Israel launches Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund

Israel declared it would invest in transforming the country's ecosystem into a global source of inspiration for the development of low-carbon technologies.

 View of the Microsoft offices in Herzliya, Israel, on May 28, 2021 (photo credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)
View of the Microsoft offices in Herzliya, Israel, on May 28, 2021
(photo credit: MOSHE SHAI/FLASH90)

Microsoft's Climate Innovation Fund is partnering with the Israeli Research & Development center CTO office to recruit outstanding Israeli startups, in the first partnership of its outside of the US, sources have informed "Globes." The fund will invest millions of dollars in local startups to develop solutions that will help deal with the climate crisis.

Technology alone will not be able to overcome the numerous challenges arising from climate change. In order to meet the climate goals set by world leaders, governments around the world will have to invest $21 trillion over the next 10 years in climate technologies, both mature and new, according to research by BGC consulting group. And to stay on track, annual private investment must reach $470 billion by 2030.

At last year's UN climate conference, Israel declared it would invest in transforming the country's ecosystem into a global source of inspiration for the development of low-carbon technologies. However, massive funding is needed to achieve this goal and the government has not yet moved to implement the large-scale programs that have been proposed. From 2013 through 2019, worldwide investment in clima-tech soared by 3,750%. Alongside fundraising, multibillion-dollar funds specializing in climate technology have been established in recent years. In July 2021 alone, four such funds raised $19 billion.

"Israel can become a clima-tech superpower"

Microsoft's Climate Innovation Fund (CIF) seeks to recruit outstanding startups in Israel's clima-tech sector. The Israeli CIF representation will encourage climate-related startups to register and be evaluated as candidates for investment. So far, CIF has invested about $500 million in the US, in 21 startups and 12 climate-related funds.

 Smartphone is seen in front of Microsoft logo displayed in this illustration taken, July 26, 2021. (credit: DADO RUVIC/REUTERS) Smartphone is seen in front of Microsoft logo displayed in this illustration taken, July 26, 2021. (credit: DADO RUVIC/REUTERS)

"Israel has the potential to become a clima-tech superpower. Its entrepreneurial spirit showed its strength in the development of highly advanced and effective technologies, and now we must harness this same spirit to meet the challenges of climate change," Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk, General Manager of Microsoft's Israel Research & Development Center says.

The CIF does not have a defined investment budget; however, market sources say it is likely to take quite a while to locate startups that meet the requirements. Just recently, the minister of innovation and technology told a conference that the low level of government investment in clima-tech startups stemmed from the fact that the funding requests that were submitted "were not mature enough and did not reach a sufficient technological standard."

Eshel Lipman, a co-founder of an Israeli innovation community dedicated to energy-tech, hopes that despite the enormous challenge, Microsoft will seek out reality-changing energy technologies. "I hope Microsoft Israel will have the courage to invest also in hardware companies, which don't always fall into the tech giants' core businesses (software)," he says.

"I hope Microsoft Israel will have the courage to invest also in hardware companies, which don't always fall into the tech giants' core businesses."

Eshel Lipman

"It's very encouraging to see a huge corporation like Microsoft investing substantial sums of money in climate and energy. The tens of billions of dollars held by these funds can have a genuine influence and create 'gigacorn' companies, profitable companies with the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gases," Lipman adds.