Moroccan venture capital firm UM6P Ventures is looking to expand investments in Israeli technologies to help scale up biotech solutions in Africa.
“Israel is a champion in many deep-tech domains and we are currently looking into and evaluating a couple of startups in Israel,” CEO Yasser Biaz told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the OurCrowd Global Investor Summit in Jerusalem. “We are planning to add at least four Israeli startups to our portfolio this year, in addition to the two that are already in our portfolio.”
Biaz, who is visiting Israel for the first time said that UM6P is seeking to invest in early-stage startups in such areas as biotechnology and alternative protein related to agriculture and the alternative food market sector.
Casablanca-based UM6P was founded to advance entrepreneurship and boost scientific innovation in Morocco and Africa. The early-stage venture firm is investing in pre-series A startups and operates two funds: one which is focused on digital transformation mainly in Africa and the other specializes in deep-tech technologies.
In 2022, the company made investments in some 20 startups. Its deep-tech fund is focused on agriculture and food, water and energy, pharma and medical, and artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Biaz is part of a tech business delegation from Morocco that includes startups from a variety of sectors and industries, including fintech, AI, drones, the metaverse and Web3 and solar energy, as well as technologies for physical fitness, training, human resources and real estate.
The delegation was organized by OurCrowd Arabia business development head Youssef Seffar in cooperation with the Moroccan government.
Biaz noted that since Israel and Morocco formalized ties in 2020, as part of the so-called Abraham Accords, cooperation has started to show some fruits.
Last year, UM6P made investments in two Israeli startups. In July, the venture fund invested in Ness Ziona-based ClimateCrop, which uses gene editing technology for crops and trees to store more carbon and energy to produce higher yields and increase grain supply.
In November, UM6P was part of a €2 million seed financing round for Caesarea-based Biotic, which has developed an environmentally friendly process for producing PHBV (PHA) polymers, which can be used as a replacement for plastic. The biological polymer is produced from naturally grown sea algae.
“Investment in deep-tech, despite available capital and investment willingness, has been relatively nascent or mute in Africa,” said Biaz. “We go and invest in very early-stage tech where other investors will not go. So, the Israeli startup will benefit from our support and we benefit from their expertise.”
Biaz added that the venture firm is also in talks with Start-Up Nation Central (SNC), a nonprofit organization that tracks Israel’s tech industry, and the Israel Innovation Authority.