Massachusetts Water Mission to Israel Looks to “Win Inbound Innovation”

12/5/12Follow @gthuang

Consider, if you will, the future of water. Good old H2O gets a bum rap when it comes to hurricanes, floods, and tsunamis, but it sure comes in handy when you’re thirsty and trying to survive, irrigate crops, or flush a toilet.

Over the past decade, an impending global water crisis has come to light. Already more than a billion people lack access to clean drinking water, and far more are in need of adequate sanitation. It’s not hard to imagine this problem is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

So let’s talk about an international mission, originating locally, that just might change the world of water innovation through the business of technology.

A delegation of nearly 50 people from Massachusetts is making a special trip to Israel the week of December 16-19. They include entrepreneurs, scientists, tech executives, venture capitalists, lawyers, and policy makers—people like senior vice presidents Peter Tunnicliffe of CDM Smith and Chris McIntire of Xylem; investors Jim Matheson (pictured above with Gov. Deval Patrick), Carmichael Roberts, Earl Jones, and Jonathan Fleming; Tom Burton, the head of cleantech at Mintz Levin; and John Harthorne of MassChallenge.

The U.S. group will meet with their foreign counterparts, including Israel’s chief scientist, Avi Hasson, and minister of national infrastructure, Uzi Landau (an MIT grad), and will tour the country’s desalination and wastewater treatment facilities. Their goals: to develop partnerships that will benefit both the Bay State and Israeli businesses; to learn lessons from Israel’s leading water experts; and to encourage Israeli water companies to set up shop in Massachusetts.

The planning of the trip hit a few bumps in the past month. A group reception with the governor in Cambridge, MA, was postponed because of Hurricane Sandy. (Gov. Patrick kicked off the mission but will not be on the trip.) And recent developments in the Gaza conflict made planning travel to Israel a bit dicey. But with the current ceasefire in place, the trip is on—and, from all accounts, safety is not an issue.

So why Israel? Here’s some background. In March 2011, Gov. Patrick led a trade delegation to build partnerships in Israel. Water wasn’t even on the agenda yet. While at an academic conference there, the governor and other state officials were on stage when a man in the audience … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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  • Phillip Wilder

    The water situation in Gaza needs attention more urgently…