Viewing entries tagged
Entrepreneurship

ElectRoad will retrofit existing roads with buried coils to inductively charge easily retrofitted electric vehicles. Photo: courtesy

ElectRoad will retrofit existing roads with buried coils to inductively charge easily retrofitted electric vehicles. Photo: courtesy

A unique wireless electrification system is to be piloted on a bus route in Tel Aviv, before it moves to Europe.

By Abigail Klein Leichman

As more and more electric vehicles hit urban streets across the world, better battery-recharging solutions are desperately needed to improve range, keep costs low and boost user confidence.

Oren Ezer (CEO) and Hanan Rumbak (CTO) cofounded ElectRoad in 2013 to develop their unique twist on the concept of underground electric coils that recharge vehicles as they travel on the road.

In a few months, ElectRoad’s dynamic wireless electrification system is beginning a pilot project in Tel Aviv involving a short public bus route.

“The idea of electrifying vehicles from the road is trendy right now and you can see several companies trying to do a similar concept to us, but our technology is totally different, from the coils under the asphalt to the transfer of energy to the bus,” Ezer tells ISRAEL21c.

ElectRoad received funding in October 2015 from the European Union’s €18 billion Horizon 2020 project to refine its objectives, define its market segment and woo strategic partners.

“We can use the grants to create pilots in Europe, where we already have several partners, and will apply for Phase 2 Horizon 2020 grants at the end of 2017,” says Ezer. He expects to start a pilot project in 2018 in a European city modeled on the one in Tel Aviv.

Easy retrofitting

ElectRoad’s copper-and-rubber electromagnetic induction strips are installed inside an 8-centimeter trench in the asphalt. From digging to repaving, the process can be completed on a one-kilometer stretch in half a day.

The system also requires smart inverters with real-time communication capabilities installed on the sides of the road; and a coil unit attached beneath the electric vehicle to receive the power over a small air gap to insure safety.

Smart inverters with real-time communication are installed on the sides of the road. Photo: courtesy

Smart inverters with real-time communication are installed on the sides of the road. Photo: courtesy

“We can easily retrofit any kind of electric bus, truck or car,” says Ezer. “All we’re doing is adapting the receiver.”

Because the ElectRoad system electrifies the engine directly, without going through the battery, the vehicle’s five-ton battery can be replaced with a much smaller battery – which is lighter and more energy-efficient – providing five kilometers worth of charging in areas that are not outfitted with the underground infrastructure.

The company’s offices are in Rosh HaAyin and its main facility is in Caesarea, but Tel Aviv was an obvious choice for its first pilot. The city already has made an investment in electric buses for public transportation.

“Tel Aviv is an innovative city and we have a lot of cooperation from everyone including the transportation authorities,” says Ezer.

ElectRoad also gets funding from the Israel Innovation Authority and the ministries of Transportation, Energy and Economy.

ElectRoad technology can be retrofitted to one kilometer of road in just half a day. Photo: courtesy

ElectRoad technology can be retrofitted to one kilometer of road in just half a day. Photo: courtesy

Rolling out slowly

The first market focus will be Europe, which is thirsty for clean transportation solutions.

The potential for ElectRoad’s system is huge, however, as China has thousands of electric buses and the United States is starting to get onto the electric transportation bandwagon.

Ezer and Rumbak, who met six years ago while working at Elbit Systems, plan to scale up ElectRoad very gradually. They learned their business lessons from conversations with 20 former employees of Better Place, the Israeli electric car network that went bankrupt in May 2013, due in part to overly ambitious and too rapid expansion.

“Better Place tried to eat the whole cake in one bite. That’s why we chose public transportation to start,” says Ezer. “There is a chicken-and-egg problem: You cannot create an electric transportation system before you have the first cars, so we understood that to penetrate the market through the private sector is wrong. We need to prepare the city first.”

ElectRoad plans to focus on public transportation first before opening the platform up to private transit. Photo: courtesy

ElectRoad plans to focus on public transportation first before opening the platform up to private transit. Photo: courtesy

Looking for evolution rather than revolution, Ezer and Rumbak plan to prove their cost-savings and pollution-preventing concept one bus line at a time, working their way up to taxis and eventually to private vehicles.

“We started everything with the mission of reducing pollution,” says Ezer. “Transportation is one of the keys to reducing pollution so that’s why we started there.”

The intellectual property is protected by a patent in London, and another three pending. The pilot systems are all made in Israel; eventually the heart of the system will be manufactured in Israel and the rest abroad.

For more information, click here.

