Israeli ‘cleantech’ takes center stage
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Israeli ‘cleantech’ takes center stage

Israel and New Jersey have a great trading relationship,” says Mark Levenson, a member of the New Jersey-Israel Commission and chair of the group’s upcoming U.S.-Israel Cleantech Conference. In fact, he says, New Jersey is Israel’s ninth-largest trading partner.

To “build on and enhance that relationship,” the Sept. 16 conference, at the Meadowlands Environmental Center in Lyndhurst, will provide an opportunity for U.S. business and government leaders to meet the leaders of Israel’s cleantech industry, said Levenson, who is clearly confident that the event will benefit both groups.

Chair of the Israel Business Practice Group for Sills Cummis & Gross P.C. as well as president of the Federation of Greater Clifton/Passaic, Levenson, a resident of West Orange, noted that a similar conference last year attracted nine Israeli companies.

“This time there are 15, despite the fact that money is tight,” he said. “If they’re coming for this, they must feel it will be worthwhile.”

He is also hopeful that building stronger relationships between the Israeli and New Jersey companies will lead to more jobs in the state.

“Not only is the United States a target market for the Israeli technologies, but “[the Israeli companies] want to establish a presence here, have U.S. partners,” said Levenson. “They want to hear what the states have to offer.”

Explaining that Israel has had to find innovative alternatives for renewable energy, at least in part because of its geopolitical location, Levenson said the Jewish state has more than 50 years of experience in water management and solar energy technologies.

According to a statement from conference organizers – who note that Israel is second to the U.S. in startup companies pursuing innovative sources of renewable energy – the conference “will gather the region’s most influential cleantech professionals and provide a forum for exploring business opportunities and targeted networking.”

“One day is not enough time” to accomplish all these goals, said Levenson, but he noted that networking continues after the gathering itself has ended.

The conference chair said that he has seen some of the Israeli technological developments that will be showcased at the meeting. Calling them “mind-blowing,” he noted that developing those systems “is obviously more attractive when the cost of fossil fuels is high …, [but] given global needs, investment in such solutions will eventually draw them to a point where market prices will be more in line with fossil fuels.”

“Research and development in these areas is sorely needed,” he said, citing Israeli accomplishments that will be highlighted at the meeting.

Presenters will include leaders of Israeli companies that have developed an advanced solar-hybrid power generation unit; innovative water, agricultural, and other clean technologies; solutions for the treatment of municipal solid waste and hazardous waste; and sludge-dewatering treatments. Also featured will be companies that have pioneered methods to cool, heat, dehumidify, disinfect, and clean the air – powered by energy sources such as solar panels, geothermal water, and waste heat – and businesses working on cost-effective solutions to solar and wind applications.

While the conference is a three-day affair, only one day is centered in New Jersey; New York and Philadelphia will host the other two sessions, said Levenson. He expects some 200 people to participate in the New Jersey event.

The state gathering is being organized by the New Jersey-Israel Commission in partnership with the government of Israel and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

Levenson pointed out that attendees will not only meet leaders in the area of alternative and renewable energy sources, but they will connect with senior state officials to hear about progressive legislation and incentive programs for cleantech development. Experts will be on hand to discuss “how to grow a green company.”

According to the conference chair, organizers are targeting utility and industry executives, companies involved in the development of alternative energy sources, investors, technology vendors, government policymakers and municipalities, as well as scientists and researchers.

Presenters from the state will include Jerry Zaro, head of the New Jersey Office of Economic Growth; Kenny Esser, chief energy adviser; and Caren S. Franzini, chief executive officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. Also speaking will be representatives from energy and utility companies.

Levenson said that the day “is not about politics” and the commission is an independent entity that has permanent status. In addition, he said, New Jersey “offers great tax incentives” for the kinds of programs the conference will explore.

For further information about the conference, call the New Jersey-Israel Commission at (609) 633-8600 or e-mail NJIC@sos.state.nj.us. For more information on the New Jersey-Israel Commission, visit www.nj.gov/state/nj-israel.

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