Mekorot is a water company with over 78 years of accumulated knowhow, capabilities and experience in the operation of complex and challenging water systems, including supplying water of diverse qualities from different and unique sources. Based on this existing foundation, Mekorot in 2004 established the WaTech® Center for Initiatives and Research in the water industry. The Center is dedicated to responding to various water challenges in Israel and the world by locating and developing tomorrow's water technologies and performing practical research. Research is performed in the company's operational facilities and at its four R & D centers. The WaTech® Center believes in finding solutions via cooperation and collaboration with different entities in both the Israeli and international water industry including: startup and established companies, research institutes and universities, technological incubators, investors and venture capital funds. In addition, specific applied research is performed independently by professionals at Mekorot. Aside from promoting innovative activity and research, WaTech® is responsible for developing and registering patents as Mekorot intellectual property, and applying information and database management for enriching the professional knowledge at the disposal of the Mekorot group.
The WaTech® Center engages in the following areas of activity:
Business initiatives and cooperation
WaTech® extends different forms of assistance for advancing innovative technologies developed by both startup and established companies:
- Diverse experimental sites – Mekorot's advanced technological infrastructures enable the extensive use of sites for performing research in the alpha and beta stages. The research is integrated in Mekorot's operational system, which allows for real-world testing of the performance of a new technology. The pilot phase constitutes an important stage in a product's development subsequent to its efficiency being proven in the laboratory. It is possible to supply a research project with a broad variety of elements in the operation of a water supply system such as: desalinization plants, wastewater purification plants, drilling installations, pipe systems, mechanical equipment, etc. Additionally, it is possible to make use of data in Mekorot's SCADA system for the purpose of developing innovative software products.
- Cooperation in planning – The professional teams at Mekorot possess vast experience and up-to-date knowledge in all matters concerning the management of water resources and technologies; additionally, they are familiar with the global water industry as well as the demands of the market. Mekorot professionals assist project developers and entrepreneurs in building an organized experimental plan to examine a novel technology, develop the product, and select its most correct application.
- Technological support and analysis – Partners are extended full support and accompaniment by Mekorot teams. Such teams include engineers who possess a broad perspective of the researched area, and field experts who are intimately familiar with a specific experimental site and capable of running the trial through its integration in regular operations. In addition, it is possible to make use of the company's laboratory infrastructure and perform full lab experiments when needed.
- Business development – The WaTech® Center possesses no small amount of business partners and international connections. Activity also includes assistance in gaining access to global markets, capital and strategic partners.
- Validation – Mekorot experts test technological validness through alpha, beta and laboratory tests. Upon the completion of a test (in the event the technology has been proven efficacious), Mekorot—a highly regarded water company worldwide—supplies the startup company with a summary report confirming the effectiveness of the technology, thus opening the path to the product's continued commercialization.
- Funding: The WaTech® Center has the ability to extend partial assistance in funding a trial.
It should be noted that over the years, WaTech® has examined over 1,000 proposals for projects in the field of water technologies and has had business relations with dozens of startup companies. In this respect, as mentioned, Mekorot extends its sophisticated facilities for alpha and beta tests while its senior experts from different disciplines in water technologies partner in the project's planning and development. Mekorot's commitment is expressed both in the achievement of the finest professional results and in obtaining required business leverage through the numerous players it is connected with.
Through the WaTech® Center, Mekorot conducts more than 40 applied studies per year aimed at advancing knowledge and locating new water technologies. The studies are performed via cooperation between Mekorot research teams and leading academic institutions in Israel and around the world. In Israel, Mekorot cooperates with the Technion Institute of Technology in Haifa, Tel Aviv University, Ben-Gurion University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and additional research bodies. Globally, the group cooperates with well-known academic institutions, international research foundations and reputable companies in the industry. Emphasis is placed on leveraging research budgets available to start up companies and to Mekorot by making use of various platforms for obtaining research incentives, e.g., Chief Scientist programs, the EU Research and Innovation program, and bilateral research foundations. In joint research processes, Mekorot's spheres of expertise come to the fore and include four advanced R & D centers: The Eshkol surface water research site in the Bet Netofa Valley, with its analytical instrumentation laboratories; the Dan Region Sewage Reclamation Project (Shafdan) at Rishon LeZion; the Seawater Desalination Plant in Ashdod; and the Sabcha C Seawater Desalination Plant in Eilat.
The WaTech® Unit