Israel’s first ‘clean tech’ college opens its doors

Matrix Greentech College looks to turn Israel into an environmental superpower.

The clean tech revolution is beginning to sweep the world. The UN predicts that 8.5 million people will work in the green sector by 2030, while the US, Europe and other countries have made available massive amounts of money for clean technology development.
Israel is no exception. There are more than 150 companies in the clean tech field here that didn’t exist just two years ago, Mediatech CEO Yariv Inbar told The Jerusalem Post Monday. But, he said, there’s a problem.
“Companies are looking for quality well-trained people, but they can’t find professionals. Many are self-taught, but few have learned how to work in the clean tech sector in an ordered fashion,” he said.
To that end, Mediatech, which is part of the Matrix information systems company and runs their training colleges, have teamed up with GreenAgenda to create the first college to retrain mid-career professionals for the clean tech sector. Matrix Greentech College will begin its first course at the end of April. The two initial course offerings will be technical jobs management in the clean tech sector.
“So far, no one is retraining people,” Inbar said, “though there are the beginnings of such programs within environmental engineering programs.”
Matrix has colleges across the country that already train hi-tech professionals. While the first course will be held in Tel Aviv, they plan to offer future courses in Haifa, Jerusalem and elsewhere.
“We’d like to grow with the industry and offer more courses all over the country,” Inbar told the Post.
Inbar and GreenAgenda head Karni Govreen-Segal spent the past year putting together the curriculum and exploring what the Israeli clean tech sector needed, Inbar said. The course is aimed primarily at mid-career professionals and not those just getting started in the professional world, he added. They’re aiming to start with a group of 20.
“We’re looking for people who have already done something in their [professional] lives, from a variety of backgrounds. We’ve actually found a surprising amount of interest from career IDF officers looking to enter the private sector, for instance,” Inbar said.
Govreen-Segal outlined why the clean tech sector isn’t exactly the same as other business sectors, including hi-tech.
“We are focusing on an integrated approach. Not only do you have to have a profession, you also need to have knowledge of the environmental crisis, the technical solutions – their advantages and disadvantages – and where the world is heading.
“For example, while photovoltaic (PV) solar panels are becoming all the rage in Israel, in the [outside] world PV technology is far more advanced than the panels in use here,” she told the Post.
Clean tech has some unique elements on the business side as well, she said.
“Clean tech is unusual in that it can’t stand on its own solely within the private sector. You can’t just work with other companies. You have to be able to work with the public sector and understand where they are coming from.
“You have to learn how to work with the regulations, local authorities and even NGOs, which are usually overlooked by the business world,” she continued.
Govreen-Segal said they would teach a more holistic approach. For instance, some clean tech companies create a problem while solving another “and then are baffled as to why the green groups don’t like them.”
Business models also have to be tweaked to fit the clean tech sector, Govreen-Segal argued.
“If a company raises capital and expects to sell their technology but the market wants to lease it instead, then they haven’t prepared well,” she said.
Both Inbar and Govreen-Segal said the goal was to train theprofessionals who could then make Israel the clean tech giant the mediahas made it out to be.
“Israel is the number one developer of green technologies in the world,but the last in implementing those technologies at home,” Inbar pointedout.
“We want to turn Israel into the clean tech superpower that Newsweek and The Economist and others have predicted it will be,” Govreen-Segal said.