The Real Trickle Down Effect

Water Reclamation in Israel's Hefer Valley

Water Reclamation in Israel's Hefer Valley

Israel has devoted more resources to the development of waste water treatment and reclamation than any other country in the world.  Seventy percent of its waste water is recycled, three times the figure of the number two country (Spain). 

Israel is the Silicon Valley of water:  the birthplace of drip irrigation, and still the world leader.  There are hundreds of Israeli water-related clean technology companies.  It’s estimated that Israel’s water industry, which was valued at $1.4 billion in 2008, could reach $2.5 billion by 2011.

Start-ups in this industry are supported by government investment programs, such as Kinrot (an incubator with eleven investments to date) and the Office of the Chief Scientist (several million dollars in early stage R&D grants), as well as by large players from private industry, such as IDE Technologies (a global leader in water desalination) and Mekorot (Israel’s innovative, technology-oriented, water carrier).

Ever since the punitive destruction of the Land by the Romans almost two thousand years ago, Israel has had extremely limited natural resources. Israelis have therefore become experts at getting the most out of what they have.  The foundation of Israel’s green industry was laid with the beginning of the kibbutzim at the start of the 20th century. At that time, the land was mostly semi-arid, with a scarcity of water, and marked by mosquito infested swamps.  So principles of sustainability and self-sufficiency were adopted from the outset to “make the desert bloom”.

Today Israel gets more from its soil, water, air, and sunlight than do other nations.  Israeli drip irrigation has literally turned deserts into farmlands.  And Israel was the only country on the face of the earth that finished the twentieth century with more trees than the century began with!

Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to population in the world. Within its small borders is an enormous concentration of PhDs and engineers.

Over the last two decades, billions of Venture Capital dollars have poured into Israeli high tech companies in the fields of digital printing, semiconductors, power electronics, optics, and software.  Israeli companies are market leaders in these fields, and many of the world’s largest multinationals have set up shop in Israel.  At least forty worldwide venture funds manage more than $10 billion in Israel.  In addition, Israel has a vibrant local Venture Capitalist community.

There aren’t many places sunnier than Israel.  The uncommonly great solar radiation Israel receives drives solar thermal companies.  Israeli excellence in advanced optics and systems has spawned a number of very interesting utility-scale solar companies.

Israel attracts hundreds of millions of dollars in green investment every year. In proportion to its population, it now has the largest number of start-up companies of any country in the world except the U.S., with 3,500 companies, mostly in hi-tech.

Israel can lead the way in renewable energy. With its unique geographical position and know how, Israel is a natural leader in the field.  Clean technology could well become Israel’s biggest export market.

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