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The Home of Academic Studies on Israel

Binational Foundations


American and Israeli cooperation extends far beyond foreign aid and military collaboration.

For more than forty years, the two nations have facilitated the collaboration of their brightest minds on hundreds of different innovative scientific, business and agricutlural projects. Working together, researchers and developers in the two nations have been able to create inventions and new techniques that would have been impossible for either to discover independently. These developments have led to the creation of thousands of jobs, millions of dollars in revenue and, on a far greater scale, have led to improvements in medicine and other areas that directly save lives.

Listed here is summarized information on the these binational foundations; more in-depth analysis on each foundation in addition to external links and updated data on ongoing projects can be found in separate articles on the Jewish Virtual Library by clicking the appropriate links in each paragraph.

Industrial Research & Development (BIRD) | Agricultural Research & Development (BARD)
Science Cooperation (BSF) | Education Foundation (USIEF)
Science & Technology Commission (USISTC)
Texas-BARD | Maryland-BARD | Cornerll-BARD

Binational Industrial Research & Development Foundation (BIRD)

The Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation (BIRD) was established by the U.S. and Israeli governments in 1977 to generate mutually beneficial cooperation between the private sectors of the U.S. and Israeli high tech industries, including start-ups and established organizations. BIRD provides both matchmaking services between U.S. and Israeli companies, as well as funding that covers up to 50 percent of project development and product commercialization costs. BIRD's scope extends to Communications, Life Sciences, Electronics, Electro-optics, Software, Homeland Security, Renewable and Alternative Energy and other sectors of the hi-tech industry.

In the last decade alone, BIRD has funded more than 830 projects in total and more than 235 different projects.

BIRD has teamed with many leading companies in the U.S., for example: American Red Cross, AOL, Bayer Pharmaceutical, Eastman Kodak, General Dynamics, General Electric, IBM and Johnson&Johnson, among many others. In addition, nearly 40 Israeli companies that have had projects sponsored by BIRD are now traded on Wall Street, adding to Israel's surge in the high-tech and industrial fields.

BIRD supports approximately 20 projects annually. The cumulative sales of products developed through BIRD projects have exceed $8 billion and BIRD has received nearly $100 million in royalty repayments from projects. The top five states in which BIRD has funded: 266 projects in California, 90 in Massachusetts, 88 in New York, 64 in New Jersey and 26 in both Virginia and Florida.

During 2011, the BIRD Foundation approved more than $16 million in funding for eighteen new projects commencing between Israeli companies and their American counterparts in eleven different states and the District of Columbia.

Binational Agricultural Research & Development Fund (BARD)

The Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) was created in 1978 with endowment contributions of $40 million by both the United States and Israel to which each country augmented another $15 million in 1984. BARD funda innovative agricultural projects and awards grants based on research it feels will have the greatest impact in the world. In addition, BARD also provides support for post-doctoral fellows with the objective of enabling young scientists to acquire new skills and techniques while becoming professionally established in the agricultural research community.

During its more than 30 years of operation, BARD has funded over 1000 projects in nearly every U.S. state with a total investment of more than $250 million. It is difficult to break down the impact on a state-by-state basis, but, overall, an independent economic review team estimated dollar benefits of 10 BARD projects to total $440 million to the United States alone, by conservative estimate through the year 2010. An additional $300 million will accrue in benefits to Israel. The returns from these 10 projects alone exceed, by far, the total investment in the BARD program since its inception in 1979.

An external review of BARD's performance in its first 20 years found that the foundation supported a very high caliber of research and development projects and attracted proposals from the top echelon of scientists. The final scientific reports are subject to peer review and two-thirds of the projects were classified as excellent or outstanding. The projects also generate a large output of scientific papers, many of which are published in the most prestigious journals.

BARD-sponsored research has led to new technologies in drip irrigation, pesticides, fish farming, livestock, poultry, disease control and farm equipment. BARD also conducts a fellowship program and supports joint workshops.

Binational Science Foundation (BSF)

The United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF) is a grant-awarding institution that promotes research cooperation between scientists from the United States and Israel. BSF's income is derived from interest on an endowment of $100 million. Each government contributed $30 million in 1972 and added another $20 million each in 1984.

