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Israel technology headlines

Headlines related to the Eilat Eilot Renwable Energy Conference dominated this past week. Israel Cleantech Ventures filed with the SEC that it is about half way to raising $100 million and the cities of Jerusalem and Chicago formed an environmental partnership. In the IT sector CSR bought Israeli imaging and video technology company Zoran for $679 million. For these stories and more, see this week’s headlines below.

Cleantech
1. The Holy City & The Windy City To Form Historic Environmental Partnership
“We need mammoth human collaboration in order to surmount our global environmental problems. And let’s face it, we have a few of those: coral reefs potentially a thing of the past by 2050, oil set to peak just as the demand for it increases, and water- the source of all life – already a luxury commodity in places like Yemen. But it isn’t over till it’s over. In recognition of their numerous challenges, but determined to overcome them, two cities are planning to create mutual solutions. Chicago and Jerusalem will soon announce their new “green” friendship…”

2. Israel and Poland sign agreement on water, energy (Roundup)
“Israel and Poland signed a joint declaration of cooperation on water supply and sustainable energy technology Thursday, as the two countries held a joint cabinet meeting that Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu said would strengthen ties…”

Investment and Economy
3. Israel Cleantech Ventures Raising $100 Million for Energy Innovation
“Israel Cleantech Ventures, the tiny but talented nation’s first cleantech-focused fund, is now more than halfway to raising a $100 million fund, according to a filing this week…”

4. CSR buys Israel’s Zoran for $679m
“The British company CSR has agreed to buy Israeli imaging and video technology leader Zoran in a $679 million all-share deal. The sale is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2011…”

5. 4 Israeli Firms Headed to $1 Billion
“A $1 billion market capitalization is the dream of every entrepreneur who makes it to an IPO. Generally, the entrepreneur begins dreaming of that target after the company first passes the milestone which is considered the most difficult on that path — sales of over $100 per year…”

Information Technology
6. MoMonis Mobile Game Development Studio Launched
“Last June, TheWadi published an article about MoMinis, a promising start-up that was busy creating a mobile game development suite that would enable those who lack special programming skills to create, convert and market cross platform mobile games. Well, the wait is over, and MoMinis Beta stage has matured into a publicly available offering…”

Miscellaneous
7. Palestinians turn to technology to avoid roadblocks
“Adopting an attitude of “If you can’t beat’em, go around’em,” Palestinian computer programmers have developed a simple text-messaging system to help cope with surprise or crowded checkpoints set up by the Israeli army across the West Bank…”

8. EZchip Could Be an Acquisiton Target for Marvell: Analyst
“Israel-based EZchip Semiconductor Ltd. (NASDAQ: EZCH) is an acquisition target for a handful of communication integrated circuit companies and could be a logical fit with Marvell Technology Group (NASDAQ: MRVL), an analyst at Benchmark Capital wrote in a note to clients…”

9. Citi sees $5b gas revenue for Israel
“Citi Global Markets analyst David Lubin predicts a rosy future for Israel. He says, “Gas could eventually contribute about $5 billion per year to Israel’s balance of payments, at current prices…”

Israel-Tech-Headlines

During the week of July 11, 2010, Fring, a mobile VoIP network that lets users make video calls over 3G and other things, unveiled its new app for the iPhone 4 and set off a heated debate with Skype. Motorized bicycling is taking off in Israel and Conduit is continuing to report big numbers. For these stories and more, see this week’s headlines below.

Cleantech
1. Israel is catching on to motorized bikes as the next best urban solution

2. MST becomes 1st Israeli technology firm to connect to grid

3. BGU receives first US – Israel energy independence grant for light water reactor research

Investment
4. Vocaltec shares shoot up 150% after merger agreement with magicJack maker Ymax

5. Ormat Tech raising NIS 600m in unrated bonds

Information Technology
6. Self-healing software is on its way

7. Fring Unveils 3G Video Calls

8. Conduit Reports Big Numbers: 250,000 App Publishers, 170 Million Users

9. Tufin Technologies Wins International Stevie(R) Award in Seventh Annual International Business Awards(SM)

10. Promisec: Securing Networks from Within

Miscellaneous
11. Modu 1 modular phone hits UK, touchscreen Modu T to come: Android Modu-like?

12. Record number of tourists visit Israel

This week’s edition of “Company Briefs” is inspired by BloggingStocks’ Zack Miller’s post, “Two Stocks to buy before Tuesday’s Annapolis peace conference,” and JobMob’s Jacob Share’s post, “67 Lists of Life Tips.” When you’re finished with these 23 headlines, you can also check out Eze Vidra’s VC Cafe post, “Bitesize: A Low Calorie News Dose.”

During the week of November 26th, the usual media attention allotted to Israeli technology was dwarfed by the attention the Annapolis peace summit received. Here’s 23 headlines of news stories related to the Israeli high-tech sector that you may have missed that can a significant impact on the Israeli industry, including investment, in the near future.

