Food security startups get government funding boost to develop tech

6 companies selected for pilot program by Agriculture Ministry, Innovation Authority to test innovation in field

Ricky Ben-David is The Times of Israel’s Tech Israel editor and reporter.

Dotan Borenstein, CEO of SaliCrop, stands next to a tractor distributing carrot seeds for a field trial near the Gaza border, August 23, 2020. (Courtesy)
Dotan Borenstein, CEO of SaliCrop, stands next to a tractor distributing carrot seeds for a field trial near the Gaza border, August 23, 2020. (Courtesy)

Six Israeli startups focused on food security and agriculture technologies will get a government funding boost to further develop their products and embark on a pilot project led by the Agriculture Ministry together with the Israeli Innovation Authority.

A total of NIS 8.6 million ($2.7 million) will be awarded to the companies, with half from the ministry and the other half from the Innovation Authority, according to an announcement Tuesday.

The selected companies all specialize in the development of food products or raw materials based on plants or animal products designed “to improve and streamline production during the growing stages,” the announcement read. A committee selected the firms based on their level of technological innovation, their feasibility, their business-economic growth potential, and their proposed path toward commercialization, according to the ministry and the Innovation Authority.

The participating companies will pilot their technologies on farms or in R&D centers associated with the ministry to gain access to active agricultural operations.

The six companies are BioFishency, a company developing an automated and controlled system for the treatment of industrial fish farming ponds (RAS); Salicrop, which developed a non-genetically modified seed treatment for various crop varieties, vegetables, and grain seeds; FruitSpec, a company that offers a solution designed to provide accurate early-season fruit yield estimation; ALTA, a drone company that developed a solution for precise spraying of plant products; Tosaf Group, a company that develops and manufactures additives for the plastics packaging industry; and Agrint Sensing Solutions, which developed precise detection of caterpillar infested trees (like apple, pear, olive, almond, avocado, cherry, and mango).

“The purpose of the program is twofold: to provide an opportunity for first implementation of advanced technologies for Israeli startups and to allow Israeli citizens to enjoy the innovation developed locally,” said Israel Innovation Authority CEO Dror Bin in a statement Tuesday. “Agro-tech is an important field and has a real impact on the future of the world through a variety of cross sectors, such as climate, food security and sustainable agriculture that allows less use of pesticides and high nutritional values.”

Naama Kaufman-Pess, director-general of the Agriculture Ministry, said that investing in research and development was “the only way we can continue to strengthen agriculture and prepare optimally for times of crisis and in particular for climate change. We are investing in this project while thinking about our future, and through agro-tech we will be able to overcome the challenges we will face tomorrow.”

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