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By Dr. Eli Opper, EUREKA High-Level Group Chairman

As part of the EUREKA Clean-Tech Action and in parallel to the EUREKA meetings held last week in Eilat, Israel, EUREKA hosted a panel at the 4th Annual Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Conference this past Wednesday. Israel’s southern-most city of Eilat was the backdrop for the event, where EUREKA delegates from 40 countries came together at a conference of more than 1500 clean-tech innovators and stakeholders in the field. Panelists discussed the important topic of how policy tools can be used to encourage the development of a country’s renewable energy and clean-tech industries.

We heard examples of how countries like Israel, Britain and Canada are working to get policy in line with innovation.

Even companies that come from countries with an edge in the field need the support of their governments and of international organizations. Israel is advanced in R&D, we have existing industrial clusters that enable progress in the clean tech field, and we have more than 200 million dollars invested in innovative clean-tech start-ups in Israel. Still, there are barriers to further development and commercialization.  The lack of certainty and high-risk environment inherent in the field prevents entrepreneurs and firms, researchers and investors, from entering the market.

As such, government support and the support of platforms like EURKEA are crucial. Government grants and international cooperation programs can help reduce the risk and create the certainty these companies crave.  The key tools such support programs provide include steady budgets, knowledge transfer, funds for early and late stage development, and a platform for international cooperation.

Indeed, even though innovation is generally understood to be an individual or team activity, it cannot exist without the right conditions and a nurturing environment. Creating an environment conducive to innovation and the development of new technologies is the task not only of start-ups and Venture Capitalists. It is the task of government and innovation agencies, which must use policy as their tool.  Nurturing innovation is one of the most important ways to encourage growth.  Policy must play a role in that process.

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