In Morocco, the Israeli Minister of Innovation praises a “tremendous” opportunity

CASABLANCA, Morocco – This Thursday, Israel and Morocco signed the first agreement between governments that aims to facilitate collaboration between the two countries in the fields of technology and science.

This agreement was signed by the Israeli Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology Orit Farkash-Hacohen and the Moroccan Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Innovation, Abdellatif Miraoui, twenty-four hours after the Israeli Minister’s announcement of the conclusion of this memorandum of understanding. during the Forum “Israel-Morocco: Connect to Innovate”, dedicated to high technology and commerce in Casablanca and organized on the initiative of the non-profit organization Start-Up Nation Central (SNC).

During his speech at the closing of the three-day event on Wednesday, Farkash-Hacohen praised the renewed ties between the two countries, as well as initiatives to encourage collaboration in sectors such as renewable energy, water management, agriculture or food. The minister said the two countries have a “tremendous opportunity” to work together to address the challenges facing both nations, and this opportunity should not be missed.

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“It’s a special event. It’s only been 18 months since we signed an agreement that restored diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Morocco. If it’s the governments that sign the treaties, it’s the people who build the peace,” she said in her speech.

The minister praised Israeli innovation in different sectors such as water technologies, energy efficiency and energy storage; she highlighted the Jewish state’s experience in wastewater treatment and noted that most of these advances were made because reality dictated them, after a few difficult years of drought in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

She also paid tribute to the New Moroccan Development Model, a plan for the North African kingdom that was put in place by the government last year and which provides for investments in different sectors such as green energy, smart agriculture and food security.

Israeli Minister of Innovation, Science and Technology Orit Farkash-Hacohen discusses with SNC CEO Avi Hasson during the Forum “Israel-Morocco: Connect to Innovate” organized by Start-Up Nation Central in Casablanca, 25 May 2022. (SNC)

Morocco is facing one of the worst droughts in decades this year and is trying to mitigate its impact on agriculture and the food industry. Last month, the kingdom announced the construction of a new seawater desalination plant in anticipation of future droughts. Rabat expects this factory, which will be installed on the outskirts of the city of Agadir, on the south coast of the Atlantic, to be the largest in the world, with 275,000 cubic meters.

Farkash-Hacohen said Israel has learned a lot about droughts and water scarcity and can share its practices with nations willing to cooperate.

“As all businessmen know, partnerships are the key to success,” explained the minister. “Israel’s talents in terms of innovation … can help both countries achieve the goals they set for themselves,” he added.

The Israeli government, she said, “is very committed to making this cooperation a success.”

The very broad memorandum of understanding that was signed by the two ministers “is a powerful lever and a positive step,” she said. It will focus “on agriculture, food processing technologies, water and desalination technologies, renewable energy and environmental technologies, artificial intelligence and more,” she said.

A focus on climate and Moroccan leadership

Also speaking at the event, the former Moroccan Minister of Energy, Amina Ben Khadra, who became the current Director-General of the National Office of Hydrocarbons and Mines of Morocco (ONHYM), explained that the global climate crisis required governments and entrepreneurs “ think green” and bet on renewable energy as a strategic asset.

Morocco, she noted, has made green energy a government policy and “a strategic choice” for more than a decade, launching an energy transition process as early as 2009 with the National Energy Strategy and building the Noor-Ouarzazate complex in 2016, the largest largest concentrated solar plant, installed on three hectares.

The Ouarzazate solar plant, also called the Noor plant, in the Moroccan region of Drâa-Tafilalet, 10 kilometers from Ouarzazate. (Credit: Overflightstock Ltd via iStock by Getty Images)

The kingdom has pledged to increase the share of renewable energy in its electricity production, increasing it to 52% by 2030 – 25% from solar, 20% from wind and 12% from hydropower. He also hopes to reach 80% by 2050.

Furthermore, Rabat was among the few countries present at the COP26 climate conference, organized late last year in Glasgow, which promised not to build new coal-fired power plants.

While it is the public sector that finances the majority of renewable energy projects in Morocco, Ben Khadra said the kingdom now hopes to attract private investment and “position Morocco as a platform for green industries”.

“There are so many things we can do, we can take advantage of Israeli technology. We can establish strong cooperation and joint work with Israeli companies,” said the former energy minister.

israeli climate technology

According to Start-Up Nation Central, Israel is home to around 700 startups and other companies working on climate-related challenges – with around 100 companies in the energy subsector among them. The climate sector, according to SNC, also includes companies specializing in technology industries related to transportation, mobility and food.

Of these approximately 700 start-ups, 25 were invited by SNC to the Casablanca Forum to present their technologies to potential partners and customers.

Tel Aviv-based Eccopia was able to present its robotic and analytical cleaning solutions for solar panels, solutions designed to keep modules clean, during a series of presentations that took place at the conference.

Eccopia, whose shares are traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, thus offers a robotic solution that is fully automated and does not use water to keep the solar panels at an optimal level of performance and also to prevent potential damage. The company’s customers include solar energy providers around the world.

In a related area, Calanit Valfer, managing partner of growth capital investor Elah Fund, introduced one of his portfolio companies, Zooz Power (formerly Chakratec), which has developed an ultra-fast power amplifier for electric vehicles that, according to it, has become “the missing link in the value chain”.

Zooz’s offering helps solve the problem “faced by many drivers who are concerned about their battery draining before they reach their destination” and allows for fast charging of the vehicle.

These amplifiers are modular and take up half a parking space, making them ideal for installation in critical locations such as parking lots, airports and hotels. The company says this type of system overcomes grid limitations and has the potential to accelerate the adoption and deployment of electric vehicles.

The Zooz power amplifier for electric vehicles. (Screenshot/Zoo)

Zooz shares are traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and the company has installed its power amplifier at Vienna airport and in hotels owned by a German chain. The company also has partnerships in the United States, noted Valfer.

Omer Sella-Tunis, business development director at Tomorrow.io, developer of a meteorological and climate analysis platform, spoke about how his company can help Morocco, “one of the most advanced countries in the world in the fight against climate change, with its meteorological modeling and its climate-based decision-making process.

Tomorrow.io customers include JetBlue, Uber, Ford and United Airlines. The company has approximately 200 employees in offices located in Tel Aviv, Boston and Boulder.

Precision farming specialist SupPlant, which presented at the conference on Tuesday, announced that it has signed an agreement with a Moroccan company to launch a pilot project on 1,700 hectares of land that is home to a variety of crops.

Israeli start-up SupPlant combines sensors placed on plants and artificial intelligence to provide data that facilitates farmers’ decision-making. (Credit: SupPlant)

SupPlant combines sensors placed on plants and artificial intelligence to provide data that makes it easier for farmers to make decisions. The sensors are placed at five locations on a given plant – at the bottom of the soil, on the surface of the soil, on the stem, on the leaves and on the fruit – and the data collected through them “are uploaded to the cloud every ten minutes and combined with weather forecasts to give farmers unique insight and recommendations for irrigation,” explained SupPlant General Manager Ori Ben Ner, Israel times during a previous interview.

“Which is very useful in day-to-day farming, but particularly crucial also when an exceptional weather event is expected, and the solution allows to offer farmers specific irrigation recommendations to ‘face the storm’ and not over-irrigate or not enough,” added Ben Ner.

SupPlant’s technology was named one of TIME’s Top 100 Inventions for 2021 (alongside three other Israeli inventions).

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