AICC Members Green Chamber of the South featured in “Our Green Heroes”

April 30, 2010

AICC Members Galit Levitin and Ofra Tessler, and the organization they co-founded, The Green Chamber of the South were recently featured in an article in The Piedmont Review. The Green Chamber of the south has partnered with AICC on many occassions including the Better Place educational event, the Southeast-Israel Water Exchange, the upcoming US-Israel Energy Delegation and more.

Click to read the full article

Founded in 2008 in Atlanta, Georgia, the Green Chamber of the South supports the growth and success of sustainability in businesses and encourages innovation and adoption of clean technology. We are a non-profit organization. The Green Chamber of Commerce facilitates connections and collaboration between companies, government, NGOs and the community, supporting the growth of green companies. GCS’s vision facilitates the success and growth of green businesses and establishes a hub for green commerce in the Southeast. The chamber members comprise businesses and organizations in the Southeast engaged in diverse industries including energy, education, manufacturing, government, trade, communications and marketing.

Business leaders recognize the rapid growth of the Southeast green business movement and their long-term growth opportunities are tied with the region’s environmental challenges. Some of the key issues facing businesses today revolve around water scarcity, transportation, and energy costs. An increasing number of businesses understand meeting growing environmental challenges requires adopting new sustainability strategies. Furthermore, a growing number of businesses require partners and vendors to engage in the sustainability process and develop their own green initiatives.


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Guest Post: 10 reasons Israel is a cleantech leader

April 26, 2010

Guest post by:  Shawn Lesser, president and founder of Atlanta-based Sustainable World Capital, which is focused on fund-raising for private equity cleantech/sustainable funds, as well as private cleantech companies and M&A.

  • Israel, a global cleantech powerhouse, is now attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in cleantech investment every year.
  • The country gets more from its soil, water, air, and sunlight than most other nations on earth.
  • Why has such a small country been able to position itself a world leader in cleantech?
  • The answer, I believe, is a combination of many factors: its history, attitude of the people, ingenuity, and challenges to survival.

According to my research, the following are major highlights of Israel’s cleantech leadership to date in 2010:

1. Israel is the Silicon Valley of water. Relative to its small size, Israel has devoted more resources to the development of waste water treatment and reclamation than any other country in the world. Seventy percent of its waste water is recycled, three times the figure of number two: Spain. Israel is the birthplace and world leader in drip irrigation, which has literally turned deserts into farmlands. The Israeli firm Netafim, a $500 million high-tech drip-irrigation giant, is a world leader in smart irrigation technology and has been credited with starting the drip irrigation revolution. Israel Newtech, which promotes Israeli clean energy and water technologies, has identified hundreds of water companies. It’s estimated that Israel’s water industry was valued at $1.4 billion in 2008 and could reach $2.5 billion by 2011. The sector is supported by early stage private and government investment programs, such as the Kinrot incubator, 11 investments to date) and the Office of the Chief Scientist (several million dollars in early stage R&D grants), as well as large industrial players such as IDE Technologies, a global leader in water desalination and Mekorot, the country’s innovative technology-oriented water carrier.

2. Brain trust. Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to population in the world. Within its small borders is an enormous concentration of PhDs and engineers, bolstered in large part by the large immigration from the former Soviet Union. This concentration of minds in a relatively small geographical space creates a country-wide incubator where ideas are constantly tested in the coffee shops of Tel-Aviv and the hallways of universities. Israelis also benefit from compulsory military service, where early exposure to high-pressure environments develop team building and leadership skills and a focus on technology-oriented innovation, which has a direct correlation with the needs of the cleantech sector.

3, Necessity as the mother of innovation. Due to its location and terrain, Israel is a country that has had extremely limited natural resources since its inception. Israelis have therefore become experts at getting the most out of limited natural resources. Confronting adversity has trained Israelis to think outside of the box. “Israel is poor in natural resources and rich in brain capital. Clean energy bridges that gap. What Israel lacks in the ground it makes up with its people,” says David Anthony from 21 Ventures.

