Israel Innovation Authority allocates $ 69 million to food and medical technology projects

The Israel Innovation Authority announced Wednesday that it has earmarked NIS 220 million ($ 69 million) to establish four new consortia in the fields of cultured meat (or lab-grown meat), insect cultivation, fluid sampling for medical diagnostics and interface. human-robot. (HRI), a multidisciplinary field that studies human-robot interactions.

The consortia, a group of industrial companies and research institutions that will jointly develop technologies, will use the estimated budget to operate for the next three years, according to the announcement.

The IIA said the move represents “one of the largest public sector investments in cultured meat in the world, bringing together leaders from industry and academia.”

Israel plays a “substantial role” in the global alternative protein market and is considered a pioneer in the field, with Israeli startups raising a record amount of money from investors in 2020, according to a report published this year by The Good Food. Institute Israel. a non-profit organization that seeks to promote research and innovation in the field. The cultured meat sector is poised to prosper in the coming years as companies move from the development stage to production, according to the report.

This year, Israeli cultured meat startup Aleph Farms raised a $ 105 million round with investors like Leonardo DiCaprio to bring lab-grown steaks to market. MeaTech 3D, an Israeli manufacturer of 3D-printed, lab-grown meat products, also attracted investment this year for an undisclosed amount by a group of investors led by actor Ashton Kutcher.

According to analyst estimates, the global cultured meat industry could reach $ 25 billion by 2030.

A rib steak produced from meat cells grown in a laboratory by the Israeli company Aleph Farms. (Courtesy: Aleph Farms / Technion Institute of Technology)

The IIA’s cultured meat consortium will be led by the innovation division of Tnuva, an Israeli food company with a significant share of the dairy market. It will work in collaboration with “Israeli cultured meat companies, several relevant start-ups in this field, industrial companies for the production of animal meat products and leading researchers from the Israeli academy,” according to the announcement, to help Israel “maintain its status. from one of the world leaders in the field.

A second consortium will focus on the development of technologies surrounding the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) and its larvae, insects that are being promoted as an essential part of the agricultural industry to break down organic waste and cheap, protein-packed animal feed. This initiative will be piloted by Prism, a company specializing in technologies to improve and preserve the reproduction of the black soldier fly, along with other companies operating in insect agriculture and organic waste treatment, animal feed companies and leading academic researchers. .

An illustrative photo of a Black Soldier fly. (Brett Hondow via Pixabay)

The third group will work on the development of sensors and technologies for the detection of biological markers for the early diagnosis of diseases such as pancreatic cancer, fatty liver and Alzheimer’s, by non-invasive means. This consortium includes a number of unnamed startups, spearheaded by Israeli biotech company Senseera Health, and academic and medical researchers. The group will develop “unique capabilities to fuse a series of biomarkers and the detection of a series of molecules in advanced sensors with very high sensitivity,” the IIA said, which “will make a significant contribution to public health.”

The initiative’s fourth consortium will develop capabilities to enhance HRI “to promote and optimize a variety of robotic tasks common to humans and autonomous systems.” The group is led by Elbit, an Israeli defense company, in collaboration with robotics companies and academic researchers from academia. Together, they will develop a “kit of generic capabilities that can be integrated into a variety of robotic applications in a simple and efficient manner,” according to the announcement.

HRI’s activities are “valued by the Israel Innovation Authority as an important technological field that can boost the capabilities of the Israeli robotics industry and enable many vital applications for both the civilian market (nursing, hospitals, industry and logistics) and for security needs. ” said the IIA.

“The four new consortia that we have approved speak to the Authority’s strategy of supporting innovative technology areas with the potential for significant economic impact, with a substantial need for government involvement. Such government involvement is especially needed in areas where cooperation would not otherwise take place without the active support of the Israel Innovation Authority, ”said Dror Bin, CEO of IIA.

“Two of the consortia, cultured meat and medical diagnosis, are, among other things, the result of extensive activities of the Authority during the last two years to promote projects in the field of bioconvergence, which we believe will likely have a significant impact on the Israeli economy ”, he added, referring to the technologies applied in the fields of biology combined with engineering such as electronics, artificial intelligence, computational biology, physics, nanotechnology and materials science.

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