The William Davidson Foundation is working to increase the economic vitality of both Southeast Michigan and the State of Israel by fostering a climate of entrepreneurship. We believe entrepreneurs are often at the heart of building dynamic economies, so we are especially interested in joining and leading efforts that stimulate the creation, growth, attraction and retention of new businesses. We are particularly focused on helping small, growing and innovating firms in high potential market sectors and industries.

Our approach includes several elements and activities:

  • Celebrating, connecting and raising the visibility of entrepreneurs in Southeast Michigan, Israel, and across the two regions by sponsoring targeted matchmaking platforms, trips, competitions, and other promotional events;
  • Enabling and encouraging institutions of higher education to contribute to Southeast Michigan’s economic development by enhancing the quality and access of campus-based resources and programs for aspiring entrepreneurs and by exploring policy and process improvements that can incent business start-ups and growth activity;
  • Supporting high-quality service providers and resources that directly assist businesses to grow and thrive — from incubators and accelerators to collaboration and co-working spaces, and investment and mentoring support;
  • Nurturing and strengthening a small number of strategically important clusters of interconnected businesses and industries that build on Southeast Michigan and Israel’s existing assets, skills, and public perceptions; and
  • Investing in needed data and research about entrepreneurship and related issues so that we might have more knowledge and wisdom about how Michigan’s and Israel’s economies and entrepreneurial communities are evolving.

For the last several years, we have been investing and learning alongside other foundations — partnering with them on efforts such as the New Economy Initiative in Southeast Michigan and Start-Up Nation Central in Israel. We have supported innovation, tech transfer, and entrepreneurial projects at leading medical and educational institutions, University of Michigan and Henry Ford Health System among them. And we have helped attract leading entrepreneurial fellowship and accelerator programs to Detroit, while continuing Mr. Davidson’s philanthropic interests in science education in Israel as a means for strengthening Israel’s economy.

We are continuing to support many of these worthy efforts. At the same time, our prior experiences — and expanded capacity — now allow us to focus on the areas described above and consider a wider mix of grants and other activities to strengthen the entrepreneurial communities in Detroit and Israel. In and across Southeast Michigan and Israel, we are scanning for organizations that celebrate and connect entrepreneurs, boost growing businesses, support the development of targeted industries, and produce valuable research.