Ten Israeli companies were listed among two separate lists highlighting the top 50 companies worldwide in the food tech and agritech (agriculture tech) sectors in 2020, put together by SVG Ventures-THRIVE and published by Forbes this week.
THRIVE is an ecosystem and an accelerator for food tech and agritech startups worldwide. The annual top 50 lists are published as map infographics and showcase “exceptional companies. . . pushing the boundaries of innovation and technology,” the publication said.
The companies on the lists “are scouted for their exemplary leadership teams, technology and traction and are selected following months of rigorous research by the SVG-THRIVE team.” To qualify, the publication wrote, companies “must have a product in market, have received a minimum of series A funding and be ready to scale.”
The 10 Israeli companies listed are:
– DouxMatok, a startup that developed a patented sugar reduction solution that retains the texture, sweetness, and appearance of sugar. The company raised USD 22 million in a Series B funding round last year and appeared in the “food processing / novel ingredient” category in the top 50 food tech map.
– InnovoPro, a startup that creates sustainable food products made from the chickpeas, including dairy and meat alternatives. This company, too, appeared in the “food processing / novel ingredient” class in the top 50 food tech map.
– Hinoman, a startup that develops and cultivates Mankai, a proprietary, protein-rich, whole-leaf vegetable grown using sustainable hydroponics.
– Future Meat Technologies, an Israeli company that develops lab-grown meat and is building the first cultured meat production plant near Tel Aviv. The company appeared in the “CPG (consumer packaged goods) and retail” category in the food tech map.
– Tastewise, an Israeli AI-powered food trends prediction and intelligence startup. The company uses billions of data points from restaurant menus, online recipes, and social media to provide real-time insights, analytics, and food trends. It too appeared in the “CGP (consumer packaged goods) and retail” category in the food tech map.
– TIPA Corp, a developer of biodegradable packages for the food, drink, and fashion industries. The company recently raised USD 25 million to expand sales. Tipa appeared in the “supply chain” category of the food tech map.
– Infarm, the Israeli-founded, Berlin-based developer of modular smart farms that operate on IoT and machine learning technologies to grow fresh greens in urban settings such as grocery stores and restaurants. The company appeared in the agritech top 50 list.
– CropX, an agriculture analytics company that developed an adaptive irrigation service to optimize irrigation. The company taps into the power of big data, machine learning, and cutting-edge cloud-based software in the soil to boost agricultural output. CropX also appeared in the agritech top 50 list.
– Taranis, a precision agriculture startup that allows farmers to monitor fields and make informed decisions, also appeared in THRIVE’s agritech top 50 list.
– Prospera, a developer of computer vision technologies to monitor and predict plant health and development.
These Israeli companies joined major global firms in the round-ups, including the California-based Impossible Foods, which makes plant-based meat alternatives, and indoor farming company Bright Farms.
Israeli food tech and agritech
Israel has been delivering innovative startups operating in the food technology and agriculture technology sectors for the past decade. The country has been positioning itself as a key player in an industry worth an estimated USD 8.7 trillion in 2018.
In Israel, food-agri tech firms drew some USD 103 million in equity investment in 2018, “putting the Israeli sector on par with, and sometimes exceeding, much larger nations like Australia and India,” according to a report published in September by Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), the Israeli non-profit organization that tracks the local tech ecosystem.
According to the report, Israel is home to some 350 food-agri startups founded in the past decade alone that focus on “deep tech” innovation, primarily for the global agri-food industry. SNC also noted an increased rate of new company creation, with an annual average of 37 new startups since 2014. And since 2016, 124 startups have been established, more than the total founded in the previous six years.
This trend represents a “second wave” of food-agri tech innovation, SNC says, “driven by both the growing global demand for efficient and sustainable food production technologies and the strength of various technologies in Israel,” such as AI, robotics, data, sensing, and computation.
This second wave of companies using advanced tech in the food-agri sector builds on the longstanding tradition of innovation and excellence in agriculture that Israel developed over the last 100 years (even before the establishment of the state) to address resource shortages and the existential need to achieve food and water security in a challenging climate, the SNC report reads, referring to this period as the “first wave.”
According to SNC’s data platform Start-Up Nation Finder, Israeli agritech companies currently number over 400 and raised close to USD 300 million in 2019. Israeli food tech startups number over 240 and raised over USD 400 million last year.
Israeli food tech partnerships
Over the past several years, Israeli companies have partnered with major food corporations for significant ventures.
In September, an international consortium made up of global agrifood investment firm Finistere Ventures, Israeli food manufacturer Tnuva, beverage company Tempo Beverages, and Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd launched a NIS 1 billion (USD 238 million) food tech incubator in the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona. Dubbed “Fresh Start,” the incubator is expected to invest in over 40 advanced technology startups that will drive the food industry specifically in fields like milk and protein substitutes, personalized nutrition, innovative raw materials, smart food packaging, and Industry 4.0—including IoT, AI, and big data.
In May, Mars, Incorporated, the US multinational manufacturer of food and snack products such as M&M’s, Snickers, and Skittles, entered a partnership agreement with Jerusalem Venture Partners to pursue innovative food tech solutions in Israel. According to the agreement, Mars is set to back relevant existing Israeli startups and support the formation of new ones, as well as work together with leading Israeli academic institutions, such as the Hebrew University, the Weizmann Institute, and the Technion, to further innovations.
And a month prior, Mondelez International, the Illinois-based food and beverage multinational holding company, announced a partnership with the Israeli food tech incubator The Kitchen to develop opportunities in the snacking sector. Mondelez said in a statement at the time that the collaboration will allow for “unparalleled access and visibility into one of the world’s leading food tech ecosystems.”
This article first appeared in NoCamels, which covers innovations from Israel for a global audience.