Israel has always been a hotspot in regards both to its hot climate and its technological advancements. Israel is overwhelmingly unique to its surrounding neighbours as it has its native desert environment that coexists with its modernized tech ecosystem. Converging the two is what separates Israel quite heavily from the rest of the world, but it is what also presents Israel with severe hardships. The extreme desert temperatures that consume most of the country have presented an array of implications in the following areas: water conservation, agricultural consistency, and economic efficiency. If it was not for the innovative tech atmosphere that exists here in Israel, desertification would take center stage. After all, as Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion said, “If the state does not liquidate the desert, the desert may liquidate the state.” Israel’s profound technology and innovative excellence have paved revolutionary paths in creating methods to combat desertification issues. Here are some startups that do just that.
With growing populations and diminishing freshwater supplies, wasted water, and its associated wasted electricity and CO2 production need better control methods. Around the world, nearly 17 billion gallons of treated drinkable water (64 billion litres) are lost every day to leaks. This is especially crucial in desert climates as the water they have is already scarce. Water system managers are having a harder time visualizing leaks that are system-wide. Israeli startup ASTERRA has created a satellite-based synthetic aperture radar technology that detects subterranean soil moisture with patented algorithms to provide managers with a proactive method of remediating water leakage. Their product also helps specifically with leak detection and analysis as it provides visual and quantitative access to the actual soil moisture as it accumulates below the ground. The satellite’s radar has an “eye-print” of over 1,350 sq miles (3,500 sq km) that quickly analyzes the most expansive systems. With full detection methods as often as every two weeks, ASTERRA device is an efficient solution for water conservation.
ASTERRA was founded in 2013 by Lauren Guy (CTO). The leadership team is composed of Elly Perets (CEO), Yuval Lorig (VP R&D), James Perry (Executive Vice President), Eddy Segal (VP Sales & BD), and Pazit Malchi-Bodesky (VP Marketing). Located in Rosh Ha’ayin, Israel, ASTERRA has been saving the world over 9 200 million gallons of drinkable water and 21 800 MWh of energy annually with its solution. No capital spending is needed for its product and ground crews can do much more efficient repair work. So far, the company has received $6 million in an undisclosed round of funding from Beringea, a transatlantic venture capital firm.
The process of evaporating water consumes a lot of heat energy, called latent heat. Israeli startup ThermoTerra has created new technology to capture this energy in order to harvest the relatively humid air in the desert nights for evaporative cooling, using IoT sensors and AI algorithms. By absorbing large amounts of water and a patent-pending control system, ThermoTerra innovation methods have worked to utilize humidity variations to modify the material and then force air through it to release the necessary improvements for climate stabilization. ThermoTerra’s SmartWall product, which is an add-on for residential and commercial buildings; it creates personalized air conditioning with balanced temperatures, humidity, and air quality, as it “charges” the detected material to make humidity patterns either drier in the winter and damper in the summer. SmartWall’s technology is perfectly equipped for desert conditions as there are high temperatures and humidity differences during the day and throughout the year. ThermoTerra representatives have been working in Sde Boker in the Negev Desert over the last couple of months with specialists to install their technology within the Desert market.
Ever since its creation in 2015, ThermoTerra has worked to develop a construction element to be integrated into buildings that reduces or even eliminates the need for heating, cooling, or humidity balancing. The company was founded by Eviatar Tron (former CEO) and Dror Zchori (CEO) and has a small employee base. ThermoTerra has received $160 000 in grant funding from the Israeli Ministry of Energy and is affiliated with Quantum Hub, an Israeli entrepreneurship program. The company is located in Amirim, Israel with geographical markets in Bahrain, Israel, Japan, and the United Arab Emirates.
