The show floor was densely packed with innovation and human bodies at the sold-out OurCrowd Global Investor Summit on Wednesday. Moving from space to space, attendees had to carefully pick their route between the 9,000 investors, entrepreneurs, and executive and industry experts who had gathered in Jerusalem to discuss the positive impact and potential presented by modern technology and the start-ups behind it.
While past summits were surely populated by fascinating technologies and showings of the latest innovations, this event, which marked the summit’s 10th anniversary, felt particularly charged with excitement generated by the latest groundbreaking developments in AI technology.
Shuffling from booth to booth, the prominence of AI within the modern hi-tech landscape was palpable. And a term that was on everyone’s lips was “sustainability,” which has become a critical topic among the innovation industry’s top thinkers as global attention on climate-tech has gradually come to the fore over recent years.
Sustainability’s sustained attention
Much attention was given to the idea of start-ups and their ability to promote global sustainability.
One such company, BlueGreen Water Technologies, utilizes water as the driving engine behind its innovative carbon-capture and removal technology. To date, its water-based carbon removal technology has not only succeeded in removing 3.3 million tons of carbon, but “has been able to rehabilitate entire aquatic systems, reintroduce biodiversity to lakes and oceans and, equally important, support the lives and livelihoods of people who relied on contaminated water bodies,” explained CEO Eyal Harel.
Cameron Jones, co-founder and COO of the Canadian reforestation company Flash Forest, elaborated on the company’s plan to replenish tree populations throughout North America.
“Over the next two months, Flash Forest will plant over one million trees in remote forests in North America. We are actually going to be breaking some world records for the largest number of trees ever planted by drone and we are going to redefine how reforestation is done over the next century,” Jones said.
AS AN ILLUSTRATION of the event’s focus on sustainability, OurCrowd partnered with plastic alternative manufacturer UBQ Materials, which produces recyclable thermoplastic pellets from unsorted organic and inorganic household waste that can then be used to manufacture a host of durable products. The company has become a flagship for Israeli sustainability, having been selected as part of Israel’s official COP27 climate-tech delegation that arrived at the premiere UN climate conference in Sharm e-Sheikh last November.
UBQ Materials presented its sustainable plastic substitute that is used across industries, including automotive, as part of the Honda Xcelerator booth. The company reportedly repurposed plastic and other non-recyclable waste from the event into its proprietary thermoplastic.
“Companies like Honda, with a mission for carbon neutrality or zero environmental impact, represent the shift that we see across all industries, prioritizing the planet alongside profit,” said Tato Bigio, Co-CEO and co-founder of UBQ Materials. “Sustainability at every stage of the supply chain, including raw materials, is quickly becoming the standard of the industry.”
AI’s having its day in the sun
Artificial Intelligence has become a mainstay in seemingly every other Israeli hi-tech company’s DNA, and the showing at OurCrowd’s Summit was no different. From med-tech to food-tech to cybersecurity and every other sector under the start-up sun, AI was in no short supply.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved elaborated on the wildfire popularity of AI in hi-tech, driven by its massive potential and currently rapid pace of development.
“We have over 50 AI companies in our portfolio that we’ve invested in so far. It’s gonna affect everything, really everything,” he said. “We have companies in ag-tech and insurance-tech, automotive and mobility, and all kinds of healthcare applications. It’s just everywhere.”
Medved noted that the breakthrough moment for the current generation of AI tech was its introduction to consumers in the form of the AI-powered chat engine, ChatGPT.
“It’s actually approaching hysteria-levels of interest in ChatGPT, and that’s affecting everything. People thought initially it was only for students and people who want to plagiarize. Turns out now you can use it to pass a medical entrance exam and get board certified in a legal bar exam. You can write jokes on it, you could write code on it. This whole notion of Generative AI is absolutely huge,” he said.
“Looking around at all of the cool, wonderful things that are happening in the world of technology, I don’t think anything comes close to the importance of AI.”