MIBA Health Tech delegation
MIBA Health Tech delegation

Throughout their week in Israel, the group visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and major historical sites, while, of course, discussing the future of health tech.

From Feb. 25 to March 3, 18 Michigan health tech representatives traveled to Israel to discuss innovative technologies in the health tech space and how to improve patient outcomes.

It was the most recent delegation to Israel facilitated by Michigan Israel Business Accelerator, or MIBA, a nonprofit economic development organization funded by the State of Michigan. It is committed to accelerating the Michigan business sector through Israeli connections.

Participants of the 2023 Michigan Israel Health Tech Mission (which was MIBA’s first of the year) included representatives of Corewell Health, the new health system joining Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health, and Henry Ford Health System. It also saw representatives from higher education institutions, economic development and the foundation community.

Throughout their week in Israel, the group visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and major historical sites, while, of course, discussing the future of health tech.

Magen David Adom National Command and Control Center in Kiryat Ono
Magen David Adom National Command and Control Center in
Kiryat Ono Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA) delegation

“We started in Jerusalem and did a day of grounding in history and culture,” explains Mark Davidoff, president and CEO of The Fisher Group, who participated in the delegation. “That was the backdrop for our exploration into the incubator ecosystem of Israel.”

While in Jerusalem, the group also visited Yad Vashem, the world Holocaust remembrance center, and took a tour of the Old City. Then, they traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel’s main innovation hub, where the majority of the Michigan Israel Health Tech Mission took place.

In Tel Aviv, the health tech delegation met with industry leaders in the healthcare arena that included government officials, opinion leaders and major health system representatives.

Key talking points included the quality of healthcare today, patient outcomes (or the results from care and treatment), innovation (particularly the growth of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic), cybersecurity, improving health access and patient monitoring, among others.

The group also toured Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency medical, disaster, ambulance and blood bank service. “This is the heartbeat, if you will, of the 911 response system in Israel,” Davidoff explains. “We got a behind-the-scenes look at the integration of technology and volunteers to reduce response time in responding to emergencies.”

Global Partnerships

It was an inspiring, educational mission that Davidoff says was a two-way experience for participants.

“They’re serving as ambassadors for Michigan in Israel,” he explains, “and those who are first-timers come back as ambassadors for Israel.

“They truly understand what Israel has to offer the world,” he adds.

Laura Grannemann, executive director of Rocket Community Fund and Gilbert Family Foundation, was one of the delegation’s 18 participants who was also a first-time visitor to Israel.

“This trip allowed me to do three important things: visit Israel for the first time, build relationships with incredible leaders across the healthcare industry and spend dedicated time thinking about how to collectively build innovation into our healthcare system,” Grannemann says.

Because the Gilbert Family Foundation invests in two primary focus areas — building opportunity and equity in Detroit, and accelerating a cure for neurofibromatosis, a rare genetic disorder that causes spontaneous tumors to grow in the body — finding a cure requires innovation at every level, Grannemann explains, making this delegation a vital mission for the cause.

Randy Thelen, president and CEO of The Right Place, a Grand Rapids-based economic development agency, is another participant who walked away with a new understanding of the latest health tech innovations, both in Michigan and Israel, and what Israel has to offer the world.

“Tel Aviv has become one of the world’s top 10 tech hubs in a very short window of time,” he says. “They have much to offer Michigan, both in terms of economic policies and ideas, as well as companies that want to establish their first U.S. presence.”

Known as the “start-up nation,” Israel has proven itself to be a world leader in innovation. That’s why The Right Place, which strives to grow the greater Grand Rapids tech economy by 20,000 jobs over the next 10 years, was eager to meet and connect with Israeli health tech innovators.

“As we execute this strategy, it’s important for us to continue to explore other global tech hubs seeking out opportunities to partner,” Thelen explains. As for how many businesses he saw launching in Tel Aviv, Thelen says he “stopped counting construction cranes” when he hit 100.

Inspired and Energized

Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Corewell Health, says that she came back from the trip “inspired and energized” by what she learned. She saw that Israelis were committed to the betterment of society, with a strong investment in lifelong health care that began early on.

“The most important themes to me,” she says, “were the determination and resilience that everyone I met in Israel, even outside health care, embodied. In health care, those qualities are essential to us as caregivers and in ensuring we live our mission every day for those we serve.”

Still, the delegation didn’t only show participants Israel’s latest innovations, but it also taught them what Michigan could offer to the Israeli state in return. “Michigan is home to some amazing assets,” Thelen says. “Such as our hospital systems, our university systems, our medical schools and a concentration of global companies that can serve as first U.S. customers.”

Grannemann explains that the delegation shared a collective goal of ensuring that Michigan is a leader in healthcare innovation.

“While we have a lot of work to do, I am glad to have such enthusiastic, intelligent and empathetic partners leading the way across our state,” she says.

It may have been the first MIBA health tech delegation to Israel, but Davidoff says there’s already talk of sending more delegations in the near future.

“One connection leads to another,” he says. “It’s really geometric in its power.”

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