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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

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Sustainable water solutions

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“Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match” – famous words from the musical Fiddler on the Roof. Tevye, Golda and their daughters could articulate their needs for a scholar, a rich man or a handsome man, but they would take whatever Yente the Matchmaker would bring them. Right? Of course right! Today, they could turn to successful websites such as JDate and Jewish Friend Finder to find a matchless match.

So, how do you meet a sustainable solution that’s a perfect and cost effective match for your business, community or organization’s wants and needs? Who plays the role of matchmaker in the cleantech world? Can the process of need articulation and capability matching be improved? Is the “matchmaker” a real person, a virtual community or an automated process? Does the “matchmaker” get paid for his efforts?

The videos I described in my last column (Dec. 13) are a way of attracting attention to what’s going on in Israel in the area of water. They tell you in general terms what innovative companies in Israel are capable of doing, what they’ve done for others and the quantified benefits they’ve achieved.

There are LinkedIn social media “groups” that have a focus on water, such as the ones run by Israel NewTech and Cleantech Israel. Such groups expose people who have joined, or who were allowed to join based on specific criteria, to a lot of advertising, promotion and success stories about various Israeli developed Cleantech solutions. Matchmaking here depends on the off-chance that the people looking for the solution can find or see what they need through the inundation of communications.

There are water-focused trade show efforts such as Watec in Israel and the Canadian Water Summit. These national conferences physically bring together buyers and sellers. They need to generate an audience, both from in the country and out of the country, by creating a program of relevant speakers and the ability to show technology in action. The value of these conferences is that they provide opportunities to set up meetings or to enable ad-hoc meetings to occur as needed.

Cleantech trade missions and symposia such as the ones run by the Province of Ontario in 2010, or those sponsored by the Jewish National Fund that brought Manitoba and Israeli water experts together, physically connected Canadians with water-related needs with various water solutions in Israel.

The recent Water Export Technology Revolution competition gave Israeli companies focused on water an opportunity to highlight their various capabilities. The New England-Israel Business Council, Combined Jewish Philanthropies and five co-chairs from their business communities were then able to put together a productive set of focused meetings in Israel with a selected group of these companies.

David Goodtree, co-chair of the mission and co-organizer of the competition saw the combined information solicitation, competition and trade mission effort as “a way to develop partnerships to advance water innovation globally using Israeli technology and to learn from Israel’s enormous success in enhancing its self-sufficiency in the water space.”

Ways to match water needs to solutions continue to evolve. Newer and sustainable matchmaking models are emerging. Tevye would be proud.

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