WATEC ben-eliezer 248.
(photo credit: Ilan Levy)
The bi-annual WATEC exhibition showcasing Israeli water technologies going on this week at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds has drawn delegations from over 100 countries, Kenes Exhibitions Associate Director Moshe Lilos told The Jerusalem Post on the floor of the 60,000 square meter exhibition Wednesday.
WATEC Israel 2009, the 5th International Water Technologies, Renewable Energy & Envrionment Control Exhibition, and the 2nd International Conference, is the showpiece of the government's efforts to market Israeli water technology around the world. It is sponsored by the Industry, Trade, and Labor, Foreign and Environmental Protection Ministries as well as the Israel Export Institute.
"Embassies around the world have been mobilized for two years to bring high level delegations to WATEC," Lilos said. "WATEC and Israel's water technology industry in general are unprecedented - it's the first time a country has decided to promote an entire industry," he added.
Year round, NEWTech (Novel Efficient Water Technologies), a division of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry, markets Israeli water technologies. They bring delegations to Israel and take company representatives abroad. Every two years, the government pulls out all the stops to create WATEC: 60,000 square meters of exhibits, 250 exhibitors including over 90 percent of Israel's water technology companies, 3,000 visitors from abroad and 120 speakers at the conference, half of them from abroad. There is also an entire pavilion devoted to Israeli start-ups - including those focusing on energy and not just water, as well as a special room for networking, which booked 700 20-minute sit-downs ahead of time.
WATEC is big business for Israeli water companies. And the convention itself is on a world-class standard, according to Lilos.
"The two big international water exhibitions are Aquatech in Holland and WEFTEC in the US. Representatives of both of them were here and were interested in working together in the future on joint events," he said proudly.
That expertise is becoming more and more in demand as the world realizes that fresh water supplies are not endless even in the seemingly most blessed of nations, Lilos pointed out.
This year, the organizers even invited delegations from around the world to come and present their water problems to Israeli water professionals to get on-the-spot solutions. Countries from South America, African countries, the US and others all presented their water issues, he said.
Over and above the direct business opportunities on offer, WATEC has become a place for international water professionals to mix and mingle. They come to Israel to find their compatriots from other countries and talk business. Countries which don't have diplomatic relations with Israel, like Pakistan, also send delegations by procuring visas through countries which do, according to Lilos.
"Despite the tensions, a Turkish delegation came this year as usual. They don't come here so much for the Israelis, but to meet with other countries in the region. The Italians have a booth so they can promote business with other international delegations here," Lilos said.
With all the abundant Israeli water technology, why can't Israel solve its own water problems?
"It's a matter of government regulations, I think. I don't think it's something the private water companies can just go in and solve," Lilos said.
And while the Israeli water companies could contribute significantly towards creative solutions, without the regulations and without the incentives they're more likely to look to export their wares, he contended.
"Comparatively speaking, Israel is a very small market. To really be successful they need to sell all over the world," Lilos said.
And they do. Even before WATEC, all over the water and agricultural world, Israeli companies have been deeply involved and very well-known, Lilos said.