Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd, global agrifood investment firm Finistere Ventures, Israel’s largest food manufacturer Tnuva, and Israeli beverage company Tempo Beverages launched the “Fresh Start” FoodTech Incubator in northern Israel last week, the companies announced in a joint statement.
The NIS 1 billion ($238 million) incubator, which will be located in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona, is expected to invest in over 40 advanced technology startups that will drive the food industry.
The incubator “will focus on advancing Food Technologies along the entire chain of the food and beverage industry,” specifically in fields like milk and protein substitutes; improving nutritional value and personalized nutrition; innovative raw materials; smart food packaging; cannabis, and Industry 4.0, including IoT, AI, and Big Data.
The “Fresh Start” consortium is currently reviewing several startups and aims to accept its first company by the beginning of 2020. The group will operate the Fresh Start incubator over the next eight years.
Fresh Start is expected to invest some NIS 200 million ($56,672,000) in direct operational costs and in investments in the startups, according to the announcement. The consortium will also take the lead on attracting follow on investments at an estimated NIS 800 million ($226,688,000) provided by partners in the consortium, venture capital funds and global companies.
In an effort to strengthen the Galilee, “Fresh Start” will invest in the resources needed to draw in local entrepreneurs and encourage other startups to relocate to the Galilee, the consortium said.
Economy Minister Eli Cohen, representatives of the Israeli Innovation Authority, and senior representatives from the consortium, as well as Kiryat Shmona mayor Avihai Stern, Upper Galilee Regional Council head Beni Ben Muvchar, and the heads of local councils and communities in the eastern Galilee attended the launch event last Thursday.
“We are proud of the selection of Kiryat Shmona as the residence for the venture and expect that the venture will generate a national-level impact, both for Kiryat Shemona and for the Galilee as a whole,” Avihai Stern, mayor of Kiryat Shmona, said. “The incubator will offer additional tens of new workplaces for the residents of the town and the region and will inject a significant economic incentive to the region. “
A new benefits package has been established to encourage this relocation of startups. It includes assistance for purchasing homes and land, locating employment, and child placement in schools.
While Tnuva and Tempo will utilize their existing connections in the food industry in northern Israel to help advance the incubator’s efforts, global food and beverage giants like PepsiCo, Bright Food, and Heineken, will be actively involved in the research and development process at the incubator. The incubator will also work alongside leading research and academic institutions in the north of the country including Migal Galilee Research Institute in Kiryat Shemona, the Tel Hai College, the Northern Research and Development and others.
“The FoodTech incubator in the North marks an important milestone in transforming Israel into a food technology superpower. In light of the success in the field of cybersecurity, medical devices and autonomous vehicles, we are targeting the FoodTech industry as our next goal,” said Economic Minister Eli Cohen via video message at the event. “Besides the establishment of the FoodTech center in Kiryat Shmona, this unique technological incubator is a major milestone for the eastern Galilee, which will create significant economic value for the region, draw many investments, industries and human capital.”