Startup nations | Often overlooked, cleantech innovation is getting bigger in Israel

At the beginning of the decade, the Israeli government set a goal of 10 percent renewable energy by 2020 — a rather modest target compared to other developed nations.

But when it comes to cleantech innovation, Israel is a global leader. In fact, in the wake of the recent surge of interest in renewable energy and related technology, the commercial market for Israeli cleantech is hitting new heights.

The cleantech industry in Israel often gets overlooked due to the fanfare around other successful tech sectors such as cybersecurity, water technology, autonomous driving and consumer apps such as Waze. Nevertheless, Israeli cleantech has had its fair share of impressive exits and public offerings of late.

In 2015, SolarEdge, which invented an intelligent power inverter solution that revolutionized the way power is harvested and managed, went public with a valuation of more than $125 million. Later that year, Texas-based Direct Energy acquired Panoramic Power, an Israeli energy management startup, for $60 million.

The Global Cleantech Innovation Index, an annual report published by the Cleantech Group, an association that represents organizations totaling more than $3 trillion in assets, has consistently ranked Israel in the top five most-innovative nations since its first edition in 2012.

The Israel Economic Mission to the West Coast, together with the Israel Export Institute, are once again partnering with the Cleantech Group to bring a delegation of 11 Israeli companies to the annual Cleantech Forum in San Francisco next month. The delegation will exhibit at the conference and participate in a networking event outside the forum. The delegation also visit local stakeholders in California.

Here are snapshots of a few of the companies in the delegation:

Harbo Technologies revolutionizes the containment and treatment of marine oil spills, minimizing their damage. The system starts operating within minutes of spill detection and deploys 2,000 yards of boom in less than 30 minutes.

NanoSpun develops the key building block for enhanced bio processes and controlled-release solutions. The company’s microbial encapsulation technology for contaminant removal is applied in the development of smart fibrous mats and surfaces.

MercuRemoval has developed a proprietary process for efficient mercury removal from gas streams. The process is based on a unique mixture of ionic liquid and an oxidative agent. Mercury abatement is attained by oxidizing the mercury, which then bounds as a stable complex in the absorption process.

Sol-Chip is an Internet of Things systems and energy harvesting solutions provider. Sol Chip has developed a maintenance-free solution based on its compact Everlasting Solar Battery, which can supply energy for the lifetime of IoT devices.

Enstorage develops low-cost regenerative fuel cell energy storage systems for power grid load leveling, and solar- and wind-power generation plants. The company’s energy storage system is based on its proprietary technology, which is smaller, more efficient and lower cost than other such systems in the market.

Other participants include TIGI, SolAround, Rainbowtech, SolarWat, Capital Nature and Electroad, winner of the EnergyVest Competition at the Eilat-Eilot Renewable and Clean Energy Conference in Israel.


Startup of the month

SensoLeak, an Israeli startup, began with a focus on the oil and gas industry and recently shifted toward water utilities. The company developed a system for predicting and diagnosing evolving failures in mechanical parts and uses a statistical algorithm from sensors inside water pipes to detect anomalies in water flow. This allows for early leak detection even when the slightest change in water pressure occurs.


Exit of the month

Two leading Israeli cybersecurity startups, FireLayers and FortyCloud, have been working closely with Israel’s West Coast Economic Mission for a few years now, including participating in our Cyber Security Showcase in San Francisco. Both recently were acquired by U.S. companies. Sunnyvale-based Proofpoint acquired FireLayers for $55 million, and five days later, Kansas-based FireMon acquired FortyCloud for an undisclosed amount. Both Israeli companies provide Cloud security solutions that help enterprises protect their data as it migrates between Cloud platforms.

Gili Ovadia is the S.F.-based Israeli consul for economic affairs to the West Coast.