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US-Israel fund to invest $6.4 million in 7 joint clean-energy R&D projects

The BIRD Energy program has funded 49 projects with a joint government investment of $38 million since 2009

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustrative image of the US and Israeli flags (3dmitry; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative image of the US and Israeli flags (3dmitry; iStock by Getty Images)

Seven joint US-Israeli clean energy projects — including an energy-storing system for electric cars and a hydrogen-powered drone that takes off vertically — have received $6.4 million in funding from the US-Israel binational research and development program for energy.

The US Department of Energy and Israel’s Energy Ministry, along with the Israel Innovation Authority, chose the seven clean energy projects as part of the Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Energy program. The total value of the projects is $15.4 million, which includes $9 million of cost-share funding from the companies selected for funding, BIRD said in a statement on Sunday.

BIRD Energy began in 2009 as a result of the US Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Since then and including the projects announced Sunday, BIRD Energy has funded 49 projects with a total joint government investment of approximately $38 million, in addition to $49 million in matching funds coming from the private sector.

Each project is conducted by a US and an Israeli partner. Selected projects address energy challenges and opportunities that are of interest to both countries and focus on commercializing clean energy technologies that improve economic competitiveness, create jobs and support innovative companies, the statement said.

“The joint projects that have won this round of financing presented promising technological innovations that address clean energy challenges in both countries and worldwide, ” said Aharon Aharon, the CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority in the statement.

The seven approved projects are:

Chakratec Ltd. (Lod, Israel) and Blink Charging Co. (Miami Beach, Florida) will develop and demonstrate boosting electric vehicle charging through an energy storage system
EcoPlant Technological Innovation Ltd. (Kibbutz Gevim, Israel) and Atlas Machine and Supply, Inc. (Louisville, Kentucky) will develop a solution to optimize energy efficiency and improve the quality of compressed air systems for the food and beverage industry
Elbit Systems Ltd. (Haifa, Israel)) and Ballard Unmanned Systems Inc. (Southborough, Massachusetts), will develop a hydrogen powered vertical take-off and landing drone for long endurance and zero emissions
Eta-Bar Ltd. (Petah-Tikva, Israel) and Adesto Technologies Corp. (Santa Clara, California), will develop an efficient power supply for grid connected electronic devices
Exency Ltd. (Sderot, Israel) and Brayton Energy, LLC (Hampton, New Hampshire), will develop a low-cost and high-efficiency solid biomass and solid-waste fueled electricity generation system.
Netafim Irrigation (Tel Aviv, Israel) and Polaris Energy Services (San Luis Obispo, California), will develop an integrated irrigation and energy management system.
Ramot at Tel Aviv University Ltd. (Tel Aviv, Israel) and Gas Technologies LLC (Walloon Lake, Michigan), will develop scalable production of a new methane dry reforming catalyst and its implementation into a synthetic fuel plant.

“The BIRD Energy program continues to deliver results, to the benefit of both the United States and Israel,” said Dan Brouillette, US secretary of energy, in the statement. “The innovative clean energy companies awarded to date have commercialized seven new energy technologies and attracted more than $450 million in follow on investment, creating jobs in both countries.”

Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s energy minister, added that the US-Israel collaboration within BIRD “enables both countries to promote joint development of technologies in diversified areas, and bringing them to commercialization in a short time.”

Projects that qualify for BIRD Energy funding must include one US and one Israeli company, or a company from one of the countries paired with a university or research institution from the other. The partners must present a project that involves innovation in the area of energy and is of mutual interest to both countries. BIRD Energy “selects the most technologically meritorious projects along with those that are most likely to commercialize and bring about significant impact,” the statement said. Qualified projects must contribute at least 50% to project costs and commit to repayment if the project leads to commercial success.

The BIRD Foundation was set up by the US and Israeli governments in 1977  to encourage and ease cooperation between companies in a wide range of technology sectors and offers funding to selected projects. The foundation does not take any equity or intellectual property rights in the participating companies or in the projects.

The BIRD funding is repaid as royalties from sales of products that were commercialized as a result of the support. The foundation provides funding of up to 50% of a project’s budget, beginning with R&D and ending with the initial stages of sales and marketing. The foundation shares the risk and does not require repayment if the project fails to reach the sales stage.

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