‘Under the radar’ tech incubator named best in Israel

The Trendlines Group is a major force in medical devices and agricultural technology, its co-CEOs said

Trendlines CEO Steve Rhodes speaks at an agritech roadshow event in St. Louis (Photo credit: Courtesy)
Trendlines CEO Steve Rhodes speaks at an agritech roadshow event in St. Louis (Photo credit: Courtesy)

Israel-based Trendlines Group’s medical technology incubator on Tuesday night was named the best incubator in Israel by the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS). Two Trendlines portfolio companies — MitrAssist, a company in the medtech incubator, and Advanced Mem-Tech, a member of the Trendlines Agriculture Technology incubator — were named best start-ups of the year by the OCS.

The awards the company received in Tel Aviv were not the biggest piece of news for Trendlines this week. Earlier Tuesday, the company filed for an IPO on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The offering, estimated by industry officials to be worth tens of millions of dollars, is led by Octagon Capital Corporation and includes Euro Pacific Canada Inc., Paradigm Capital Inc. and M Partners Inc.

The Trendlines Group invests in mostly early-stage start-ups in the medical and agriculture technology areas. In 2013, it raised about $20 million for its portfolio companies. Since 2007, Trendlines portfolio companies raised $140 million, not including grants from the OCS and other government sources. Since 2007, Trendlines has started 52 medical and agricultural technology companies. Innolap and Flowsense, two of the medical tech companies, were acquired by multinationals Teleflex and Baxter, respectively.

Most investment funds that sponsor incubators work with start-ups in fields such as mobile app, information technology and cloud development. Trendlines specializes in start-ups in the life sciences and medical tech, especially medical devices, and agricultural tech fields. The latter is especially intriguing area of activity; Trendlines is the only Israeli incubator in the agritech field, an area that Rurik Halaby expects to be the next big thing in Israeli technology. “Gram for gram, Israel is as productive as any nation, and considering the limitations it must work within. It is impressive and amazing,” Halaby said, CEO of New York-based AgriCapital, one of the largest mergers and acquisition firms working in the agritech space.

In April, Trendlines announced it was opening an agritech incubator in China with the Anhui Luban Construction Investment Group, a conglomerate that is very active in the tech sector, which may be the first such collaboration between Israel and China. According to Wang Xiwen, the group’s chairman, “Israel develops many world-leading agricultural technologies and Trendlines’ strength is to develop and bring these advanced agritech companies to fruition. I truly believe that Israel’s innovative technologies are urgently needed by Luban to develop our modern agricultural industry in China.”

In another first, Trendlines last year brought five Israeli agritech firms to the US to meet with investors, potential customers and state officials. Among the companies were SolChip, which developed an embedded solar chip to power valves and meters in fields and farms; Edenshield, which develops natural pesticides based on herbs; and MiRobot, an automatic milking system that can save farmers money and time. The companies’ visit included St. Louis, Memphis and Denver, cities off the beaten path for most tech companies, but centers of American agricultural activity and technology.

In the medical tech area, Trendlines Labs, part of the Trendlines Group, earlier this year signed an agreement for collaboration with Roper St. Francis Healthcare. The deal is expected to see the groups collaborate to develop new medical devices aimed at increasing efficiency and lowering costs. It was just one in a long line of agreements and honors the company has received for its medical tech companies, said Todd Dollinger, co-CEO of the Trendlines Group and chairman of Trendlines Medical.

“The entire Trendlines organization is thrilled about our awards from the Office of the Chief Scientist,” said Dollinger. “We are proud of Eran Feldhay, CEO of Trendlines Medical, and his team for their recognition of excellence as they develop and nurture life science technologies in the medical device arena.” Commenting on the awards, Steve Rhodes, Trendlines co-CEO and director of Trendlines Agtech, said that the awards “confirm our business model and hands-on approach to support and develop companies that reach this level of accomplishment. Our team in Trendlines Agtech, led by CEO Nitza Kardish, continues to establish companies focused on agritech and food, especially those that produce more using fewer resources, to achieve outstanding results.”

Watch a video from Todd Dollinger, co-CEO of the Trendlines Group, on investing in Israel:

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