In a conversation with Eli Tidhar, water technologies expert and head of Monitor Deloitte in Israel, we spoke about the water struggle Israel has been experiencing for years– that is, Israel’s water shortages. The country's natural water sources are insufficient for even half of its annual consumption. He then went on to explain to me that the way to solve such gaps, in Israel and around the world, is with technology, regulation changes regarding water price, and encouragement of consumption saving.
Tidhar explained that technology plays a crucial role in the required response addressing the two main problems surrounding water: water renewal rates and water loss. First, the world's water sources are not being renewed at the same rate of consumption and said consumption keeps on increasing. The second problem is the amount of water being lost from its origin point to the point of consumption, so much so that about a third of usable water is lost worldwide. The good news is that over the years, technological solutions have been developed in a variety of areas. By integrating them into the water networks, these technologies can provide a solution to these burning issues. Many of the solutions have been successfully tried in Israel’s local market which has allowed for them to gradually enter global markets as well. What’s more, is that many of these technologies have been invented in Israel, as this article will later disclose.
And so, here lies an additional arena in which Israel has the potential to be the light unto the nations, to lead the way with the introduction of digital capabilities and intelligence into the water network.
For years, the water infrastructure 'was jealous' of other infrastructure sectors like gas and electricity that had undergone more accelerated entry processes of 'smart' technologies such as AI, Big data analytics, cyber and other digital solutions aimed at streamlining use and protecting the infrastructure. Now, it’s water’s turn!
Unfortunately, Tidhar warned me that there are some challenges within this field; innovative Israeli companies in the water field are having trouble translating their technological potential and accumulated knowledge into real-world projects and opportunities. There are various barriers like the fact that the industry is very conservative, which leads to long sales cycles and significant time to market for technology development companies. Still, as technology improves and awareness of the need to introduce innovative solutions to water infrastructure increases, Israel has a real opportunity to operate in the water technologies global arena.
Similarly, the field of marine technologies has advanced greatly in recent years and occupies a respectable place among leading economies like the United States, Canada, China, South America, and Europe, through a variety of industries, be it aquaculture, shipping and trade, transportation, sustainability and climate, energy and more. According to the forecasts, the ocean economy might grow significantly by 2030, reaching over $3 trillion and employing almost 40 million people around the world, as 80% of world trade goes out by sea– the shipping market itself is expected to grow to over $188 billion by 2028. For the ocean to be able to continue contributing to the world’s economy, the innovation industry must consider all the problems and challenges within the oceanic realm and start implementing technological solutions.
Since over 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered by water, it’s a commodity that affects all aspects of our lives and our future– from food, transportation, commerce, climate, energy, and more. Here are just a few of the Israeli companies that are either working with water or for water!
WINT solves some of today’s biggest issues in facilities, construction sites and property insurance. They prevent water leak damage – a major source of pain in buildings that account for annual claim payouts that exceed $13 billion. About 13% of US electricity is used for water delivery and treatment and 25% of the water entering a building, construction site or industrial facility goes to waste. WINT, therefore, helps save water and energy! They are also helping the environment because with every cube of water saved, 10-15 kg of carbon emissions is saved from being released! In parallel, WINT lets facility managers enhance their property’s sustainability stance by preventing water waste, reducing consumption, and eliminating the significant carbon emissions resulting from this waste. Their customers report reduced water consumption of 25%-40% and a rapid ROI.
WINT operates worldwide with key markets in the US, UK, and Israel and a growing presence in Europe and APAC. The company has hundreds of enterprise customers including PepsiCo, the Empire State Building, Microsoft, Genentech, Multiplex, Brasfield, and Gorrie. They have partnered with big names such as CBRE, JLL, and Electra and have raised a total of $25 million to date.
Orca AI is an AI-based navigation safety platform that increases situational awareness of fleets and helps their crews navigate safely in high-risk conditions like congested waterways and low visibility. Orca AI’s solution utilizes computer vision sensors and thermal cameras to provide real-time alerts on potentially hazardous events. The system provides fleet managers on the coast with greater visibility on safety events and couples it with actionable insights. It also helps reduce their probability in the future. Since the maritime industry is facing a myriad of challenges, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, ORCA AI is coming just at the right time. Nearly 4,000 maritime accidents occur annually and are caused by low situational awareness in congested areas, human error, and a fundamental lack of insight and insufficient data on potential incidents. We all remember the Suez Canal debacle of 2021, so it just goes to show how important advancing this industry is.
