Wednesday, November 26, 2008

US & Israel to launch energy cooperation agreement at Eilat Energy Conference

The Eilat-Eilot International Renewable Energy Conference announced that the US-Israel Energy Cooperation Act, passed last year by the U.S. Congress, is expected to launch at the upcoming Eilat-Eilot energy conference, to be held from February 17-19, 2009, in Eilat, Israel.

The cooperation act will fund eligible joint ventures between U.S. and Israeli businesses, as well as establish the International Energy Advisory Board. Hezi Kugler, Director General of the Ministry of National Infrastructures will be leading the delegation of National Infrastructure representatives who will be in attendance at the conference.

“The Ministry of National Infrastructures views with high import the development of the Eilat-Eilot Region as a center of renewable energy solutions, and we not only fully support them in this pursuit, but we ourselves are very involved in advancing their initiatives,” Kugler said. “The conference is an important step towards developing the alternative energy capabilities of this region, and will certainly push us forward in becoming an alternative energy world leader.”

Timna Renewable Energy Park

The conference will also feature the unveiling of plans for the Timna Renewable Energy Park, the centerpiece of the Eilat-Eilot region’s efforts to turn Southern Israel into the “Silicon Valley” of renewable energy. It will feature technologies from companies around the world, with planned projects to include a combined wind/solar "farm"; a solar thermal power plant; a solarized turbine pilot plant and the production of biogas from municipal waste.

"The Arava is home to intense sun and a pioneering spirit, which are the necessary ingredients for creating a renewable energy revolution in the State of Israel", said Yosef I. Abramowitz, president of the Arava Power Company, a leading solar developer.

Leading Solar Power Companies

Participating Israeli solar companies, including the Arava Power Company (APC), Solar Power Israel and Sunday Solar Energy, intend on using the conference to launch their next phases of growth. Recently, APC announced an agreement to utilize kibbutz land in the Arava and the Negev for solar fields generating at least 500 MW, and eventually one gigawatt (GW) or more, while energy integrator Sunday Solar Energy announced a NIS 500 million ($133 million USD) investment in photovoltaic solar arrays for kibbutzim across Israel. The investment is expected to be made across the country during the next two years.

The conference will also feature international firms such as the Google-backed eSolar, the German company Concentrix and SunPower, one of the world’s largest solar power technologies companies.

Conference sponsors include Brightsource Energy, Chromagen, Granite HaCarmel and Erdinast, Ben Nathan & Co. Advocates.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Green Economy Conference in Tel Aviv

The annual Green Economy Conference, organized by Ernst & Young, The Marker, and Life and Environment (Chaim ve' Sviva), an umbrella organization incorporating the work of over 80 environmental organizations in Israel, is scheduled to take place in Tel Aviv on November 20th.
The organizers have put together an impressive agenda, which includes presentations from international cleantech leaders like Jeff Renaud (Director, Ecomagination, GE); Neil Auerbach (Managing Partner, Hudson Clean Energy Partners); Michel Goguen (General Partner, Sequoia Capital); Roger Saillant (Former CEO, Plug Power); Justin Adams (Head of Venturing, BP Alternative Energy); Shai Weiss (Managing Partner, Virgin Green Fund); and Nick Parker (Co-Founder and Chairman, Cleantech Group).

Israeli cleantech industry leaders participating in the conference include Glen Schwaber (General Partner, Israel Cleantech Ventures); Astorre Modena (General Partner, Terra Venture Partners); Booky Oren (President & CEO, Miya, Arison Group); Hillel Milo (Managing Partner, AquAgro Fund); and Tamar Naor (Founder, TN Ventures).

If you are in Israel this week, this event is a "can't miss" event.

I recently had a chance to speak with Itay Zetelny, Cleantech Leader for Ernst & Young Israel, about the Green Economy Conference and his take on Israel's cleantech industry.

JS: What are the origins of the Ernst & Young's Cleantech Conference?

: The first CleanTech Conference took place in 2007 as an independent track within the WATEC Convention. The success of the event together with the enthusiastic feedback led Ernst & Young to organize its own event.

JS: What are the goals of the conference? Who should attend?

IZ: The object is to offer Israeli Cleantech entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to present their ventures to leading global investors and create a platform for in-depth discussions regarding possible partnerships and/or investment opportunities. In addition, we are aiming to raise the awareness of the business community as well as of decision makers to the growing importance and value of sustainability considerations in business today, vis-à-vis the climate crisis.The conference will be focusing on the Cleantech sector performance in global financial markets, climate change as a business opportunity, technology trends, project financing, collaboration and multinational companies’ perspective as well as rules and regulations. It is intended for R&D companies, project companies, VCs, investment banks, international technology providers and researchers.

JS: What is Ernst & Young's role in Israel's cleantech industry? What services do you and the Cleantech Advisory Group provide to investors and entrepreneurs?

IZ: Ernst & Young ia a pioneer in offering services to the growing Cleantech industry in Israel. Three years ago the firm has undertaken the task of developing a unique and comprehensive platform for water and energy companies. Today our Cleantech Advisory Group is the largest of its kind in Israel and offers ongoing assistance to entrepreneurs and companies which includes: identifying local and global VCs, management of technological cooperation, project financing, audit services and tax consulting services.

