Murphy headed to Israel on Sunday for 4 days of meetings with business, academic and government leaders

Governor will push innovation economy in 4th trip to that nation since taking office

Gov. Phil Murphy, continuing his quest to expand the state’s business and cultural ties with Israel, will travel to Jerusalem on Sunday night for four days of meetings with business, education and governmental leaders.

The trip, which is sponsored by the Center for Innovative Policy, is Murphy’s fourth to Israel since taking office, and his eighth in the past eight years. This trip, however, is a little different, as it is not built specifically around New Jersey interests.

Gov. Phil Murphy has had many successful trips to Israel. (File photo)

Murphy will be traveling with Delaware Gov. John Carney, a fellow Democrat. The two will have a number of joint meetings with political and business leaders.

Murphy, however, will have a number of New Jersey-facing events, especially Wednesday, when he meets with a number of business and higher education officials, including Ben-Gurion University (which already has a partnership with New Jersey Institute of Technology), Team8 (a venture capital group) and the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

Chief of staff George Helmy is the only top administration official among a New Jersey contingent of just four people.

“We’ve got an enormous amount of history between New Jersey and the state of Israel,” Murphy told ROI-NJ. “We have a lot going on, especially in collaborations with institutions of higher education and in the business, particularly the innovation economy sector.

It’s that sector that Murphy is eager to continue to push, he said.

“We want to continue to be laser-focused on tech, telecom, bio, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, among other areas,” he said.

Especially at the startup level, Murphy said.

“Even in our worst days, we were still pretty good with the big companies and those sectors,” he said. “Where we had really lost our way was on the startup and the VC front.

“I’ll be talking about the Evergreen Investment Fund in addition to just the general discussions about startup opportunities in New Jersey. We’ve got the talent, we now have the right incentives, and a great location. That’s a compelling package for anybody, whether you’re already here or whether you’re thinking about coming.”

Unlike previous trips abroad, when a series of announcements were pre-planned, Murphy said he’s not sure if this trip will have any signings of agreements.

“I wouldn’t rule it out, but no news to announce at this moment,” he said. “This trip is a little bit different, because it’s being sponsored by the Center for Innovative Policy, but that doesn’t mean something’s not going to come out of it.

“But, if nothing comes out of if that’s tangible, it may be because we’re already doubling down on things that we’ve already started.”

Murphy estimated that one-third of his meetings will be with individuals or groups that the state already has a relationship with.

The meetings will begin Monday morning and end Thursday afternoon, when the governor will fly home.

Murphy said the trip will include meetings in Ramallah with Palestinian representatives from the business community and government.