Join the Conversation on Innovation

Celebrating American and Israeli Innovation 

By Ashley Zlatopolsky, reposted from The Detroit Jewish News, 9/20/22

The Michigan Israel Business Accelerator’s (MIBA) Taste of Two Nations event will help bilateral partnerships between Michigan and Israel.

Taste of Two Nations is an upcoming evening that will celebrate American and Israeli wine. Above all, the event will celebrate partnerships, collaboration and innovation.

Taking place Oct. 6 from 6-9 p.m. at the Townsend Hotel in Birmingham, Taste of Two Nations is a special wine tasting fundraising event put on by the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA) that will raise crucial operating funds for the nonprofit organization.

The MIBA is what CEO Scott Hiipakka calls a “small but mighty” organization committed to advancing Michigan innovation through Israeli connections.

“Israel is what’s known as Startup Nation,” Hiipakka, 51, of Milford says. “It has the largest number of startups per capita in the world.”

The second-annual Taste of Two Nations event will help fuel those important bilateral partnerships between Michigan and Israel — an opportunity for synergy Hiipakka says is “extraordinary.”

“That’s what MIBA does,” he continues. “We build partnerships in order to create jobs in Michigan and help contribute to Michigan’s economic growth.”

Celebration of Innovation

Last year’s Taste of Two Nations event drew around 150 guests, a number Hiipakka says the organization is hoping to beat this year. The event will feature wine tasting for top American and Israeli wines, the latter of which Hiipakka says many haven’t tried yet.

“We’re bringing Israeli wine to people’s palates who’ve never had a chance to taste Israeli wine,” he says, describing the flavor as “earthy and rich. Most is typically from the Golan Heights.”

It’s a unique taste he likens to wine from Chile or Argentina. “Some of the grapes are grown up in the mountains. It’s much more hearty.”

In addition to wine tasting, the evening will recognize innovation and partnerships. MIBA will give out awards for three categories of innovation throughout the night. “We will bring together our award recipients, along with their guests and our guests,” Hiipakka says.

For MIBA, recognizing partnerships is essential. As the organization’s flagship fundraiser, Taste of Two Nations is what Hiipakka calls a “fun environment and an opportunity for networking,” especially amongst those in the startup world.

The three-hour event, co-chaired by Regine Beauboeuf and Beth Chappell, will kick off with a traditional welcome reception. “They’re really the backbone of the event,” Hiipakka says of the co-chairs.

The meet-and-greet social will be followed by a mixer featuring American and Israeli wines, in addition to foods.

The social portion will then lead into the formal part of the night, where MIBA will host a silent auction, hand out awards and allow guests to hear from leadership.

While MIBA is still finalizing this year’s auction items, Hiipakka says last year’s auction included weekends at condos in Florida, high-end wine and tickets to sporting events.

Tickets for Taste of Two Nations start at $200, while sponsorship opportunities range from $2,500 to $10,000. Donations of any level can also be made to support the organization’s mission.

Poised For Growth

In conjunction with Taste of Two Nations, MIBA recently held a number of essential developments to help create even stronger partnerships between Michigan and Israel.

The organization currently supports trade delegations, import and export services, B2B and B2G matchmaking, consulting services, Experience Innovation and more. It also has a membership program for Michigan-based startups to join.

Recently, MIBA hosted the Israeli industry 4.0 firm 3d Signals to talk to manufacturers about its optimization system. MIBA delegates also attended the Mackinac Policy Conference this summer and visited Israel to build relationships earlier this year.

Yet MIBA’s biggest impact in 2022 is the funding raised to support Michigan startups.

“Our goal this year was to generate around $1.4 million of economic prosperity for the state of Michigan,” Hiipakka says. “So far this year, we’ve generated $2.8 million of economic prosperity for Michigan.”

It’s a goal MIBA has more than doubled and plans to beat even more by end of year.

“It’s a testament to the great team I have and the hard work we do every day,” Hiipakka says. “We build partnerships with Israel and really build connections between Michigan and Israeli companies.”

Register for Taste of Two Nations at