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Israelis are masters of food innovation.The reason is here

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What are the recipes for beef-free meat and dairy products? Snacks and sauces low in sugar and salt? Long-lasting fresh food and compostable food wrapping paper?

A rapidly growing and climate-threatening world is hungry for such recipes. Properly, the search started in the kitchen, or rather in the kitchen.

The world’s first food technology hub was launched in 2015 by the Strauss Group, one of Israel’s largest food producers, as part of Israel’s Innovation Authority’s Technology Incubator Program.

This doesn’t exist anywhere else, said Amir Zaidman, Vice President of Business Development at The Kitchens in 2016.

Today, The Kitchen has 22 portfolio companies that are innovating to supply the world more efficiently, sustainably and securely.

But the kitchen is no longer alone. Government, corporate and academic food technology laboratories and incubators have been established throughout Israel. The number of food technology start-ups has increased to about 400.

Food technology (more and more called agrifood technology) is a combination of Israel’s two best assets, said Nisan Zeevi, Head of Business Development at Margalit Startup City # Galilee.

Agricultural know-how, one of the seven wonders of the world, and technological know-how built up over the past 40 to 50 years. Combining them will give you a breakthrough on a global scale.

Success is awkward

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Israel has invested in food technology from 2013 ($ 52 million) to 2018 with input from multinational companies such as Coca-Cola, Mars, Tyson Foods, Nestle, Danone, AB InBev, Starbucks and PepsiCo. It reports that it has almost doubled during the year ($ 100 million). , McDonald’s, Heineken, Unilever.

Tel Aviv research firm IVC has discovered that food technology has won a $ 432 million investment in 2020. This is less than sectors such as cyber and fintech, but it is growing rapidly.

The Success Story will attract more entrepreneurs to this area, and will speak at the Food Biotech Congress from November 8th to 11th and the first global virtual food trade fair from November 21st to 24th. Says The Kitchens Zaidman.

Israel is a very entrepreneurial country, and new entrepreneurs and serial entrepreneurs are always thinking about the next big thing. They believe that food technology is an area of ​​environmental and health impact, says Zaidman.

They may have been hesitant before when looking at money entering sectors like cyber, but now they think they can get a capital investment in food technology that could change the game. increase.

Zaidman forecasts a major funding round for Israeli food technology in 2022.

Startup like [cultivated steak pioneer] Aleph Farm does not have a product on the market yet. But what they are doing is so great that they are getting a lot of attention.

In fact, Aleph Farms received a recent investment from Leonardo DiCaprio and Ashton Kutcher invested in MeaTech.

Breakthrough on a global scale

One of the Israeli companies already in the global market is Innovo Pro. Through a unique process, chickpeas convert the modest nutrients of hummus into neutral-tasting protein concentrates for food and beverages.

InnovoPro has factories in Canada and Germany and a new subsidiary in Chicago, selling chick bean TVP (textured vegetable protein) for plant-based burgers, nuggets and meatballs. Migros, Switzerland’s largest retailer and supermarket chain, uses Innovo Pros products for dairy-free yogurt.

Hummus is a Middle Eastern product. You have taken that technology and combined it with Israeli know-how to get a successful food technology company, says Zeevi.

Hoping for similar success, Jerusalem-based Margalit Startup City opened its Galilee branch in September.

The Kiryat Shmona campus has food technology accelerators, laboratories, executive parks, and early-stage incubators for Fresh Start, supported by food giants Tnuva and Tempo, along with Finistere Ventures and Our Crowd.

Five years ago, we came to Galilaya and wrote a plan to transform the region into a food technology and agricultural technology center with the involvement of municipalities, service providers, investors, academies and research institutes throughout Galilaya. The government has given it a budget of 500 million shekels, Zeevi says.

Margalit Startup City #Galilee has attracted the satellite offices of Jerusalem Venture Partners, Cisco, Tel Hai College and the Migal Galilee Research Institute of the Ministry of Science and Technology of Israel.

A portfolio company, DynaFresh, was founded by Migal’s post-harvest experts to optimize the shelf life of fresh foods.

Zeevi says Margarit Startup City is a place where everything comes together in a physical hub and meets the international and business sectors.

Unlike cyber and fintech, food technology companies need not only skilled scientists and technicians, but also scaled-up factory workers.

This makes food technology a promising and equal opportunity employment driver for the surrounding regions of northern and southern Israel, says Zeevi.

Heartfelt investment

Existing VCs aren’t the only ones investing in food technology. Israel also has Millennium Food-Tech, an R & D partnership that began in June 2020 and trades on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

There was no vehicle in Israel dedicated to post-seed food technology startups waiting for proven technology to be piloted and commercialized, said Yossi Halevy, Vice President of Business Development. Tells ISRAEL 21c.

Therefore, we built a VC dedicated to food technology. This is an untouched sector.

Millenniums portfolio companies include SavorEat (alternative protein), Tipa (compostable package), TripleW (upcycling products from lactic acid and other food waste), Aleph Farms, and Phytolon (natural food color). I have.

Halevy, a former E & Y in Tel Aviv, said he was interested in creating food and agriculture ventures four years before the ecosystem was in diapers.

There he jumped at the chance to join his old friend Chanan Schneider, a former fresh start director at Millennium Food Tech.

