Abigail Klein Leichman
July 4, 2023

Tuna cans and automotive filters aren’t the kind of products we give much thought to. As useful as such traditional items may be, they’re rather dull and uninspiring. 

But Tal Leizer, formerly VP-marketing for an Israeli cooking oil producer, saw a lot of potential in the low-tech staples of daily life. 

She founded Practical Innovation to bring out and commercialize that potential.

“A strong economy stands on traditional industries, not high-tech,” Leizer tells ISRAEL21c. 

“These industries have a hard time finding their next generation of products, to find growth engines and profitable products. The margins are very low and they are struggling,” she says.

“I thought if we put time and effort into bringing a culture of innovation to traditional industry, we could see big breakthroughs.”

New possibilities

For the past 14 years, Practical Innovation has worked with a wide variety of traditional manufacturers in Israel and abroad, developing products and services that present new possibilities to previously ho-hum sectors.

Traditional industries get a sexy innovation makeover
Tal Leizer, founder and CEO of Practical Innovation. Photo courtesy of Practical Innovation

“So far, we have launched over 80 products for customers from industries including agriculture, cosmetics, printing, paint, metal, automobiles, plastics, food, health services, textiles, retail and more,” says Leizer.

“The Israel Innovation Authority, which started with high-tech, has opened a channel for traditional industry and approved us as an innovation consultant.”

The 12-employee company works with hundreds of academic and industrial specialists from Israeli and worldwide who have the expertise clients need.

Practical Innovation has an active satellite office in Brazil – where one of its clients is paper company Suzano — and just opened a branch in Dubai.

Leizer emphasizes that the intellectual property for every invention, once patented, is owned fully by the client. Practical Innovation does not sell products, only conceptualizes and creates them.

Golden Waste

Many industries produce waste that is difficult and expensive to get rid of, says Leizer.

“Our approach is to turn this waste into a new product that is more profitable than the core product of the company,” she says. This approach is dubbed “Golden Waste.”

Practical Innovation helped olive oil producer Shemen-Shan find a unique revenue stream for dealing with its nearly 5,000 tons of skins, pits and leaves left over every year after pressing. 

Traditional industries get a sexy innovation makeover
A pile of waste olive leaves and branches from the production of olive oil. Photo by Agsaz via Shutterstock.com

“These waste products are filled with antioxidants but they are 1,000 times stronger than the human body can handle, so it’s actually toxic,” says Leizer.

“We have turned that olive waste into the world’s healthiest flour. It’s gluten-free, high in fiber, and the antioxidants are in exactly the amount the human body needs.”

The olive flour is already being used to bake breads and crackers commercially. The flour itself is sold in the olive oil company’s own stores.

“We are now talking with investors to enlarge the line, and are in discussions with large European olive oil makers about this innovative product,” says Leizer. 

Low-carb sandwich solution

Practical Innovation solved a different problem for Lord Sandwich, an Israeli company seeking to go global. 

The problem: With a growing number of consumers wanting to eat fewer carbs and more proteins, the sandwich category is stagnating. Furthermore, traditional sandwiches have a five-day shelf life, making export unfeasible. 

The solution: Full Wrap, a flexible and sturdy gluten-free tortilla wrap made of vegetable protein. It can be integrated into any sandwich production line, says Leizer. 

Lord Sandwich has received prizes for Full Wrap, including first place in the Future Food-Tech innovation challenge with Kraft Heinz in 2021 that sought innovative ways to use beans or pulses.

The mood-altering air filter

Israel’s A.L. Group specializes in filtration solutions for the automotive industry.

With gas and oil filters going obsolete due to the rise of electric vehicles, A.L. was seeking a way to make air filters more intrinsic to the driving experience. 

“Drivers don’t think about the air filter in their car because it doesn’t affect the performance of the vehicle. We wanted to create something you cannot drive without,” says Leizer.

Welcome to A.L.’s unique Auto Wellbeing System.

This filter holds scent capsules that release an app-controlled choice of aromatherapy oils with names like Happy, Focus, Calm, Boost and Bliss. The capsules are restocked when the filter gets its annual change at the car mechanic.

Steelbird International of India has signed a strategic partnership with A.L. Group to market the aromatic Israeli filters to its established OEM clientele throughout India and South Asia.

Outdoor air conditioners and more

Practical Innovation began working on a “green” outdoor air conditioner for a military contractor but then a group of investors established a startup dedicated to this product.

Kensho by Green Konoko addresses the fact that al fresco events are challenging in the age of climate change. Existing fan or water-mist solutions can be noisy and uncomfortable and need a power source. 

This elegantly designed unit lowers the temperature by 10 degrees using only liquid nitrogen. It’s quiet and includes insect-repellant and disinfection capsules.

Some other inventions Practical Innovation has dreamed up:

iPaint, a reusable backpack kit outfitted with a bag of paint, roller, flexible hose and electronic pump. The paint is poured from the bag through the hose to the roller, ready to apply to the wall. 

A gluten-free, sugar-free, single-calorie meringue kiss that dissolves in seconds to sweeten hot beverages, made with probiotic fibers and vegetable protein.

A spurt-free, air-release tuna can with an award-winning pump that facilitates draining the oil or water without danger of cutting fingers. It can be integrated on any tuna canning line and is made from recyclable materials.

On-trend seasoning products from Israel’s largest salt company, Salt of the Earth. CEO Ofer Rokni said, “Most of us were surprised to realize that salt can be a source of innovation.”

For more information about Practical Innovation, click here

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