Independence Day is an opportunity to be proud of Israel’s contribution to research and development. Israel is known for exporting innovation. Technological, agricultural and medical innovation as well as cultural and artistic creativity. The number of Israeli publications in international scientific journals is particularly impressive compared to the size of our population. Naturally, we chose to focus on food technology, or its familiar and common nickname – FoodTech. A field that has flourished and prospered in the last decade and in the last five years in particular.
FoodTech is a field engaged in the research, development and implementation of advanced technological processes in the food sciences and food industry. This is in order to improve food, increase production, and even create new foods.
A world of hunger and a world of seven
The climate crisis is not future but already here. We are witnessing various phenomena as a result, such as extreme changes in the weather, rising temperature, rising sea level, storms, floods, droughts, fires and at the same time dwindling and even extinction of animal and plant species. Weather events and changing climates are causing fatalities to crops around the world, and the numbers of hungry populations are increasing.
All this is happening while part of the world population is satiated and suffering from obesity, chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and more. Some of the health problems of the seven population are the result of an unbalanced diet rich in ultra-processed foods, high in sugar, sodium, saturated fat and sometimes both.
Another problem that requires an immediate practical solution and that is food loss cannot be ignored. According to the World Food Program (WFP) published about a year ago, about a third of the world’s food produced per year is wasted or lost (at least $ 1 trillion each year).
FoodTech companies enable the finding and invention of solutions by combining scientific knowledge in many fields such as nutrition, medicine, agriculture, environment, technology and artificial intelligence.
FoodTech companies operate in several channels, including the creation of high-quality nutritional substitutes for animal food products such as meat, milk and eggs, raising the nutritional profile of food products, solutions for reducing sugar, salt and saturated fat, and functional properties in food, artificial intelligence use, increasing crops, improving local food production Including, upgrading and shortening processes of food processing, packaging and transportation.
Israel is one of the world’s leading countries in the field, along with Singapore, the Netherlands, the United States, Denmark and Ireland. There are many dozens of food-tech companies in Israel, and it is in second place – after the United States – in investments and fundraising in the amount of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Among the major investors and developers in the field are the Strauss Food Group, which was a pioneer in the field and opened the greenhouse The kitchen, academic institutions such as the Technion, the Faculty of Agriculture of the Hebrew University and Tel Hai College, all research the field and collaborate with entrepreneurs and companies.
The variety of research and developments in the field is huge. In the laboratory of Dr. Ofir Binyamin, a senior lecturer and researcher in the Department of Food Sciences at Tel Hai Academic College, we develop solutions for protein substitutes from quinoa and moringa. , And the goal is to find a solution for the use of those depreciations to produce from them products for industry as a quality and functional raw material for use in the food industry. High nutritional values of proteins and fiber In addition, studies are being done on local plants such as lupine and hops in an examination of their use as health raw materials in new food products based on a Mediterranean diet.
An interesting story is the Galilean connection to the food tech industry. “About a decade ago, the unemployment rate was high in the Galilee and in the central city in the area, Kiryat Shmona,” says Dr. Binyamin. “There was a need for a growth engine in the region. A number of people from the field enlisted for this purpose: local councils, including the Kiryat Shmona municipality, kibbutzim and moshavim, the Miguel Research Institute, Erel Margalit, chairman of the JVP venture capital fund, and the Yozma Leumit organization, which are members of Tel Hai College.
These factors motivated the government to invest in the development of the food technology industry in the Galilee, and it was decided to establish a national institute for research and innovation in food with an investment of more than NIS 20 million. The institute was established as part of the Israeli government’s strategic move to make the Eastern Galilee the capital of the country’s FoodTech and agrotech. Since the addition of a technology incubator called FRESH START on behalf of the Innovation Authority and owned by Tnuva, Tempo Investment Funds with eight companies that employ people in the area, an innovation and entrepreneurship center called Margalit Studio Galil has been established in the heart of Kiryat Shmona.
Dr. Binyamin, one of the leaders of the initiative to establish the National Institute for Food Innovation, testifies that the unique topography and climate in the Eastern Galilee region allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of agriculture, from tropical varieties in the Sea of Galilee to deciduous trees in the Golan Heights and Naftali Mountains. Processing the produce into food products through the food institute to be established, which will serve the local industry, from small and new ventures to large companies, in all aspects related to food innovation, including animal protein substitutes, developing healthy and quality products, improving existing products, reducing costs, addressing issues Environmental such as food depreciation and product quality, sensory and technological consulting and professional training.
Researchers from the academy are working with food companies on applied projects that incorporate technological innovation. One of the important goals of the institute is to grow research innovation that will be implemented in the food industries in the country with an emphasis on the establishment of local companies.