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York County in Canada offers incentives to Israeli high-tech and biotech companies seeking to develop in America

This is what the chairman of the York Regional Council, where 1.1 million residents live, and the mayor of Markham, the largest city in the district, said yesterday at a conference held at the law firm Naomi Asia & Co. 

From the left, the Mayor of York County in Canada, Bill Fisher, and the Mayor of Markham, Bill Scarpiti. Photo: Avi Blizovsky
From the left, the Mayor of York County in Canada, Bill Fisher, and the Mayor of Markham, Bill Scarpiti. Photo: Avi Blizovsky

Among the many delegations that came to Israel for the Biomed conference, there was also a delegation from York County in Canada, the county that borders Toronto and is part of the Greater Toronto Area. The delegation included public representatives - the head of the district, Bill Fisher, and the mayor of Markham, Bill Scarpiti, as well as representatives from the private sector, including Eugene Girchak of the law and patent office of Miller Thompson and Leo Greenwald, CEO and senior partner of the Lion Park venture capital fund, which invests Mainly in Israeli companies.

The members of the group participated in a special conference held at the law firm Naomi Asia & Co.

Lou Millard from Miller Thompson who moderated the panel said that today there is a high demand for biotech companies, and companies in the field of alternative energy, and that these issues are the most important issues in the commercialization of companies coming out of universities. When the law firm has a representative office in every university city.

Fish introduced the district, which includes seven municipalities and many independent neighborhoods. In York County, and especially in Markham, there are many hundreds of companies that have their headquarters there. Hi-tech and life sciences are also prominent in Markham after Shivm discovered the inherent potential of York University graduates about 12 years ago and opened a research and development center, competing with Ireland and three large cities in the USA. "York County's population is growing rapidly and it was necessary to build infrastructure, and we expect even more accelerated growth, with the Greater Toronto Area growing from 5 to 9 million residents within a decade, many of them in York County.

Scarfiti, the mayor of Markham defined his city as the high-tech capital of Canada. "We have over 900 IT and life sciences companies. Some call us the Silicon Valley of the North. IBM, AMD (actually in Markham the company AST developed and grew until it was acquired a few years ago by AMD), we have a collection of IT companies and also a concentration of companies in the field of life sciences. We heard about Israel's success and read the book Startup Nation. We want to imitate the way in which you built the subject of innovation, incubators and commercialization.

"We are in the process of establishing a Convergence Center where we will open an incubator for companies that will be asked to utilize the knowledge gained in the IT field for the benefit of the life sciences. The public invests more money in games for children than in improving medicine, this needs to change. The central government of the province of Ontario will provide a budget for the establishment of laboratories in the facility, which will be based on the Israeli greenhouse model."

In addition, Scarpiti said that it is worthwhile for Israeli companies to open a presence and headquarters in Markham due to the fact that the mentality of the city's residents is more similar to a European and even Israeli mentality and that they come from all over the world. Although due to the immigration policy, there is a preference for those with academic degrees and thus it turns out that 60% of the city's residents have academic degrees. In addition, Canada has a free trade agreement that allows free access to the American market, as well as an agreement with the European Union.

In order to promote investments, it was decided in Markham to speed up the procedures for granting permits, and the city collects the lowest business tax in all of York Region.

Millard added that Canada was not known to the Israelis, but according to him "Canadians are good partners in financing, they have connections in Silicon Valley, New York, Washington. They also do a lot of sharing between the private and public sectors, the universities produce talented graduates who can then advance when the enterprises grow.


Eugene Girzak, partner at Miller Thompson, explained the differences and similarities between patent laws and the ability to make strategic partnerships in Canada and Israel. Leo Greenwald described the investments of the fund he is one of the heads of which specializes in Israeli start-up companies, and among other things also invested in the Terkotec incubator in Netanya. "Our role as a venture capital fund is to take developing companies and raise them to a significant size. Contrary to the historical model of the venture capital funds that prefer safer investments in later stages, we seek to bridge the gap between the exit from the incubator and the situation where the company is attractive to venture capital funds."

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