Israel as a Global Climate Tech Player

Several indices were examined to evaluate Israel’s role as a global climate tech player.

A recent global climate tech investment report identified and ranked the top 10 global climate tech hubs according to geographics and the total fundings obtained by the companies headquartered there.14 Silicon Valley, Boston, and Berlin led the rankings, while Israel did not feature. A different index, the Global Cleantech Innovation Index, draws upon 15 indicators to explore where entrepreneurial clean technology companies are most likely to emerge. The latest version, dated 2017, ranked Israel 6th among the 40 countries indexed.15

Another global presence indicator is the participation level in the European Horizon Green Deal Program. Data compiled from 20 calls for proposals as part of the Horizon 2020 Green Deal indicates that Israel is below average both in the level of overall participation as well as in success rates. A comparison between the success rate for Israeli Green Deal submissions with that for all Horizon programs, indicates that Israel is far from realizing its potential in Europe’s largest climate funding program (Figure 13). Further analysis is still necessary to assess industry vs academia participation and levels of success.

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To evaluate Israel’s global dominance in specific climate challenges and in the absence of any such published analysis, we made use of Artificial Intelligence. We collaborated with SparkBeyond©, an Israeli startup which developed an AI-powered problem-solving platform, to assess Israel’s global dominance in various climate tech domains. Technological dominance was determined by measuring scientific knowledge (the number of scientific publications) and the industrial implementation of such knowledge (the amount of relevant news on business, funding, R&D milestones etc.) emerging from each country. After selecting the technologies to be assessed, an AI analysis was conducted of more than 50,000 data sources and a comparison was made between Israel and the G20 countries.

The sum of the outputs for each assessed technology, for any given country, was defined as “raw” results and indicated each country’s level of leadership in a specific technology. Each country was ranked on a scale between 16 (best leading country) and 1 (doing most poorly). These raw results provide an “absolute ranking” that take into account each country’s successes while disregarding the country’s size or level of investment in R&D. It is hardly surprising therefore that large, prosperous countries like the US and China feature at the top of the list for most technologies. To account for this, we normalized the raw results by factoring in the national GDP spending on R&D. These results provide a “normalized ranking”.

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The analysis was conducted both for specific technologies and for groups of technologies clustered into broader categories.

  • R&D Spending - Normalizing by ‘GDP spending on R&D’ results in the relative increase in Israel’s ranking with respect to the other nations analyzed. This may point to the beneficial results of Israel’s high level of investment in R&D for its climate-tech industry.
  • Among the 11 technology areas assessed in absolute terms, Israel ranked 1 time in the top 5, and in normalized terms, ranked 6 times in the top 5 (Solar Power cluster, Alternative Proteins, Mobility cluster, Climate & Weather Imaging cluster, Water Tech cluster, Precision Agriculture cluster) (Figure 14).
  • Among the 58 technologies assessed, in absolute terms, Israel ranked 4 times in the top 5 (Cultured Meat, Water Desalination, Irrigation Systems, Soil Amendments), and in normalized terms, ranked 20 times in the top 5.
  • Precision Agriculture - Israel ranked 5th in absolute terms and 1st when normalized, due to its relative strengths in soil mapping, irrigation systems, and satellites for precision agriculture and satellites technologies.
  • Israel ranked 4th in Climate & Weather Imaging in normalized terms due to its relative strength in aerial drones and satellite technologies. This technological knowledge and expertise which originates both from the civilian and defense industries can be further exploited for climate solutions.
  • Israel has been a global trailblazer in Water-Tech for decades, its strength largely resulting from the contribution of desalination technology (ranked 2nd in absolute and 1st when normalized). Desalination is an excellent example of potential synergies and trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation technologies. Desalination increases the supply of fresh water in a world affected by global warming and water scarcity. Conversely – it is an energy intensive process and creates concentrated brines. Continued innovation, based on the vast knowledge and experience of the sector, in materials, processes, energy sources and mineral recovery, can further the transition of desalination to a globally accessible eco-efficient water supply and transform Israel from a cleantech leader in this field to a climate leader in this field.
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