JAFFA, ISRAEL – Tuesday’s agenda for the trade mission to Israel being led by Gov. Ron DeSantis is long and all about the business of space, security and protecting our water resources.
First up was a trip through the old town of Joppa to the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, founded by late president Shimon Peres in 1996.
The press van arrived ahead of the delegation, which was treated to a presentation of the partnership between Space Florida and the Israel Innovation Authority and the Israel Space Agency. They also announced the sixth call for projects in the partnership after signing a renewal agreement with Gov. DeSantis.
DeSantis said he was excited to see the possibilities for technology partnerships with Israel for space, agriculture, and water management.
“There are a whole host of things we can learn from each other,” DeSantis said. “I look forward to getting these agreements signed and achieving even more for the state of Florida and the state of Israel.”
The agreements also expand the partnership to meet the challenges both Florida and Israel face in agriculture, clean water and cybersecurity, said Frank DiBello, the president and CEO of Space Florida.
“It’s been highly successful, and it will bring an additional range of technologies to benefit both countries,” he said.
DiBello discussed many of the developments in private space flight technology that have supplanted a once robust, federally financed space program led by NASA.
"Next year, we will have four human rated vehicles that will fly out of Florida,” DiBello said.
He also talked about the partnership finding ways to meet the “insatiable demand for bandwidth” and the 2 billion people in the world still unserved by the Internet.
There was a tour of the Peres Center, meetings with Stemrad, Space Pharma, Nano Dimension, MOU signings with Florida and Israeli universities and a signing of an agreement between Florida and Israel emergency management officials.
Jared Moskowitz, director of Florida’s division of emergency management, toured the Gaza strip and the emergency management center there. Last week, Israeli first responders dealt with wildfires similar to the types that occur in Florida.
With the official start of hurricane season looming in days, he reflected on how one of his key takeaways centered around communication during events that threaten lives or safety.
“They blast things out to cell phones in the area,” Moskowitz said. “That’s something that’s obviously different for our culture – in emergency situations making sure people are aware, not optionally but mandatory, so that they have the information to help make decisions. That’s something obviously that we’ll continue to look at.”
The agreement Moskowitz signed also will lay the groundwork for Israeli emergency management officials to come to Florida’s aid when it has a major disaster.
Following the partnership-signing blitz, the lawyer-lobbying firm of Greenberg Traurig hosted a networking business lunch, where lawmakers, university faculty and business leaders chatted about the technology they just heard about. Several were pleased that some of the agreements would have an immediate impact.
James Sullivan, head of Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Institute, was excited that the MOU his university signed with Haifa University Monday will have an immediate impact in the field of marine sciences.
“We can collaborate right after we get back and start working on it,” he said. “That’s what we want, a substantive MOU.”
Florida A&M University, meanwhile, signed an agreement with Haifa to create a mutual study-abroad program for students.
"We will be able to expose our students to the world and have their students experience our culture, too,” FAMU President Larry Robinson said.
A trip to Tel Aviv University for more partnership agreement signing ceremonies was next on the agenda to be followed by a roundtable discussion on water challenges facing Florida and Israel.
In the evening, there will be a meeting and reception hosted by David Friedman, U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA Statehouse Reporter Jeffrey Schweers is accompanying Gov. Ron DeSantis and his 90-plus member delegation on his Israeli business development mission this week as a pool reporter for the Florida Society of News Editors. Schweers will provide regular reports and updates from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for Florida’s newspapers. Follow him on Twitter for updates @jeffschweers.