Agrinnovation secures $4m in first round of funding

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the technology-transfer company of the Hebrew University has announced the inception of Agrinnovation, an investment fund focused on agricultural inventions.

In addition, Agrinnovation has announced the closing of a U.S. $4m first round of financing. The round of investment was led by the Victor Smorgon Group from Australia. Other investors include Yissum and the Provident Fund of the Employees of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In the upcoming days, a group of Chinese-Israeli investors will also join the fund, which is expected to raise a total of up to U.S. $6m. The funds raised will be used to advance agritech technologies and the establishment of new agricultural start-ups.

Agrinnovation, managed by Dr. Ido Schechter, 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, at times with a strategic partner, with the objective of bringing them to a successful proof-of-concept. The projects will then be the bases for the foundation of start-up companies for the further development and commercialization of cutting-edge products.

One of the first projects that will be funded by Agrinnovation is 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 novel 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 novel coating also improves the product’s glossiness, its mechanical handling properties, and retention of volatile flavor compounds.

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