, and Oracle Corporation‘s (Nasdaq: ORCL) VP life sciences and healthcare.

The delegation is visiting because of Israel’s program for encouraging the life sciences industry, which offers incentives to multinationals to invest in Israel. The program, launched by the Office of the Chief Scientist, offers incentives to multinationals to open R&D centers and invest in start-ups.

Foreign Trade Administration North America Desk director Gili Ovadia said, “Some of the delegation’s members are making their first trip to Israel, and intend to consider expanding R&D centers and making new investments. Today, most Israeli biomed companies have fewer than 20 employees, and the intention is to bring to Israel multinationals to foster the industry. There are already many important foreign companies that have expressed interest in our incentives program, including one member of the current delegation.” She added, “The initiative came from the Americans, who wanted to make contact with Israel’s life sciences community. The big companies know that they need to develop and work more outside.”

US Chamber of Commerce SVP Myron Brilliant International Affairs said, “For years, Israel has been a center of innovation for US giants such as Intel, Google, IBM, and Microsoft. The life sciences are one of the most promising sectors for future growth in trade between the countries.”

Two US life sciences companies already have large R&D centers with hundreds of employees in Israel: GE Healthcare in Haifa, and Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ), with Biosense Webster Inc. in Haifa and Ethicon unit Omrix Biopharmaceuticals in Jerusalem.