Hebrew U fund invests in cannabis sorting technology

Agrinnovation puts money into Cannabi-Tech, developer of an analysis device for medical marijuana flowers

Shoshanna Solomon was The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Illustration of cannabis (Courtesy)
Illustration of cannabis (Courtesy)

Hebrew University’s Agrinnovation investment fund has agreed to invest in the Rehovot-based medical cannabis firm Cannabi-Tech Ltd, which is developing a device for the automated sorting and analysis of medical cannabis flowers.

Agrinnovation, set up in 2015 to focus on agricultural innovation, is the agritech investment fund of the Yissum research and development company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the university’s technology transfer company.

Cannabi-Tech’s device, which is said to be affordable and easy to use, allows the nondestructive detection, analysis and automated sorting of individual medical cannabis flowers. The company’s technology combines near infra-red (NIR) spectrometry and imaging tools to provide a sensitive method of detecting and quantifying the active compounds of the cannabis plant and a unique spectral fingerprint for each flower.

In addition, a sorter enables automated sorting of cannabis flowers by pre-set criteria suitable for mass production. An optional attachable label generator and automated packaging unit can pack flowers individually, enabling producers to trace and track the composition and potency of every flower from farmer to patient, Yissum said in a statement.

The composition and potency of cannabis varies between different flowers from the same plant and across different plants within the same strain. As a result, the only way today to guarantee cannabis composition and potency is to test every flower independently, said Prof. Oded Shoseyov, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Cannabi-Tech.

Currently, testing protocols depend on statistical sampling for assessing the composition and potency of an entire batch of cannabis flowers. Results are unreliable due to the heterogeneous nature of the cannabis plant. This creates a substantial risk for patients in need of exact composition and dosage for effective care. At present, no means are available for accurately examining cannabis flowers without destroying them in the process. This shortcoming reduces flower efficacy and commercial value, the statement said.

“The medical cannabis opportunity cannot materialize in full as long as doctors do not have 100% confidence that each time they prescribe medical cannabis, it comes in a controlled and standardized condition, with the precise composition of active ingredients matching their patient’s therapeutic needs,” said Shoseyov.

Dr Guy Setton, co-founder and CEO of Cannabi-tech (Courtesy)
Guy Setton, co-founder and CEO of Cannabi-tech (Courtesy)

Cannabi-Tech will use the investment to fund its R&D activities and initial business development efforts, said Guy Setton, co-founder and CEO of the company. The firm is also seeking additional funding, he said.

Medical cannabis is provided to patients for relief from disease symptoms and pain, as well as physical and mental stress. The international medical cannabis market is forecast to be worth approximately $20 billion within a decade. About 1% of the global population are potential medical cannabis users at some point during their lifetime, the statement said.

“As the medical cannabis industry expands worldwide, there will be a significant rise in regulatory oversight, increased quality assurance and quality control testing, while growing market demand will need to be fulfilled by mass production, all which will drive Cannabi-Tech’s growth,” said Ido Schechter, general manager of Agrinnovation.

Investors in Agrinnovation, besides Yissum, are UBS Agri Ventures Pty Ltd., the Provident Fund of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. and Kingenta Livnat Agri-science Development, Limited Partnership.

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