Cleantech:

By 2020, fuel oil and diesel won’t be used in Israel

Transforming the air we breathe into the water we drink

New proposals for competitive energy market

Ben-Eliezer commits to 10% clean energy by 2020
Ampal, Clal to develop wind projects

Investments, expansions and M&A:

Ness Tech in expansion mode in India

Diagnostic co Quantomix bought by El-Mul

InSightec raises further $30 million

Jerusalem Global to raise new VC find

RBC prepares shopping list of Israeli high-tech

Taiwanese invest in Israeli sensor startup

Skin treatment co HealOr raises $8 million

Ness Technologies buys Hungarian firm

Everything else:

Voltaire ranked as fastest-growing tech company by Deloitte

Israel pushing hard on nanotechnology R&D

UK and Israel have fastest growing tech firms in EMEA

Israeli firm enables voice, video messages

HP Israel wins Pele-Phone contract

Glide Mobile brings advanced online mobile computing to Israel

Israel, Korea to fund more R&D

Over 209,000 Israelis are Facebook members

Global industry:

New method for making diesel fuel uses vegetable oils


Google’s next frontier: renewable energy

News
Last week, Gemini Israel Funds made the news as one of several investors who contributed to the new Israeli solar-energy start up that raised $9 million in funding, XJet, Ltd (see my post). For Gemini Israel Funds, the investment marks the second cleantech start up that it has added to its portfolio since August and signifies a new importance the company is putting on the future of cleantech.

Company Overview

Gemini Israel Funds was the first Israeli VC fund to be established from the Israeli government’s Yozma program in 1993 after Israel high-tech and VC pioneer, Ed Mlavsky, agreed to manage the fund. According to Gemini’s website, over the years, Gemini has focused on seed and early fund investments in areas of Communications such as Wireless Technologies, Enterprise Software, Internet, Consumer Electronics and Semiconductors, investing in companies such as RADLive, WeFi, Inc, IXI Mobile Inc, Adap.TV, Triana Inc, and OpTier Inc. Gemini has offices in Israel and Silicon Valley and manages funds totaling $550 million.

Analysis: Sun only beginning to shine on investing in Israel’s cleantech sector

While cleantech still isn’t a top priority for Gemini (it currently only has two cleantech companies in its portfolio), its recent cleantech investments have placed Gemini as a serious leader in cleantech venture capital community in Israel — an area that is picking up steam with the coverage that companies such as XJet, Ltd and Project Better Place have been getting lately and the latest news that Al Gore has become a partner in the VC firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byerswill (KPCB) and will help the company find and invest in start-ups globally (including Israel).

Despite any potential future interest by KPCB, as more Israeli and international VC firms become active in Israel cleantech in the future, Gemini is poised to be little affected given its approach and its founding partner and Chairman, Ed Mlavsky.

According to a company self-description, “Gemini’s key contributions include an ability to make daring investment decisions and the capability to utilize past operational experience in assisting portfolio companies.” The firm’s willingness and ability to make “daring investment decisions,” is a direct influence of Mlavsky.

Since his days at Tyco in the 1960s, Mlavsky has always embraced new technologies and has taken risks with them. While at Tyco (which he co-founded) he initiated the development and commercialization of a “novel photovoltaic technology” that he later oversaw as Executive Vice President of joint-venture Mobil Tyco Solar Energy Corporation. Risks such as that led Tyco to become the $40 billion company that it is today (and Gemini to have $550 million in funds). As such, it can be assumed that his attitude is what has sparked Gemini’s early entrance into cleantech. Additionally, his experience (and solar-energy expertise) fulfills Gemini’s “capability to utilize past operational experience in assisting portfolio companies” in cleantech, which, presumably, also gives the company a bit of a one up in the experience department over other Israeli VC firms entering cleantech.

However, although the cleantech industry is poised for great success, it is still a fledgling area and requires many obstacles to be lifted before any company will become a major global player and give Gemini and other VC firms the returns that they expect. Analysts predict that since this is a new area, big payoffs and mature cleantech startups aren’t likely for several years.

This may take even longer as it is very unlikely that in the near future any cleantech start-up will be able to expand its market-share significantly in major markets such as the United States and China due to a lack of government incentives and payoffs in the former, and lax regulations in the latter. As both governments become increasingly pressured to make these changes, though, and even more opportunities open up, Gemini’s business acumen should ensure that its cleantech companies will meet its expectations and eventually provide it with a nice ROI.

Additional Resources
Adap.tv
Overview of Gemini
Opportunities in Television
OpTier

Company Blogs
Ed Mlavsky: GOLB
Tali Aben
Daniel Cohen
Sagi Rubin
Ouriel Ohayon