Israel has built its name as a leader in renewable energy research and technology for many decades but at the same time raising the necessary capital for business development of start-ups in the sector has been lagging.
"There is a lot of interest by venture capitalists and other investors in the cleantech sector in Israel but very little investment has been undertaken until now," said Ofir Doron, director of Renewable Energy Advisory Services at Ernst & Young at the first Renewable Energy conference organized by the Porter School of Environmental Studies at Tel Aviv University in collaboration with the Israel Section of the International Solar Energy Society (ISES). "Apart from Ormat and Solel Energy there are not many companies in the renewable energy sector with more than $10 million in sales."
Doron, one of the initiators of the newly established Forum for Renewable Energy in Israel, added that compared with the US, where cleantech investment made up 10 percent of total venture capital investment, Israel was clearly behind.
"We see the potential we experienced in Israel's hi-tech sector with continuing investments on a daily basis in Israeli technology companies spilling over into venture capitalists' growing enthusiasm for a broad range of clean technology," said Doron. "As such, we want to help link all the relevant sources together from entrepreneurs, the government to VCs."
As a country highly dependent on oil imports, which have become increasingly expensive and with abundant untapped solar energy, Israel has a clear incentive to further develop in this direction, which has gradually started to raise the interest of financial funding sources and VCs into the field.
Leading the panel "Investment into Green Energy," Ofir Ben-Dov of Assif Strategies Ltd. remarked that unlike in the hi-tech industry there was a par in the renewable energy sector between the developers and entrepreneurs seeking funding and VCs who were seeking to invest.
Speaking on the panel, Erez Ofer of US venture capital firm Greylock Partners, which last year launched Greylock Israel, a $150m. fund for investments here, said the firm had identified three new areas of investment - home security, water and the environment.
"Until now, we have invested in homeland security and we are working on an investment into cleantech energy," Ofer told The Jerusalem Post.