4. Leveragability of tech expertise to cleantech. As Glen Schwaber, Partner at Israel Cleantech Ventures, wrote in his article The Quest for Smarts, “Israel’s tech sector has flourished through the creation of core technology competencies that are world leading. These include, but are not limited to digital printing, semiconductors, power electronics, optics and software. Over the last two decades, multiple billions of VC dollars have poured into Israeli companies in these sectors, market leaders have emerged, and many of the world’s largest multinationals have bought companies and set up shop in Israel as a result. Israel’s ability to compete globally in cleantech markets will depend largely on our success in leveraging all this know-how … Israeli excellence in advanced optics and systems has spawned a number of very interesting utility scale solar companies.”

5. Capital. Just about every major US VC firm in Silicon Valley, from Battery Ventures to Greylock to USVP to Sequoia Capital, is prospecting across Israel for cleantech investments. All told, at least 40 venture funds, several of them American, manage more than $10 billion in Israel, with an increasing share of their allocations devoted to cleantech companies. We are also seeing strong players driving alliances between US VCs and Israel cleantech ecosystem with organizations like CICC and its Cleantech Initiative, which is acting as a conduit and catalyst for US Israeli technology transfer. The Initiative is to feature 10 leading-edge cleantech companies from Israel in Silicon Valley next week.

6. The Better Place factor. Better Place is Israel’s best known cleantech company, and it recently raised a further $350 million (see Better Place deal bested by Airtricity). Founded by Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi, the company is developing electric vehicle battery swapping infrastructure. Israel was the first country to sign on with Better Place, Since then, Denmark, San Francisco, Canada, Australia and Hawaii have also begun working with the firm. Better Place accomplished significant milestones in 2009, including debuting the a first compatible EV in partnership with Renault at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

7. The sun shines brightly over Israel. The solar radiation Israel receives is a driver of solar thermal companies. Siemens bought Israeli solar thermal pioneer Solel for $418 million, while BrightSource Energy has raised more than $160 million from investors, including U.S.-based VantagePoint Venture Partners, Google, BP’s investment arm, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase. Other notable solar thermal companies include Heliofocus, ZenithSolar, and AORA.

8 Kibbutz Pioneers. The foundation of Israel’s cleantech industry was laid with the beginning of the kibbutz (collective communities) movement at the start of the 20th century (see Israel’s cleantech kibbutzim pioneers). At that time, the land was mostly semi-arid, with a scarcity of water and pockmarked by mosquito infested swamps, so principles of sustainability and self-sufficiency were adopted from the outset so as to “make the desert bloom”.

9. Home grown Israeli VC community. Israel has a vibrant local VC community which includes Israel Cleantech Ventures, AquaAgro and Terra Ventures—three firms dedicated to investing in Israel’s cleantech sector. Having a vibrant local VC community also draws foreign money.

10. Momentum. Israel is fast becoming the cleantech incubator to the world. In proportion to its population, it now has the largest number of startup companies than any other country in the world except the U.S., with 3,500 companies, mostly in hi-tech. Exciting new cleantech startups to keep an eye on, in our opinion, that haven’t been mentioned already include Bio Pure Technology, BioPetroClean, CellEra, Emefcy, Enstorage, Greenlet Technologies, GreenRoad, GreenSun Energy, IQ Wind, Linum, Panoramic Power, Phoebus Energy, SolarEdge, Takadu, Technospin, Transalgae and Variable Wind Solutions.

As Al Gore stated in a recent visit, “the people of Israel can lead the way to renewable energy. With its unique geographical position, and cleantech know how, Israel is a natural leader in the field.” Cleantech could well become Israel’s biggest export market. Other countries should take note.


AICC Member ActiveBase named by Gartner as “Cool Vendor”

April 19, 2010

ActiveBase, a pioneer in the Dynamic Data Masking market through its ActiveBase Security™ solution, today announced it has been included in the list of Gartner Cool Vendors in the Cool Vendors in Application Security, 2010 report by Ray Wagner, Joseph Feiman, Neil MacDonald, John Pescatore, Earl Perkins April 14, 2010, by Gartner Inc.
While other security and static data masking tools may provide protection for non-production environments, sensitive information in production environments remains mainly unprotected. With ActiveBase, users, external workforce, IT support teams or outsourced personnel cannot access sensitive information if it is not required to perform their job. ActiveBase offers a new approach – Dynamic Data Masking – allowing for application transparent, flexible protection even within packaged applications.

