Temasek Wants in on Israel’s Food Tech Know-How
A seven-person delegation from the Singaporian holding company is in Israel this week to scout for potential investments
Temasek's added value as an investor, according to Maheshwari, is in its ability to serve as a gateway to other Asian markets. "Particularly in food, there is so much local nuance," he said. "Everything must be customized, and for that you need to have local partners."Successfully adapting food technologies to new markets is the biggest challenge facing Israeli entrepreneurs in the sector, according to Maheshwari. "Take (Israeli lab beef company Aleph Farms Ltd.) for example. I hear great things about them. But the question is, are consumers and regulators going to allow cell-based meat?" When it comes to lab-cultured meat, Maheshwari said, some people are intrigued, some run away from it, but not many are jumping with joy. According to him, regulators in China have coined a term for lab-cultured meat that could be translated as "fake meat." "If that is the name of the product, then forget about the industry ever taking off," he said. Companies looking to bring innovation to new markets need to be prepared to win over consumers from the get-go, he said, "but if you are sitting here, no way are you going to be able to influence the local regulation over there." On Tuesday, Temasek announced it had made a commitment to the Trendlines Group Ltd., a Singapore-traded Israeli tech commercialization firm focused on the commercialization of startups in the fields of medtech and agtech. Together with Librae Holdings Limited, an investment entity linked to British billionaire Vincent Tchenguiz, Temasek committed $22 million towards Trendline's new Singapore-based venture fund, Trendlines Agrifood Pte. Ltd. As part of the deal, Maheshwari said, Trendlines will set up a local presence in Singapore, where it will work to promote Israeli companies trying to break into Asian markets.