More than 250 Israelis, from college students to experienced executives to entrepreneurs in their 70’s and 80’s, recently attended EcoMotion to present their ideas for alternative smart transportation solutions. EcoMotion, a conference (that called itself an unconference), was a kickoff event aimed at creating a collaborative community from a variety of disciplines to solve the problem of dependence on polluting fuels.

Among the inventions shown were a car propelled by wind, a bicycle powered by a fuel cell and a train that floats on water. No idea was too farfetched.

“Everyone was really excited to share ideas and projects,” said Boaz Mamo, executive director of EcoMotion for the Israel Science Technology and Innovation Policy Institute (ISTIPI), which is cosponsoring the initiative with the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Science, Keren Hayesod (United Israel Appeal) and the Israeli automotive industry.

“The atmosphere and energy were amazing. People stayed until 2 am, to talk and create something together,” Mamo added.

He stressed that EcoMotion isn’t a one-time event, and it is not competitive. Its main purpose is to foster a creative, collaborative community of minds from a variety of disciplines. Any practical, concrete products that may arise from this community would be icing on the cake.

“We will continuously hold small events during the year—workshops, meetings with investors and government officials—discussing collaborations to maintain the community and keep it strong. We are big believers in the free market. Everyone with an idea can take a shot at it, but we’re not promising anything,” continued Mamo.

“EcoMotion complements Israel’s national program to reduce global dependency on oil,” said Professor Eugene Kandel, head of the National Economic Council. “We believe that innovation is a key component for success in this complex process.”

Innovators, entrepreneurs, academics, philanthropists, representatives of financial and government institutions and international/local businesses (including heavy-hitters such as General Motors, Toyota and IBM, among many others) were encouraged to listen to each other’s ideas—no matter how wacky—and form working relationships.

EcoMotion participants came from smart transportation-related fields including energy efficiency, electric and hybrid propulsion methods; energy systems; smart electric grids, electro-chemical energy storage sources and devices (such as fuel cells and batteries); independent propulsion systems; smart navigation systems and more.

The idea is eventually to grow the Israeli meeting of minds into an international exchange of ideas and promotion of innovations for transportation and alternative fuels.

“The best minds in the world are looking for a way to reduce dependence on oil, which serves the interest of terrorist organizations and is environmentally destructive,” said Meir Arnon, chairman of EcoMotion.

EcoMotion’s goal is to create new and original ways to travel within cities and between them. Israel has a strategic interest in being a pioneer in this field, as they have already become in the past in the water technology and defense industries.

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