Yair Shamir (Minister of Agriculture) and Todd Dollinger (Chairman and CEO of The Trendlines Group
On December 4, more than 250 professionals gathered at Eretz Yisrael Museum in Tel Aviv on Tuesday for an international conference exploring the state of agriculture technology and investment, specifically focusing on how Israel’s R&D advantage, the country’s unique multidisciplinary approach, and more than 100 years of experience tackling “food security” may indeed solve current global challenges. Distinguished panelists included members of the Israeli government, executives from leading international agrochemical and food companies, as well as venture capitalists from international agritech-focused firms.
Avi Hasson (Chief Scientist of the Israeli Ministry of Economy) and Steve Rhodes (Chairman and CEO of The Trendlines Group)
Margaret Dohnalek, global head of technology scouting in corporate R&D for PepsiCo, remarked that she understands “we don’t know what we need to know about Israel,” underscoring a sentiment across the panel of corporate executives, that technology currently being developed in Israel may be the next game-changer. The conference was part a 4-day Agrivest Tour of Israel organized by The Trendlines Group (www.trendlines.com), which included visits to Israel’s top agricultural research organizations, as well as agritech start-up success stories, such as Evogene and Bio-Bee.
At the conference, Dohnalek, along with corporate leads from Syngenta, Bayer, and Monsanto spoke on a panel (“Profiling Tomorrow’s Ag Solutions”) offering insights into why companies are looking to Israel for the next addition to their pipelines, and discussed their “dream technologies.” Precision agriculture, with a focus on gaging weather patterns, was the most popular response. Virginia Ursin, Technology Prospecting Lead at Monsanto added that this sector -- “smart farming” -- is growing rapidly.
Ofra Strauss (Chairperson of the Board, Strauss Group) and Dr. Nitza Kardish (CEO of Trendlines Agtech)
Prof. Avi Perl, chief scientist, Israeli Ministry of Agriculture agreed and emphasized the formal funding structure the government gives to agritech start-ups as a sign of the government’s commitment to the sector’s growth and success. Dohnalek of PepsiCo said the formal support makes it more feasible for Israel entrepreneurs to successfully come up with ideas that address multiple challenges. She acknowledged this as a reason why large corporations seek collaborations and acquisitions in Israel. Ron Meeusen, managing partner of Cultivian Sandbox Ventures, said that what sets the Israeli start-up ecosystem apart is a culture of serial entrepreneurs who are willing to start over again and again.
Photos : Moshe Amar Liran Shemesh