ActiveBase Security™ is the first product on the market in the emerging Dynamic Data Masking market. Static data masking — the only approach offered by most vendors — primarily aims to deter the misuse of data by users of test databases (typically programmers, testers and database administrators) by masking data in advance of testing.
Dynamic (real-time) data masking typically masks data in production databases (for example, from client service personnel working in credit-card call centers).

This technology does not require any changes in applications that access the database, or to the database itself. A caching mechanism minimizes performance effects.
The power of Dynamic Data Masking solution is that it adds a security layer within and around business applications, reporting, development and database tools, masking, scrambling, hiding or blocking sensitive information in real-time with no changes to applications or databases, while the underlying data is not masked, but it is returned masked at the presentation layer.

ActiveBase Security™ benefits include:
• Dynamically masks, scrambles, blocks, encrypts or hides “in-motion” access to sensitive and personal information in 1/10 the costs and time of applying other solutions.
• Enforces application security policies across applications and tools accessing production database. No need for changes to the applications or the database.
• Reuses ActiveBase Security production rules to mask and protect unauthorized access in testing and QA environments.
• Administered by security operators that are not required to be DBAs.

About Gartner’s Cool Vendors Selection Process
Gartner’s listing does not constitute an exhaustive list of vendors in any given technology area, but rather is designed to highlight interesting, new and innovative vendors, products and services. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness of a particular purpose.
Gartner defines a cool vendor as a company that offers technologies or solutions that are: Innovative, enable users to do things they couldn’t do before; Impactful, have, or will have, business impact (not just technology for the sake of technology); Intriguing, have caught Gartner’s interest or curiosity in approximately the past six months.

About ActiveBase
ActiveBase, Ltd. is a pioneer in the Dynamic Data Masking market through its ActiveBase Security™ solution and performance suite. World leading customers including Coca Cola, GE, Orange, Phoenix Insurance, First international Bank, Israeli Security agency and many more trust our software products in the most demanding environments.
Our software products are built on a patented Database Network Router (DNR) technology, transparently installed between applications and databases, with database traffic routed through it.

ActiveBase was founded 2002 by senior IT industry executives with specific expertise in enterprise security and database performance. ActiveBase is privately held. For more information, please visit http://www.active-base.com or http://www.dynamicdatamasking.com. ActiveBase joined AICC in 2009. Their US representative Tony Cannizzo, is a member of AICC Software Committee


Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) Ceremony – Sunday April 18th

April 12, 2010


Guest Post: Banking Teller Solutions Bring Brick and Mortar Banking Closer to the Online Model

April 12, 2010

Benzi Axelrod, Head of US Operations, Odysii

As we are pulling out of the great recession and shifting efforts to a growth mode, banks realize that they need to transform their network of branches from transaction focused to a selling machine.  Most retail banking organizations have a fresh appreciation for their traditional retail banking network.  This is not to say that the online channel is less relevant for customer acquisition and cross selling of products and services, but that it is not the only effective channel.  In addition, what the recent economic downturn has taught us is that customers need to “touch and feel” their financial service provider’s brand.  What a better place to satisfy these needs than at the branch where customers can connect with bank employees and brand identity.

Now that we accept the importance of a bank’s branch network, the question is how to transform it to a selling machine.  But first let’s review four pillars that are the basis for every marketing approach:

ROI – Banks need to design and execute marketing campaigns that increase revenue and/or reduce costs.   In addition, marketing campaigns needs to be measurable so that bank executives can compare return on investments against online campaigns which are much easier to measure.

Executing against strategic business objectives – Marketing campaigns must reflect the organization’s strategic objectives and communicate a consistent message across channels.  This requirement is becoming more challenging due to ongoing changes in banks’ goals and external forces.

