AICC logoBY AL SHAMS / AJT //

The Hi-Tech Committee, one of the most important groups of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce for the Southeast, is instrumental in fostering cooperation between U.S. and Israeli companies. Made up of 100 members, this vital body was formed by combing the Chamber’s software and communications committees.

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Adam Coffsky – managing director for Gartner, Inc. in Atlanta, the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company – serves as chair. A native of Akron, Ohio and a graduate of the University of Florida, he has served the Chamber for nine years and is currently a member of the group’s executive committee.

Primary Goal

The Hi-Tech Committee works with entrepreneurs and new companies in the U.S. and Israel to gain market recognition, obtain introductions and provide organizational assistance and advice as to how they might expand and grow their services.

Events (open to both members and the public) are held quarterly and typically focus on key sectors in which Israeli companies hold a strong technology position. At these gatherings, various Israeli executives offer corporate presentations, and case studies and industry white papers are reviewed, noting potential impact on business.

The Process

Over the years, the committee has developed a multi-step process for working with and aiding developing companies:

  • When inquiries for assistance are received by the AICC staff, companies are advised to complete a data sheet that describes the company’s products, services and the assistance being sought.
  • Upon receipt of the data sheet, the AICC staff will review the submission and determine which companies are realistic candidates for the committee’s consideration.
  • The Hi-Tech Committee will then review the screened candidates to determine where its efforts are best directed.
  • If it’s determined that the committee can be helpful, an individual member or team is assigned to be the point of contact.

Often, this representative will meet personally with the prospect to learn about their business and needs. Once the committee have a better understanding the team will make suggestions and make available numerous resources, including outside experts.

  • Once the committee has done its best, a candidate’s progress is tracked. The eventual goal is for the candidate company to install facilities in the Southeast, employ locals, join the Chamber and extend a helping hand to other start-ups.

Cyber Crime

In early March, the Hi-Tech Committee held a breakfast event, “Israel, Innovation Impact (I3),” that focused on the broad area of cyber security. Held at IBM’s offices in Sandy Springs, the meeting featured comments from Jim Brennan, an IBM cyber-security expert, who mentioned the growing threat posed by cyber crime and IBM’s efforts to deal with this problem.

The breakfast also included presentations by three Israeli companies that shared their approach in defending against cybercrime. Here are some highlights:

  • Covertix (covertix.com) is a developer of solutions to equip enterprise organizations with independent file-level surveillance and control, protecting sensitive data inside and outside the organization.
  • Dome9 (dome9.com) makes application and OS vulnerabilities irrelevant by closing the service ports on your cloud server and making them accessible to only those you authorize, when you authorize.
  • Trustware (trustware.com) delivers threat-free internet to home users and small businesses around the globe with a breakthrough virtualization technology called BufferZone, which resolves the conflict between usability and security.

Future Improvements

Coffsky thinks the Hi-Tech Committee has done good work in recent years but at the same time is hoping even more can be accomplished.

“We have a great team and a well-developed process that has worked well and has done well over the past eight years,” he said. “So we want to continue to use those strategies that have been beneficial.”

Here are a few improvements he’d like to implement:

  • A more proactive effort in which the committee would seek out potential candidates both in the U.S. and in Israel.
  • An expanded reach, encompassing the general Atlanta business community.
  • The use of various social media applications to create a virtual high-tech community.

Al Shams is a former CPA, Sandy Springs resident and an investments professional with more that 35 years of industry experience. For additional information about the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce-Southeast, check out aiccse.org.

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