Everybody’s heard about the BIRD Foundation. No? Well, here’s deal. Collaboration and partnership across cultures to answer shared challenges is the most productive path to innovative solutions. Further, these sorts of partnerships build and strengthen important relationships, introduce people to new ways of thinking and seeing the world, and serve as sound diplomatic practices. They are good for industry, international relations, and trade.


BIRD is the acronym for the Israel-U.S. Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation. The BIRD Foundation. BIRD was founded back in 1977 when Menachem Begin was Israel’s Prime Minister and Jimmy Carter was inaugurated the 39th President of the United States. The first personal computer came to the markets, and Apple Computer was incorporated. On his way out, President Gerald Ford pardoned Tokyo Rose; on his way in President Carter pardoned those who evaded the draft into Vietnam.

The BIRD was founded “to generate mutually beneficial cooperation between the private sectors of the U.S. and Israeli high tech industries, including start-ups and established organizations.” Approaching its 40th year, “BIRD has approved over 800 projects with leading companies in the U.S.” worth nearly $10 billion dollars. And the biggest names in industry have participated in BIRD collaborations—from the American Red Cross to General Dynamics to Procter & Gamble to Bayer Pharmaceutical.


In 2008, our Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Israel’s Ministry of Public Security (MOPS) decided to partner in pursuit of new technologies that could enhance the responsiveness and effectiveness of first responders. BIRD manages that program. Wednesday, DHS announced BIRD’s next challenge in finding “innovations in fields such as protective clothing, wearable technology, and situational awareness.” Through BIRD, DHS and MOPS are offering a grant of up to $1 million for “NextGen First Responder Technologies.” Success breeds success. This is DHS-MOPS’ second collaborative effort. According to DHS Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology Dr. Robert Griffin, “’This is the second time we have partnered with Israel in this manner, with last year’s partnership yielding interest from dozens of companies and 12 proposals for development.’”


Rocky Balboa explains his love for Adrian like this: “She’s got gaps, I got gaps. Together we fill gaps.” Well, when it comes to first response, the United States has gaps, and Israel has gaps. So, we need to those fill gaps. BIRD identifies 21 gaps in first responder technology. We lack “ability to know the location of responders and their proximity to risks and hazards in real time,” “ability to rapidly identify hazardous agents and contaminants,” “ability to remotely scan an incident scene for signs of life and decomposition to identify and locate casualties and fatalities,” “ability to manage, control and contain large scale riots and public disorder events,” and “ability to remotely detect and contain miniature hostile drones” buzzing around our infrastructure.


If you and your small business, or large business, believe that, partnered with an entrepreneur in Israel, might bridge one of these 21 gaps, let’s get on it. Executive Summaries are due mid-February, Final Proposals in early April, and DHS-MOPS will announce decisions sometime in June. If you’re into it, contact  Ms. Andrea Yonah, andreay@birdf.com, 609-356-0305, or in Israel, Ms. Einat Spivak, einat@birdf.com, 972-3-698-8301.

Good luck. Let’s fill some gaps for our first responders.

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Ed Ledford enjoys the most challenging, complex, and high stakes communications requirements. His portfolio includes everything from policy and strategy to poetry. A native of Asheville, N.C., and retired Army Aviator, Ed’s currently writing speeches in D.C. and working other writing projects from his office in Rockville, MD. He loves baseball and enjoys hiking, camping, and exploring anything. Follow Ed on Twitter @ECLedford.