Devsena Mishra
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India-Israel Commercial Cooperation Needs to Add New Dimensions!

India is transforming and the results of this transformation are visible in every sector of the Indian economy.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers after the Israeli leader arrived at the Air Force Station in New Delhi January 14, 2018. (Prakash Singh/AFP)
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pose for photographers after the Israeli leader arrived at the Air Force Station in New Delhi January 14, 2018. (Prakash Singh/AFP)

India is transforming and the results of this transformation are visible in every sector of the Indian economy. To shape the future of India-Israel commercial cooperation, continuous improvisations will be needed. Modi and Netanyahu have always demonstrated a high spirit in their engagements. To further leverage this trajectory both sides will have to be more creative and proactive in their approach. Three and a half years of Modi government have passed. The Israeli teams in India need to do a review on how much they are successful in leveraging the possibilities which Modi-Netanyahu era has offered. There are a number of sectors which India-Israel commercial cooperation needs to include in the agenda of future cooperation.

Electric and Smart Mobility: India has one of the largest road networks and auto industries in the world. Promoting the electric and smart mobility in the country is one of the top priorities of the Indian government. To achieve the vision of 100% EV adoption by 2030, the Indian government and industry leaders are working together; their collective approach has the potential to turn this vision into a reality.

In the month of November 2017, at Smart Mobility Conference, Indian Union Minister Mr. Nitin Gadkari has released a report titled ‘Enabling India’s Transition to Electric Mobility.’ According to this report, India’s transition to a shared, electric, and connected mobility system can save US$330 billion by 2030. In the month of May 2017, Indian Government’s think-tank NITI Aayog in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Institute launched the Urban Mobility Lab project to set up India’s first ‘smart mobility solution city’ called ‘Lighthouse City.’ The Lighthouse City will be used as an experimenting lab for testing the adoption of smart mobility solutions. The Smart Transportation is one of the eight pillars of India’s Smart cities Mission too. Some recent policy-based initiatives of the Indian government to create an ecosystem for electric and smart mobility are: National Urban Transport Policy 2014, FAME (Faster adoption and manufacturing of Hybrid and electric vehicles) program, the Green Mobility Fund and Automotive Mission Plan (2016-26), a collective vision of government of India and Indian automotive industry on where this sector should reach over the next ten years.

The Israeli automotive and smart mobility sector is vibrant; it included more than 500 companies, 200 research groups, and over 2,000 entrepreneurs. In Israel, this sector is divided into electric mobility (EV vehicles, batteries/storage/e-powertrain, charging infra), autonomous mobility (automated vehicles, advanced driver assistance system, drones, sensors etc.), smart mobility (connectivity, shared mobility, smart navigation/transportation, big data) and conventional vehicle technology clusters. With the presence of established companies and young entrepreneurs, there is a mutually beneficial ecosystem exists in Israeli automotive industry. Some of the popular autonomous driving tech players of Israel are Mobileye, Waze, Moovit, and Gett. In 2013, Google bought Waze for close to $1 billion. In 2017, Intel acquired Mobileye for $15 billion. To encourage R&D and entrepreneurship activities in the Smart Mobility sector and for integrating the advanced technologies into the transportation system, the Israeli government has launched a National Plan for Smart Mobility and allocated a budget of NIS 238 million for the period of 2017-2021.

India is gradually transitioning into a shared, electric, and connected mobility ecosystem and Israel has a lot to offer in this field.

Digital Health: There are close to 400 digital health companies in Israel. The personal health tools and health analytics are the two major subsectors of Israeli digital health industry. A few days back Apollo Sugar, the nationwide diabetes clinic chain of India-based Apollo Hospitals, has signed an agreement with Israeli startup GlucoMe Ltd, to integrate its wireless monitor into Apollo Sugar’s home care programme. Israeli digital health players such as UpRight (a smart wearable device), Biop Medical (developer of an innovative technology which helps in the identification of cancerous and pre-cancer cells in epithelium tissues), TytoCare (a self examination device which can be used for remote diagnosis) and Fitness22, BitBite, Telesofia, SleepRate, Oxitone Medical kind of fitness apps and wearable devices are designed to provide innovative solutions for complex health problems.

