Governor Kim Reynolds.

Governor Kim Reynolds leaves today for official state business overseas. During stops in Israel, Reynolds will be signing two “memorandums of understanding” that will formally link institutions in Israel with Iowa State University and the University of Iowa.

“A big percentage of their GDP goes to research and development and they’re very innovative and entrepreneurial in spirit,” Reynolds said yesterday, “much like we are as Iowans and so we believe there’s a lot of opportunity.”

Reynolds indicated the new links will focus on Iowa’s strengths in agriculture at Iowa State and medical research at the University of Iowa.

“This is an opportunity for us to look for economic opportunities between Israel and Iowa,” Reynolds said. “They’re a big start-up country and we’re always encouraging business to come to Iowa and invest.”

Two years ago, Israeli start-ups raised nearly $4.5 billion in venture capital in a country of eight million people. That’s about two-and-a-half times the population of Iowa. Israel is now a high-tech hub, second only to Silicon Valley in the number of start-up companies per capita.

The Israeli government provides significant support for research and development. South Korea is the only country that provides more. Reynolds is scheduled to meet with Israel’s prime minister during her trip. She will also speak next week at an international conference in Tel Aviv about “Wicked Water Problems.” The two-day event is co-sponsored by the American Water Resources Association and the Water Research Center of Tel Aviv University.

Reynolds will visit Germany, too, but she’s not disclosing the details of that part of her trip.

“We’re always looking for opportunities, meeting with different companies to talk about opportunities that we have right here in Iowa,” Reynolds said.

The governor is scheduled to return to Iowa on Friday, September 15.