Last week was a big one for water in Israel, as seven companies competed in the final round of the prestigious W.E.T. (Water Export Technology) Revolution Competition. The seven were chosen from a field of nearly three dozen of Israel’s top water technology companies in a contest sponsored by, among others, a group of Massachusetts business officials looking for the next big Israeli thing in water tech. Among their criteria for a winner: a truly game-changing technology in the water business and a readiness to take on world markets. The company they found — TACount — certainly fits the bill.
Massachusetts is home to hundreds of water technology companies and is one of the leading states in the US for innovative water tech development. And Israel is, said Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the world’s top location for water tech start-ups, with groundbreaking technology in fields such as water reuse, wastewater treatment, desalination, energy efficiency, and drip irrigation.
It’s a marriage made in heaven, and Patrick’s state currently hosts the US operations of more than 100 Israeli companies, some of them in water tech. Massachusetts wants more, which is the main reason that 48 of the state’s top water executives came to Israel as part of an official delegation, the Massachusetts Water Innovation Mission to Israel. To that end, the Mission, with the full support of Patrick and other state officials, sponsored the W.E.T. contest, which pitted 32 of Israel’s top water tech companies against each other for a slew of prizes, including a free trip to Massachusetts and meetings with top industry officials.
Among the finalists in the contest were pioneering companies like Hydrospin, makers of a mini-electric generator that uses water to generate electricity to run valves and pumps; innovative wireless smart meter developer nLeak Technologies; and pipe repair technology Curapipe, which significantly cuts the costs of repairing buried pipes and water mains. But the winner was a company whose technology extends beyond water. TACount has developed a technology that detects and counts microorganisms in food and water in minutes, instead of the days that are usually required for scientists to test for bacteria using the usual methods.
The system, based on identifying a specific cellular activity in bacteria that had not previously been known, can also be used to detect bacteria in electronics, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. By detecting a microbial infection in minutes instead of days, the company says, it significantly reduces the response time to such an event, and can prevent incidents of mass poisoning from bad food or water.
As winner of the contest for company determined to be the most ready for export markets, TACount will enjoy a prize package that includes airfare and five days’ hotel accommodations for the company’s CEO to visit Massachusetts in the spring of 2013. While there, the CEO will be introduced to potential channel partners, customers, investors, government officials, and business partners who can help the company make Massachusetts its home-away-from-home as it enters the US market and leverages the state’s water industry cluster for global market access.
The contest was attended by some of the top technology, business, and diplomatic officials, including Chief Scientist Avi Hasson and Orna Berry, CEO of EMC Israel, who spoke at the event.
“Israel is the world’s number one home for water tech start-ups, in fields such as water reuse, wastewater treatment, desalination, energy efficiency, and drip irrigation,” said Shai Bazak, consul general of Israel to New England. “By working closely with the strengths in Massachusetts in research and academia, venture capital, engineering, and equipment, the two geographies together can develop the innovations necessary to satisfy global needs for clean and abundant water.”