Making a clean start in Israel

Since making aliya, it has been so refreshing to live in a country where you can discover new opportunities almost wherever you look. The Internet has been awash recently with news of innovations from the Jewish State.
Cleantech is one of the themes alluded to in the title of this blog. Environmentally friendly use of technology is an area in which the Jewish State truly excels. A typical example of this comes from Dr Samuel Gan-Mor who works at the Israel Ministry of Agriculture’s research centre at the Volcani Institute. Dr. Gan-Mor has developed a novel form of pest control; a blend of edible oils that can be sprayed once a week to keep insects and fungi from munching on tomatoes, zucchini peppers, and grains. Another instance is that of Israel’s Applied CleanTech, which manufactures cheap recycled paper from … well, raw sewage actually. I’d rather not describe the process (you can read about it in the linked article) but it seems that the company can transform almost anything into writing material. It certainly gives a new aspect to the phrase “the People of the Book”.
My wife has been helping students at Sharett High School in Netanya with their English studies, so she was particularly excited to read that students of the school won the Intel-Israel 15th Annual Young Scientists Competition. Avishai Katko and Maya Braun developed a system using solar rays to disinfect and clean water supplies so they are suitable for drinking. Meanwhile, although the US Food and Drug Administration approved recycled ozone as a water disinfectant in 2001, Israel’s Greeneng Solutions has just produced the first method cheap enough to produce an ozone-based disinfecting system. Ozochef is designed for commercial kitchens. 
With all this pure water technology emanating from the Jewish State, it is no surprise that the Indian Minister for Urban Development Kamal Nath was anxious to launch joint Israeli-Indian projects. Nath oversees urban planning in India, which has over 50 cities of more than one million residents and was keen to stress that water one of India''s greatest challenges today. And following the wonderful rains and Israel’s Nature and Heritage Preservation Week, don’t miss out on the beautiful water features in Israel’s national parks.
Turning to another interpretation of “clean start” and the abundance of start-up companies in the Jewish State.
The Start-up nation has huge support in the USA. In the Deep South, Tom Glaser, president of the southeast region of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce wanted to emphasise, “We have many small companies and start-ups operating in the region, including 19 kibbutz-affiliated companies that have set up shop in the hinterlands of North Carolina.” And I enjoyed reading that Israeli start-ups are receiving “Angel” investment in the appropriately named city of Los Angeles. A recent Israel Conference breakfast in the Californian city was extremely fruitful for young Israeli companies seeking finance for their innovative business ventures.  


It isn’t easy for old hacks like yours truly to get employed in hi-tech companies where the CEO is 25 years younger than me. So I was pleased to come across an organisation that believes Israeli immigrants can start-up too. Despite the lack of Army service, Gvahim’s “TheHive” provides a six-month start-up accelerator for new immigrants to Israel with experience and education. Each immigrant is paired with a native Israeli entrepreneur, investor or other professional. And the benefits are two-way.


The 2012 London Olympic Games will hopefully signal a bright new start for Israel’s next generation of athletes. There are great expectations for two 16 year-old Israelis. Yuval Frielich is a young fencer who won the gold medal at the European Championship in Austria last February. Shachar Sagi won silver in November’s Loralux international Judo competition in Luxembourg.
Finally, nothing stops Israeli couples making a new start together. Despite over 200 rockets from Gaza in less than a week threatening over one million Israeli civilians, couples in the South are still going ahead with the most important events of their lives. But afterwards, I bet they’ll be happy to make a “clean getaway”.
Something to think about, when you’re doing the Passover cleaning!
Michael Ordman writes a weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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