Can Israel tech save the planet? Here are three companies that are trying

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last week declared that Israel would need “global pioneers” to fight the battle against climate change.

 Beewise Founders (left to right) Hillel Schreier, Eliyah Radzyner, Saar Safra, Yossi Surin, Botz Petersil. (photo credit: BEEWISE)
Beewise Founders (left to right) Hillel Schreier, Eliyah Radzyner, Saar Safra, Yossi Surin, Botz Petersil.
(photo credit: BEEWISE)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett told listeners at the United Nations annual climate conference on Monday that the world would need "new inventions and new technologies that have not yet been imagined" to help heal the planet and that Israel would stand at the forefront as the "climate innovation nation."

While Bennett winds up his meetings with world leaders about how his government has declared the tackling of climate change a new national security interest, hundreds of international representatives and leaders from the Israeli hi-tech industry will come together to showcase the more than 1,200 Israeli climate tech companies and start-ups that are already taking part in the effort to decarbonize the global economy and restore the planet’s health. 

The Climate Innovation Summit, a project of PLANETech, will take place on November 2 both in person and as a virtual event. PLANETech, a nonprofit climatetech innovation community, is a joint venture of the Israel Innovation Institute and the Consensus Business Group.

“The summit presents, for the first time, the Israeli climatetech ecosystem, which includes 1,200 Israeli companies and over 600 start-ups,” PLANETech director Uriel Klar said. “We encourage entrepreneurs to join the global climatetech movement and build new climate-positive start-ups.”

Nine climatetech start-ups that have collectively raised $1 billion in the fields of agriculture, energy, biodiversity, weather forecasting, alternative proteins, circular economy, supply chains, materials and mobility will make presentations.

Here are three of them:

Aleph Farms

Aleph Farms was founded by Strauss Group and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, along with food engineer and biologist Didier Toubia, in 2017 with a mission described on its website to “feed the world and preserve the planet.” It works in the field of cultivated meats.

“When we look at alternative proteins, there are two categories: meat alternatives and cultivated meats,” Aleph Farms vice president of sustainability Lee Recht said.

Meat alternatives are generally plant-based vegan substitutes that try to mimic the taste and texture of meat, while cultivated meat is less an alternative protein than a different way of producing meat protein, she said.

“It is how we can still grow meat, but in a more sustainable way,” Recht said.

Aleph Farms uses an initial cell from the bovine product. Then it feeds it with a plant-based soup, growing cells into a beef steak in a “very controlled atmosphere.”

“We do not need to kill or slaughter or harm the cow,” Recht said. “Because it is done in very controlled and sterile conditions, we can eliminate the use of antibiotics, and we can reduce tremendously the ecological impact of producing beef when compared to the standard industrial way of making meat.”

A life-cycle analysis the company conducted last year showed that Aleph Farms’s meat-making method reduced the carbon footprint by 92%, water footprint by 78% and land footprint by more than 95%, compared with conventional ways of producing meat.

When looking at some of the major environmental issues of the day, such as food security, climate change, loss of biodiversity and issues of antibiotic resistant diseases, it is clear that “what needs to happen is to transition the food system to be more sustainable,” Recht said.

The food system is responsible for 30% of greenhouse gases in the climate, and half of those (15%) are created from the meat industry, she said.

But it is understandable that sustainable agriculture could not be enough on its own to supply food to anyone, anywhere, anytime for the entire population, Recht said, adding that “innovation can complement sustainable agriculture.

“I think it is well known that Israeli entrepreneurship thrives when we are under threat,” she said. “There is no question that our climate is under threat, and we need to think of different ways that we can take part in solving this issue.”


Wiliot focuses on developing transparent and agile supply chains that could ultimately reduce waste and improve quality.

“We are an IoT [Internet of things] company,” Wiliot CEO and founder Tal Tamir said. “What we do differently is that the focus is on the thing. Instead of making places smart, we make the thing smart.”

The company developed a tiny computer “label” that can sense temperature, humidity, content level, proximity of people and more.

According to the company’s website: “Wiliot’s IoT Pixels empower every one of your products to act as self-sensing smart devices – continually reporting its own condition and location, communicating to the Wiliot Cloud, and learning over time… The pixels are the data gatherers and are meant to be part of your manufacturing process, rather than an IT add-on.”

Wiliot can tag anything, including vegetable crates, garbage cans and pharmaceutical shipments. For instance, the pixel can let the vegetable crate’s owner know if it sat too long at a specific location, was emptied in the wrong place or if anything else went wrong. It then generates a report to improve the process the next time.

That results in less food waste and improved food quality, as in the example of the vegetables, Tamir said.

For pharmaceuticals, the pixel can catch counterfeit medicines and stop drugs from being stored in the wrong conditions or used in the wrong way.

Or in the case of the garbage disposal system, it could be stuck on a plastic bin, and the trucks could be told which bins are mostly empty, passing by those that don’t need dumping, thereby saving on fuel.

It can also look at carbon emissions by tracking a product from production to supply chain to the sales process and adding up all of the emissions. In the future, this could give buyers more visibility into which products created more or less carbon emissions so they could make more earth-friendly purchases.

“The goal is to mirror the physical world in the digital world to be smart enough about our surroundings and act on it,” Tamir said. “Technology is the best tool in our toolbox and should be the way to move forward” for the environment.

 Wiliot technology (credit: COURTESY WILIOT) Wiliot technology (credit: COURTESY WILIOT)


The phrase “we have to save the bees” is thrown around a lot, but few people really understand why, according to Beewise CEO Saar Safra.

For the last 40 or 50 years, bees have been becoming extinct. The challenge with this is that bees pollinate 75% of all fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts that the eight billion people on the planet consume. Tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, watermelons, almonds, cotton and coffee are all pollinated by bees.

Today, the problem has become so acute that around 40% of all bee colonies are being lost per year due to a combination of pesticides, global warming, disease and other challenges. At the same time, the global population is growing, and the demand for healthy foods keeps going up.

“So, the gap between supply and demand is widening,” Safra said. “It is a real risk to the global food supply. We do not know how to grow tomatoes and cucumbers not through nature.”

Beewise’s device in a box, which it calls a “BeeHome,” houses up to 24 bee colonies. The robotic apparatus monitors the bees with computer vision 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Then, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, the robot identifies the needs of the bees, alerts their master and can even administer the solution.

The robot can identify if the bees are sick and need medicine, if they need food or even if it is time to harvest their honey – all in real time. Inside the container, there is a six-month supply of medicine, water and food, which the robot knows how to administer.

Everything is controlled remotely.

“You can be sitting in Israel and treating your bees in New York,” Safra said.

And it is working. Only 7.59% of bees inside BeeHomes are lost per year, and the percentage keeps getting lower. The goal is to reach 1% or 2%, which was the natural level of loss 50 years ago, Safra said.

Beewise is already selling its BeeHome in the US and Israel.

“We have a huge mission ahead of us,” Safra said. “Changing the world is hard, but it is a dream. We are very excited and feel privileged and lucky to be involved in such a company. How many times can my career leave a real imprint on the planet?”