Global Company Supports Cleantech Start-Ups

Created: 2013-02-16 12:10 EST

The Muv-e Vehicle is folded up and ready to be hauled. Next to it from right to left are: Ilan Israel – Autodesk section manager at Omnitech; Rani Kimhi - Autodesk Israel manager; the two developers and Ethan Glazer, PWC Israel manager. (Photo: Allmedia)

The trend in capital investment in green technologies may be gathering momentum across the world, but in Israel the trend doesn’t seem to be catching on.

"Investments of venture capital funds in the field of Cleantech in Israel have gone down 30% in 2012 as compared to 2011," says Ethan Glazer, Head of Cleantech and Energy in the international consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

So why the drop in venture capital funding for Cleantech?

According to Glazer, the reason lies in the time needed for Cleantech development, which is longer than in other fields such as hi-tech. Also, the success of such projects is more dependent on regulatory factors.

But one International company – Autodesk - offering solutions in the fields of design, engineering and entertainment, has decided to take an active stand in support Cleantech-related start-ups. Their project "Autodesk Clean Tech Partner" is already operational in 46 states worldwide. It was launched in Israel as well.


Rani Kimhi, manager of Autodesk Israel, points out that unlike hi-tech, which is mostly about program development, most Cleantech projects require building a pilot already at the stage of seeking funding in order to attract investors; the pilot is generally built mechanically and is time consuming.

Autodesk offers start-ups free use of a digital design package worth $150,000. The program package includes the Autodesk Inventor, which is used for programming, illustration and simulation of products prior to their manufacturing. Using Autodesk's CAD (Computer Aided Design) programs would enable, among other things, to skip the phase of building a physical pilot.

"Autodesk suggests to work in a simulation which enables showing a product without building a pilot, which is expensive," explains Kimhi. "We have chosen to operate this program in Israel since Israel is considered a powerhouse in this field. The research company Cleantech Group has rated Israel second in innovation among start-up companies in the Cleantech field."

Muv-e Project – The Development of a comfortable, personal vehicle with zero harmful emissions.One of the causes for global warming is the emission of greenhouse gases from vehicles operating on fossil fuels. Moreover, in Israel, private cars cause traffic jams and block main transportation arteries in cities for many hours each day.

The start-up MUV-e is one of Autodesk's partners in Israeli Cleantech. The MUV-e project is an electric vehicle that bears some similarity to a scooter. But it folds up and turns into a portable cart. You can take it with you on the train or in a car and use it for transportation without causing air pollution or getting stuck in traffic jams. It's a tool for people willing to give up driving their private cars in the city, whose needs are not answered by public transportation, and who are not fit enough to pedal a bike.

Benny Shimon, who is in charge of business development at MUV-e, explains that one of the tools that have made the project possible was Autodesk. “We made it to market in a very short time – 4 months, from the stage of an idea to presentation in an urban environment."

An additional feature the vehicle will have in the future - currently in development stage - is the possibility to control the vehicle via cellular phone. For example, while walking to a meeting, the driver can instruct the vehicle to open, using his cell. While driving, he or she can also ask, through his GPS-equipped cell, for advice, such as, "I've 15 minutes left to my next meeting at point X, will I get there on time, or do I have time to order some coffee on the way?"

The vehicle was presented during a Cleantech exhibition, to great audience interest. Ilan Israel, manager of the Autodesk branch at Omnitech, hopes that with the help of Autodesk design, Cleantech companies will be able to release products to the market faster and in a more economical way, of particular significance these days, when access to funding has become neither cheap nor particularly easy.

 

Reporter: Marlene-Aviva Grunpeter