BSF was established by the American and Israeli governments in 1972 after much cooperative work by then Israeli Ambassador Yitzak Rabin and US Assistant Secretary of State, Joseph Sisco. Since that time, BSF has awarded more than 4,140 research grants, worth nearly $480 million and involving more than 2,000 scientists from more than 400 institutions located in 46 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Most of the proposals and awards were in basic research; however, grants were also given to applied and technological research. Proposals are submitted by individual scientists through their institutions, and are evaluated on the basis of their scientific merit, as well as the degree of cooperation. Grant requests can be made for a period of up to four years.

Proposals are evaluated by a peer review process. Assistance in the review and evaluation of proposals is rendered by science advisers. Advisers are recruited on a part-time basis from among senior research scientists in Israel and the U.S. Each of them is assigned a group of proposals in his or her field of specialization with the charge to select suitable referees. Final recommendations for grant awards are made by the science advisers' panels, together with the Executive Director, and are presented to the Board of Governors for approval.

BSF-sponsored studies are highly successful in achieving their two main goals: strengthening the US-Israel partnership through science and promoting world-class scientific research for the benefit of the two countries and all mankind. The BSF grants help extend research resources to achieve milestones that might not otherwise be attainable; introduce novel approaches and techniques to lead American researchers in new directions; confirm, clarify and intensify research projects; and provide unmatched access to Israeli equipment, facilities and research results that help speed American scientific advances.

BSF has documented no less than 75 new discoveries made possible by its research grants and counts 37 Nobel Prize and 19 Lasker Medical Award laureates among its joint partners.

As Peres, the current President of Israel, noted, "The support of the United States-Israel Binational Science Foundation will prepare the next generation of US and Israeli scientists for a leadership role in our global community." BSF supports research in Life Sciences, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Exact Sciences.

United States-Israel Education Foundation (USIEF)

The United States-Israel Educational Foundation (USIEF), established by the Governments of the United States and Israel in 1956, is responsible for the administration of Israel's participation in the Fulbright Program.

In the years since USIEF's establishment over 1,000 US citizens and over 1,300 Israelis have taken part in a variety of Fulbright exchanges. US alumni have made their mark primarily in the academic world. Israeli Fulbright alumni fill leading roles in academia, in government, in medical and social services, and in literature.

In addition to its main mission, administration of the Fulbright Israel exchanges, USIEF carries out a number of complementary activities:

USIEF's StudyUSA Educational Counseling Center provides accurate, comprehensive, current, and unbiased information on post-secondary educational opportunities in the United States. The Center's services cover the entire range of options, from one-year technical courses, English language programs and distance learning, through associate and bachelor's degree programs, and up to post-graduate programs leading to professional degrees in law and medicine and MA and PhD degrees in all disciplines.

USIEF's Fulbright-Israel conference program provides a platform for appearances by US Fulbright Fellows and other US guests and by Israeli Fulbright alumni. The program includes special lectures and symposia on a wide variety of topics. A major theme within the program is higher education policy and the development of higher education systems.

United States-Israel Science & Technology Commission (USISTC)

The U.S.-Israel Science and Technology Commission (USISTC) was established in March 1993 by then US President Bill Clinton after recognizing the potential for greater cooperation in these important areas. Its mission is to encourage high-tech industries in both countries to engage in joint projects; foster scientific exchanges between universities and research institutions; promote development of agricultural and environmental technologies and assist in the adaptation of military technology to civilian production.

In 1993, the United States and Israel each committed $5 million annually for three years, for a total of $30 million. The American contribution was made without requiring additional appropriations. Approximately half of the U.S. money comes from the Department of Commerce, with the other half coming from the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Defense, State, Health and Human Services, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Commission is co-chaired by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Israel's Minister of Industry and Trade. The Commission includes representatives from U.S. and Israeli government agencies and ministries (the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Health and Human Services, State and Defense and their counterpart Israeli Ministries). The Commission also has a joint high-level advisory panel comprising private sector representatives from both countries, including leaders from academia and industry. The commission meets twice a year, once in the United States and once in Israel. It is administered on a day-to-day basis by the Commission's Executive Director at the U.S. Commerce Department's Technology Administration.

