“Israel topped the 2014 index, with its relative outperformance on the measure of start-up companies per capita being a key reason that it did so,” the report, released Tuesday, said. “The country generates the culture, education and ‘chutzpah’ necessary to breed innovation, plus it has the survival instincts.”
The annual report, compiled by the Cleantech Group and World Wildlife Foundation, compiled data on 40 countries reflecting their level of innovation, government support and infrastructure, and existing cleantech companies in fields such as alternative or renewable energy, water technology and other environmental technology.
Israel scored a 4.34 on the index, followed by Finland with 4.04, the USA with 3.67, Sweden with 3.55 and Denmark with 3.45.
Yet while Israel’s overall score put it on top, other countries bested it in the individual categories. Israel pulled ahead with a particularly strong score on its Emerging Cleantech Innovation score: 8.92. Only three other countries scored above a five on the measure, which included data on early-stage investment, high impact companies and environmental patents. Most scored between zero and two.
“No one country excelled in all four indicators,” the report stated. “Israel, for example, far exceeded others in the emerging cleantech innovation factor, however dropped to eighth place in the ‘evidence of commercialized innovation’ factor – confirming that there is room for improvement in even the most inspiring countries.”
In the past three years, Israel had 19 cleantech companies voted onto the shortlist of the Global Cleantech 100 index.
Avi Feldman, who leads the cleantech forum at the umbrella group Israel Advanced Technology Industries, says that while the government is generally helpful, it could play a stronger role in helping cleantech companies develop beyond their early stages.
“A lot of companies end their life not because they aren’t good enough or not interesting enough, but because of lack of funding,” he said.
Like biotechnology, he says, cleantech companies take longer than others to get from early development to marketing their products and producing revenues.
“The support has to be divided into the different stages of company growth. I think that most of the government support is directed at the very early stages, leaving the companies to die later on,” he said.
Even though most cleantech companies look toward a global market, he believes that Israel could do more to encourage companies by adopting more renewable technology into its energy plans.
While German energy is about 27 percent renewable and American energy about 13%, Israel lags far behind.
“Israel has the best conditions for solar [energy production], but gets only 1% of its energy resources from it,” he said.