THE 1st NORDIC AGRI-FOODTECH BOOTCAMP IN ISRAEL (PART 1)
Tel Aviv in June can be pretty warm, especially if you come from Sweden or Denmark. But imagine a middle-eastern sunset, a cool restaurant on the beach, some frozen lemonade and the typical Israeli pickles. Well, that was the meeting room where our delegation was welcomed at the first Nordic Agri-Foodtech Bootcamp was kicked-off. Not too bad, right?
Thanks for the support from Vinnova – Sweden’s Innovation Agency – Sweden Foodtech got the opportunity to join a weeklong program designed to give foodtech startups invaluable insights and connections to the Israeli food tech ecosystem and grow faster. It’s an initiative of Innovation Centre Denmark in Tel Aviv and Danish Food Cluster in cooperation with Vinnova and the main Israeli foodtech partners like PeakBridge and JVP. Three startups from Sweden and seven from Denmark joined the bootcamp for its first edition. This is an extremely important opportunity to meet investors and successful entrepreneurs for the startups and a great chance for establishing partnerships and connecting the ecosystems for us at Sweden Foodtech.
In the picture: Daniel Dudas-Schwarz, Liv and Nadav Berger, PeakBridge.
WELCOME TO THE ISRAELI TECH TRIBE
Why is there a successful foodtech hub in Israel you might wonder? There is not a strong or traditional food industry here – we heard from Nadav Berger, Israeli serial food entrepreneur & Co-Founder at PeakBridge – but “it is mainly about culture.” Israel is an extremely entrepreneurial oriented country, where people don’t get scared of risking and “embrace the failure”. It’s a friendly, informal ecosystem of entrepreneurs and investors that act like a tribe, supporting each other and new opportunities. Add a strong tech infrastructure and a pretty young history for a country that from the first day needed to develop innovative agri-technologies to deal with desert lands and relative geopolitical isolation.
“Israel is the Startup Nation because the nation is a startup itself” added Ilan Samish, Ph.D. & CEO at Amai Proteins. Entrepreneurship is part of the Israeli mindset and DNA, influencing all sectors and industries. Moreover, with a strong international approach due to the relatively small size of the local market the mindset is clear, “when we launch a startup in Israel, we think globally from day one”. This is a great combination of factors in order to build and develop a functional foodtech hub. The setting and these people created a very good premise to start a productive Agri-Foodtech Bootcamp.
MEET THE FOODTECH ECOSYSTEM
The second day started with an introduction to “The Israeli Ecosystem of Innovation” presented by Samuel Scheer from the Innovation Centre Denmark office in Tel Aviv. A wide and clear picture of the main players operating within agriculture and food technologies development, from incubators to accelerators, to Universities and institutional stakeholders. The startups worked on their pitch presentations and made some functional adjustment in order to get the investors’ attention during the next meetings. With all the needed tools in the pocket, it was time to start exploring and get inspired within the food & tech world in Tel Aviv.
In the picture: the Danish-Swedish delegation at WeWork Tel Aviv.
We met two of the most successful foodtech startups founded and grown in Israel: Innovopro and DouxMatox. The first one is leading the chickpea protein as a tasty, healthy, safe and sustainable nutritional ingredient. Impressive to hear how powerful the chickpeas are: rich in essential amino acids content and free from allergens, the chickpea protein also enables removal of carrageenans and modified starches usually added to processed foods. DouxMatok is a pioneer in the development of “Targeted Flavor Delivery”, enabling improved nutritional profile of foods while retaining the same taste. “Food should make us happy”, said the CEO Eran Baniel. This is why DouxMatox is giving extra power to sugar, in order to reduce the sugar content in sweet food products for healthier consumption.
To wrap-up the day, our Danish-Swedish delegation visited WeWork in the South-East part of Tel Aviv. A tech paradise for creative entrepreneurs and startups who get access to not just workspace, but also development support and connection to a global community. On a conference call, we also got an introduction to the WeWork Food Labs in New York City: an acceleration program for food startups that is considering to soon expand in Israel and in the Nordics.
Let’s skip the dinner storytelling for now. Just try to figure a delicious wild table of Israeli dishes and desserts... Way over expectations so far. Stay tuned to read more about the next days of bootcamp!