Climate Change, COP28 and the Ingredients for Accelerated Innovation in the Start-Up Nation
July 12, 2023
Israeli Leaders in the Forefront of Supporting Climate/Tech Innovation Gather to Share Insights
Innovation is typically uneven, but what a difference a year makes. While some countries have moved steadily to advance climate technologies and others have stalled, the Israeli environmental innovation community is pressing forward at hyper-speed.
Last year, the Israeli Innovation Authority shepherded 10 climate tech startups to COP27 in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. In 2022, those companies represented the country’s growing climate tech sector, from alternative protein production to clean energy systems to waste mitigation solutions.
Now, fast forward one year to COP28 in Dubai. The Israeli Innovation Authority has announced that its contingent will blossom 10-fold – 100 companies and 1,000 people – including 30 start-ups will join government ministers, scientists, investors, businesspeople, and environmental groups uniting to drive the “Climate of Innovation.”
Answering the “BHAG” of Climate Commitment
At the November/December COP28 gathering – expected to attract 80,000 attendees – signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement will join a global reflection exercise to benchmark how all are progressing toward their climate change commitments. Those “big hairy audacious net zero goals” include reducing global warming emissions to keep average temperature increases below 2°C (3.6°F) and ideally 1.5°C (2.7°F), compared with pre-industrial 1880s levels.
But the communal soul-searching will most likely arrive swiftly at the conclusion we all dread hearing – we are not on track to hit our targets. Global temperature is projected to warm by about 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7° degrees Fahrenheit) by 2050 and 2-4 degrees Celsius (3.6-7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.
How do we turn the tide? We must empower innovators to move their climate/tech ideas from bench to test to market as quickly as possible.
What is holding up the pace of progress?
When Talent, Capital and Policy Align, Change is Possible
Three things must align: talent, financial capital, and government policies. This is why Israel is climbing the leaderboard of game-changers. The Israeli government has given the green light for ministries to collaborate and launch start-up incubators and innovation hubs focused on clean technologies and climate change solutions. Encouraging policies support entrepreneurs and provide resources for developing and ramping up climate-friendly technologies. The right environment has been cultivated. Then it comes down to talent and capital.
Israel has one of the world’s highest numbers of engineers per capita; the Start-Up Nation is estimated to have around 135 engineers per 10,000 people. But now, the country’s educational system prepares those interested in the sciences and engineering to supercharge their abilities.
The scale of talent is there and getting smarter.
The BioConvergence of Science and Engineering
“Our M.Sc. bio-convergence program aims to train leaders of multidisciplinary projects. We believe synthetic biology, bio-convergence, and an economic growth engine can help the environment and many other aspects affecting human health,” reflects Yuval Dorfan, Ph.D., MBA, Senior lecturer, HIT: Holon Institute of Technology in Israel and Research Fellow at Zvi Meitar Institute, Reichman University. “The program will cover all aspects required for developing new products: bio-engineering tools, sustainability, bioethics, cyber-biosecurity, and regulation.”
Incubators, accelerators, and private equity groups in Israel focused on training and investment for the defense, technology and health sectors have been welcome and plentiful. But addressing the pressing challenges of the planet demands their full engagement to advance the country’s climate and environmental innovation sector. That’s happening.
Israel’s private equity community increasingly supports the environment and climate tech sector. Private equity firms in Israel recognize the importance of addressing the social impact of climate change globally. The country’s history in overcoming environmental challenges in water conservation, energy scarcity and recycling has made it a real-world testing ground for ideas that work. Its emphasis on protecting nature creates a balance between business and biology.
The Power of Collaboration
Venture capital firms have moved rapidly to begin funding startups and growth-stage companies that focus on renewable energy, clean technologies, sustainable agriculture, water management, waste management, and other sectors related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. They provide capital, expertise, and strategic guidance to help these companies develop and scale their technologies.
COP28 is expected to be Israel’s breakout moment in ecohealth and climate tech, and Israeli private equity and venture capital teams are ramping up efforts in preparation. Aside from the three essentials for success – talent, capital, and favorable policies – Israel has a global competitive advantage: its society is highly collaborative.
Sharing knowledge is part of the country’s entrepreneurial culture. On Thursday, July 20th, leading investors, academics, and government officials will share insights with entrepreneurs in a Meet-Up organized by Levi Shapiro, curator and founder of mHealth Israel, titled: “2024 EcoHealth & ClimateTech Investment Outlook.”
Many of the country’s leading minds will update attendees on the investment and regulatory landscape, key trends and success factors in the climate tech sector, and the role of government and the private sector in championing climate innovation.
Dr. Yael Parag Cohen, incoming Dean, Reichman University; Inbar Blum, Deputy Head, Growth Division, Israel Innovation Authority; Anat Tsour, Founding CEO, Capital Nature; Inbar Blum, and Bracha Halaf Ph.D., Managing Partner, ClimateTech VC, will be presenting and joining in the conversation at the Herzog law firm, 6 Yitzhak Sadeh, 1F, Tel Aviv.
The Planet Doesn’t Need People – People Need the Planet
Talent, capital, and policy are essential to address one of the world’s most pressing needs – a failing environment. From the nation that brought us Waze and AI-powered Mobileye, Israel, which has already created desert-friendly irrigation and drinking water produced from thin air, will likely deliver breakthrough climate/tech soon.