Joint Israeli-US fund invests $4.8 million in clean energy

Local start-ups partner with US firms to get funding.

November 5, 2017 15:55
2 minute read.
Technology. (Illustrative)

Technology. (Illustrative). (photo credit: INGIMAGE)


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A public fund – supported by the Energy Ministry, the US Depart- ment of Energy, and the Israel Innovation Authority – announced on Sunday that it would finance five joint clean energy projects to the tune of $4.8 million.

The projects include helping to install a smart electrical grid in New York, transforming how we get ethanol from corn, making our power lines more efficient, developing a low-maintenance bicycle, and creating a safer way to transport hydrogen.

The total value of the approved projects stands at $10.5 million, and the impetus behind the public fund is to jump-start clean energy initiatives so the companies can develop the product and eventually make a profit.

The fund -- run by the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Energy program – connects Israeli and US companies which seek to partner to develop marketing solutions. Companies or research institutions are eligible for BIRD funding only if an Israeli entity can find an American firm to apply jointly, offering an innovation that is of mutual interest to both countries.

“We’re trying to foster collaborations and energy efficiency that will lower the cost of energy. We’re developing a cleaner way of developing and producing this renew - able energy,” said Limor Nakar-Vincent, BIRD’s director for US Business Development, adding that she was interested in expanding the program to oil and gas, along with cybersecurity tools for the energy grid.

Companies commit to repaying the BIRD grant if the project leads to commercial success and a marketable product. In the event that the planned collaboration does not bear fruit and generate sales, no repayment is required. BIRD provides up to 50% of a project’s budget – from the R&D phase to its initial sales campaign – and it does not receive any equity or intellectual property rights.

“BIRD Energy actively engages in fostering partnerships between Israeli and American companies, focusing on energy efficiency which is critical to the global economy and environment, as well as cleaner, renewable energy,” said Dr. Eitan Yudilevich, BIRD’s executive director. “By providing financial support to both partners, the development and commercialization of such technologies are accelerated, bringing economic value to both countries.”

The five collaborating partner - ships are: Rosh Haayin-based Bremi-ller Energy, which is joining forces with the Power Authority of the State of New York to devise a high-temperature-storage-based combined heat and power (cogeneration) system; Rehovot’s CelDezyner, who is partnering with Ohio’s AdvanceBio to produce ethanol from lignocellulosic non-edible biomass; Rehovot’s QDM and Colorado’s ALD NanoSolutions who are developing third generation high-temperature superconductor cables; Tel Aviv-based SoftWheel and Michigan’s Detroit Bikes, jointly inventing an energy-efficient, low-maintenance bicycle; and TerraGenic, based in Kadima – a town east of Netanya – joining with Massachusetts’s Triton Systems to create a safe hydrogen transport and storage system.

Since starting operations in 2009, BIRD Energy has funded some 37 projects, with a total investment of $30 million. The organization’s energy division was established by an act of congress in 2007.

Its parent foundation, BIRD, was founded some 40 years ago, and has approved close to 950 projects.

“The BIRD Foundation has served as a matchmaker to develop partnerships between US and Israeli researchers at the forefront of technology across the industrial spectrum,” US Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry said in a statement issued on Sunday.

“This kind of collaboration will be mutually beneficial and allow both countries to achieve their economic and energy-security goals,” he said.

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