JS: What are the most important (emerging) trends in Israel's cleantech industry?

IZ: Over the first half of 2008 the amount invested in Cleantech companies reached $140 M as opposed to $122M in 2007. These sums do not include two major investments: “Better Place Project” - $200 M in 2007 and “Brightsource” - $115 M in 2008 which involved venture capital funds, PEs and banks. The substantial increase in investment is a result of the VCs' penetration into the market and the growing participation of traditional funds in Cleantech investments. As expected, since the end of 2006, most Israeli VCs have been investing in Cleantech, a trend which is expected to grow in the future.

Additional reasons for increased investments include:

1) Continuous search for technologies and Cleantech companies by Arison, Ofer Brothers, Dankner, Recanati and others

2) Foreign funds which are establishing local operations to ensure continuous exposure to the local industry including: Virgin, Sequoia and Greylock

3) International companies which are establishing local business development activities such as GE and Siemens

4) Israeli private equities which have begun expressing interest in the field and are currently searching for ways to penetrate it

5) Although angels are investing low sums of money in each company the total amount invested is significant

In conclusion, the local Cleantech industry has attracted much attention over the past year. And despite the sub-prime crisis which is affecting all markets, the Cleantech industry will continue to appeal to investors.

Monday, November 10, 2008

CICC Cleantech Tour underway in Silicon Valley

The California Israel Chamber of Commerce (CICC) inaugural Cleantech Tour is now underway. 12 Israeli cleantech companies will meet with industry leaders, investment firms and utility giants from November 10-13 in Northern California.

The tour is part of the CICC's Cleantech Initiative, and the CICC has lined up and impressive series of events and meetings for the partipating companies: 3G Solar, BotanoCap, Canarious, Cequesta Water, Coriolis Wind, CellEra, CES - Computerized Electricity Systems, Emefcy - Bio Energy Systems, HCL Clean Tech, Metrolight, SOVNA, and Tigo Energy

Details on the tour and registration for Tuesday's public event at Stanford are available on the CICC web site.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Launching the Boston Israel Cleantech Alliance

I moved from Tel Aviv to Boston last month to begin working as an associate in the Business Law Department of Goodwin Procter LLP, a law firm with a substantial Clean Tech Practice.

Boston, like Israel, is emerging as a leading hub for cleantech research, development, and entrepreneurship. The Boston Israel Cleantech Alliance will be working to connect cleantech investors, entrepreneurs, academic researchers and government officials in both places, and the group is helping organize a number of upcoming events.

Israel Cleantech Investor Conference

On October 28, 16 Israeli cleantech venture capital funds and startups traveled to New York and Boston to meet with private equity, venture capital, and angel investors.

Participating startups included Aquapure Technologies Ltd., Aquatal Ltd., Cequesta Water Ltd., CheckLight Ltd., Coriolis Wind Ltd., CQM Technologies Ltd., En Gibton Ltd., Engineuity Ltd., EPC Wastewater Solution Ltd., Leviathan Energy Ltd., and RealiteQ Ltd.

The Israeli cleantech funds were: AquAgro Fund LP and its parent Gaon Agro Industries Ltd., BDB Technologies & Hi-Tech Investments Ltd., Israel Cleantech Ventures, MIYA, Precede Technologies Ltd., and Whitewater Technology Group.

In Boston, each participant made a 10-minute presentation in the morning and had an opportunity to meet one-on-one with investors like North Bridge Venture Partners and Atlas Venture in the afternoon. A formal reception in the evening included a presentation by Booky Oren, CEO of MIYA and Chairman of WATEC 2009, and a keynote address by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

You can read press coverage of the events in the Jerusalem Post and Globes and view photos online.

Environmental Symposia Featuring Experts from Ben Gurion University

On November 12, three professors from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev will be in Boston to give presentations on their respective cleantech-related fields of expertise. Prof. David Faiman, who is also CTO of ZenithSolar, will speak about solar energy; Prof. Isaac Meir will discuss "green" architecture; and Prof. Zeev Wiesman speak about biofuels.

You can find more information about the lunchtime and evening symposiums and RSVP at the Boston Israel Cleantech Alliance meetup page.

Biofuels: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - A Presentation by Dr. Isaac Berzin

Dr. Isaac Berzin is the founder of Cambridge-based GreenFuel Technologies -- a venture-backed developer of algae-based biofuels -- and the founding director of the Institute for Alternative Energy Policy at the IDC in Herzliya, Israel. Earlier this year, Dr. Berzin was named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in politics, business, and science.

Back in June, I had the honor of hosting Dr. Berzin at a CleanIsrael meetup event in Ramat Hasharon.

On November 20th, Dr. Berzin will speak to an audience of venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and graduate students at Harvard Business School. The event is sponsored by Goodwin Procter LLP and Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP), in collaboration with the HBS Business & Environment Club, Harvard Kennedy School's Israel Caucus, MIT-Israel Program, and the New England Israel Business Council. You can find out more and RSVP at the event's meetup page.

Shai Agassi, CEO of Better Place

Shai Agassi of Better Place is scheduled to visit Boston on December 3rd and 4th. Stay tuned for more details.