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Patrick’s travel companions

By Michael Levenson and Noah Bierman
Globe Staff / March 6, 2011

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They will share lavish meals in fine hotels and falafel and couscous salads on the go, getting to know one another like any other group of travelers thrown together for a hectic week of business meetings in a foreign land. But the five women and 26 men who are accompanying Governor Deval Patrick on his trade mission to Israel this week are a unique group, with prominent and influential figures from the worlds of science, business, and politics. Some are seeking business in Israel. Some are looking for contracts from the state. Many have donated to Patrick. All will be paying their own way. Next weekend, a number of them will continue on to the United Kingdom for the second leg of his trade mission. Here’s a look at a few of those who will be at the governor’s side in Israel:

ROBERT L. CARET

Incoming president, University of Massachusetts

After a selection process marked by accusations of interference from the governor’s office, Caret was chosen in January to lead the University of Massachusetts, as the five-campus system copes with cuts in state aid. Caret has met Patrick only once, and said he is looking forward to getting to know the governor, as well as several prominent UMass alums who will be on the trip.

The incoming president, who went on trade missions to Portugal and France as president of San Jose State University in the 1990s, is also planning to visit the University of Haifa and The Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology. Both institutions are UMass partners.

JOHN FISH

Chief executive and president, Suffolk Construction

Fish, an influential figure in political circles, is chairman of a group of chief executives who urged Patrick to travel internationally. He says he has no business deals in the works, but is eager to study whether his largely domestic company might add more international projects.

“This, I’m hoping, is the beginning of a new strategy for the Commonwealth, to look beyond our borders,’’ he said. Since 2002, Fish and his family have donated $77,625 to state candidates and committees of both political parties, including Patrick, and his company does substantial business with the state.

GARY L. GOTTLIEB

President and chief executive, Partners HealthCare

Gottlieb is the leader of the state’s largest hospital and physician network, and the trip will give him valuable access to Patrick while the state debates a fundamental overhaul in the health care payment system that will have a major impact on the company’s finances. Since 2003, Gottlieb has donated $18,100 to state candidates from both political parties, including Patrick.

Gottlieb and his wife were already planning a trip to Israel, along with Peter L. Slavin, president of Massachusetts General Hospital, through Combined Jewish Philanthropies, according to Partners spokesman Rich Copp.

ROBERT KRAFT

Owner, New England Patriots

A major donor to the Democratic Party and the governor’s campaigns, Kraft encouraged Patrick to go on the trade mission. Among his many business ventures, Kraft is trying to popularize American football in Israel, through the Kraft Family Israel Football League.

In 2009, he was at the center of controversy when the Patrick administration tried to spend $9 million in federal stimulus money to build a footbridge between two parking lots on Kraft-owned land near Gillette Stadium. Patrick withdrew the project after federal highway officials and Vice President Joe Biden’s office said the project would create a bad image for the stimulus program.

MICHAEL A. GREELEY

General partner, Flybridge Capital Partners

Greeley is a leader in the venture capital industry, within the state and nationally. He also helped state economic development officials on a branding campaign, “Massachusetts: It’s All Here,’’ aimed at luring companies in the biotech and defense industry.

Greeley said he is not looking at any specific business. But Israel is among a small group of international locales with a thriving venture capital industry. “A lot of companies that are based in Israel aspire to relocate in the States as they scale up because the real market is here,’’ he said. When that happens, American venture capital firms often profit as investors or recruiters.

TOM HEISER

President, RSA, division of EMC Corp.

Heiser’s division of EMC provides antifraud and online authentication software and services. The company, which had revenues of more than $700 million in 2010, says it works with more than 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies and employs 400 people in Israel.

Heiser will lead a tour of the company’s offices in Herzliya, outside Tel Aviv. He said he is going on the mission in part because he wants to help the company expand in Israel. EMC also does business with Massachusetts, and is currently seeking additional state contracts. A donor to both parties, Heiser gave $2,500 to the state GOP in 2006, when Patrick was running for his first term as governor.

RAANAN MILLER

Strategy/business development, Draper Labs

Raised partly in a suburb of Tel Aviv, Miller says he helped the governor’s office connect with companies in Israel and wants to “provide that bridge’’ between the two countries. He works on energy and biotechnology ventures at Draper, a Cambridge-based lab that conducts aerospace and defense research and gets more than 90 percent of its contracts from the US government.

Miller helped Draper develop an air filter that can test for chemical warfare agents. He used the technology to start Sionex Corp., Draper’s first commercial spinoff. He was invited on the mission after helping the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, an independent state agency, decide which companies should get seed money. He says Draper is not looking to expand into Israel.

TAMARA JOSEPH

Senior VP/general counsel, Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Joseph oversees government affairs for Cubist, a Lexington drug company that received a $1.7 million tax subsidy from the Patrick administration in 2009 in exchange for creating 58 jobs in 2010. The company, however, had created fewer than 41 jobs as of December, and could be forced to return the money. Cubist, which is sending two representatives on the trip, now says it is “very close’’ to creating the promised jobs.

Joseph, who studied in Israel in the 1980s, said she hopes to “play a role as an ambassador’’ for the pharmaceutical industry and develop relationships with Israeli executives. Cubist’s main antibiotic, Cubicin, is sold in Israel. The company employs 370 people in Massachusetts and earned $636 million last year.