The GreenPitch took place at RISE on Monday September 18th . The event was organized by TheHive by Gvahim in partnership with Switchmed, a EU program supporting « green » entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean area. Environmental issues are indeed particularly acute in this world region: so are the challenges its « switchers » cope with.
« Water will make war and peace » said the renowned hydrologist and geopolitist expert Thomas Naff, outlining the future of the Middle East with few words. No more. Indeed, Israel stands at the front line of the countries threatened by water scarcity. This issue is getting even trickier when you raise the qualitative aspect, on which depends agricultural practices and waste management. Not forgetting, above all, the twin of this messy and unclear equation: a soaring demography.
Dealing with environmental emergency is crucial to put Israel and the Mediterranean area on a sustainable and peaceful path. While this challenge was until recently treated as if it was antagonistic with economic growth, it is now admitted that they can strengthen each other. Here is the starting point of every entrepreneurial adventure: where there is a problem, there is a startup.
This equation « problem = need = business » is also the project’ matrix of the nine entrepreneurs taken on to pitch to investors on 18th September as part of the « GreenPitch » program, at RISE, in the trendy Rotschild area, the beating heart of the « Startup nation ».
The Green Pitch is the result of a cooperation between TheHive by Gvahim, which organized the workshops and Pitch Event; with SwitchMed, an initiative of the UN and the European Union to support green entrepreneurship by scaling up social and eco innovations in the Mediterranean.
The program consisted in intensive coaching and networking workshops, supervised by top-tier mentors, after which selected seed and pre-seed startups pitched their project in front of a large audience including investors, experienced entrepreneurs, public actors and a panel of judges. The first prize was a plane ticket to Barcelona, and the opportunity to take part in the next SwitchMed Connect gathering, where the winner will meet « switchers » from all other the Mediterranean countries.
The nine entrepreneurs, with a majority of women at the head of them, were called on stage to pitch their startups for 5 minutes, followed by questions from the judges. The ventures are at different levels of maturity (between 6 months and 4 years) and operate in various fields: from building and coastal materials (Criaterra by Adital Ela; ECOncrete by Shimrit Perkol-Finkel), medical and petrol waste management (Hygimed by Amit Sheleg), energy storage (Nostromo by Yaron Ben-Nun), to environmental and air monitoring (Radgreen by Sigalit Mutzafi; SmartAir by Uriel Klar) and textile industry (Algalife by Renana Krebs).
Click here to see the presentation of all startups !
Board of juges, from left to right: Nir Adler (State Of Mind Venture); Dr. Harold Wiener (Terra Ventures Partners); Elah Alkalay (IBI) and Meir Ukeles (ICV).
Not to be alone on an island any more.
Green entrepreneurs have few opportunities to meet such a wide panel of investors and to put their project in the spotlight. Indeed, to be a green entrepreneur in Israel still means to be alone on an island. There are few windows of opportunity open in the neighboring countries and the narrow Israeli market cannot fuel the exponential growth a successful startup is supposed to follow. While all the warning lights seem to show the fund providers a green companies’ oriented path (as the COP 21 did), fundraising in sustainable entrepreneurship has not yet reached the required level to allow both economic and environmental goals to be achieved.
The Green Pitch aims to fill this gap between ambitions and concrete available resources. Among the attendees, several « niche investors », like Hutchinson Kinrot, Capital Nature, Israel CleanTech Venture and Terra Lab which invest in water and clean tech related technologies and business. Discussions between entrepreneurs and investors lasted a long time after the last pitch.
ECOncrete, a startup operating in coastal infrastructure represented by its CEO Shimrit Perkol Finkel swept the first prize with flying colors. She and all entrepreneurs who attended The Green Pitch are potential « switchers » towards a sustainable future. As Thomas Naff suggested it, economy and business may be only marginal aspects of the future they draw.
Shimrit Perkol Finkel, head of ECOncrete, the Green Pitch' winner startup. From left to right: Patricia Lahy-Engel (TheHive by Gvahim director); Shimrit Perkol Finkel; Claudia Pani (project manager SwitchMed); Ohad Carny (head of regulatory policy domain at the Ministry of Environmental Protection).