BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is planning his first overseas trade mission to Israel.
Administration officials say the focus of six-day trip will be to pitch Massachusetts as a potential business hub to Israeli cybersecurity and digital health firms looking to expand into the U.S.
Officials say the trip also reflects the longstanding economic and cultural ties between Israel and Massachusetts. About 16 percent of all immigrant founders of technology companies in Massachusetts came from Israel.
Baker is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Dec. 9 and depart on Dec. 14.
The entourage will consist of 12 administration officials, including Baker, and 40 private sector business representatives. The list of private sector officials hasn’t been finalized yet.
Administration officials said Baker doesn’t want to cede any ground to Silicon Valley or New York as Massachusetts works to build up a burgeoning cluster of cybersecurity firms in the state.
They said cybersecurity can also be critical to the development of other kinds of new technology connected to the internet, from self-driving cars to heavy industrial machinery. They said the best way to make the pitch for Massachusetts is face-to-face in Israel.
Officials said the focus on digital health and life sciences is another natural fit for Massachusetts with its strong network of top-level hospitals and research facilities.
The administration is partnering with the New England-Israel Business Council with the support of Combined Jewish Philanthropies to organize and cover the costs of the trip.
Administration officials said no tax dollars will be used to pay for the trip, other than to cover the cost of Baker’s state police security detail.
Baker’s Deputy Chief of Staff Mike Vallarelli said the trip will help the governor tout the benefits for startup companies in Israel of locating inMassachusetts, including access to top talent from local universities and access to venture capital funding.
“Israel’s e-health and cyber security sectors are global leaders and the Baker administration is ready to compete for the quality jobs and economic development opportunities this unique international partner represents,” Vallarelli said in a statement.
Baker’s predecessor — former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick — made two trade missions to Israel during his eight years in office,
On his second trip to Israel in 2014, Patrick led a trade mission with about 120 Massachusetts business leaders.
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