Customer expectations – Major online players such as Google and Amazon increased customer expectations of relevant offers based on their recent purchasing behaviors.  Bank customers are bombarded with communication from multiple sources and expect relevant messages like they’re experiencing online.

Regulatory and compliance requirements – Regulatory and compliance changes are a major challenge to marketers where new and revised T&C force organizations to reprint offers and re-communicate with their customers (not to mention ensuring that “old” messages are removed on time from all branches).

Surprisingly enough, most retail banks still use the same marketing approach used 10 – 15 years ago and by and large, use the following channels to market their products and services:

Print – Direct mail and in-branch pamphlets are very common with most banks.  The line of pamphlets promoting services found at the teller counter and the waiting area is similar to what banks have used for the last decade.  Direct mail campaigns continue to miss their target audience with an alarming decline in response rate.

Teller – The teller is one of the most critical assets of any bank (you can go to a credit union branch and understand what I mean).  However, in many cases, tellers are not motivated or trained to promote the right products to the right customer.  Their goal is to process a transaction fast with no errors.  Cross-selling is not top of mind for most tellers especially when offers constantly change.

Digital signage – This is by far the most advanced marketing change we have seen in the retail banking.  Companies use digital signage to present fresh content and communicate relevant messages to all of their banking customers.  Is the message, however, relevant to individual customers?  Most likely, it is not.  Although digital signage is a major improvement from static/print communication, it is in many cases nothing more than digitized static content.

Benzi Axelrod, Head of US Operations, with the new Odysii system at Metropolitan National Bank

To address the above challenges, Odysii developed its Retail Banking Teller Solution which was installed at the Metropolitan National Bank of New York and its CashZone subsidiary. The Teller Solution provides a customized relevant message to the individual via a customer facing screen at the teller station.  The customer receives relevant cross sell messages in real time.

At Metropolitan National Bank, Odysii implemented a screen scraper at the teller station which reads an identifier provided by Metropolitan bank and is updated at the end of each day.  Each identifier represents a match between a customer’s current set of products with the bank and what additional products the bank would like to cross sell to that specific customer.   Once the system reads the customer identifier, a customized message is shown on the screen facing the customer.

In summary, Odysii’s Teller Solution brings the brick and mortar retail banking environment closer to the online model by providing relevant, customized messages in real time based on the customer’s current level of relationship with the bank.   We at Odysii believe that the teller solution will assist in transforming the retail banking environment to a selling machine by cross selling the right product to the right customer at the right time.

For more information, please contact Benzi Axelrod at Baxelrod@odysii.com or 646-706-7696 x202.

Special thanks to Nick Rosenberg, Metropolitan Bank’s CTO and Anthony Rotondaro, Metropolitan Bank’s SVP of Marketing.


AICC Member Alan Minsk: Get inside FDA’s Head and Do Your Homework

April 1, 2010

Alan Minsk is a Partner at the U.S. law firm Arnall Golden Gregory LLP in Atlanta, Georgia, where he leads the Food and Drug Practice Team where he advises pharmaceutical, biological, medical device and food companies on all legal and regulatory matters relating to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration. He also co-chairs the International Life Sciences and Health Law Committee of the American Bar Association. Alan is a member of AICC’s Medical Committee.

Alan was recently interviewed by the Israel Life Science Industry (ILSI) to discuss FDA regulatory matters and offers some tips for companies that face FDA review. In the interview Alan was asked about his role as an AICC Committee member.

Q: You are also a member of the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce. Where, in your opinion, can the best Med-Tech opportunities for Israeli-American co-operations be found?

There is no right or wrong answer concerning location. We have some clients, including Israeli clients, that prefer to be on the East Coast because FDA is there and the time difference is not as great. Some companies go where their investors or clinical sites or hospitals are located. Others set up offices close to where the new U.S. management is based or where they know there is plentiful employee talent in a particular therapeutic area. Some prefer to be near major airports, while others have personal reasons (e.g., family) for settling in a certain location. And there are companies that are enticed by money, incentives and benefits they receive from state or local governments. We have Israeli clients with offices throughout the U.S., so location decisions are based on a number of factors.

To read Alan’s full interview


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