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August 21, 2009 @ 12:50 pm
Cleantech Networking in NYC

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I went to my first NYC Israel Cleantech Alliance (Alliance) meet up last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. I met a number of great people who are involved in all manner of interesting green endeavors. Thanks go out to Itai Karelic (founder of the group), Yinnon Dolev (keynote speaker from GE) and the sponsors; Golenbock Eiseman Assor Bell & Peskoe LLP and the Israeli Economic Mission. The Alliance officially launched in June, had its second event last night and is planning its next event for the fall. Please visit the group’s webpage or contact Itai for more information. If you want to network with an engaging group of cleantech professionals and investors in the New York area, I highly recommended the Alliance. For those in Israel and Boston, the group is affiliated with CleanIsrael (funded by Israeli Cleantech Ventures) and the Boston Israel Cleantech Alliance.

So, what did we talk about last night? Ironically, I was well prepared for the topic; the water market. Regular readers of my blog may remember my recent featured post on the world’s water dilemma. For those who haven’t read it, check it out here. Yinnon gave a great summary of the global water market, talked about trends in the marketplace, gave some technical insights on desalination, discussed the Israeli water technology sector and described GE’s participation in the water market and other “Ecomagination” businesses.

Yinnon noted some familiar statistics: $1 trillion of spending is needed for water infrastructure over the next 20 years and 2 billion people will have absolute water shortages by 2025. The map below illustrates the most over utilized resources (the darker the color, the more desperate the situation).  

water-scarcity-mapOther highlights from the talk included a detailed segmentation of the industry adding up to a $500 billion global market in 2009 (by far the biggest chunk comes from water utility expenses and capital expenditures – $354 billion) and a discussion of growth trends and investment opportunities. Membranes, the high tech filters used in a variety of water treatment and purification applications, are experiencing annual sales growth of 13%, with infrastructure, disinfection, wastewater and desalination ranging from 4% to 10% (the overall market averages out to 6%). These high growth rates have attracted over $1 billion in venture capital since 1998. Recently, the volume of investments has accelerated rapidly – more than half of this total has been invested since 2007.

Israel has been a major beneficiary of this investment as a “silicon valley” of clean technologies. There are over 400 cleantech startups operating there and given the country’s lack of freshwater resources, water technology has been a significant thrust. According to Yinnon, there are about 150 companies operating in the water technology space across all segments and these businesses are expected to export $2.5 billion in products and services in 2011. Additionally, Israel’s Ashdod desalination plant is the largest in the world (until Abu Dhabi’s new plant is fully online), with the ability to provide up to 361,000 m3 of water per day.

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