BIRD Foundation

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The Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation was established in 1977 by the United States and Israel governments to promote mutually beneficial industrial research and development (R&D). Each BIRD project involves a partnership between a U.S. and an Israeli company with up to 50 percent of the funding being supplied by BIRD and at least 50 percent by the partnership. The source of the funding is an endowment which was provided equally by the two governments. The endowment is $110 million. In addition, since 2009, BIRD receives annual funding from both governments for the BIRD Energy program. Since inception, BIRD has approved more than 900 projects, provided more than $300M in grants (~$500M adjusted to inflation). Successful BIRD projects have yielded an estimated $10B in sales.

The BIRD Foundation is considered a very successful model of binational R&D collaboration.[1][2]

Early History[3][4][edit]

The BIRD Foundation was formally established on May 18, 1977 with an endowment of $60 million; $30 million from each country to support and promote joint non-defense industrial research and development for mutual benefit. In 1984, the endowment was increased to $110 million.

The genesis of the BIRD Foundation dates back to July 1974, when the governments of the United States and Israel established a joint Committee for Investment and Trade, staffed by representatives of the two governments. Its task was to find ways to promote closer economic ties between the two nations, with discussions being held throughout 1975 and early 1976. The initial agreement to establish the Foundation was signed by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury William Simon and by Israel Finance Minister Yehoshua Rabinowitz, on March 3, 1976.

In February 1975 a private sector group had been formed to promote closer links between U.S. and Israeli scientific and technological enterprises. This group, composed of leading research and development executives from both U.S. and Israeli industry, was instrumental in providing advice and support to the Joint Committee during negotiations for the establishment of the Foundation. As discussions continued between the two governments, another significant private sector initiative was taking place. The Committee for the Economic Growth of Israel (CEG-I) was formed during March 1976, as an autonomous, voluntary organization of American and Israeli business people who joined forces to promote exports and investment in Israel.

In late April 1977, the U.S. Congress passed the legislation providing the funding for the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation. This was signed into law by President Carter on May 4, 1977. At the same time the Knesset, Israel's parliament, authorized the funding of the Israeli portion of the Foundation's endowment.

The Foundation was formally established in a ceremony in Washington DC on May 18, 1977, with the exchange of letters between Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Bergsten and Ambbassador Dinitz.


The BIRD Foundation is managed by a Board of Governors (BOG) which appoints an Executive Director. The BOG consists of six members, three from each country, representing the Departments of Commerce, State and Treasury (U.S.), the Ministry of Economy and Industry and Ministry of Finance (Israel). The co-Chairmen of the BOG are a senior official from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Chief Scientist of the Israel Ministry of Economy and Industry.[5]

The following is the list of Executive Directors since inception:

Name Term
A. Wade Blackman, Jr. 1977–1979
Dr. Ed Mlavsky[6] 1979–1993
Dan Vilenski 1993–1997
Dov Hershberg 1997–2005
Dr. Eitan Yudilevich 2006–Present


The BIRD Foundation approves projects twice a year, in June and in December. See the BIRD Foundation Handbook at BIRD's website[7] for application procedures.

Any pair of companies, one Israeli and one American, may jointly apply for BIRD support, so long as they have the combined capability and infrastructure to define, develop and commercialize innovative products based on industrial R&D. The BIRD Foundation offers "conditional grants" for joint development projects. The Foundation funds up to 50% of each company's R&D expenses associated with the joint project (up to a maximum of $1M per approved project). Repayments are due only if commercial revenues are generated as a direct result of the project.

In addition, the BIRD Energy[8] program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Israel Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Resources, approves projects once a year.[7]


  1. ^ Start--Up Nation. 2009. pp. 162–164.
  2. ^ United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2014
  3. ^ BIRD Foundation Annual Report 1978
  4. ^ Partnering for Progress - BIRD: 30 Years of Collaboration 1977-2007
  5. ^ "Annual Reports".
  6. ^ Mlavsky, Ed (2009). Milk and Honey and High-Tech. Jerusalem: Weill Publishers.
  7. ^ a b "BIRD Foundation".
  8. ^ BIRD investment boost lends wings to alternative energy programs

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