Mayor Emanuel and WBC Travel to Israel to Promote Chicago Investment


New partnerships to advance research and commercial opportunities formed, including several to address the global water economy

(From Left) Technion Executive Vice President for Research Prof. Wayne D. Kaplan; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Current Chairman Steve Kloos

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and WBC recently led a delegation of 40 business, civic and academic leaders to Israel to promote investment in Chicago and innovation. During the trip, the group connected with leading Israeli companies, met with government leaders, and announced new partnerships between Chicago and Israel that will create research and commercial opportunities.

Both Israel and Chicago are leading technology and innovation centers, and through the series of meetings and events the Mayor and delegation strengthened and created new ties between the city and nation to ensure both continue to lead together.

Building on the partnership initially created during the Urban Waterways Forum in Chicago, the delegation visited Haifa where they met with Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, along with leading companies and research institutions. While there, Chicago’s Current (the non-profit dedicated to accelerating Chicago’s water economy) and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology signed an agreement to develop solutions to global water challenges.

In Tel Aviv, Mayor Emanuel and the delegation met with numerous companies, academic leaders, and government officials. The Israel Innovation Authority and the Israel American Chamber of Commerce hosted the group, creating opportunities for greater collaboration. Additionally, SOSA (South of Salame), a global network of tech innovation hubs founded by leading Israeli investors and entrepreneurs, hosted the delegation and leading Israeli venture capital firms for a conversation on enhanced partnerships between Chicago and Israel.

Building on a meeting earlier this year, Mayor Emanuel and Mayor Huldai of Tel Aviv signed a new economic partnership agreement that creates better linkages between the two cities, particularly around technology and innovation. In addition, an agreement was signed between Israel’s Sheba Medical Center and Matter, Chicago’s healthcare startup incubator. The delegation also took part in an academic roundtable discussion on how to further collaborate on research between Chicago and Israel, which included representation from seven Israeli universities and six Chicago area institutions.

The trip also focused on the global water economy. A total of five different agreements were signed that focused on water, including the agreement between Current and Technion, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for information sharing and partnership on new water strategies between the Chicago Department of Water Management (CDWM) and Mekorot (the national water company of Israel).

“This agreement helps us write the next chapter in the story of Israel and Chicago,” Mayor Emanuel said. “Working together to develop solutions to water challenges will strengthen economic development and protect public health in both Israel and the U.S. and far beyond.”

Mayor Emanuel delivered the opening keynote address at the 2017 Water Technology and Environmental Control Exhibition & Conference (WATEC) in Tel Aviv. During the address, he called for global cities to find innovative solutions to water scarcity and announced Current’s new programs to drive advanced water research and technology innovations. The Mayor also highlighted the City of Chicago’s commitment to innovation, international partnerships, and inclusive economic development as strategies to address global water needs.

“Water scarcity is a large-scale challenge today that will evolve into a global crisis without a coordinated, concerted effort,” Mayor Emanuel said. “We need global cities working to find technology solutions because a rising tide of innovation lifts all people and all nations.”

Current, the non-profit incubated at World Business Chicago in 2016 in partnership with the City of Chicago, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, unveiled three core programs to deliver advanced water research and market-driven innovations to bridge gaps in the water solutions ecosystem. These programs form a powerful technology-to-market platform.

WBC and the Mayor’s Office will continue to develop the relationships built on this visit in the weeks and months to come.