Indian healthcare startups such as Practo, Portea Medical, Lybrate, Medwell Ventures, eKincare, Medibox Technologies, Medical Unique Identity, Rxpress,, Navia Life Care, Healthkart, Zoctr, Tricog, Care24, JustDoc, DoctorInsta, Netmeds, Mera Medicare and others are dealing with home care services, personal health information management and digital supply chain kind of activities. The focus of Indian digital health startups is more on the delivery of medical services than products and technologies. The Israeli digital health players, with innovative apps and devices, can fill the vacuum in the Indian digital health sector. The Digital Health sector in India is in a nascent stage and there are enormous opportunities for collaboration in this sector.

Clean and Renewable Energy: In the year 2015, during Paris climate summit, PM Narendra Modi has initiated an international solar alliance (ISA) of over 121 countries. The Indian government has set a target to achieve an installed renewable energy capacity of 175 GW by March 2022, including 100 GW of solar power, 60 GW of wind energy, 10 GW from biomass power, and 5 GW from hydropower. There are enormous investment and business opportunities in this sector.

Now if we talk about Israeli solar energy industry, it has a long and remarkable past. In the year 1950, Levi Yissar, an Israeli engineer, and entrepreneur has developed a revolutionary solar water heater to address the energy shortages of the country. In 1953, he started NerYah Company, Israel’s first commercial manufacturer of solar water heaters and by 1967 around 50,000 solar heaters had been sold. With the 1970s oil crisis, Harry Zvi Tabor, father of Israeli solar energy, developed the solar water heater that now over 90% of Israeli homes use.

Today, Israeli solar energy players such as Solel, Brenmiller Energy, Ormat Technologies, Emefcy, SDE Wave, Pythagoras Solar, Chromagen,  Enlight, SolarOr and social enterprises such as eTree are known for their unique and innovative alternative energy solutions.

Some Israeli solar energy companies are already participating in the Indian market. Israel’s Ecoppia, a provider of autonomous, water-free PV-panel cleaning technology for solar sites, is working with some of the big energy players of India such as NTPC and Adani Power. In April 2016, Ecoppia signed a deal with California based Sanmina Corp to launch E4 robots production facility in the Chennai, India. In Dec 2016, Ecoppia has signed an agreement with Solairedirect, a subsidiary of ENGIE Group, to provide its automated systems within the Bhadla Solar Park in India. Last year, another Israeli company SolarEdge, a provider of PV inverters, power optimizers, and module-level monitoring services has opened its office in India.

India has the world’s largest expansion plan in renewable energy. The Indian government has created a liberal environment for foreign players in the clean energy projects. Israeli solar energy players should leverage this opportunity!

Agriculture and Food Tech: After Defense, Agriculture is one of the key areas of India-Israel cooperation. The Indo-Israeli Agriculture Project is the collaborative effort of the Israeli Embassy, Indian center and state government bodies, the Indian Agriculture Ministry’s Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture and MASHAV. India and Israel have signed the Agreement for Agricultural Cooperation in 2006, which evolved into Indo-Israeli Agricultural Cooperation Project in 2008. During the first phase (2008 -2011) and the second phase (2012-2015) of this project, some centers of excellence have been set up in different parts of India, mainly in Haryana, Punjab, Utter Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Bihar, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. So far of the proposed 26 centers of excellence, 15 are operational. In the third phase (2015-2018), the Indo-Israel Agriculture Project will be aiming to open some more Centers of Excellence in other states.

Israeli Agricultural innovations are remarkable. Israel’s scientists, consultants, farmers and agriculture-related industries cooperate in Agriculture Research activities. Some of the Key Israeli Agricultural Innovations are: Drip irrigation (Introduced by Israeli inventor late Mr. Simcha Blass), Grain Cocoons (for toxic-free fumigation and safe storage of agricultural commodities), Biological Pest Control, Crop Protection, Dairy Farming (Israeli Dairy Firms provides advanced systems for herd management, monitoring, and feeding worldwide), Hardier seeds (a technology that enables the introduction of genetic materials into seeds without modifying their DNA), Desert Potatoes, GFA (Grow Fish Anywhere) etc.

