Over 50 Israeli companies have joined the Autodesk Cleantech Partner program,
gaining access to the company’s 3D engineering software valued at $150,000 for a
nominal fee of $50, the company announced Wednesday.
The program is
intended to provide cash-strapped innovators at cleantech start-ups access to
some of the most powerful software in the field, which will give them a shot at
competing with big companies.
“Cleantech innovators should have
incredibly powerful design tools for solving the world’s most difficult
problems,” says Autodesk CEO Carl Bass.
The software suite allows
businesses to model and test their designs digitally, compare materials to bring
down costs, and even assess the environmental impact of building and using the
Israeli green engineering company Azouri, for example, designed
Tel Aviv’s only gold-rated LEED-certified building with Autodesk’s building
The software helped it model, among other things, how
big to make the windows to allow in natural sunlight, which reduces electricity
costs. That, cofounder Ronen Azouri says, led to a different problem: increased
heat. Using the software, Azouri tested different window materials before
settling on a “smart” glass that allows 65 percent of the light in without
heating up, keeping the building well-insulated and lowering cooling
Azouri also calculated the best place to put solar panels to boost
electricity intake, and how to recycle rainwater for use in the
“If you build a building and then see that something is wrong,
the cost of fixing it is several times larger than investing in planning it
correctly in the first place,” says Ran Kimhi, Autodesk’s industry solutions
Another Israeli cleantech start-up, Muv-e, managed to turn its
plans for a portable e-scooter into a prototype in a matter of months using the
“We’re a company at the start,” says Benny Shimon, Muv-e’s vice
president of business. “Everything you see is self-funded. But what will
differentiate us from others companies? Time. In four months, we managed to get
it from the idea stage to what you see.”
Amir Zaid, the company’s CEO,
credits the software with helping them design the scooter, which folds up like a
suitcase on wheels and can be easily rolled around. “The Autodesk tools helped
us immensely,” he says.
The prototype they settled on uses wide, sturdy
plastic, rests on three wheels for easy balance and will cost about a third of
the price of a Segway, Zaid says. He hopes the rechargeable electric vehicle
will hit the streets of Tel Aviv by the end of 2013.
responsible for the outcomes. That’s the work of the engineers,” says Kimhi. “We
simply provide the tools.”
By the looks of it, the cleantech world may
need a boost. According to Eitan Glazer of Pricewaterhouse- Coopers, a
consulting firm, cleantech investment fell 30% from 2009 to 2012, despite an
overall growth trend in investment over the past decade. The decline was even
sharper than that of venture capital in general, he says, indicating that
investors are leery of the industry’s path forward.
Autodesk doesn’t seem
worried, however. “Israel is considered a powerhouse of innovation in
cleantech,” says Kimhi, noting that Israel was ranked second in cleantech
start-up innovation by the Cleantech Group research firm.
Ilan Israel, an
executive of Omnitech, which partners with Autodesk to provide free software
training to the cleantech start-ups in the program, agrees, noting that the
software can help spur innovation.
“This is our modest contribution to
the cleantech world,” he says, “and