9 Israeli Startups for a Better Planet and Beyond

When I received the email inviting me to join a media tour and visit a long list of startups starting at 7:30 am, and returning late at night, I thought it wasn’t a good idea to go.

Plus, it was scheduled for the day after the OurCrowd Global Investors Summit. mentioned in last week’s post. The final summit stats were impressive with 9,000 registrations, 1,700 investors, 950 entrepreneurs, 631 venture capital, and 305 press. It was huge, and also a long day.

However, I am so happy I took advantage of the Jerusalem Press Club Tour.

Our first stop was in Beit Shemesh to visit the Bioplasmer Demonstration Farm and greenhouse.

Bioplasmar has developed a method for producing biodegradable planting pots and planting trays using compost instead of plastic, so the plants can be planted directly into the ground with no plastic waste.  

Here we were shown that the root system benefits from not being damaged by having to be replanted in the ground.

Helios’ goals are to launch into space. With no oxygen on the moon, they are exploring more efficient ways to get to and live on the moon and beyond.

Touring Helios we saw labs developing a new way of producing iron and steel that uses less energy. It does not burn coal, as an inherent part of the process, therefore, vastly reducing CO2 emissions. 

The next stop, was Moshav Mazor, to visit GroundworkBio.

This company innovatively produces highly effective mycorrhizal inoculants. The field of research is important since the restoration of the soil’s mycorrhizal balance is crucial to plants’ ability to absorb the precious nutrients that farmers work so hard to provide for plant growth.

Dan Grotsky welcomed us and gave a presentation, but we could not see the farm’s top-secret processes.

However, we received samples and were served a very nice lunch.

Full disclosure: my daughter worked at GroundworkBio for five years. I met Dan at a meetup in Jerusalem years ago and knew of their growth in overseas markets. But having never gotten to the Moshav, seeing it was the impetus to join the tour.

And then after lunch, we were off to Holon.

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Criaterra has developed a replacement for concrete as a building material in wall tiles and building blocks using a low-temperature process combining sand, clay, and organic binders.

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Produced now in the Holon factory, Criaterra doesn’t involve the high heat used in producing cement that emits carbon. 

We were able to watch the process of the tiles being made.

I remembered Chairperson Daphna Wiener who spoke to our group. She had been in Jerusalem as a mentor to startups.

And then we were back on the bus and off to Tel Aviv!

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Ok, air conditioners are a necessity in Tel Aviv, but this is a wall of the building that houses the state-of-the-art innovation and technology we were to see.

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It proves the adage of not being able to tell a book by its cover. Add to that old saying – an Israeli tech center, as this is the center of this building complex.

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GreenOnyx founder and CEO Tspi Shoham showed us a compact indoor farm for growing a fresh green vegetable called Khai Nam (Scientific name: Wolffia arrhiza), a healthy green vegetable grown in an efficient method using little space and water. I thought they look like green mini-couscous.

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A buffet table with various samples of ways to serve the greens looked lovely, but the name ‘duckweeds’ still needs improvement.

Then four new Israeli startups were invited to present to us in the GreenOnyx conference room.

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QD SOL Quantum Hydrogen for a Greener World. QD–SOL operates at the cutting edge of green hydrogen technology.

CSO Prof. Lilac Amirav explained her impressive energy panels and her record-breaking nanoparticle photocatalysts.

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Luminescent Heat Engine CEO Doron Tamir spoke of the efficient heat engine technology that can be used for waste heat and for modular concentrated solar power. The origins are from the Technion– Israel Institute of Technology and sorry, no way can I explain it simply here.

Autonomous Pivot uses a ground-penetrating radar device mounted on a center pivot irrigation sprinkler to measure groundwater, as explained by Yuval Aviel who was formerly a senior technical leader at Mobileye.

It’s AI technology, optimizing water use, saving 30% of the water, besides fertilizing and alerting for pest control.

And one more, not only an out-of-the-box idea but far out of Israel!

Rewind is a company that envisions reducing Carbon in the air by sinking organic waste in the sea. Plants capture CO2 – in the Black Sea!

Rewind collects plants and stores them on the bottom of the Black Sea. The Black Sea is unique because it is anoxic and toxic below 200m, making it a long-term storage site for organic carbon. Since countries around the Black Sea are extremely fertile, Rewind plans to scale and remove 1% of global emissions per year by 2030.

This view of Tel Aviv at sunset was disappointing. We were too far from the sea to get a great photograph of the clouds covering the sky as the sun set over the water.

But the GreenOnyx “farm” in the building was truly impressive!

Could it be possible one day, the green fields along the Israeli highways would become obsolete as a slide rule or a manual typewriter?

Thank you to the tour’s sponsor, the Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund, for this amazing opportunity to meet with international journalists. Coming the day after thousands of people in Jerusalem and seeing what was happening at OurCrowd, it was wonderful for international journalists to get a firsthand glimpse into Israeli innovation and tech of the future.

The Jerusalem Press Club and OurCrowd were involved in planning this impressive tour which was organized and kept to schedule by Dr. Gideon Stein, Impact investor and Entrepreneur, and former Chief  Research Scientist at Mobileye. Also on the tour was his wife and professional tour guide Marla Stein who added valuable insights along the way.

