Lessons from Yozma for UK conservation

In February of 2021 Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta released the final report of a multi-year review of the economics of biodiversity. This report emphasised that biodiversity is an integral component of global economies and that the continued loss of biodiversity would have devastating impacts on human society.

Lessons from Yozma for UK conservation

The UK government response to the Dasgupta review enabled the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to set up the Natural Environment Investment Readiness Fund.

While the commitment of £10m is much needed, it is simultaneously inadequate to solve the biodiversity crisis. To support the government’s actions, industry must be equally committed. The fund developed by Defra must be envisioned to be the spark that motivates the private sector to take action.

Lessons from Israel

In the early 1990’s the Israeli Yozma Policy Program, established by the government, encouraged the emergence of a vibrant Venture Capital ecosystem that today, has positioned Israel as an innovation powerhouse. The government provided $20m in funding and offered foreign investors matching funds and insurance guarantees of 80% as a de-risking model. From 1991 the sector grew from a total of $58mm in committed capital (public and private) to $3.3bn in 1999. By 2000, Israel ranked only second to the US in invested private equity by share of GDP.

Essentially the microeconomic incentives were small wagers to help usher in a new industry. The Israeli model had three components: i) the marker for innovation-based change for economic growth; ii) policy-led industry emergence processes; and iii) adopting an evolutionary theory in the implementation of such policies. 

The innovation revolution triggered by the Yozma Program serves as an illustrious example of how to rapidly expand the commercialization of novel technologies. Herein, the government provides the spark and private industry follows through.

In the UK, productive collaboration between the government and industry can create an innovation ecosystem that evolves through the process of collective learning. Importantly, innovation is the central driver to economic growth where perceptive institutional change will usher in the emergence of the Green Economy with the economic exploitation of new opportunities no matter where that opportunity lies in the evolutionary cycle.

The private sector first needs to recognize this green “trigger event” and not only carry the narrative forward but also study the successes that have been generated from Yozma policy. Of specific interest will be to better understand the lessons from Israel forth implementation of step change in Industry. When comparing the life cycle of the Yozma model to the UK, we are presently at the dawn of the “green revolution” and industrial partners can define themselves by bringing innovation into the mainstream and demonstrating how it will be profitable. Demonstrable models within green silos will influence everyone within the value chain. The initiative will further educate the consumer, motivate entrepreneurs, and create additional liquidity for the startups rising in the sector.

Importantly, we are in the midst of a profound paradigm shift. When you have the second-largest auto group in the world, VW, announcing it will stop selling all internal combustion engine vehicles by 2026, you can be assured that dramatic change is coming. More companies should be making big bold statements to prepare consumers and motivate the masses to become participants in the new green economy.

We should be embracing Defra’s contribution and transforming the symbolism into a conservation industry program. There are many lessons to learn and much more opportunities to harvest. Let’s not squander the opportunity.

Thomas Buchar, Managing Partner, Oxford GAV Conservation Venture Studio

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie