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From meat manufactured from tobacco to natural egg substitutes: FoodTech competition final all set

From meat manufactured from tobacco to natural egg substitutes: FoodTech competition final all set

The six startups to have reached the final of Tnuva and Calcalist's competition include BioBetter, Eggmented Reality, E-FISHient Protein, Exosomm, Meala Foodtech, and Watersight

Elihay Vidal | 13:02, 31.10.22

"If the high-tech sector is sometimes a development marathon searching for innovative products that sell over time, then the FoodTech industry is an ultra-marathon. The development, approval and market penetration processes are long, and patience is required to meet long-term goals," said Yuval Zehira, Chief Investment Officer at Leumi Partners, who is serving as a judge in the 2022 FoodTech competition being held by Tnuva and Calcalist.

According to Zehira, the FoodTech industry forces its players to constantly think about innovation and progress: "This is what consumers who are exposed to innovation and trends happening on the other side of the world expect from them, and food companies that do not adopt the FoodTech industry - will be left behind."

Israel is a FoodTech powerhouse. Israel is a FoodTech powerhouse. Israel is a FoodTech powerhouse.

Ori Keren, Partner and Chief Investment Officer at More Investment House, who is also serving as a judge in the competition, noted that: "The FoodTech industry is different from the rest of the high-tech industry, because at the end of the process there is a physical product, and the product market fit (adaptation of the product to the market) must be clear at the beginning of the company's journey."

According to Keren, Israel is an important junction in the global FoodTech industry, and it enjoys extensive development and innovation. On the other hand, "the disadvantage is immaturity and little experience in global scale-up (a process of maturing and entering broader markets) - both in marketing, sales and production. However, in our opinion, the industry is more immune because it benefits less from the hype that characterized the high-tech industry in recent years - both in valuations and in the employee conditions, their cost and frequent transfers between companies."

Haggai Schreiber, Chief Investment Officer at Phoenix, who is also a judge in the competition, said: "As investing institutions, we know how to look at a variety of fields and use our connections, our comparative analysis and external consultants to make investment decisions in a wide variety of fields. In general, and not only in FoodTech, we are interested in companies that already have a product and customers. We want to see that the technology works and that the company can manage growth, preferably without the need to educate a market and without external support and subsidies."

According to Schreiber, FoodTech is not so different from the rest of the high-tech industry: "The cliché about the rain that falls and gets everyone wet is also true for FoodTech, because in the end, investments often work according to the law of combined instruments. There are companies that received exaggerated valuations, such as food substitute companies that traded at multiples similar to software companies, and now they may be suffering. On the other hand, there are companies that have less inflated valuations, such as in the field of genetic improvement, where investors already understand very well that these are very long processes and have learned from past mistakes."

Keren, Zehira and Schreiber will be participating next week as judges in the final stage of Tnuva and Calcalist's "The next innovative startup in the food industry" competition for 2022, which is being held for the fifth year in a row. This year, six companies from a wide variety of fields in the FoodTech world reached the finals: BioBetter, Eggmented Reality, E-FISHient Protein, Exosomm, Meala Foodtech, and Watersight.

In addition to the representatives of the institutional bodies, the judging team this year included Eyal Melis, CEO of Tnuva; Shay Cohen, Chief Innovation Officer & GP, Tnuva Ventures; Nega Sela Shalev, CEO of the Fresh Start FoodTech incubator; Yoel Esteron, publisher of Calcalist; Dr. Michal Halpert, Managing Director of Academic Relations at GFI Israel; Orit Marom Albeck, chairman of Nevateam Partners; Hanan Brand, deputy director of the startup division at the Innovation Authority. The competition is accompanied by Ron Zadok, audit partner and head of FoodTech and ag-tech at KPMG Somekh Chaikin.


Founded: 2015

Founders: Prof. Oded Shoseyov, Dr. Dana Yarden, Avi Tzur

Field: Alternative protein, growth factors for cultured meat

Number of employees: 27

Stage: Pilot

Investment & main investors: $16.5 million, from JVP, Alfa Capital, Galil Ofek Incubator, Milk & Honey Ventures, Israel Innovation Authority

BioBetter uses tobacco plants to produce growth factors on a large scale with low costs. Tobacco plants are self-regulating and maintain their own sterility, produce growth factors and store them until harvest. BioBetter operates fields in open areas that enable a quick, efficient and flexible response to market needs, and do not require any capital investment in infrastructure.

The tobacco plant has significant advantages as a bioreactor - it grows quickly, accumulates a large mass and is able to provide up to four crops a year. Tobacco easily accepts the transformation of expression systems, and is able to express and produce large and complex proteins. The plants are environmentally friendly, need only light, water and air and grow in open fields. Together with BioBetter's innovative production technology, they can significantly reduce the required investment in infrastructure, equipment and ongoing operations and enable the production of large quantities.

