About 2,000 financiers, policymakers, business leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators from Israel and 30 other countries came to Tel Aviv earlier this month for the fourth annual Fuel Choices Summit focused on establishing Israel as a center of knowledge and industry in the field of fuel alternatives and smart transportation.

Since the Israeli government’s Fuel Choices Initiative was launched in 2011, the number of research groups here has grown from 40 to about 220 and the number of companies in this field from fewer than 60 to about 500, with more than $2 billion worth of investments in the last five years, double the government’s target.

“We stand at the cusp of an energy revolution. The monopoly of crude oil will end,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the summit. “The Fuel Choices Summit celebrates visionary thinkers who are working to make this dream a reality. … Israel has become a global leader in this field. I’m proud that the first-ever vehicles to run on methanol were developed right here in Israel. And today vast sums are invested in hundreds of smart mobility startups in Israel.”

Smart transportation ideas were displayed at the Fuel Choices Summit 2016. Photo: courtesy
Smart transportation ideas were displayed at the Fuel Choices Summit 2016. Photo: courtesy

At the event, Netanyahu presented the $1 million Eric and Sheila Samson Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation in Alternative Fuels for Transportation to Northwestern University Professor Mercouri Kanatzidis and MIT Professor Gregory Stephanopoulos. This is the largest monetary prize awarded in the field of alternative energy.

National Economic Council Chairman Prof. Avi Simhon said, “Israel has a rare opportunity to lead the smart transportation world thanks to our unique knowhow in the fields of big data, cyber, image processing and others.” He encouraged the government to assist in creating many more companies on a global scale in the successful footsteps of Mobileye, Waze and Gett.