Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the technology-transfer company of the Hebrew University, launched Agrinnovation, an investment fund focused on agricultural inventions.
Agrinnovation also announced the closing of a U.S. $4.0m first round of financing led by the Victor Smorgon Group from Australia with participation from Yissum and the Provident Fund of the Employees of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In the next days, a group of Chinese-Israeli investors will also join the fund, which is expected to raise a total of up to U.S. $6.0m. The funds raised will be used to advance agritech technologies and the establishment of new agricultural startups.
Led by Dr. Ido Schechter, Agrinnovation will include promising applied technologies originating from The Hebrew University’s Faculty of Agriculture which includes over 100 researchers working on novel inventions in diverse fields such as agriculture, food, nutrition, veterinary medicine and clean-tech.
Each year, the fund will invest in approximately five different outstanding early-stage projects, with the objective of bringing them to a successful proof-of-concept.
The projects will then be the bases for the foundation of startups for the further development and commercialization of innovative products.
Among the first projects that will be funded by Agrinnovation, there will be:
– an innovative protective coating for extending the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables, developed by Prof. Amos Nussinovitch, from the Institute of Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition, and Prof. Haim David Rabinowitch and Dr. Yonatan Elkind, both from the Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture. The edible biodegradable film is intended for post-harvest shelf extension of fresh produce such as bell peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, apples, nectarines, plums, citruses, cherries as well as stored garlic and onion bulbs. In addition to reducing spoilage during storage, the coating also improves the product’s glossiness, its mechanical handling properties, and retention of volatile flavor compounds;
– a platform for the controlled release of drugs for farm animals. Developed by Prof.’s Michael Friedman and Amnon Hoffman from the School of Pharmacy – Institute for Drug Research and Prof. Eran Lavy from the School of Veterinary Medicine, the technology replaces the need for recurrent injections of drugs such as antibiotics and pain killers with a one-time injection of the active substance for the duration of the treatment; and
– a method for the protection of plants that eliminates agricultural pests by electronic means, instead of chemicals.