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Main | Energy | 2/11/2013

Excerpts from 2013 Tel-Aviv Cleantech Exhibition: Aiming at Keeping Israel in the Top Tier of the Cleantech Arena

The opening event of the exhibition was themed as an investors conference held on January 29, 2013 and hosted some of the most professional experts in the industry who spoke about key issues in the cleantech field.

Shalom Simhon, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor opened the event stating that the Israeli government had invested around NIS 700 million in almost 480 Cleantech-related R&D projects in the past five years. Mainly focusing on water, energy efficiency and gas substitutes the Minister pointed out a clear trend in the Chief Scientists' funding allocation. In addition, Simhon told the crowd that future plans include government funding for the reduction of greenhouse gas emission and a plan to develop technologies for the usage of alternative fuels in all Israeli public transportation vehicles. The latter, the Minister added, is waiting for private investors and will also be supported by the government in sums reaching to NIS 400 million until 2020. 

Eyal Rosner, Director of the Alternative Fuels Administration in the Prime Minister's Office and the head of the program, noted that government agencies will endorse his administration's endeavors along the way; both practical and economic solutions are already in use and the goal is to reduce the consumption of petroleum in pubic transportation by 30% until 2020 and 60% by 2025. Mr. Rosner also added that Israel's citizens will soon be subjected to a new electric bus pilot. 

Asher Grinbaum, of ICL presented the company's new innovation incubator for the integration of cleantech in their water, fertilizers and food industry, while Eli Kagan of the Standards Institution of Israel called on the Israeli government to build and implement sustainability tools. 

As for the future, Greg Neichin of The Cleantech Group pointed out four main trends: the enhancement of traditional energy technologies, the integration of IT for the improvement of current resources, the globalization of the cleantech business and the investments of mega-corporations and the BRIC countries in the field. These models, applied correctly, will keep Israel at the top of the world's cleantech business. 

In another discussion, Ofir Doron of Migdal Underwriting spoke about the financial side of cleantech projects. Doron, the firm's Head of Energy Section said that generally, the government is active in funding research while the development is backed by venture capitalists. Manufacturing and growth is usually sponsored by private equity. He mentioned that asset financing is a growing field in Israel, mainly by institutional investors. 

In a related issue, Dr. Dan Kaufman of ICL Innovation talked about the importance of a strategic partner to any endeavor to help the entrepreneur survive what is known as "the valley of death" in the field; understanding the rules of the game, the needs of the industry and the complexity of presenting new technologies to investors. Aiding new developers, both technologically and financially, while assisting on the marketing side as well will solve most of these problems, said Kaufman. 

Ohad Zuckerman of UniVerve offered some active solutions from the entrepreneur's point of view, stating the government's important role. Zuckerman called for more government support in security, grants, long-term loans, and in legislation and regulation that will encourage government bodies to consume only clean energy.

This year's 17th cleantech conference was largely successful as investors, entrepreneurs and buyers from 53 countries and representatives from the Palestinian Authority visited Israel and discussed deals which will yield approximately NIS 1 billion, according to the exhibition organizers. A rise of 50% in foreign involvement in the expo sum up a fruitful and pioneering conference which preserves Israel's position in the top tier of the cleantech arena.

Source: Israel Ministry of Finance

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