In his address to open the OurCrowd Global Investors Summit, Israeli President Isaac Herzog stated climate change was a top priority.

Hope you enjoyed this peek into Climate Change Technology, Innovations & Solutions tour, which highlighted how Israeli technology will benefit the climate in the years ahead, but also the planet in many ways as well.

When are you coming to see what is really happening?

Behind the Scene Making of US Shabbat Shalom Video

US Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides finished speaking with the Conference of Presidents American Leadership Mission, which includes top leaders from the Conference’s 53-member organizations and its National Leadership Council in Jerusalem, Israel at the Inbal Hotel.

The delegation, led by Conference of Presidents Chair Dianne Lob, and CEO William Daroff, joined Nides in making a Shabbat Shalom video.

שבת שלום

See 3 Jerusalem Events You Should Know About – OurCrowd & More

I am leaving politics and protests for others to discuss and debate.

Check out what else was happening this past week on the Jerusalem streets.

Let’s start on Monday at the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens.

When the sun finally comes out after heavy rain, the sky is bright blue with white puffy clouds. The scene over the pond in the Botanical Gardens was serene with ducks resting under the trees in the distance.

Members of our group for lunch, lecture, and tour had trouble finding a place to park their cars. The public lot was filled early because of protesters parking and walking toward the Knesset.

I wondered how many of those flag-carrying protesters paid attention to Arab students who were in the Gardens and on their way out.

Highlights of the tour included the tropical conservatory which opened in 1986, with banana and other trees soaring above.

Gorgeous orchids in many colors and sizes are growing on the trees.

Our guide explained the impressive growth and varieties.

And the 2000-year-old columbarium, where the Romans housed pigeons, was discovered and exposed as the Botanical Gardens was developed.

The aloe flowers this time of year are always a favorite sight.

The cherry trees near the site of the future Japanese Pagoda were in bloom. Hard to believe they arrived as seeds in a packet from Japan eight years ago. Our guide said that the plantings in the gardens all arrived as seeds.

As our tour was ending and we went to leave, the traffic chaos caused by the protesters leaving was compounded by the traffic lights not working, which added to the streets blocked by protesters on the light rail tracks and buses not getting through on their usual routes.

On Wednesday, after three years, the OurCrowd Global Investors Summit was back at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

Booths with startups lined the walls and halls of the convention center.

Under the theme of “Saving the Planet” the over 8,000-person mega event was back bigger and better than before the pandemic.

President Isaac Herzog opened the morning plenary.

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It was impossible to see and do everything with so much happening at once.

However, it was good to see Amit Goffer “standing” upright. I remember the first time he was at OurCrowd and I saw him rise to get food during the morning break. For those not familiar, he is the chief technology officer and president of UPnRIDE Robotics Ltd.

This year brought together over 8,000 people from over 81 countries, but the most noticeable new ones were from UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco.

The line to meet with representatives from Abu Dhabi was long at times.

On the main stage, there were speakers, startups, media stars, and vegan lamb chops. Yes, as they were grilled on stage and it smelled like lamb cooking. The bone is made of wood for those concerned.

There were AI, VR, and science fiction-sounding technologies.

But the longest line in the Agriculture technology hall was for fake meat burgers – again as I remembered from last time. One person said they were better this year. Another said they tasted like meat and yet another was not impressed.

You could even find a toilet with flashing lights when the crowd thinned enough in the entry-level halls.

The steps up to the main auditorium for OurCrowd Investor Summit – Artificial intelligence – human tasks without humans. But the humans I met were thrilled to be back live at the conference in Jerusalem.

The next day a tour took off to Tel Aviv for more tech treasures.

The innovation tour will have to wait for next time, too much for now.

But I will share one photo of a new farm-Tel Aviv style – miles and years away from those rolling green fields we passed along the road from Jerusalem.

On Friday morning, the Michael Levin Lone Soldier Base opened in a larger location near the Machane Yehuda Market.

The mezuzah was posted on the front door.

And the new Israel Police Spokesperson Dean Elsdunne spoke movingly about his service as a lone soldier in the Border Patrol. The artwork of fallen lone soldier Alex Singer z”l was displayed on the wall behind him. In the distance, a photo memorial of other fallen lone soldiers is exhibited on the wall near the entrance.

Friday, Michael Levin z”l would have had a 39th birthday.

The renovated space has a kitchen facility and washing machines,

a study and interview room,

and storage space with necessities for lone soldiers to purchase at discount.

Plus an outside area, where these two lone bnot sherut, young women who come from overseas to do volunteer service posed. The Base serves both lone soldiers and lone bnot sherut and MORE.

Walking home the irises were bursting with color in the midday sun.

The sod was down as Gan Sacher, Sacher Park in preparation for the Jerusalem Marathon next month.

And more of the almonds trees are in bloom.

Much more happening on the Jerusalem streets, and another busy week ahead. Hope you will come soon and see us as we enter the month of Adar, a perfect time of year for a Jerusalem photo walk.