“Innovation Embassy” established between New Orleans, Ashdod ports

Participants in the July 2022 Israel trade mission

An Innovation Embassy has been established between the Port of Ashdod in Israel and five business organizations in New Orleans, a result of last summer’s Louisiana trade mission to Israel.

A letter of intent was signed in February to formally begin the program, which will focus on nurturing startup technologies from both locations for modernizing the operations for the trade and logistics industry sector. There will be an exploration of opportunities to collaborate in innovative projects with a focus on knowledge sharing, joint business development and potential development of dual infrastructure.

“This partnership capitalizes on legacy industries that have driven each of these economies for centuries, while leaning into the growth opportunities that emerging technologies can create for the future,” said Michael Hecht, president and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “The participating Israeli and Louisiana startups will have a unique opportunity to work with global leaders in port operations, while being exposed to growth best practices from their counterparts and entrepreneurship ecosystem leadership. This collaboration is a direct result of the visit to Israel last summer, and demonstrates the value in exploring locations that pose mutual economic benefit for each other.”

The Port of New Orleans and Port of Ashdod are global leaders in trade and logistics, each handling millions of tons in cargo each year. The Port of New Orleans is a primary gateway for international trade and commerce for the country, connecting the United States with the world through its Mississippi River access and extensive rail and highway networks. It is one of the busiest ports in the country and plays a vital role in the economic development of the Greater New Orleans region.

Similarly, the Port of Ashdod in Israel is a major hub for international trade and commerce, connecting the Mediterranean region with the rest of the world. Both ports are substantial as they provide vital infrastructure and resources to support the growth of local businesses, industries, and the economy.

Visiting port officials and startups will be integrated into the regional business community by New Orleans Business Alliance and Greater New Orleans, Inc., who will each showcase the market as a great place to do business with a supportive commercial environment.

The Ashdod Port Accelerator Program will incorporate cutting-edge technology into its partnership with the New Orleans coalition, focusing on driving growth within the maritime industry in Louisiana, support promising early-stage entrepreneurs, and maximizing efficiency on the lower Mississippi River. Israeli and Louisiana companies participating in the innovation embassy include startups with the mission of improving maritime operations.

“The Port of New Orleans welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with the Port of Ashdod and our Greater New Orleans area economic development partners,” said Brandy Christian, Port NOLA president and CEO. “We share common goals in maintaining and building state-of-the-art infrastructure, continuing to innovate diverse supply chain solutions, and advancing technologies to strengthen our positions as vital gateways to international commerce.”

“Louisiana has a rich history of being a logistics leader and continues to offer unparalleled infrastructure for international trade,” said Harrison Crabtree, director of the World Trade Center New Orleans. “The partnership with the Port of Ashdod ensures that Louisiana will remain competitive on the global stage, fostering a robust international trade community that supports our state’s status as the ‘gateway to North America’.”

“NOLABA is thrilled to work in collaboration with other economic development organizations and local partners in support of this alliance with the Ashdod Port Accelerator Program,” said Lynnette White-Colin, Sr. vice president of Small Business Growth at New Orleans Business Alliance. “The creation of an innovation embassy will aid in substantially increasing global economic opportunities for Port NOLA. And most exciting are the opportunities for local startups to engage in developing technological advances that will drive accelerated growth in our maritime industry and more expansive operations for the Port of New Orleans.”

“This letter of intent represents the type of collaboration between larger industry and startups that we need to move our region forward as a world class innovation hub,” said Jon Atkinson, CEO of Idea Village. “We look forward to working with the port and the other signatories to develop the type of key infrastructure that allows startups to go from prototype to full scale commercialization here in the New Orleans region.”

Bill Hines, managing partner of Jones Walker, one of the 2022 mission’s main sponsors, said “this is exactly the kind of collaboration that we hoped would develop” from the trade mission. “The people of Israel share our zest for life and desire to advance our economy, and I am optimistic that this is only the beginning of many decades of cooperation and business opportunities between New Orleans and Israel.”

Jones Walker will be the local host for visiting participants from Ashdod.

“Our trade mission to Israel was a resounding success, showcasing the power of Israeli innovation and the boundless opportunities it presents,” said Aaron Bloch, executive director of the Goldring Family Foundation Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs at the Federation. “The connections that have been forged, as showcased most recently by the port innovation center, will undoubtedly prove to be a tremendous benefit to our region.”

This partnership marks the third location for the Port of Ashdod, which already has collaborated with the Port of Barcelona and New Jersey to bring Israeli innovation to Europe and the United States.

On Feb. 8, there was a virtual Startup Showcase with New Orleans representatives and executives from eight startup companies that are part of the Ashdod innovation center. Featured companies offer solutions in security from cyber attacks and malicious software, networking communication and surveillance equipment in ways that are not affected by salt and corrosion from the air at ports, databases that replace field technical manuals, automatic inspection and cleaning of hulls to prevent biofouling, streamlined cargo quoting, and ways to store green energy.