Currently, the Commission's efforts are focused in three areas: biotechnology/life sciences; information technology; and harmonization of standards and regulations. Binational strategic panels established in each of the above areas are working on many joint projects involving the private sectors of each country.


The Texas-BARD program is a grant rogram designed to promote mission oriented, strategic and applied, collaborative agricultural research and development activities conducted jointly by scientists in Texas and Israel. Texas-BARD was created by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), Texas-Israel Exchange Fund (TIE), and the Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund. Funded projects are expected to yield applicable results within 3-5 years. Benefits would result through developing solutions to mutual agricultural problems that will in turn foster the development of trade, mutual assistance, and business relations between Texas and Israel. The TIE and BARD Boards may award a total amount of up to $1.5 million cooperatively.

The fund is focusing on the following topics:

- Efficient use and management of soil and water for agriculture;

- Post harvest food technologies - quality, safety and security;

- Horticulture, field and garden crops, including floriculture and drought tolerance; and,

- Aquaculture

Each project is limited to a maximum award of $50,000 ($25,000 from TIE and $25,000 from BARD) per year, not to exceed a duration of three years and a maximum amount of $150,000 ($75,000 from TIE and $75,000 from BARD) for the three-year period.

University of Maryland-BARD Program

In November 2003, the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute (UMBI) and the US-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development fund (BARD) established a framework for conducting collaborative aquaculture research between UMBI and Israeli scientists - the UMBI/BARD Program. Maryland and Israel each contributed $250,000 to fund the program.

The objective of the program is to promote and competitively support mission-oriented collaborative aquaculture research and development activities, conducted jointly by UMBI and Israeli scientists, that will be of mutual benefit by providing solutions to mutual aquaculture problems and open new horizon to advancing aquaculture in both Maryland and Israel.

This fund will provide grants of 1-3 years with a maximum total budget (to all parties) of $75,000 to $100,000/year, to be equally divided between the UMBI and Israeli scientists.

Research through Maryland-BARD will focus on:

- Search and discovery of novel marine natural products and pharmaceuticals produced by marine organisms;

- Development and improvement of seed production and hatchery technologies (reproduction and early life stages) in finfish and shellfish of economic interest to Maryland and Israel;

- Development of high efficiency and environmentally compatible aquaculture diets;

- Development of environmentally-compatible, recirculated aquaculture systems for species of economic interest to Israel and Maryland;

- Controlling fish diseases in recirculated, dense aquaculture systems; and,

- Development of new products for aquaculture, including ornamental fish

Cornell University-BARD Program

Cornell University and the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development fund (BARD) have established a framework for collaborative agricultural research between Cornell and Israeli scientists - the Cornell University/BARD Program (Cornell/BARD fund). The objective of the program is to promote and competitively support mission-oriented collaborative agricultural research and development activities, conducted jointly by scientists in Cornell and Israel that will be of mutual benefit by providing solutions to mutual agricultural problems.

This is a unique program between Cornell and Israeli scientists that allows Israeli scientists to have access to a new source of funds when they work with Cornell scientists. The total available funding for the current year (2003-2004) is $500,000 and the maximum amount that will be awarded to a single project is $300,000. To implement this program, Cornell was required to have matching funds but, because of the university's budget situation, new matching funds were not available. Therefore, Cornell agreed to use faculty salaries as a match. The result is that Cornell faculty will not have access to any new funds in this program. Only state-supported Cornell scientists are eligible for this program and they can use their full state salaries as a match (no other matching funds are allowed). It is Cornell's hope that Israeli scientists who are funded will enhance our mutual research programs through visiting scientists, graduate students and other personnel. The traditional BARD program, in which Cornell faculty have been very successful, will continue to provide new funds to both US (Cornell) and Israeli scientists.

The program will focus on three general topics:

- Alleviation of biotic and abiotic stresses on agricultural commodities;

- Food quality, safety and security; and,

- Plant, animal and microbial genomics related to agriculture.