Israel has long been a major technological innovator, the country responsible for such major gadgets like the USB stick as well as a number of today’s foremost online brands. However, the country has expanded its entrepreneurial instincts into the cleantech field, which is somewhat natural for a market with limited access to water, plenty of sun and lots of tech talent. In fact, Israel is the country with the most potential to produce and commercialise entrepreneurial cleantech start-up companies, according to the 2014 Global Cleantech Innovation Index.
Some of the world’s major economies could certainly pick up some smart cleantech solutions from the Israelis, while corporate finance boutiques have another reason to pay attention to this productive market.
Israel topped the 2014 index due to its strong performance on the measure of start-up companies per capita. The country generates the culture, education and drive necessary to breed innovation, in addition to the survival instincts that have been honed by years of physical and psychological threat. The Israelis pride themselves in having being able to create a comparative oasis in a desert and this drive continues to power innovation today.
The annual report, compiled by the Cleantech Group and World Wildlife Foundation, compiled data on 40 countries reflecting their level of innovation, government support and infrastructure. The report also looked at existing cleantech companies in fields such as alternative or renewable energy, water technology and other environmental technology. Israel was followed by Finland, the USA, Sweden and Denmark.
However, while Israel recorded the strongest overall score, other countries were better in the individual categories. Israel’s strongest position was in its Emerging Cleantech Innovation, which included data on early-stage investment, high-impact companies and environmental patents. The vast majority of countries only managed a very low score in this indicator, suggesting Israel’s ability to foster young start-ups is one of its major plus points.
Not one country excelled in all indicators. Israel, for example, dropped to eighth place globally in the evidence of commercialized innovation, testifying to the fact that cleantech is an area where even global leaders have a long way to go before claiming true superiority.
One of the stand-out indicators for Israel is that in the past three years the country had 19 cleantech companies voted onto the shortlist of the Global Cleantech 100 index. The report also suggests that financing is one of the biggest areas of weakness across all countries. Like in biotechnology, cleantech companies take longer than others to get from early development to marketing their products and producing revenues. Much of state support is directed at the very early stages, leaving the companies to disappear in the later stages. Companies and interesting ideas receive lots of support at the grassroots level but few decision makers implement them on an industrial level.
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