Article courtesy of  Israel21c.org

Article courtesy of Israel21c.org

ElectRoad Recharges Electric Vehicles from Under the Road

Campus Tel Aviv. Photo by Tomer Foltin courtesy Google Tel Aviv

Among the many multinational companies that have shown confidence in Israel is Google, which set up shop here in 2006. Google has become a key force in the country’s startup community, offering entrepreneurs and newbie companies countless resources—such as a “hack space” and “device library,” where users can test out new tech ideas on a variety of platforms; and “Google Launchpad,” a two-week boot camp for early-stage startups, to help with product strategies and technology, marketing, business development, and more. In keeping with the company’s well-known employee-friendly mindset, Google’s new Tel Aviv and Haifa headquarters—designed by Camenzind Evolution, with Setter Architects and Studio Yaron Tal—can only be described as fun.

Google has become a key force in Israel’s startup community.

The Tel Aviv offices, which opened in late 2012, are divided into eight floors of the city’s Electra Tower. The workspaces are designed as riffs on Israeli locations and themes, from the undulating wooden boardwalks of the Tel Aviv Port to the orange groves near Jaffa to the rocky swells of the Negev Desert. One level is devoted to Campus Tel Aviv, which hosts "Google for Education" workshops (for teachers) and "Campus for Moms"  (a baby-friendly seminar for entrepreneur-minded mothers). The campus, the offices, the programming—all are designed to facilitate and inspire communication and creativity among employees. In Israel and elsewhere, Google has demonstrated that success can be gained by breaking the template and trying something new. As a company’s watch-phrase reminds us: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are for.”

Google Israel >
 

Campus Tel Aviv. Photo by Tomer Foltin courtesy Google Tel Aviv

Google Israel: A Resource for Startups

Israel has an Arab population of about 20 percent: currently that is some 1.7 million people. Yet the percentage of Israeli Arabs involved in the booming field of high tech is far lower—only about 2 percent of Israeli technology workers are Arab. This gap is one of the many challenges in the country today—but it is beginning to lessen, bit by bit. Arabs are represented at Israel’s top universities in numbers that correspond more closely with their percentage in the overall population. And the numbers of Arab engineers at the large Israeli branches of multinational tech companies such as Cisco, Google, Intel, and Microsoft are starting to climb.

When we employ people from different cultures, we can go even further, because each one thinks differently—and that can create inventiveness.
— Imad Younis, Alpha Omega cofounder

In the city of Nazareth, a small startup ecosystem is coming to life, with the help of Arab-focused venture capital funds and undertakings like the Nazareth Business Incubator Center and Stef Wertheimer’s industrial park.

Alpha Omega is one of the Arab-directed companies with headquarters at Wertheimer’s Nazareth park. Founded in 1993 by Reem Younis and her husband, Imad, the company produces cutting-edge products for neurosurgery and neuroscience research. They make a device that functions like a “GPS” system for the brain—recording neural activity, stimulating neural tissue, processing and analyzing data. It is used by neurosurgeons in the treatment patients with a variety of disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease and dystonia (a syndrome that causes involuntary muscle spasms).

Reem and Imad Younis met at the Technion, where she was studying civil engineering and he electrical engineering. Establishing Alpha Omega was a financial leap into the void for both of them: the young couple’s starting capital was comprised of the money from selling their Volkswagen Jetta, and four gold coins donated by Imad’s father. Over the following years, the Younises edged the company forward. Reem recalls:

We didn’t begin with an idea to “start a startup”; our only idea was to bring high tech to Nazareth, to the Arab sector, the Arab community. And we called it “Alpha Omega” because the idea was—we’ll do everything, from A to Z. Little by little we went into the medical-equipment business. We are there in the operating room with doctors treating people with neurological and mental disorders, helping them to get better.

While helping people to get better is the Younises’ primary aim, they also have a goal to help Nazareth succeed as a city of diversity and technology. As of this writing, Alpha Omega is thriving: the company employs more than sixty people—Muslims, Christians, and Jews—the majority are Arab (reflecting the demographic of their city). Imad Younis says that the mix of backgrounds has been valuable to Alpha Omega’s success: “When we employ people from different cultures, we can go even further, because each one thinks differently—and that can create inventiveness. . . . We can work together to achieve common goals.”

Alpha Omega’s “GPS systems for neurosurgeons” are used in hundreds of research labs and hospitals around the world. The Younises are proud to say that several of their former employees have gone on to form companies of their own. Most recently, Alpha Omega has released a new product that supports both clinical and research functions. And after securing regulatory approval in China, Alpha Omega has made its first major step into the Asian market.

Reem and Imad Younis are modeling and promoting entrepreneurship among the next generation of Israeli Arabs, encouraging them to take hold of the future and do something great with it.

Alpha Omega > 

Innovators Reem and Imad Younis, of Alpha Omega, makers of a “GPS” system for the brain