Halevy tells ISRAEL 21c that we are working with Nestl and other major food companies. That triangular relationship: we use their knowledge for due diligence and they use our knowledge for investment and proof of concept.

Halevy sees raw material development as one of Israel’s most powerful capabilities. This is to maximize the sharpened, connected and interdisciplinary talents of the nations.

Israel is unique in many ways, but most importantly, everyone knows, he points out.

It’s very useful in food technology because there are so many areas where innovation, entrepreneurship, biotechnology, physics, chemistry, robotics, computer vision, and artificial intelligence need to be combined. Easily organize teams and cross-mining ideas and development.

Companies enter food technology

Israel’s food technology scene is expanding into many sectors, such as yeast bread dough, studded with government participation, from corporate to academic and non-profit.

International Flavors & Fragrances, a US-based multinational company operating in Migdal Haemek, northern Israel, operates a Food Nxt incubator in partnership with the Israel Innovation Authority.

IFF shares knowledge of industry processes and technologies, international regulations, and general food science expertise. Incubators also fund and help portfolio startups develop business plans, develop patent strategies, and test products.

Founded in 1922, Salt of the Earth, a global Israeli company in the north, has partnered with Tel-Hai College on multiple projects, including component testing in a university analytical lab.

Tel-Hai students recently challenged to create innovations that emphasize reducing sodium and improving flavor. They were led by Rakefet Rosenblatt, an R & D technician at the Salt of the Earth and an application manager who is a graduate of Tel-Hai’s food sciences.

We are always thinking about what we can improve, she tells ISRAEL 21c. Salt is a known product. How can the industry use it smarter? Students have great ideas and it’s good to invest in them.

One group proposed a salt product fortified with mineral-rich seaweed, using a special process to neutralize the strong flavor and color of seaweed. Another group has developed a delicious vegan snack based on chickpea flour and earth’s salt Mediterranean umami bold seasonings.

Seven major companies in areas such as SodaStream, Netafim and Dolav Plastic Products, on the other side of Israel, south of the town of Negev, have collaborated with academic and VC partners of the IIAsIn Negev incubator for food technology. ag-tech, clean-tech, Industry 4.0.

This is the first year. Amir Tzach, Vice President of Business Development and Investment at InNegevs, said he was currently primarily leveraging the capabilities of Negev’s partners to create ventures.

Among the food technology innovations being considered at InNegev are post-harvest sensors. One detects bacteria and the other detects soft rot of potatoes fast enough to allow bad potatoes to be removed before the rot spreads.

In the alternative protein hotfield, InNegev is considering a southern company engaged in algae production and may assist local meat processing facilities in converting space for alternative protein production.

Academic and non-profit food technology

Back north, the Carasso FoodTech Innovation Center was launched in September at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

The center has an industrial production research and development, startup hub, packaging laboratory, industrial kitchen, tasting and evaluation unit, and educational visitor area.

Professor Marcelle Machluf, Dean of the Faculty of Technion Biotechnology and Food Engineering, said the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizes the importance of food and biotechnology in maintaining our presence and addressing the challenges of future existence. He said he was only emphasizing. Addressing many challenges in this area, such as healthy and affordable food and access to innovative medical care, requires advanced infrastructure that enables the integration of new engineering and scientific tools.

In Tel Aviv, Israel’s non-profit Start-Up Nation Central is working with the global entrepreneurial network TiE for new foods, post-harvest storage, alternative proteins, food safety and packaging.

Previous Israeli startups selected for mentorship programs include award-winning grasshopper protein company Hargol, automated cooking maker Kitchen Robotics, and vision-based robotic controller Deep Learning Robotics, a storage humidity control solution. Manufactures UmiGo.

Fighting food shortages for the future

Avi Hasson, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central, said farmers are facing increasingly harsh weather conditions, environmental pollutants and soil depletion.

Coupled with growing populations and increasing demand for products, these issues raise global concerns about food security.

According to Hasson, technologies that can improve crop yields or convert, store and regulate foods with improved functional and nutritional value ensure a stable supply of food in the future.

Kitchens Zaidman predicts that as the sector matures, more segmentation will be seen.

For example, Aleph Farms began researching cultivated meat before existing technology existed. He explains that many of the innovations we see in the next few years will be more focused on the specific aspects that support the industry.

As for global trends, alternative proteins continue to be a strong trend as they only bite the surface of consumer interest. There are many possibilities for alternative dairy products, seafood, and eggs.

Aviv Oren, Director of Business Engagement and Innovation in the Israeli Chapter of the Good Food Institute, states that Israel hosts approximately 100 alternative protein startups and 28 alternative protein laboratories at academic institutions.

One of the latest, Alfreds provides an innovative platform for producing plant-based whole cuts for the meat, chicken, analogues, and cultivated meat industries.

Israel is currently ranked second in the world after the United States in terms of total number of fermented and cultivated meat companies, Oren said.

Nir Goldstein, Managing Director of GFI Israel, sees Israel’s role as a potentially monumental.

With government support in the industry, Israel, which exports only 5% of the food it currently produces, has the potential to become a global supplier of alternative protein raw materials and advanced production technology.

This story was originally published on Israel21c.org and has been republished with permission.

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