The 5 most prominent food and ag-tech investors in Israel…

GreenSoil Investments

Founded in 2011 by Gideon Soesman and Allen Greenberg, GreenSoil Investments was developed in order to provide food and ag-tech startups who are ready for the global market the opportunity to scale up and expand. As Soesman explains, “We are witnessing a massive investment in early stage food and agriculture startups in Israel, therefore we established GreenSoil Investments to help those companies achieve global reach.” With the understanding that there are tremendous opportunities in this sector, Greensoil Investments is interested in investing in companies that seek to add value to the food and agricultural chain. GreenSoil Investments is specifically scouting companies that have a product that creates more efficiency and flow across the food chain. Being one of the largest investors in Israeli food and ag-tech innovation, to date GreenSoil has invested in six thriving startups, including Tipa,  producers of fully compostable food packaging and Rootitly, a breeding company that focuses on the plant-organ responsible for supplying nutrients to the plant. When filtering through food and ag-tech startups, GreenSoil Investments looks for companies that have a consistent story that encompasses a scalable, problem solving technology, that is already generating revenues.

OurCrowd

Founded in 2013, by Jon Medved, founder of Israel Seed Partner and one of the most prolific entrepreneurs and investors in Israel, OurCrowd is a global equity crowdfunding platform, developed specifically for accredited investors. For their investment process, OurCrowd utilizes a team of seasoned investors to discover companies with market potential. Once they have narrowed potential companies, they invest their own capital and provide a platform for their community of over 20,000 investors to invest for equity. However, OurCrowd does not only raise funding, they provide post investment support and mentorship for each of their startups, and serve on the board of many of them. Although OurCrowd invests in a wide range of companies, in 2015 they launched a dedicated early-stage fund called OurCrowd First, that focuses primarily on seed-stage investments in technology companies. The fund invests in a range of technology sectors, but one of the fund’s investment focus is on food and agricultural startups that are ready to tackle the world’s enormous food waste and preservation quandary. Their current investments include Taranis, the first crop disease proliferation modeling technology for large-scale farmers, as well as FreshKeep, sensor driven consumer food containers aimed at reducing food waste in households. “When we look at potential companies to invest in, we are looking for companies that represent large opportunities in large markets; potential category leaders in their space powered by deep enabling technology.”


In our recent post we discussed the history of agricultural and innovation in Israel, to explain why today Israel is one of the leading countries in food tech development and growth. However at the root of Israel’s innovation, is the leaps and strides the country has made in developing varieties of produce that are more effective and conducive for cultivation.

With the development of the Agricultural Research Organization, a government institute devoted agricultural research and growth, Israel has made milestones in the field, bringing new varieties to the table. Varieties that often excel in flavor, longevity and survival. Here are four fruit varieties that exemplify Israel’s contribution to the world of agriculture.

Soft Citrus

The Jaffa orange was the the agricultural product that put the region on the map. The shamuti orange which originated in Asia, became a staple crop in the region for it’s thick shell and its sweet interior. Recently, to replicate the benefits of the orange, the Jaffa Orri mandarin was developed by the wing of the ARO known as the Volcani Research Center. This mandarin has made an impact in the citrus industry as it boasts an “excellent, fresh and sweet flavor” with a minimal number of seeds. Most importantly, the long shelf lives of these mandarins, make it the perfect fruit for export.


Technology isn’t always about reinventing the wheel. In fact, in many industries today, we are recognizing that breaking away from the rhythm of nature is destructive and causing substantial damage to our environment. For example, using fossil fuels, a process that converts coal and petroleum with heat to generate electric power, has resulted in prevalent amounts of greenhouse gas and carbon monoxide emissions into our atmosphere, while simultaneously eroding our land and polluting our water. We are seeing now that the practice of working against nature, has proved fruitless, and that working with the Earth’s own power sources is the key to sustainable growth and evolution. With this in mind, alternative energy sources using solar and wind energy, has become the solution to alleviate the environmental damage. 

Enhancing the resources in nature is also extending to the modern food and agricultural industry. In the past, the concentration of agricultural and food technology was on how to use synthetic solutions to beat nature, today companies are finding ways to use technology to enhance what nature has to offer. Here are three companies that exemplify this idea in a way that is changing our practices and fixing our food systems. 

Equinom

For as long back as agriculture goes, farmers have been cross breeding seeds to produce new varieties of fruits and vegetables that would contain the best features from each variety. However, until now, this practice has been based on observation with little or no data to guide it. In order to create a more efficient and effective seed breeding practice, Equinom  has found a method to collect essential farm data, process the data with proprietary algorithms, in order to produce new varieties of seeds with desirable traits. Their technology doesn’t rely on seed engineering like GMOs, because they only breed seeds with qualities that already exist in the environment.