ORCA AI was founded in 2018 by naval technology experts, Yarden Gross (CEO) and Dor Raviv (CTO). They have raised about $15.6 million to date, from known investors like OVC Partners, Mizmaa Ventures, and Playfair Capital. Some of their customers include big maritime brands such as MSC, Maran, Enesel, Wartsila and NYK. ORCA AI is part of the Israeli Ocean-Tech community, founded by Arieli Capital, which works to promote various technological ocean solutions.
BioFishency offers a cost-effective, all-in-one water treatment system for land-based aquaculture, which costs a fraction of the cost of high-end water treatment systems. Not to mention, the system also requires minimal infrastructure and expertise. It enhances water conditions, enabling more feed for increasing fish production with minimal investment. The proprietary substrate used in the system can be sold as a stand-alone product for a range of water treatment applications. Their technology allows for a 95% reduction in water use, 2-5-folds increase in yields (in extensive ponds), and 2 times the amount of ammonia removal from the water, thus improving water quality; essentially, they are decreasing water use, water pollutants, use of antibiotics, and energy use. Fish farmers can now grow more fish, with less water but the same infrastructure– lowering your footprint, while maintaining low maintenance.
Founded in 2013, BioFishency has raised $2.4 million to date, with investors from all over the world like Aqua-Spark (the Netherlands), Xaprivate (China) and The Trendlines Group (Israel).
Kando is an Israeli tech company offering a wastewater intelligence platform. The technology is based on systems deployed in municipal sewage systems that make use of sophisticated analysis, to present relevant insights and warnings to authorities for the daily operations of utilities and wastewater treatment plants. Data is collected and analyzed via artificial intelligence, with clear insights showcased in a dashboard in real-time. Kando’s solution gives users the ability to detect events in the network, track the source and make an impact on the wastewater network. Their goal is to utilize big data and AI in analyzing wastewater to improve the quality of the environment and the health of the public. It can even detect the spread of COVID-19 in municipal sewer systems!
Kando was founded in 2012, Ari Goldfarb (CEO), and Zohar Scheinin (CRO). They have raised $18 million to date.
DockTech is on a mission to build a digital infrastructure for the future of ports, to enable faster, safer, and autonomous shipping. DockTech develops Digital Twins for Waterways in ports and rivers to increase cargo efficiency and navigation safety and reduce dredging costs for authorities. By collecting and aggregating dynamic data from vessels' sensor data, the company can show real-time, operational insights about the waterways. They leverage AI to create insight predictions and a variation forecast to understand how future conditions could affect operations.
DockTech is still in its infancy and raising seed funds. It was founded in 2018 by Uri Yoselevich, an Ex-Naval officer & computer engineer. DockTech is also part of the Israeli Ocean-Tech community.
Saturas is developing a miniature stem-water potential (SWP) sensor that can be part of an automatic irrigation system. Embedded in the trunks of trees, vines, and plants, the stem-water potential sensor provides accurate information for optimizing irrigation to reduce water consumption and increase fruit production and quality. Saturas’ SWP sensing system automatically collects accurate data using a minimal number of sensors per hectare and transmits the data to a central control system connected to irrigation controllers for automated irrigation. The technology tailor’s irrigation to the real-time water needs of the crop, resulting in more efficient water use while increasing yields, fruit size, and sugar content. Embedding the sensor in the trunk eliminates the common problem of damage to sensors that are placed in the soil or on the tree or vine.
Founded in 2013, Saturas has raised $7 million to date, from investors like Mondelez, International Farming, The Trendlines Group, and Gefen Capital, to name a few. Since 80% of farmers irrigate their trees without any scientifically based information which causes water waste, affects the quality and quantity of the fruit, and reduces profitability, Saturas technology can prove hugely beneficial, with abilities to save 10-20% on water consumption while increasing crop yields and quality!
GenCell - Converting water into hydrogen
GenCell, a leading provider of innovative ammonia & hydrogen fuel cell energy solutions, converts water into hydrogen, which is then used to extract energy. GenCell Energy develops green power solutions based on reliable, zero-emission alkaline fuel cells and green ammonia-to-energy technology which deliver uninterrupted power. Their product can help the world transition to clean energy and say no to diesel. GenCell delivers resilient, robust, and weather-resistant backup power for utilities, telecom and other mission-critical applications which have been deployed in 22 countries. Their hydrogen-on-demand solution provides primary power for off-grid and poor-grid sites, as well as for rural electrification.
GenCell was founded in 2011 and has raised $26 million. Many of their employees have worked for space and submarine projects in the past, so they have brought their trade secrets and know-how to GenCell.