The push for energy efficiency has clearly become worldwide, creating new prospects for US green energy companies to pursue export and foreign partnerships.
One such opportunity comes from Israel, with the help of the United States-Israel Science and Technology Foundation (USISTF), a Washington-based non-profit organization.
Israel is not a country we hear much about in terms of energy opportunity. China, India, North America, South Korea, Japan – these countries tend to steal the headlines in energy news.
But Ann Liebschutz, the foundation’s executive director, says new frontiers are opening in Israel because of its drive to adopt clean energy and its expertise in communications technology and software – the foundation of smart grid. Moreover, Israel’s Office of the Chief Scientist offers funding that US companies can benefit from when they partner with companies in Israel.
“In the energy efficiency space, Israel is uniquely positioned to provide services and products to US industry. Smart infrastructure and buildings — a lot of that is software driven. And that is where Israel’s core strengths are,” Liebschutz said. “If I were a US company, I would be looking to where the most significant research and development is taking place. Being able to plug into the emerging industry in Israel will produce a lot of assets for US companies.”
How do US companies tap into these opportunities?
One way is through partnerships that the USISTF is currently setting up between US states and Israel. Wisconsin was the first state out of the box, and now has a joint solicitation underway with the Israel government. The two governments seek proposals from Israel/Wisconsin partnerships working on industrial and technological research and development. The goal is to develop innovative products or services that can be commercialized in the global market. The proposals are not confined to energy efficiency, but it is a sector that will be considered.
Winning proposals will receive financing from both Israel’s government and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. The Israel partner can secure an interest free loan for up to 50% of project costs, plus special incentives for those ventures located in development zones. The Wisconsin partner is eligible for up to 50% of project funding from the state in the form of either tax credits or a low interest loan with deferred repayment schedules.
The USISTF also is in the process of negotiating additional partnerships between Israel and the states of Virginia, Maryland, Colorado and Oregon.