Six major issues in modern agricultural practices are pesticide usage, plant yield enhancement method, food growth in water-deprived locations, fertilization efficiency levels, plastic waste reduction, and profitability improvements for farmers. The ever-increasing global demand for food and water has left low-income farmers and larger agricultural-oriented companies with lacking resources and solutions. Israeli startup ROOTS is looking to solve these issues as they tailor their innovative agricultural technology specifically to these key issues and to those in agricultural positions. ROOTS has developed three plan climate management devices via root zone temperature optimization technology. Their Irrigation by Condensation system irrigates crops by condensing humidity in the air which then is pushed by gravitational force to the soil where it irrigates and cools the plants that are organized through pipes in either a field or greenhouse. This is the only system that can facilitate food production and positively impact an entire food chain completely off water and electricity grids. The next is a Root Zone Temperature Optimization (RZTO) system that cools and heats roots depending on the given input provided from the temperature sensor placed within the root zone area. The system can maintain an optimum range of temperature usually between 16-28 ℃ regardless of the annual fluctuating air temperatures. RZTO provides the most accurate range of root zone temperatures and is seemingly beneficial for off-season planting as it can successfully plant flowers in hot climate areas earlier due to substrate heating. The last system, Mini Roots, mimics RZTO functionality as it provides a DIY opportunity to experience ROOTs technology.
ROOTS is located in Beit HaLevi, Israel and West Perth, WA, Australia with geographical markets in China, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Spain, and the United States. It was founded in 2009 by Boaz Wachtel (Chairman) and Dr. Sharon Devir (Executive). ROOTS has received $608K in grant funding from the Israel Innovation Authority, as well as an additional $1 million Series A funding round. They went public in 2017. ROOTS is focused on developing and commercializing cutting-edge technologies to address the critical problems faced by agriculture today.
Israeli startup Tal-Ya provides the world with an innovative earth-friendly AgriTech solution that enhances naturally occurring processes in plants by mitigating water shortage, extreme weather, chemical usage, and soil degradation issues. More so than ever, foundational systems for plant sustainability and vitality in non-ideal microclimates are growing increasingly weaker, which is why Tal-Ya has created its Mitra system. Mitra covers the plant’s root system to direct water and fertilization methods directly to the root while simultaneously protecting the Earth around the roots from weeds and extreme temperatures. The enhancement system increases crop yield, makes optimal use of rainwater and dew, sustains plant life of 10 years, and is fully recyclable. Already serving farms worldwide, Tal-Ya’s Mitra system creates ideal microclimates for the roots of young trees and plants.
Tal-Ya was founded in 2005 by Avi Tamir (CTO) who is accompanied by Oded Distel (CEO) and Gal Eytam (CFO), to push Tal-Ya’s optimization solution towards the center stage. With renowned customers such as The Red Cross, Tata Trusts, and The Jewish National Fund, Tal-Ya suits the needs of markets/farmers worldwide (Chile, China, Georgia, India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and the United States). The company is located in Gan Yoshiya, Israel.
As weather levels continue to intensify, so do their implications. Desert areas in Israel such as the Negev and Arava Valley, have been reconstructed specifically with reservoir installations by water conservation companies to trap floodwaters and enable desert sustainability. Their main purpose is to increase the balance of water available for use as well as to establish other sources of water for Israel’s lacking water system. Reservoirs, such as the Betarim Flood Water Reservoir and the Tze’elim, have been paramount to flooding conflict as well as surface temperature reduction and evaporation remedies. Israeli startup NeoTop has been testing their new TopUp Ball System ™ at the Tze’elim reservoir with plans to take their effective results to California. NeoTop’s TopUp Ball System ™ is a reflective mechanism that reverts the sun's energy and generates its heat within a ball-shaped cover to decrease evaporation levels from reservoirs as it maintains the water with a modular cover. Rather than having the sun heat the water directly where it would present fast-paced evaporation patterns, NeoTop’s system stores the water from within, establishing a cooling method that works in harmony with the environment. The inner evaporation creates a pressure difference which creates a difference in temperature causing the water levels to be cooled. The TopUp Ball System ™ models a pattern of circular flow as the bottom half of the structure fills with water and periodically empties as new water continually enters and exits from the side openings.
NeoTop was co-founded in 2011 by Danny Handler and Zeev Birger. With evaporation levels dramatically increasing atmospheric temperatures, Handler and Birger have established a platform that not only decreases these levels but preserves the water quality as well. The company’s CEO Noam Levy mentions that NeoTop technology is best-suited to combat California’s drought crisis as its water-saving solutions have done miracles here in Israel and could do the same across seas in the U.S. NeoTop is based in Ramat Hasharon, Israel and has geographical markets in Australia, India, United States. NeoTop technology applies to several other fields such as fish farming, water facilities, mining, agriculture, energy, and desalination.