Since 2014, Israeli companies and startups in the food and agriculture tech (agtech) sectors have raised $759 million in capital funds across some 250 deals, according to a new report released this week by Start-Up Nation Central (SNC) and AgFunder, tracking investments and exits in the industry.
Israel is currently home to some 700 startups and firms in these industries, the report noted, marking a slight drop from last year’s 750.
The peak year for investments in these sectors was 2017 with $220 million, dropping to $174 million in 2018. In 2017 and 2018, the sub-sector that raised the most funds ($208 million in 52 deals )was farm management software, sensors and IoT, with pest and disease detection and water efficiency tech for crops driving the charge.
“Startups offering advanced imagery tech and complex systems of sensors drew the largest investments including Taranis, Prospera, SeeTree, FieldIn, Phytech, Saturas, SupPlant, and CropX,” the report noted.
Ag biotechnology followed suit with $148 million in funds over 59 deals, included “AI identification of inputs, algorithm-powered seed breeding, root-based non-GMO breeding, and cures for dairy cows.”
The categories with the most growth in 2017 and 2018 were in-store retail and restaurant tech (including CommonSense Robotics’s $20m Series A), online restaurants and meal kits (including Genie’s $10m Series A), and bioenergy & biomaterials, where three waste transformation startups raised multimillion-dollar early-stage rounds, according to the report.
“A combination of farming background, world-class agronomic institutions, and experience with modern military–grade data, imaging, and aerial technologies drive Israel’s agrifood tech scene. Many company founders grew up on a kibbutz (pioneer farming communes), endowing experience that leads to on-farm solutions tailored for farmer ease-of-use, and to networks for facilitating trials. For these reasons, Israel has naturally had an edge in agricultural innovation – and has produced some of agtech’s most mature and hi-tech farm technologies,” wrote Start-Up Nation Central.