Leigh Miller for GlobalAtlanta
A recent trade mission to Israel reinforced Atlanta’s reputation as an emerging center for young Israeli bioscience companies to perform clinical trials to enter the U.S. market, said Tom Glaser, president of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Southeast Region, who co-led the trip.

Mr. Glaser and David Hartnett, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s new vice president of technology industry expansion, led a group of Atlanta executives on the five-day trip that focused on building relationships between Atlanta and Israeli biomedical companies. The group specifically visited medical device companies in northern Israel that were affected by recent war, Mr. Glaser said.

The delegation met with some 15 Israeli life science firms, including four technology incubators specializing in biotechnology and medical devices. The companies were interested in having the Israeli chamber arrange clinical trials for them with research institutions, hospitals and physicians in the Southeast, Mr. Glaser told GlobalAtlanta in an interview following the trip.

“There is a strong asset here in Atlanta for clinical trials as the opening stage to get Food and Drug Administration approval for products. Once their products are approved, the Israeli companies may want to set up U.S. operations here,” he said.

“Out of the 15 companies we saw with 50 different technologies, a third of them are on track to be commercialized in U.S.,” added Mr. Hartnett. “There is a high probability that of the Israeli companies we spoke to, Atlanta is on their definite short list.”

He said that to do clinical trials of medical devices and procedures, companies need strong relationships with the “crème de la crème” physicians who are willing to take on life-risking products.

He and Mr. Glaser have built those types of relationships in Atlanta for more than 15 years, so they can ask the physicians to test the Israeli products, Mr. Hartnett said.

Mr. Glaser said that through those relationships, health care institutions in Atlanta and throughout Georgia are becoming centers for testing Israeli biomedical devices and treatments for cancer, cardiology, neurology, gastroenterology and multiple other types of ailments.

The Israeli chamber is helping Israeli companies to set up clinical trials at Emory University, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Northside Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Piedmont Hospital, Shepherd Center, Grady Memorial Hospital, the Georgia Cancer Coalition, Quintiles Laboratories Ltd., Clinimetrics Research Associates Inc., Houston Columbia Sports Medicine in Columbus, Medical College of Georgia in Augusta and Memorial Medical Center in Savannah.

Various Israeli bioscience companies have already performed clinical trials in Atlanta, including Ness Tziona, Israel-based Proneuron Biotechnologies Ltd., which tested a procedure for spinal cord injuries with the Shepherd Center. Cell Design, a subsidiary of Smyrna, Georgia-based Cell Dynamics LLC, provided the facility for part of the trial.

Modi’in, Israel-based NeuroTrax and the Institute for the Study of Aging tested at Emory a product that identifies individuals at risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

ProChon, a Rehovot, Israel-based company began testing last year a cartilage injury treatment with Atlanta-based Resurgens Orthopedics, an orthopedic practice associated with St. Joseph’s Research Center.

Atlanta is a good place for clinical trials and also for Israeli start-ups, Mr. Hartnett said. Delta Air Lines Inc.’s nonstop flight between Atlanta and Tel-Aviv, Israel, Atlanta’s location in the eastern U.S. time zone, its position as a major transportation hub and its international community make it suitable for Israeli companies, he added.

Atlanta is a “jumpstart start-up” venue, Mr. Hartnett said, because the Metro and Israeli chambers “hand-deliver” Israeli start-ups to research institutions like the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory. They provide the companies with virtual office space and help them find potential clients.

“Atlanta is an easy transition into the U.S. because we are an open-arms metro area, unlike some more ‘threatening’ cities,” he said, referring to cities that are less welcoming.

The Israeli chamber is considering helping Atlanta attract Israeli “clean” energy companies, Mr. Glaser said. He noted that a bill recently passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that is expected to pass in the Senate seeks to establish a U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act to fund projects between companies and researchers in the field of renewable energy.

During the trade mission to Israel, the Atlanta delegation attended part of the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s annual economic conference in Tel Aviv that highlighted alternative energy.

The group also attended Israel’s national telecommunications expo, as well as a meeting of binational Israeli chambers from around the world.

They also attended an event in Herzliya, Israel, to meet with Israeli venture capital firms, and visited technology centers in the north of Israel including Haifa, Yokneam-Megiddo, Migdal Ha’emek, Nazareth, Misgav, Nahariya, and Netanya.

Attendees on the mission in addition to Mr. Glaser and Mr. Hartnett included Laurie Olivier, chairman-elect of the Israeli chamber and partner with Veritas Venture Capital; Ilan Friedman, Israel director of the Israeli chamber; John Holstein, managing director of GeoSpatial Metrics Inc. in Suwanee; Alberto Sapoznik, vice president of Ackerman & Co. in Atlanta; Barry Sobel, director of Deutsche Bank Securities in Atlanta and Alek Szlam, chairman of Szlam Enterprises Inc. in Alpharetta.

For more information, contact Mr. Glaser at (404) 843-9426 or visit www.aiccse.org. Contact Mr. Hartnett at (404) 880-9000 or visit www.metroatlantachamber.com.