Israeli Entrepreneurs Eye Philadelphia

Peak Johnson, for GPA -- Last October Mayor Michael Nutter and Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Alan Greenberger welcomed a delegation of Israeli companies to the city of Philadelphia. The delegation met and explored partnerships with local companies and institutions. The visit had been a result of Mayor Nutter’s trade mission to Israel in November of 2013 where he met with a number of Israeli venture capitalists and entrepreneurs to pitch Philadelphia as the perfect gateway to the United States market.

During the meeting with Israeli investors and entrepreneurs hosted by Pitango Venture Capital, one of Israel’s leading venture capital funds, Chemi Peres, Co-Founder and Managing General Partner of Pitango, told Mayor Nutter and the Philadelphia delegation that he would bring a group of Israeli companies to see what Philadelphia had to offer.

“Philadelphia has the assets to compete with any city in the world in attracting innovative companies,” Mayor Nutter said in a press release. “Increasingly, international companies are looking to establish a presence in our city. The goal of my visit to Israel last year was to raise Philadelphia’s profile and attract exciting companies to our city. This delegation’s visit to our city is another step in that process, and I am excited to welcome the group and friend Chemi Peres to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.”

The Israeli companies participated in the Philadelphia Israeli Technology Conference hosted by Drexel University and met local leaders at a reception that was hosted by Comcast. The companies also visited Jefferson University Hospital and the Comcast Center, where they met local venture capitalists organized by the Consulate General.

The twelve Israeli companies represented a range of healthcare and media innovations including medical devices, cognitive biometrics, data analytics, measurement, cyber security, opinion research and content production. PhysiHome, a startup company that automates movement assessments for athletes, met with Mayor Nutter during his Israel visit and has made frequent visits to Philadelphia.

“For companies innovating in healthcare and human performance, the Greater Philadelphia area is a natural spot to be,” Ram Shalev, CEO of PhysiHome, said. “This region hosts the nation’s top medical, academic, and sports institutes. Addressing a global need to improve human performance and minimize sports injury rates, the PhysiHome team found an open and dynamic ecosystem to work with, driven by a proactive state government, including support from the mayor’s office and industry chambers.”

According to the Philadelphia Business Journal, PhysiHome’s board approved starting a U.S. subsidiary and selected the Philadelphia region for its headquarters. The company has not yet picked a location but will open sometime in the first quarter of 2015. Shalev plans to relocate to Philadelphia.

The initial connection was made during Mayor Nutter's trip with political, civic and business leaders. During his trip, Shalev met with hospitals as well as one of the city's major sports teams but declined to say which ones. He came away from the experience believing business opportunities would be plentiful here.

"I chose Philadelphia because it's a dynamic, big city looking to invest in innovation," Shalev said.

A number of local companies and institutions will meet with Israeli companies to explore potential partnerships and business opportunities.

“During his visit last year, Mayor Nutter made a very convincing case that Israeli companies looking to enter the U.S. market should look no further than Philadelphia,” Peres said. “With its wealth of higher education and healthcare institutions, its vibrant startup community and an incredible quality of life, Philadelphia is increasingly well-placed to emerge as a prominent global startup city.”

This is also not Peres' first visit to Philadelphia. The Business Journal noted that he visited many years ago when his brother was a student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. Peres has also worked with Comcast and has some local investors.

"The vibe in the city has really changed," Peres said. "It's a growing, beautiful city that has all the best the U.S. has to offer with European style. And there are some natural connections. Philadelphia will be more on the radar now as we move into the future."

Image courtesy of CDI Philadelphia.