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From Science to Industry: Successes and Challenges of the U.S. - Israel Binational Model

John D. Negroponte, Deputy Secretary of State
Remarks to the Meeting of Bi-Net
National Academies of Science, Washington, DC
June 17, 2008

Thank you for that kind introduction, Mr. Shapiro. 

Ambassador Meridor, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be with you today. This occasion brings to mind fond memories of my time as a BIRD governor. Those years taught me the power of scientific and technological cooperation to build and cement relationships. So it gives me great pleasure to see how BIRD and its sister foundations have carried U.S.-Israeli scientific collaboration to new heights. These foundations reinforce our two nations’ enduring partnership, and their success is a testament to the creativity of our scientific communities. 

U.S.-Israeli cooperation through the BIRD, the Bi-national Science Foundation (BSF), and the Bi-national Agricultural Research and Development Fund (BARD) is contributing valuable research and innovation to all mankind. These partnerships support the development of treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders. They fund projects to develop new homeland security, renewable energy, and communications technologies. And they support innovation to make agriculture more environmentally sustainable.  Thanks to all of you for your dedication to this effort.

The United States is committed to expanding international cooperation on science and technology—not only because the free flow of ideas and information benefits science, but also because engagement between scientific communities strengthens our relationships with other countries by connecting peoples as well as governments. To illustrate this point, I would cite the Trilateral Industrial Development Program, or TRIDE, established by the governments of Jordan, Israel, and the United States and administered by BIRD. TRIDE makes important contributions to economic growth and peaceful relations among the three countries. I encourage the TRIDE partners to look creatively for opportunities to expand their activities in addressing broader regional needs.

The State Department has over 40 S&T cooperation framework agreements either in place or in negotiation with countries in every region of the world. Our cooperation with Muslim nations in particular is expanding rapidly. We have recently concluded agreements with Algeria, Morocco, Libya, and Jordan, and are now finalizing agreements with Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Azerbaijan. 

These agreements better enable governments in the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa to foster economic development and social progress. Scientific communities in those regions understand the transformative opportunities of S&T cooperation. 

  • Since 2004, for example, American and Pakistani scientists, funded by both their governments, have collaborated on research critical to Pakistan’s growth:  advanced agricultural practices, water purification, and the latest applications of telecommunications. 
  • In January 2007, 270 women scientists, mathematicians, and engineers; leaders from 18 Arab countries and Turkey; and an American delegation of government officials, university presidents, and business executives came together in Kuwait to discuss how to support Muslim women in science.
  • And last March, some 3,000 delegates from around the world attended the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, where government, civil society, and private sector leaders discussed innovative methods of reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the expanded use of renewable energy.

Supporting scientific cooperation requires more than creating the right conditions between countries. It requires governments to invest in education, promote women’s equality, and encourage entrepreneurship—in other words, to create the right conditions within countries as well. Otherwise, societies’ talent and creativity will remain an untapped resource. The United States and Israel’s achievements in science and technology are a credit not only to their scientists and engineers, but also to the world-class universities that trained them, the robust private sectors that supported them, and the strong spirit of inquiry that inspired them. 

Looking ahead, thanks to foundations like BIRD, BARD, and the BSF, U.S.-Israeli cooperation on science and technology is sure to remain an important feature of the friendship between our peoples. The United States is eager to share the talent and creativity of the American people with the world, and to show what societies can achieve when their governments rule justly and invest in their people. Thank you very much.


Released on June 17, 2008

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