Bill Gates has claimed that the plant protein movement is the “future of food,” reports show that plant-based foods outpaced the growth of the whole food and beverage industry by 3.5%, and Mintel has found that the vegetarian market is a 2.8 billion/year industry. Love it or hate it, plant based foods are making their grand debut, and thanks to modern science, these highly functional proteins are replacing meat in a substantial way. Recently, Beyond Meat, a meat alternative, that tastes, feels and bleeds like meat, has come to the mass market across Safeway stores in California, Nevada and Hawaii.

Plant based proteins come in number varieties. In this article we take a deeper look at the meat alternative choices, how each is serving a need for protein replacements and what challenges need to be solved in order to bring them to the mass market.


What’s the difference between different insect proteins and which will be the most viable for consumers?

 

It used to be that animal protein was a luxury that we could afford ourselves occasionally, however in recent years, with the advent of industrial agriculture, eating animal protein has become the norm and consumption is dramatically increasing yearly. In America alone, people are eating 198 pounds of meat per person per year.

As these numbers grow, it seems unforeseeable that we will be able to depend on livestock alone to meet the market demand for protein. This means that we will have to be open to alternative sources of protein, and of those insects seem one of the most viable.

Although, still taboo in the western world, according to the FAO Edible Insects: Future Prospects and Feed Security , twenty percent of the world’s population is already consuming insects.


Tips on how to change policy, garner public opinion, and create effective innovation from President Barack Obama

Last week we had the honor of hearing former President Barack Obama speak at the Seeds & Chips Food Tech Innovation Summit in Milan, Italy. He discussed life after presidency, his views about climate change, his plans for the future, and he stressed his confidence in the private sector in the United States, to continue to make inroads in clean energy.

The entire discussion was enriching and meaningful, however his insights, advice and tips from a policymaker’s perspective for food and agricultural startups and companies, is priceless for the people working in the industry. Obama was able to provide wise words from his experience as a community organizer and politician, about how innovative companies can get their voices heard, make their cases and ultimately effectively change our food systems. Here are some of the key takeaways:


Seeds & Chips Global Food Innovation Summit

 May 8-11

May will see one of the biggest food and ag-tech events around the world. With a special appearance by former President Barack Obama and over one hundred panelists and speakers that are prominent global entrepreneurs, investors and executive, the Seeds & Chips global food summit will be instrumental in disrupting the food tech sector, by forging new ideas, creating networks and empowering the industry. Learn more.

 

TAU Innovation Conference 

May 7-9

Tel Aviv University merges tech industries across all sectors by brining entrepreneurs, industry personal , diplomats, investors and communities to foster learning, education, investment and networking. The two day event features speakers from companies such as Youtube, Yelp and Prezi to share insights on their industry and discuss the future of technology. Learn more.


With the development of Saas Systems today we are able to monitor farmers, farms, soil, plant activity and water levels in order to understand agricultural systems in a way that we were never able to before. With the use of wireless sensors, we are able to gather data and analyze this data, in order to discover patterns that will allow farmers to make more educated decisions that will increase the output and ultimate grow a better product.

What agronomist are coining as the “third wave agricultural movement,” is  the successor of the “industrial farming” movement that relied heavily on technology and the “green revolution” that depended on pesticides and chemical fertilizers as solutions to preventing plant disease and massively increasing yields. The third revolution, coined as the “big data revolution,” focuses on gathering information from multiple farming practices, in order to create algorithms that can be utilized by different farms to create a crop yield that is both fruitful and sustainable. With this knowledge and information, farmers will be able to better predict activity in the farm and utilize methods that are not only better for their crops, but more environmentally sound.


Over the course of the last 20 years, Israel has steadily built both a culture that is driven toward technology and ingenuity. So much has technological advancements characterized the culture and economy of Israel, that it has become commonly known as Silicon Wadi where recently Israel earned the number 10 spot in Bloomberg’s Innovation Index.

Although technological advancements have modernized industries ranging from security to transportation, there is one specific field that Israel has continuously grown in: food and agricultural technology. According to Bank Leumi’s research in the industry, “Approximately $90m has been invested annually on average over the past few years in R&D, making Israel a world leader in allocation of funds for R&D in the agritech sector.” It is with this spirit and mindset, that Israel has forged a way to creating innovative and sustainable solutions to some of our greatest food dilemmas.

Here are 5 modern Israeli foodtech startups that are contributing to the foodtech industry and changing our food systems:


Future Food Summit San Francisco: March 29-30th

The first Future Food Tech San Francisco Summit will bring together investors, startups and technology companies and food manufacturers to discuss the future of food and how food tech can contribute to alleviating some of our greatest food dilemmas. This is an opportunity for food tech innovators from around the world to gather, discuss, learn and share.

 

Israel Dealmakers Summit: March 28-March 30

The Israel Dealmakers Summit is the largest event of its kind, brining more than 1,000 global corporations, investors, dealmakers and entrepreneurs from around the world together to provide an opportunity to network, gain exposure and insights from top business professionals. Speakers this year include: John Cisco, Executive Chairman of Cisco, Sue Siegel, CEO of GE Ventures and Yifat Oron, CEO of LeumiTech.