Covid-19 is a global wake up call and a preview to an international environmental crisis

Israeli and international investors discuss opportunities posed by environmental challenges at Calcalist and ESIL's "Sustainability and Innovation Week"

Tomer Hadar 17:4008.09.20
What is the role of innovation when it comes to investments in the Covid-19 era? Is it an opportunity of a lifetime or a huge risk? These were some of the topics discussed in an investors panel as part of Calcalist and ESIL Technologies’ Sustainability and Innovation Week. Taking part in the panel were Oz Katz, deputy general manager of industries at Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry; Cecile Blilious, head of impact and sustainability at Pitango Venture Capital; Yoel Cheshin, chairman and founder of 2B Angels; and Dr. Astorre Modena, General Partner at Terra Venture Partners. The panel was moderated by Calcalist reporter Meir Orbach.


Asked whether amid the Covid-19 crisis there is any point to be talking about sustainability, Blilious said “now is the best time. The virus allows us to look at the world with new eyes, and to pause to think about what we’re leaving the future generations.”


Modena called the current period a “global wake up call.” “The world sees what happened during the outbreak and now knows what may happen in the future when it comes to climate change. People saw how the air got clean and nature came back after just a few months with fewer cars on the road. I think it will lead to more interest in the environment and sustainability,” he said.


“It is clear to all that industry and the economy all depend on sustaining our environment. It is a societal challenge and the world is rushing ahead. Israel must lead the way,” said Katz. “Our goal is to assimilate innovation in the industry, find growth engines in the field of environmental protection, exports, and the food industry. In each of these aspects, we are pushing the industry to international leadership.”


Blilious said Pitango had several companies that deal with environmental issues in its portfolio, but that measuring impact was vital. When companies come to us, they are tested on normal business parameters and we help them convert from completely simple commercial companies to companies with social and environmental value—this is not a waiver of profitability, on the contrary, these are the best companies,” she said.


“I think the opportunities are much greater, the world is in crisis and there has been a shift in people’s consciousness around the globe focused on developing technologies to solve the crisis. This is a paradise for entrepreneurs here in Israel. We are open to investing and this is a fascinating opportunity for investors and entrepreneurs,” said Cheshin.