The approach of the Indian government towards agriculture overhauling is serious. The India-Israel agricultural cooperation project needs to get aligned with the vision of the ‘New India.’ Now the focus of this cooperation should be on Agribusiness and Agro-Value Addition. Israel should participate proactively to turn Indian Agriculture sector into a profitable enterprise!

Apart from Agriculture, Israeli Food-tech startups have several remarkable techniques to offer too. Israeli companies i.e. Biofeed (which offers innovative techniques for integrated crop management), BactuSense (a chip based solution which gives real-time identification and analysis of bacteria in food processing plants, water systems and more), Yarok Technology Transfer (offers a rapid test kits for the fresh-food Industry), Inspecto (has built a prototype portable scanner and smart shopping app to help both producers and consumers detect pesticide residues in food) and Equinom (offers a non-GMO breeding technology that improves the yield and protein content of seeds) have a great scope in the fast growing Indian food industry.

Water Management: During PM Modi’s historic visit to Israel, leaders of both countries have endorsed the water technologies of Israel. Israeli PM Netanyahu drove PM Modi on to the Olga beach in the Gal-Mobile vehicle. The Indian government is going to set desalination plants on a large scale in the country. Some parts of our country are already using the Israeli desalination techniques. During PM Modi’s visit, both countries have signed two key MoUs related to water cooperation. One MoU is related to national campaign on water conservation and other is related to state water utility reform in India. The focus of India-Israel water cooperation is on water conservation, wastewater treatment and its reuse for agriculture, desalination, water utility reforms, and the cleaning of the Ganges and other rivers using advanced technologies. Israel’s water conservation, Micro or drip irrigation methods are very helpful for the Indian farmers. Israeli teams are working with the respective ministries to explore the cooperation opportunities related to water management.

Possibilities of collaboration in third countries: During Prime Minister Modi’s Israel visit, PM Netanyahu has talked about the possibilities of the collaboration for Africa and he said: “We’re talking about also cooperation in the third countries and actually working together to better the future of the people of Africa.” India and Israel both are active in Africa and the nature of their projects is quite similar. The clean and renewable energy, healthcare, agriculture and rural development, vocational/technical education, and entrepreneurship promotion are some of the key areas in which Indian and Israeli teams are working actively in the different parts of Africa.

The ‘Solar Mamas’ initiative which is supported by the Government of India, is providing the vocational training related to fabrication, repair, and maintenance of solar lanterns and household solar lighting to women from Tanzania and few other African countries. India’s Pan Africa e-network project has covered 48 African countries. It is Africa’s one of the biggest ICT project. India is the fifth largest country investing in Africa. The rural development and agriculture, energy, education and skill development, regional connectivity and quality of life are some of the key priorities of the Indian government’s cooperation programmes in Africa.

In early July 2016, Mr. Netanyahu became the first Israeli premier in decades to travel to Africa when he visited four East African nations: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. The MASHAV is actively working for reducing neonatal and maternal mortality in Ghana. In Ethiopia, Israel’s MASHAV is involved in the horticulture, healthcare, clean energy and other sustainable development programs through its different Centers of Excellence. In 2016, MASHAV launched the first Israel-Kenya Steering Committee on Water Cooperation. Israel is also cooperating technically and financially in the Galana/Kulalu food security project, one of the largest irrigation projects in Kenya. The initiatives such as ‘Training the Trainers’, Project TEN, the “Kangaroo System” introduced by Israeli medical trainers have received a good response.

India and Israel need to combine their capacities to give a right direction and push, to the sustainable development efforts in Africa!

About the Author
Devsena Mishra promotes advanced technologies, startup ecosystems and Indian government’s business and technology related initiatives like Digital India, Make in India and Startup India etc. through her portals, articles, videos, and books.
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