Representatives from the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, nine New England businesses, Rhode Island College and Brown recently returned from a nine-day trade mission to Israel, where they worked to forge ties with their counterparts in the country. Gov. Lincoln Chafee '75 P'14 — whom representatives from Brown have accompanied on fact-finding missions to Houston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh — had originally planned to lead the trip but was forced to cancel due to the state's contentious pension reform debate.
Katherine Gordon, managing director of Brown's Technology Ventures Office, represented the University on the trip, which occurred Nov. 4-12. She said the mission offered a chance for Brown to further its research interests by collaborating with Israeli institutions. "Increasingly, it's a global world," she said, adding that partnering with other universities allows researchers to "tackle a problem in a multifaceted way." Though it might take a while to see the positive effects of these partnerships, they will come, she said.
The governor's absence did not detract from the success of the trip, Gordon said. While more official meetings might have taken place had the governor come, "I would say three-fourths of the things would remain the same," she said.
Avi Nevel, president and owner of Nevel International helped organize the mission. Too many meetings had been scheduled by the time Chafee withdrew to call off the entire mission, he said. Though the governor's presence would have been helpful, "at the end of the day, the companies came to develop business," he said.
This was the first time Rhode Island representatives have traveled to Israel on a trade mission. The trip consisted of multiple meetings between Rhode Island and Israeli businesses, academic institutions and government officials. Many were one-on-one meetings between Rhode Island and Israeli companies, Nevel said. Perhaps more than anything, these meetings showed how many opportunities there are for Rhode Island businesses in Israel, he added. "People were amazed how much business potential was there."
Chafee will reschedule his trip in the near future, according to an October press release from the governor's office.
Due to an editing error, a previous version of this article quoted Katherine Gordon, managing director of Brown's Technology Ventures Office, as saying she believed the governor's absence detracted from the success of the trade mission. In fact, Gordon stated she thought the absence did not negatively affect the trip. The Herald regrets the error.