Alongside the incredible push for technological innovation over the past decade, accelerated even more throughout the pandemic, still lingers another global illness that demands immediate attention. Climate change has urged tech companies to apply their genius to create a more sustainable world. The Israeli tech ecosystem particularly has been key to the green revolution, and the minds behind it are a big reason to keep our heads up and our eyes open.
After celebrating the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah), we wanted to learn from the innovators themselves how they see green charge going forward.
When talking with Dr. Salih Manasra, he points out that in the fight for sustainability we must “accelerate the transition to renewable energy self-reliance in the commercial and industrial sectors as well as to accelerate electrification of commercial and transport vehicles.” Just a couple points Manasra sees as crucial.
He is the founder and CEO of YAFA Technologies, a Highroad portfolio company that develops Micro Compressed-Air Linear Electric Generator that generates electricity combined with cooling from low-pressure compressed air for deployment in long-duration CAES (Compressed-Air Energy Storage)-integrated microgrids and e-mobility as well as in harvesting heat into flexible power. Dr. Manasra tells Geektime that he feels privileged to be able to contribute to creating better living and a greener world.
He notes that industry improvements are vastly needed “to efficiently harness the readily available sources of clean energy without causing any further depletion of natural resources. This manifests itself by using air for example as a natural storage medium which is readily available anywhere anytime as well as by harvesting the tremendous amount of heat and biowaste such as industrial heat, process heat, waste heat and heat from biomasses, that are going otherwise wasted, into energy. The latter can be even utilized for the production of green hydrogen. This could be stimulated by the allocation of the necessary funds both public and private to exploit such great energy sources rather than investing funds in technologies that cause the depletion of rare earth minerals.” Dr. Manasra strongly believes that to achieve this, tech players must focus more on “Collaboration not competition”.
Carbs and charge
Batteries have become a hot trend in the clean energy market, especially for the rising EV industry. Israeli startup Addionics has developed a patent-protected scalable 3D electrodes fabrication method that significantly improves rechargeable battery performance: capacity, safety, charging time, lifetime, and cost of the batteries.
CEO and co-founder Dr. Mosiel Biton sees a lot of opportunities to utilize energy efficient technology to help combat the environmental crisis. “Energy independence is a sensitive issue and forms part of the national discourse in almost every country. Governments understand this and try to bring innovation in the field from the top down - this is a clear derivative of the climate crisis that brings governments to understand the problem and look for solutions that come in government-funded projects that are a significant advantage for companies like us in penetrating the market.”
Moving away from the electric vehicle side of the clean industry effort, there is one area that is probably most affected by the change in climate, impacting every single person on this earth - agriculture. From helping reduce our dependence on livestock to conserving the water we so desperately need, Israeli companies are taking a more sustainable approach to bring synergy between human, machine, and nature. Racheli Vizman is the co-founder and CEO at SavorEat, an Israeli FoodTech company that combines a smart robot, an innovative plant-based formula, and advanced cooking technology methods to create protein rich alternatives to meat.
She notes that in her field the “consumer mind has become a powerful tool”. According to Vizman, increased demand from consumers has directly influenced the reduction of prices for alt-meat products. She adds that “the rising trend in the meat substitutes market is also indicative of the growing interest from the public. Seeing the synergy between technological potential and the impact of the consumer on the market makes you smile and feel satisfied that we are doing the right thing.”
Vizman highlights the need for patience and support when looking to take an innovative idea to the next level and create a better world. “There is a specific belief within the Israeli ecosystem about scale-up and commercial production. However, it takes time to get there and in the field of food-tech it is necessary to reach the end consumer faster - when it comes to food it is necessary to check its taste and there is no good way to do this from quick access to the end customer. After all, there are solutions - such as acceleration programs for startups, if they were to create such an incubator for food-tech entrepreneurs where they could gain quick access to an end consumer that would also allow commercial production in small quantities, it would allow the food-tech field in Israel to flourish even more.”
So, after we’ve heard from the clean energy folk and after tasting an alternative future to the foods we eat, the spotlight turns to possibly the star of this blue and green planet; water is the key to our survival, and crucial for our entire agricultural setup. SoliDrip is an Israeli startup developing autonomous smart irrigation systems, which adjust irrigation based on each crop’s specific needs.
According to CEO Gad Marton, part of the solution to climate change stems from creating greener areas not only in the countryside but focused on one of humanity’s biggest polluters -- the congested cities. “The global pandemic and the weather crisis have shown the importance of green (vegetative) urban spaces that help people during traffic restrictions and gathering limitations. As well as mitigating air pollution reduces temperature and increases storm water retention to reduce flooding. He highlights the need for urban agriculture as a base to build more self sustainable cities. “Expanding green lung zones in urban areas with more intensive green roofs, green walls and balconies, and urban agriculture… People should stop compromising on their right to live and work in a green environment. It will increase the demand for green buildings and green indoor workspaces.”