Israeli innovation is up for the sustainability challenge
"Israel is putting a concerted effort into becoming the go-to hub for climate change-battling innovation, aiming to make up in its ingenuity what it lacks in size," writes Yael Weisz Zilberman of Start-Up Nation Central
2021 is destined to go down as the year that the world finally woke up to the realities of climate change and the environmental havoc it’s causing. COP26, the international forum held in Glasgow last November, seemed to be the solidifying moment when international organizations, governments, corporations, and individuals decided to earnestly tackle the single greatest challenge of our generation, made all the greater due to their preoccupation with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Transitioning the global economy to meet, or even approach, net-zero carbon emission goals requires virtually every market sector to make radical changes to the way it operates – from the way we generate and consume electricity, manufacture and dispose of products, grow food, and get around, to the way we build, heat, and cool our houses.
As people everywhere grapple for solutions, there is no doubt that technology is destined to be central to addressing the shared global challenge. But there won’t be a single, “silver bullet” solution. Making a difference will require the adoption and scale of hundreds of solutions, each targeting a specific problem.
Sustainability technologies, or ClimateTech, are poised to be the next big trend when it comes to made-in-Israel innovation. In 2021, ClimateTech companies made up 10% of the $26 billion in capital raised by the Israeli tech ecosystem and there is every reason to think that the sector will only rise in significance and volume. The country is putting a concerted effort into becoming the go-to hub for climate change-battling innovation, aiming to make up in its ingenuity what it lacks in size.
Multinational corporations sourcing ClimateTech in Israel
But it’s not only investors who have identified the potential in the Israeli ecosystem. Large multinational corporations are also taking notice and collaborating with local companies that can provide them with the solutions they need to meet their sustainability goals in a wide range of ClimateTech areas: from alternative proteins and weather monitoring to circular economy, electric transportation, and more.
For example, on the clean mobility and transportation front, Hitachi is partnering with Israel’s REE Automotive to advance EV manufacturing at scale through REE’s flat and modular chassis for electric vehicles. Also, an Israeli company, Driivz, was selected by e-Mobility Power (eMP), the leading provider of EV charging in Japan, to migrate and unify its entire network of more than 27,000 chargers onto the Driivz end-to-end EV charging and smart energy management software platform. Driivz was acquired in December 2021 by US-based Gilbarco Veeder Root for $200 million. Similarly, just this month, Mercedes-Benz signed a deal with UBQ Materials, to use the Israeli company’s thermoplastic components that were converted from landfill-destined waste, in all of its VISION EQXX all-electric models.
With the fashion industry accounting for about 8-10% of global carbon emissions, and nearly 20% of wastewater, global online fashion retailers ASOS and Fashion-Enter Ltd. have been partnering with Israeli company Kornit Digital since May 2021 to explore the adoption of Kornit’s direct-to-fabric, digital-textile printing solutions. Kornit’s technology allows for zero water waste, less energy consumption, and less waste generated from the over-production of fashion apparel items.
With meat manufacturing considered a major contributor to global warming, alternative proteins are set to play a big role in reducing carbon footprints. An MOU signed in September between Israel’s Aleph Farms, who recently closed a $105 million B round, for growing steaks directly from animal cells and two of Asia's largest food companies — global protein leader Thai Union and global food and lifestyle company CJ CheilJedang — aims to shift consumption patterns toward a more sustainable and resilient future.
Multinational corporations are taking notice of Israeli innovation also when it comes to sourcing technologies to support new adaptation strategies to climate change. At the end of last year, France-based L’Oreal, one of the world’s biggest cosmetics companies, signed a multi-year research and tech partnership with Israel-based BreezoMeter, a provider of environmental information about air quality. Their partnership aims to uncover new insights around how the environment affects skin aging and ultimately provide new services to consumers that can accompany their skin needs all over the world with personalized routines and lifestyle advice.
Weather-related insights created by Israeli company Tomorrow.io, are being integrated into giant platforms such as Uber to dramatically improve real-time forecasting and its impact on drivers'’ experience.
Invigorating the ClimateTech ecosystem
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. According to Start-Up Nation Finder, there are over 650 Israeli technology companies that are already developing solutions for addressing climate challenges, including sustainable food production, afforestation, recycling, energy efficiency, smart mobility, and many more.
But where does one start to look for answers? We believe that when seeking out innovative solutions it is best to turn to those who have a proven track record of generating disruptive technologies.
ClimateTech has become a strategic focus for us at Start-Up Nation Central as we enter 2022 and we call on the international business community to make use of Israel’s capacity for innovation by bringing us your challenges. Together, we can find the solutions you’re looking for and nudge the world in the right direction.
Yael Weisz Zilberman leads Start-Up Nation Central's work in developing the Israeli ClimateTech and sustainability sector and assisting global players to connect with Israeli innovation.