Taking a Giant Leap: How Israel Will Become a Foodtech Nation
As the Chief Scientist assigns Strauss to establish a technological innovation incubator in the field of food in Israel, Prof. Eyal Shimoni, Chief Technology Officer of Strauss Group, explains why Israel is the right place to do so and how it will practically take place
Advanced Technologies as a Viable Solution
Today, more than ever, advanced technology plays a key role in the food and beverage industry. This is mainly evident in the impact on cutting production costs and increasing profits, while creating consumer value.
Up until this decade, food companies worked primarily to increase their volume of activity in response to constant population growth and the resulting increase in food consumption. In recent years, we have seen growing awareness of health and well-being (for instance, awareness of obesity problem); stricter regulation in the developed world; diminishing natural resources and raw materials; and awareness of sustainability. In addition, there is growing demand for products that possess considerable value and adapt to current trends in quality of life (health and well-being, convenience and sustainability, and considerations of an aging population).
In light of these trends, a viable solution over time can only be found with the use of innovative and groundbreaking food technologies in all technological dimensions of the value chain. This need is a fertile ground for technological innovation in the food industry. Solutions enable us to increase the value for consumers through the development /identification of smart ingredients, increasing product freshness and bringing the customers products that are as close to their natural form as possible, while improving their nutritional value.
Technological Innovation: More Value to the Consumer
FOODTECH pertains to those technologies that have food-related applications through the entire value chain – from growing agricultural raw materials through various processing stages to packaging. Companies that employ such new and advanced technologies will be able to manufacture improved-value products for their consumers.
In the past, it was evident that technological innovation came from projects invested by private investors. Next it was the corporations that led to such solutions by setting up laboratories and conducting research. In recent years, investments of venture capital funds have taken over to promote innovation, and more and more companies are currently establishing accelerators and funds to support such projects. The reason for growing investments of external funds in food is that large food corporations are placed in a weak position when they develop an innovative technology. It is a small startup company that can operate flexibly and quickly and achieve its goals faster and more efficiently compared to a large corporation.
Conversely, corporations can more efficiently assist the promotion of early-stage ventures and help take a venture from the basic feasibility stage to prototype development, while providing professional managerial tools.
Our vision is to create here in Israel the "Silicon Valley of food technologies"
The Journey of Strauss to the Technology Incubator At Strauss Group we realized that in order to compete successfully in the global and domestic markets we must stand at the forefront of food technology. To this end, we started the Alpha venture in recent years, which aims to promote and create a complete ecosystem in relevant technologies to the food industry. The venture was established with the understanding that a large industrial entity was needed in order to link the numerous research institutes, researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs to the market; help them understand consumer trends and challenges of the industry; and enable them to use its assets (laboratories, technologists, production lines, etc.) as a test site for new technologies before they are turned into products.
The venture also engages in the connection between the "technology manufacturers" and venture capital funds, market service providers, government representatives, our strategic partners and more. This reflects the understanding that the creation of a FOODTECH community in Israel can only occur if all players in the ecosystem take part in it.
We regard the technological incubator as a "complementing effort" to Strauss Group's activity in the technology world, and to the Alpha project. Establishing an incubator will enable us to increase our assistance apparatus to encourage technological initiatives. We have at Strauss an opportunity to support companies in their very early stages, in a structured manner, and with a purpose-built team that devotes 100% of its time to this.
Strauss Group brings tremendous contribution to the incubator- thorough knowledge of the food and beverage industry: Given that the Group operates in many product categories, it has extensive knowledge in the relevant technological wrappings across most industrial fields, and can also serve as "beta" for numerous technologies. In addition, since Strauss Group is highly experienced in supporting early-stage ventures, it will support the incubator in various areas, including advice on incubator operation, logistics, administration, legal and financial assistance, HR and more. The Group can also become involved in various projects in production lines, development and more.
Israel: The Silicon Valley of Food Technologies Our vision is to create here in Israel the "Silicon Valley of food technologies". A FOODTECH incubator, led and supported by Strauss Group, including the Alpha Strauss venture, will create the suitable ecosystem for developing food technologies and groundbreaking food production technologies that have relevance for the entire world.