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The Right Agreement at the Right Time: British Water signs cooperation agreement for Israeli technology

By: Mickey Chesla

A significant accomplishment for the Israeli water industry: The Israeli Industry Center for R&D, headed by Michel Hivert, signed a strategic cooperation agreement with British Water. The agreement is meant to encourage the penetration of Israeli technologies into the British water market.  The agreement also opens doors to British-Israeli cooperation on international water tenders.

Israel Shamay, the head of European cooperations at The Israeli Industry Center for R&D (MATIMOP), calls the agreement exceptional.  “The agreements of the Chief Scientist implemented by MATIMOP are usually facilitated by government agencies that fund R&D projects” explains Shamay.  “In this case we’re talking about an agreement that was signed with the UK water supply chain association, an entity that proactively initiates projects in Britain, as well as provides solutions outside Britain, and that’s the difference,” he explains.

The agreement was born out of a contact that was created some years ago, within the framework of Israel’s activity in Eureka.  Two years ago, at the previous WATEC event (2009), the relationship between Shamay and British Water developed, with an eye to upgrading the British water industry using Israeli technology.  The initiative was strongly supported by Oded Distel, under his two “hats” as both the director of the Israel NewTech program and the head of “Invest in Israel.” Work on the agreement was managed by Noah Shani, Israel’s Economic Attaché in London.

“We thought that the right way to implement the cooperation would be to outline a formal framework in which The Israeli Industry Center for R&D represents Israeli industry seeking cooperation, and British Water represents the supply chain to British water companies, which function regionally in theU.K.  The British water industry has been privatized under Thatcher, and as private companies, they are always looking for ways to improve efficiency and be more competitive, where technology becomes a key facilitator ,” said Shamay.

The agreement works on two levels: on the one level it advances Israeli technologies throughout Britainvis a vis water utilities, and on another level the agreements aims at leveraging British contacts in third party countries, in order to bring British and Israeli companies together  to compete in international tenders

“Efficient water technologies are needed around the world, not just inBritain,” explains Shamay, “And the assumption is that at least in some of the cases British companies have better access to these types of tenders then Israeli companies do.  Therefore, another part of the cooperation defines submitting joint proposals together to international tenders.”

Shamay mentions that up until a few years ago a bi-national fund called Britech was active, which acted like the Bird Foundation (a U.S.-Israel bi-national fund).  “Since this fund stopped its activities we haven’t had an effective platform for bi-lateral R&D cooperation with Britain, so this agreement is very important.  I hope that the agreement will put the industrial cooperation between the two countries into sharp focus.  The timing is right, because a few months ago Israel and Britain’s PMs agreed on advancing  cooperation for innovation in hi-tech, including environmental technologies.  In the beginning of 2012 the Chief Scientist of The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour, Avi Hasson, will visit London and will decide on a number of steps to implement and support the hi-tech cooperation between the two countries.  Within the framework of the agreement it was also decided that in the coming year a delegation of British water companies will visit Israel, in order to examine technologies and cooperations,” added Shamay.

“The objective is always to create added business value for Israeli industry through our innovation and technology, and this agreement expands opportunities for Israel water industry,” he concludes.

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