A thriving startup requires a supportive ecosystem, offering quick access to human, social, and financial capital. Especially in climate and energy tech sectors.
In Israel, renowned for its tech industry, this ecosystem is a cornerstone for entrepreneurs. Accelerators, incubators, and various support programs play a crucial role in helping startups validate ideas, secure early-stage funding, and establish connections with clients and partners.
This article delves deeper into the landscape of programs fostering entrepreneurship in the energy and climate-tech space. This is the 2nd article reviewing the strengths of the Israeli energy tech sector.
To learn more about what makes Israel a climate and energy tech leader, read our first article in this series: The Five Drivers of Israel’s Energy Tech Sector.
Climate and Energy Tech Accelerators and Programs
Early Stage Programs:
These programs are helping founders in the initial stages of the journey, from idea to prototype to product:
- Energy Pioneers of Tomorrow and Energy Ideation2Creation: Managed by Ignite the Spark, these programs offer a hands-on introduction to the energy sector, providing invaluable insights through panels, networking events, and workshops.
A session of the Energy Ideation2Creation program, 2023
- ClimateLaunchpad Israel Part of the EU’s EIT climate-KIC entrepreneurship program, it guides climate and energy entrepreneurs from idea to startup, culminating in a demo day and further comprehensive programs.
Final demo day of ClimateLaunchPad Israel, Tel Aviv, August 2023
- Epsilon A program supporting aspiring founders in addressing climate challenges by creating multidisciplinary teams for new climate tech ventures. The first cohort of Epsilon included 40+ founders, and the second cohort is on its way.
|“I started the program with limited knowledge of climate tech, but I was able to build a team and develop an idea through this incredible journey.”
– Dr. M. ex-Talpiot, 20+yr in R&D, participant of Epsilon’s 1st cohort
- 8200 Impact – Founded in 2013, it’s Israel’s first acceleration program for impact-tech startups. In recent years, it launched a track focused on climate and energy tech. The accelerator consists of a 5-month program followed by a startup showcase event that usually draws an audience of hundreds of investors. With powerful partners both from the Israeli and global industry, this accelerator is well recognized as a cradle of entrepreneurship.
- Climate First – Targeting early growth climate tech startups, it fosters collaborations between Israeli companies and international corporations, particularly from the UK.
The inaugural event of Climate First, Tel Aviv, 2023
8200 Impact Session, Tel Aviv, 2023
- Techstars is unique as they offer both a pre-accelerator and accelerator. Part of their pre-accelerator is that they offer insights into what to expect in the start-up ecosystem through events like a weekend immersion to see the ups and downs, a week-long event supporting entrepreneurs and allowing them to connect, and ecosystem development to support overall innovation.
- EIT Hub Israel – was established in 2019 with the mission to nurture and create synergies between the Israeli and EU innovation ecosystems. The Hub runs numerous programs including ‘DisruptMe’ – an exclusive open innovation program for European corporates seeking to advance their company capabilities with groundbreaking Israeli technologies, and ‘Calling2Scale’ – a 3-month ‘scalerator’ and globalization bootcamp supporting market penetration for European and Israeli impact startups.
Government support is integral to de-risking disruptive solutions in the energy and climate-tech sector especially. Whether through funding academic research, backing by the Chief Scientist Office at the Ministry of Energy grants, or supporting innovative projects by programs like ‘Haznek’ or ‘HALOTZ’ to scale and demonstrate your pilot. Similar structure and more can be found also at Israel Innovation Authority which adds further strength to provide funding and resources to assist the growth of moon shoot technologies.
MNCs Access Programs
Another layer of support is that generated by corporations, both local and global, that create structured programs to engage with early-stage innovation in the areas of climate and energy:
- Microsoft’s AI for Good program – launched first in Israel and then scaled throughout the world, the program is dedicated to assisting purpose-driven ventures as they advance their AI solutions for social and environmental challenges. The program is a collaborative effort between Microsoft for Startups Israel and TechForGood, where a carefully selected cohort of startups participate in a comprehensive 9-week program. The program aims to give ventures the commercial, technical, and social impact support they need to succeed.
- Bnnovation is the innovation platform of Bazan that focuses on the fields of clean energy, sustainable plastics, advanced fuels, and Industry 4.0 tech. As Israel’s leading refinery company, Bazan utilizes this platform to engage, collaborate and invest in innovative tech companies.
- Enel’s AI & Robotics Lab – The lab hosts startups in various development phases, accelerating the integration of disruptive technologies into Enel’s business lines and advancing the startups’ global standing in the electrical and energy fields. By fostering synergies between robotics and AI innovation, the Lab seeks to expedite scale-up within business lines, leveraging partnerships with institutions, universities, and associations, along with funding opportunities in Israel.
- AWS’s Clean Energy Accelerator & Energy & Climate Lab programs – AWS runs two programs, the Clean Energy Accelerator – a non-equity dilutive accelerator for mature startups designed to spur co-innovation through partnerships with large energy, utilities and industrial companies, and the Energy & Climate Lab – module that advances preparedness to drive customer trial capabilities, investment competitiveness, digital maturity and engagement with industry networks.
- Free Electrons is a global open innovation program that assists startups in achieving pilots, commercial deployment, and investment. Beyond the typical role of connections to work with accelerators and mentors, there is a large focus on working hand in hand with utilities to expedite the process of developing and refining solutions. The 2024 cohort is seeking solutions in: Energy Management and Efficiency, Next Generation Clean Energy, Smarter Grid and Energy Communities, and sustainability.
