August 2020 Newsletter
Connecting Utah companies to opportunities abroad has been crucial in supporting Utah’s business community in 2020. Although traveling abroad is currently not an option, our Virtual Trade Missions allow Utah businesses to connect directly with international government and business leaders without leaving their homes – a no-cost option that did not exist pre-COVID. This approach has allowed us to forge more international connections than ever before.
Most recently, World Trade Center Utah (WTC Utah), alongside the Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED), Utah Israel Economic Council, and the Consulate General of Israel, Los Angeles, hosted a three-day Virtual Trade Mission to Israel, including six individual sessions. Each of the nearly 200 attendees gained market insight and were made aware of new opportunities. As a result, the participants were able to assess their readiness for entering the market, hear from successful Israeli companies that shared insights on how to grow in Israel, and connect with Israeli leaders committed to serving as partners to catalyze new trade and investment opportunities for Utah companies.
Organized by WTC Utah’s International Program Manager Courtney Smith Rae, the Virtual Trade Mission began with a market briefing led by the Consul General of Israel to the Pacific Southwest Dr. Hillel Newman.
Crediting Utah’s strong leadership, Dr. Newman noted great potential between Israel and Utah. In 2017 and 2013, Governor Herbert led trade missions to Israel to facilitate connections between Utah companies and Israel.
Click here to watch the Virtual Trade Mission Market Briefing in which Dr. Newman discusses the business environment, political environment, top industries, and emerging opportunities in Israel.
Popularly known as “Start-Up Nation,” Israel was selected for our Virtual Trade Mission because it is a global leader in tech and innovation in many areas that Utah is excelling in as well. Additionally, the United States is Israel’s single largest trading partner and nearly all non-agricultural trade tariffs between the U.S. and Israel have been eliminated since 1995, which creates a framework for trade and investment with low barriers to entry.
Dr. Newman was the first of many top Israeli leaders to present during the Virtual Trade Mission. Following the Market Briefing, world-class Israeli experts led four industry-specific breakout sessions which were recorded and are linked below:
- Technology & Innovation Breakout: Adiv Baruch, Chairman of the Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute, provided attendees with insight into the industry, including their success with harnessing data for health care. Baruch is a pioneer of Israel’s tech and innovation ecosystem, runs the largest fund of funds in Israel, and is the Chairman of Covertix, whose patented technology delivers real-time, non-invasive control, protection, and tracking of confidential files. High-tech products comprise nearly 50 percent of the country’s industrial exports, and high-tech services exports have increased 300 percent in the last decade. This growth can be attributed to the country’s focus on research and development in which they rank first in the world based on expenditures as a percentage of GDP. A common focus throughout this Virtual Trade Mission is highlighting how COVID-19 is accelerating the growth of certain industries – this is especially true when discussing technology and innovation.
Click here to watch the Technology & Innovation Breakout Session.
- Defense and Security (including Cybersecurity): Doron Bergerbest-Eilon–Israel’s former top counterterrorism official–led a discussion on the impact COVID-19 is having on security around the world and how savvy security companies and governments are successfully responding. This session had broad appeal for a more general audience and included insights on how defense and security companies should be updating their strategies to continue to grow during the pandemic.
Click here to watch the Defense and Security Breakout Session
- Water Technology: Danny Lacker, who is the Head of Water Security for the Israeli Water Authority led this session. Water is an incredibly important resource and one that is scarce for both Israel and Utah. Technology is the key to ensuring the most efficient use of water, and Israel is a leader in water technology, offering solutions and opportunities to Utah and Utah companies. Lacker discussed the water industry in Israel, shared examples of technologies and policies that are enabling Israel to thrive despite scarce water resources, and suggested ways Utah companies can identify opportunities to grow their business in Israel.
Click here to watch the Water Breakout Session
- Life Sciences and Healthcare: Building upon its reputation as the “start up nation,” Israel is also gaining recognition as a digital health nation. Assaf Barnea, Chairman of the Life Science Advisory Board at the Israel Export Institute and Managing Director of Sanara Ventures, a healthcare innovation fund backed by Phillips and Teva, led this session. Citing COVID-19 as the tipping point for telemedicine, AI, and digital health, Barnea shared how the pandemic, although unfortunate, has provided a catalyst for innovation and opportunities for healthcare innovation companies. Additionally, synergies between Israel and Utah can open the door for increased collaboration and partnerships, particularly between businesses working on complimentary technology with a joint-interest in growing in Europe, the U.S., and elsewhere.
Click here to watch the Life Sciences and Healthcare Breakout Session
WTC Utah also partnered with the Israeli Ministry of Defense (MOD) and the Utah Israel Economic Council to launch a web series training 60+ Utah companies on how to find and win new contracts by going through the Israeli Foreign Military Financing procurement process, a program that leads to billions of dollars of contracts for U.S. companies each year.
The final session of the Virtual Trade Mission was an investment session that focused on engaging Israeli companies, funds, and economic development organizations to discuss investing in Utah and to share why Utah is the best place in the United States to do business and invest.
Following the success of the Virtual Trade Mission to Israel, we are busy planning for the next opportunity for Utah companies to connect–this time with one of our most important trading partners: Canada. Our Virtual Trade Mission to Canada will be on September 14, 2020. Click here to register.
Casino Game Maker Inc. Utilizes STEP Grant Funding to Stand Out Internationally
To boost international sales and increase traffic to their website, Utah-based Casino Game Maker Inc. (CGM) needed to improve its search engine optimization (SEO). However, they had the additional hurdle of first translating the content on their website into multiple languages – no small feat.
World Trade Center Utah awarded CGM with the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) Grant, which is funded in part through a Grant with the U.S. Small Business Administration, to help them cover the cost of the needed translations.
“Since inception, our focus has been on the international markets,” said CGM President Andrzej Surmacz. “Twice a year, we participate in industry conventions in Asia. When we became aware that these conventions have been canceled, we tried to find ways to reach potential customers by enhancing the SEO rating of our website and translating the content to two more languages (Portuguese and Chinese). STEP funding made it possible. We really appreciate the support from WTC Utah.”
The company’s SEO significantly increased with the translations in place, allowing CGM. to compete with much larger companies in the global market. Within a month, the company experienced a 13% increase in online traffic. Along with the overall traffic increase, they have noted that the amount of traffic from outside the U.S. has been rising since the translation of their site.
The STEP Grant helps Utah small businesses enter and expand into dynamic global markets. Eligible companies interested in the STEP grant are encouraged to contact WTC Utah’s
Director of Grants and Operations / STEP Project Director Nicole Sherwood, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional information can be found at: wtcutah.com/grants/step-grant/