BioBetter employees BioBetter employees BioBetter employees

Eggmented Reality

Founded: 2022

Founders: Dr. Itamar Yadid, Jon Rathauser, Itay Bloch

Field: Production of protein ingredients for food manufacturers

Number of employees: 7

Investment & main investors: $1.2 million (Seed) from companies including Tempo, Tnuva, Fresh-Start and financial investors including VC Finistere and OurCrowd

Using innovative computing techniques and advanced fermentation technology, Eggmented Reality produces high-quality proteins that surpass alternatives, thus enabling food manufacturers to meet consumer demands and their ESG obligations without compromising on the quality of their products. The company's first product is a natural egg substitute and the initial results show greatly improved functionality compared to alternatives currently on the market.

Eggmented Reality employees Eggmented Reality employees Eggmented Reality employees

E-FISHient Protein

Founded: 2021

Founders: Biomeat Foodtech Foundation in collaboration with the Volcani Center

Field: Alternative Protein / cultured fish meat

Number of employees: 10

Stage: Product under development

Investment & main investors: $2 million from private investors

E-FISHient Protein develops cultured tilapia fish meat and works to produce fillets, meatballs and other fish products, based on cellulosic farming technology - building clean muscle cells under laboratory conditions. The startup aims to provide nutritional security to the world's population through a tasty, healthy and sustainable source of fish protein, while preserving the oceans which are responsible for absorbing CO2 and cooling the earth, as well as preserving life under and above water.

E-FISHient Protein employees. E-FISHient Protein employees. E-FISHient Protein employees.


Founded: 2021

Founders: Netta Garnot, Prof. Shimon Reif, Dr. Regina Golan-Gerstel, Yaffa Elbaum-Shiff

Field: Innovative nutritional solutions

Number of employees: 7

Stage: Scale up - preparing for industrial production

Investment & main investors: The Israeli Innovation Authority and Galil Ofek incubator

EXOSOMM develops nutritional solutions containing exosomes - microRNA-carrying nanocomponents that are naturally found in breast milk and whose role is to protect the baby's lungs. The company's first product is intended for treating inflammatory bowel patients (Crohn's and colitis) and improving their quality of life. The production process of the exosomes makes use of by-products of the dairy industry in a natural and environmentally friendly technology. EXOSOMM's innovative technology to isolate natural nano-components from breast milk and use of a natural and active immune mechanism will offer relief to many patients.

Exosomm employees Exosomm employees Exosomm employees

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Meala Foodtech

Founded: 2022

Founders: Hadar Ekhoiz Razmovich , Liran Gruda, Dr. Tali Feldman-Sivan

Field: Plant protein substitutes

Number of employees: 5

Stage: Advanced laboratory development stages, POC

Investment & main investors: Seed from Strauss incubator, The Kitchen

Meala is developing a ground-breaking technology that makes it possible to create plant-based meat substitutes that are healthier, have better texture, and are environmentally friendly. Meala's product eliminates the use of stabilizers, significantly improving the taste of the products with ingredients of a cleaner footprint. Their vision is to enable the manufacturers of plant substitutes to create products with a short list of simple and well-known 'home kitchen' ingredients which together create the taste and texture experience of animal meat. Using Meala significantly improves the taste and texture of plant products, they offer qualities more similar to fat when incorporated into meat substitutes, and allow for a softer, juicier and meatier bite, without an aftertaste and with a cleaner footprint. The product has been successfully applied in vegetable products such as hamburgers, kebabs, hot dogs, dim sum and meatballs. In the future, the product will be used in egg, fish and milk substitutes.

Meala FoodTech employees Meala FoodTech employees Meala FoodTech employees


Founded: 2021

Founders: Eli Asulin, Eyal Yatskan, Mekorot

Field: Monitoring and sensing

Number of employees: 4

Stage: Starting to scale up, there are first customers and field trials

Investment & main investors: Mekorot, Newsite Imagine Ltd

Watersight's product AquaRing is a smart sensor installed on production lines and is an important tool for decision makers in order to monitor the quality of the final product reaching consumers. Watersight's solution is based on an optical sensor and data processing chip developed by NewSight, which performs a spectral analysis of the absorbed light. The information collected is transmitted to the cloud for processing using an algorithm and artificial intelligence and is used to monitor the quality and safety of water and process fluids. The device is ideal for installation throughout all stages of the process due to the low cost, its tiny size and the ease of installation in existing systems and is an important tool in making decisions in real time to ensure the uniformity of the product reaching the final consumer.

Watersight employees. Watersight employees. Watersight employees.
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