The Fresh Start FoodTech incubator is a €256m initiative that looks to invest in over 40 technology start-ups that also focus on artificial intelligence, big data as well as smart food packaging.
"The FoodTech incubator in the North marks an important milestone in transforming Israel into a food technology superpower,” Israel minister of the economy Eli Cohen says.
“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.
“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.”
Israel innovation hotspot
Israel is fast becoming a hotspot for innovation in the food and nutrition industry with microbiome company DayTwo, carotenoid specialists Lycored and astaxanthin firm Algatechnologies all hailing from the region.
The drive to celebrate innovation is key to the consortium, which includes global agrifood investors Finistere Ventures, crowdfunding platform OurCrowd as well as food and beverage manufacturers Tnuva and Tempo Beverages.
Together with global food giants PepsiCo, Bright Food, and Heineken, who will offer the incubator research and development experience and access to global markets, the incubator also welcomes research and academic institutions in northern Israel,
These include the Migal Galilee Research Institute in Kiryat Shemona, the Tel Hai College, the Northern Research and Development and others.
“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,” says Kiryat Shemona Mayor Avihai Stern.
"I have no doubt that with the entrance of the food giants into the region and the assistance from the Ministry of the Economy headed by Eli Cohen, Kiryat Shemona will turn into a global FoodTech centre, and we call additional entrepreneurs and high-tech companies to come to establish presence in our region.
“We will welcome the new entrepreneurs and their families joining the incubator, and will help them with residence, absorption of their children to the education system and integration into community life."
Start-up cash injection
The consortium is currently reviewing applications from several start-ups, with the aim of accepting its first company by the beginning of 2020.
The consortium will operate the Fresh Start incubator over the next eight years with plans to invest €51m in direct operational costs and in investments in the start-ups.
The consortium will also take the lead on attracting follow on investments at an estimated €205m provided by partners in the consortium, venture capital funds and global companies.
On 24 September the incubator will hold a FoodTech startup competition, where the winners will benefit from a fast track entry process to the incubator.