Key figures from California’s water industry visited Israel for a Financial Innovations Lab event, as part of the California-Israel Global Innovation Project of the Milken Innovation Center at the Jerusalem Institute.
California is suffering a severe water shortage, and Israel’s water technology companies can be instrumental in providing relief. Now the $7.5 billion dollar (the amount of the recently passed Calfornia Bond to address the drought) question is: How can this come about, and fast? One step took place recently in Jerusalem, at the Milken Financial Innovations Lab.
“The way to advance the collaborative projects we discussed, is to first inform the key decision makers in California of potential solutions, so they are aware of these immediate opportunities for significant cost-saving benefits. I intend to inform and engage them in the process,” explains Michelle Barer Moskowitz, a Government Relations Director at UC Berkeley. “I’m on my way back to the U.S. now, and the first action item on my list is to share what I just learned here, and make the case to three of Governor Brown’s top advisors on water issues, to participate in the WATEC event in Israel in October.” The California governor’s water plan has allocated $7.5 billion to address California’s water shortage, of which $3.7B is to be spent on infrastructure in the coming year. “So the money is there, and these are the people responsible for implementing the Governor’s Water Action Plan,” concludes Barer Moskowitz.
“The Jerusalem Institute event was a great opportunity for Israeli water technology companies to present their solutions to decision makers from the California industry, and for the participants from California to learn from successful case studies of organizations like Mekorot and Hagichon,” says Adi Yefet, head of the water sector at Israel NewTech. The Israeli water companies which presented covered a variety of fields including water management, irrigation and smart water, and included Arad, Autoagronom, Ayyeka, Emefcy, Miya, Netafim, RealiteQ, Takadu and others.
Dr. Lori Glasgow, Assistant Chief of Staff to Mayor Antonovich, County of Los Angeles Board was impressed by the Israeli technologies: “I’m especially interested in technologies which provide asset management capabilities, Hagihon presented a particularly relevant case study on pipe sealing. Water management companies like Takadu and Ayyeka are also of interest to us. I’m now investigating when I can get back to Israel to follow up with some of these companies.”
Scott Houston, Director, West Basin Municipal Water District, Los Angeles, was impressed with the holistic approach to water management in Israel. “The event was very productive, and I definitely see potential for mutually beneficial partnerships in the water arena. The way to move things forward is to meet in settings like this, and develop relationships with Israeli companies. When I get back to L.A., I will be focused on putting these companies in touch with the right people who can open doors for them in California.”
Prof. Glenn Yago, Senior Director at the Milken Innovation Center, and one of the people who made the event possible, was pleased with the outcome. “This effort really got its start in March 2014, with the agreement signed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and California Governor Jerry Brown to cooperate in the water sector. I believe LA will be a great test case for scaling up Israeli technologies in water efficiency, agriculture, desalination and smart water systems. There are a number of additional places in the world which are at the tipping point as far as their water resources, like California, and Israel has a lot to offer those areas. I’m sure the Financial Innovations Lab event will culminate in real business for Israeli companies in California and co-innovation between both states.”