- Haliburton Labs has great benefits as being a part of a global energy powerhouse creating a unique opportunity to utilize their facilities and their expansive team. A major focus is scaling the startups business so that they can have immediate and long term sustainability. Located in Houston, Texas, a major hub for the energy sector, allows startups to utilize their wet lab, industrial facilities, laydown yard, and be on their campus. Haliburton over the past year has continued to gain a stronger position within the Israeli energy tech ecosystem.
Online Session, Energy Tech All-Stars 2023
- Third Derivative (D3) stands as an inclusive and collaborative ecosystem in climate tech, dedicated to propelling startups and catalyzing market evolution. This acceleration contributes to a cleaner future on a global scale. Leveraging an extensive network of profound experts, corporate partners, and investors worldwide to empower startups to expedite their market entry with groundbreaking concepts.
Incubators & Venture Creation Programs for Climate and Energy Tech
In Israel, incubators differ from accelerators, operating as public-private partnerships with the Innovation Authority that invest in and nurture deep-tech early-stage startups. This model helps de-risk the involvement of private investors and global corporations in early-stage ventures.
Several energy tech and climate tech incubators are active in Israel today:
- ESIL – The Environmental Sustainability Innovation Lab (ESIL) offers funding of up to NIS 2 million to selected ventures in collaboration with the Israeli Innovation Authority and access to its network of partners EDF Renewables, Bazan Group, and Johnson Matthey —all leading corporations spanning different industries and countries.
- NetZero Technology Ventures – an energy and climate tech dedicated incubator that provides up to $2M funding to deep tech early-stage startups in collaboration with the Israel Innovation Authority. The incubator offers access to its world-class stakeholders including Total Energies, Delek US, Eren Groupe, Other Sources Energy Group, BGV, IP Innovative Power, Blue Minds Company, and other industry partners.
- InNeGev is a technology incubator located in the south of the country, offering investments in collaboration with the Innovation Authority and access to its industry partners including Kibbutz Hatzerim, SCE, Netafim, and Sodastream.
- Earth and Beyond – although this incubator won the Innovation Authority’s tender to invest in space tech startups, its focus areas include energy and climate tech, as well as additional adjacent areas such as materials, semiconductors, and more.
Venture Creation – the New Frontier:
In recent years we have seen several investment groups setting up funds with a a hands-on approach to venture creation, helping match deep technologies with strong entrepreneurial teams and with specific industry challenges:
- E44 – venture firm focused on disruptive technologies in agriculture, energy, synthetic biology and obviously, decarbonization. Their core model is centered around investing in deep tech solutions and prioritizing flexibility to meet the unique needs of each company and startup. Founded in 2022 and already including big names like Carbonade and Gigablue, E44 looks to make a big impact in the climate tech world.
- Kmai is a unique organization as their main focus is taking academics and shifting them to the private sector. Israel offers a wide array of strong technologies that are coming out of universities that have commercialization programs, but having a private sector venture capital can expedite the commercialization process. As well, Kmai seeks out talented entrepreneurs that are a part of existing companies to drive innovation and growth.
- The Calyx Venture Studio and Gravity Climate Studio are two more emerging initiatives focused on bridging the ideation gap, supporting entrepreneurs to build climate tech companies. As a response to the events of October 7th, Calyx’s founders raised $20 million in funding for Iron Nation to support entrepreneurs and assist the resilient companies impacted by the events.
Open Innovation Programs:
- Quantum Hub is an industry and technology hub that specializes in logistics, automotive, industry 4.0, and energy sectors. Collaborating with industry partners like Taavura Livnat Group, Talcar-KIA Israel, Hyundai, VDL Group, and Bazan, Quantum serves as a bridge connecting innovative startups and industry leaders. Their primary mission is to promote open innovation within corporate environments, facilitating valuable business relationships for startups with established industry giants. Their flagship program, Quantum Spark, is 13 weeks with the focus of moving from MVP to pilot or beta. Quantum also recently set up a fund.
- DRIVE TLV is an innovation hub focused on smart mobility, with increasing activities in energy-relevant areas. The hub leverages in-depth knowledge of the Israeli hi-tech ecosystem to handpick the most promising smart mobility startups, and enhance their business with strategic guidance. DRIVE TLV operates FastLane, a commercialization program for smart mobility startups. It offers startups the opportunity to share their innovations with our corporate partners. FastLane is an intense 5-month program providing a framework for creating and adjusting value propositions per the real-life needs of our corporate partners. DRIVE TLV also set up a fund – NextGear Ventures.
Israel ranks 5th by the World Economic Forum for knowledge and technology outputs, helping explain the sources for its vibrant deep tech ecosystem. The process of translating cutting-edge academic research into commercial products is facilitated by the presence of technology transfer offices (TTOs) in numerous Israeli universities. TTOs like Ramot at Tel Aviv University, Yissum at the Hebrew University and T3 at the Technion Institute have earned recognition, ranking among the top technology transfer companies globally in terms of revenue. These offices bridge the gap between academia and industry – and indeed, recent data shows a rise of over 120% in startups that are set up yearly by academic institutions, from 34 in 2016 to 75 in 2020, accounting for 13% of total new startups established in Israel.
There are also independent programs, such as Ignite Academia, a sub-community of Ignite the Spark, that gather academic students and researchers from most universities to expose them to market needs in energy tech. The goal is to inspire academics to go the extra mile from basic research into applied research and entrepreneurship so that they implement their solutions outside of the academic spheres.
This comprehensive support infrastructure contributes to a robust Israeli energy and climate tech sector known for its resilience and innovation.
This article was prepared by:
Shon Dana, CEO at Ignite The Spark
Yael Weisz, Former Climate Tech Sector Lead at Startup Nation Central
With the contribution of:
Cody Norton & Yotam Lev