Israel Is Investing Heavily In Promoting These 4 Fields

Human-robot interface is one of the fields that Israel is heavily invested in promoting. (Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images)
Human-robot interface is one of the fields that Israel is heavily invested in promoting. (Anindito Mukherjee/Getty Images)

By Abigail Klein Leichman

The Israel Innovation Authority is investing $70 million over three years in establishing new consortiums to nurture startups in cultivated meat, insect farming, human-robot interface and fluid sampling-focused medical diagnosis.

This is one of the largest public-sector investments in cultivated meat in the world.

The funding is being provided through the IIA’s Generic Technology Research Consortium program, which offers grants for research and development cooperation within the framework of an association of industrial companies and research institutions.

Each consortium will include about 10 companies and 10 academic research groups.

Dror Bin, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority, said the four new consortiums represent areas “with the potential for a significant economic impact, with a substantial need for government involvement.”

The cultivated meat and medical diagnosis consortiums, he added, result from the IIA’s extensive promotion bio-convergence — technologies combining biology with engineering aspects such as electronics, AI, computational biology, physics, nanotechnology, materials science and advanced genetic engineering.

A call for proposals was issued for:

  • Cultivated meat technologies for mass-producing lab-grown meat at competitive prices with conventional slaughtered meat. This initiative is being piloted by Tnuva’s innovation division in hope of establishing a broad export-oriented Israeli industry.
  • A circular economy of products revolving around the black soldier fly, an insect that can break down organic waste, reduce landfills and provide a source of protein for animal feed. This initiative is being piloted by Prism to create anewvalue chain in insect agriculture.
  • Fluid sampling technologies and sensors to detect biological markers for early diagnosis of diseases – such as pancreatic cancer, fatty liver, hepatitis and Alzheimer’s disease) noninvasively even before symptoms occur. This consortium is being piloted by startups headed by Senseera.
  • Technologies to improve human-robot interaction to promote and streamline robotic tasks using natural and simple mutual communication. This consortium, led by Elbit, ICT and Cyber, will develop a kit of generic capabilities that can be integrated into a variety of robotic applications for the civilian market (nursing homes, hospitals, industry and logistics) and security sector.

In 2019, Vanilla Vida launched in late 2019 in collaboration with the Israeli Innovation Authority as part of The Kitchen FoodTech Hub, a seed investor and technology incubator owned by the StraussGroup.  Vanilla Vida now employs 12 people and has raised more than $3 million from investors including Peakbridge’s FoodSparks fund and software and angel investor Michael Eisenberg. A Series A round is slated for 2021’s fourth quarter.

TikTalk, an AI speech therapy program, also recently received funding from the Israel Innovation Authority. It was launched commercially in January to agencies, private-practice speech language pathologists and school systems on a monthly or yearly license basis. The company also received funding from eHealthVentures, Maccabi Health Fund and Shenhav Investments and is affiliated with the Maryland-Israel Development Center.

The 10-person Israeli team is developing additional games for other kinds of speech-sound disorders.

Produced in association with Israel21C.

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