It’s official: Governor Charlie Baker will head to Israel in December for his first overseas trade mission.
Six of Baker’s top aides traveled there in June, in part to help lay the groundwork for the December trip. Boston business leaders expected Baker to personally participate in the upcoming trade mission, although Baker’s aides didn’t confirm it until Wednesday. The governor is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Dec. 9 and to depart on Dec. 14, returning to Massachusetts early on Dec. 15.
The trade mission will focus on the cybersecurity and digital health sectors, two industries that are considered strong in both Israel and Massachusetts. One of the goals: encouraging Israeli companies that are seeking their first outpost in the US to pick Massachusetts.
“Israel has a deep footprint in cyber and a pretty significant and blossoming industry in digital health as well,” Baker said in an interview. “I want Massachusetts to be a place that companies and researchers and investors in Israeli enterprises in this space choose to partner with, as opposed to going to Silicon Valley or New York.”
Roughly a dozen state officials will attend the trip, including: Katie Stebbins, assistant secretary of innovation and technology; Louis Gutierrez, executive director of the Mass. Health Connector; and Mark Nunnelly, executive director of the state’s information technology office.
The administration is still lining up private-sector participants, although nearly 40 of them are expected to attend. The New England-Israel Business Council is playing a key role.
No public funds will be used for the upcoming Israel visit. Instead, it will be funded by Combined Jewish Philanthropies, much like the June trip. The business leaders who attend these trips typically pay their own way.
Baker said the “intellectual capital” his team saw in June helped persuade him to make Israel the destination of his first overseas trade mission.
“They came back from that, saying there’s a tremendous opportunity,” Baker said. “If they came back from that trip and said, ‘There really aren’t a lot of possibilities here,’ we wouldn’t be doing this.”
Deval Patrick led two entourages to Israel when he was governor, one in 2011 and the other in 2014, out of 10 international trade missions during his eight-year tenure as governor.