The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent global stakeholders’ preeminent commitment to solving the world’s most pressing economic, social and environmental challenges. The 17 Global Goals were adopted by all UN member states in 2015 in a universal call to action to end poverty, ensure gender, racial and cultural equality, secure decent work and economic conditions, protect the planet and work towards more sustainable and healthy lifestyles by the year 2030.
Indeed, one of the central pillars of the SDGs is that nations, businesses, organizations, and individuals are encouraged to work together to provide pervasive solutions to address these challenges – an effort that also importantly contributes to the realization of Goal 17 – Partnerships for the Goals.
Israel, a global hub for creativity and innovation, is home to some of the leading companies and startups that provide real-world solutions to key social and environmental challenges in the context of the Global Goals.
From early-stage startups* to large corporations, here are five Israeli companies that are applying their knowledge of natural resources, sustainability and breakthrough technologies to innovate and create lasting solutions to some of the world’s most compelling challenges:
Founded in 2012 by three friends, Yair Teller, Oshik Efrati and Erez Lanzer, with a mission to make renewable energy sources more accessible to the masses, HomeBiogas is home to one of the most innovative and sustainable inventions to come out of Israel in recent years.
Now in its second iteration, HomeBiogas 2.0, which just succeeded in raising nearly half a million dollars in a Kickstarter campaign, the company’s biogas generator produces readily available energy from home food scraps.
Originally launched in economically disadvantaged Bedouin and Palestinian communities, where access to affordable energy sources is a prevalent challenge, HomeBiogas is now available in 40 countries worldwide. The system helps families turn their food waste into a precious energy source, thereby addressing both SDG 7 – Affordable and Clean Energy, and SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production, by providing a home-based circular economy solution.
The company closed its Round C of funding in July 2018, raising $5 million from Closed Loop Ventures and Israel’s Engie.
MobileODT has invented a noble colposcopy, or cancer detection, device that fits on any smartphone with the goal of enabling early detection of one of the most pernicious feminine conditions, cervical cancer. The device works to easily capture high-quality images with expert magnification techniques, then, similar to the process implemented by full-scale colposcopy devices, it documents and marks areas for further examination by a physician.
In addition, MobileODT’s app interface simplifies and streamlines doctor-patient communication regarding their potential condition, making it easier for nurses and medical peers to assess a patient’s condition through data analysis and collaborative image sharing.
As such, MobileODT not only provides a novel solution to SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being, it also addresses important aspects of SDG 5 – Gender Equality in medical care, namely in developing countries where women’s health issues are under-addressed. Founded in 2012 by Ariel Beery and David Levitz, the company has so far raised $11.03 million from Israel’s OrbiMed, Tristel and others.
One of the biggest sustainability challenges globally is the use of plastic packaging. With consumer goods now more accessible (and disposable) than ever, plastic plays a huge role in our daily lives. However, the majority of plastic packaging cannot be recycled and ends up in the landfill, where it permeates into our soil and groundwater resources, or ends up in our water sources, resulting in the “great microplastic disaster” that may be familiar from disturbing images of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
That’s why Israeli company TIPA-Corp, which was founded in 2010 by Daphna Nissenbaum and Tal Neuman, is innovating plastics to create viable, compostable and flexible packaging solutions. TIPA-Corp’s vision is that, one day, plastic packaging will have the same end-of-life properties as regular organic matter, while still functioning as a full packaging solution.
Therefore, TIPA-Corp contributes to SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production – by creating solutions that will enable us to continue our comfortable consumer-driven lifestyles, while caring for the future of the environment. The company has so far raised $48.5 million from Blue Horizon, Triodos Organic Growth, and GreenSoil Investments (Israel).
While handwashing may seem like a given, for many, mainly in the developing world, hygiene and the spread of disease are serious issues that present challenges to sustainable urban and economic development. To address these challenges, Israeli startup Soapy Care Ltd., founded by Alex Orlovsky and Max Simonovsky, has created an Internet of Things (IoT) device that provides individuals with an exact amount of water and soap, while collecting data on handwashing patterns and trends.
Again, handwashing may at first not seem like the most “critical” data collection point; however this data is of particular use to employers in the restaurant and food service industries, as well as for hospitals, medical centers and for use in public areas such as parks, train stations, etc. It could even help fight the coronavirus epidemic.
Soapy Care’s founders believe that by tracking data on hygiene patterns, the spread of dysentery, e coli-related viruses and diarrhea can be controlled and limited by over 50%. Soapy Care’s venture connects with SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being and SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth, for proper health and safety in the workplace. Soapy Care has raised $1.35 million in pre-seed and seed funding from Altair Ventures and Sarona Ventures (Israel), as well as a grant from the Israel Innovation Authority.
In terms of companies at the forefront of Israeli business prowess, Netafim, which was established as a kibbutz-company in the 1960s, is an early innovator. The company, which is now a global leader in the market of drip and micro-irrigation technologies with nearly 30% of the estimated global market share, originated when its founders Simcha Blass, Avinoam Ron, Uri Werber, Danny Retter and Tzvikie Keren were faced with the challenge of watering agricultural crops with limited access to water resources – the status quo in Israel’s drought-ridden climate.
Netafim provides solutions for crop irrigation that seek to minimize the use of precious water resources, while maximizing the fertility and fecundity of plants through the application of technological solutions for monitoring watering times and amounts.
The company is a member of initiatives that are tied to the SDGs, like the UN Global Compact (UNGC), and also addresses SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation (which tackles water scarcity), through the UN CEO Water Mandate.
In 2018, Mexican chemical firm Mexichem acquired 80% of Netafim; Israel’s Kibbutz Hatzerim retains 20% ownership.