After an extensive evaluation of the foodtech industry's needs, particularly in alternative proteins, the Israel Innovation Authority has decided to initiate the establishment of infrastructure that will preserve – and significantly enhance – the strength of the foodtech ecosystem. YDLabs, the selected company, will establish a facility that will provide fermentation services to foodtech companies at varying scales, ranging from 10 liters to 20,000 liters, offering diverse services based on the current and future needs of the local foodtech industry, subject to predefined conditions set by the research committee. The company was founded a year ago by Ariel Blumovich and recruited one of Israel's renowned fermentation experts, Dr. Moti Rebhun, who also serves as the CEO of the Israel Fermentation Society.
“We are pleased to confirm the selection of YDLabs and look forward to seeing the Israeli ecosystem benefit from infrastructure and services provided for scaling production to enable economic feasibility assessment, regulatory preparedness, and more," said Dror Bin, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority. “Israel has identified the foodtech field as one of the areas to prioritize. Currently, due to the lack of infrastructure and workforce, many ventures turn to service providers abroad, which leads to early knowledge leakage and advancements in regulatory frameworks tailored for other countries. With this initiative, we aim to change that as soon as possible."
The field of alternative proteins has experienced significant growth in recent years and is expected to continue its high growth trajectory in the coming years. The main motivations driving and accelerating the development of technologies and products in this field primarily stem from concerns about environmental and climate impacts of increasing demand for animal-based and industrial agriculture-based food as part of the expected population growth, as well as concerns about food supply security and its impact on the climate crisis. To answer this need, there has been a significant growth of the alternative protein sector (including non-protein food components) using synthetic biology methods that employ engineered microorganisms as production systems (food coloring, structurally animal-like fats, enzymes for food production, flavor and aroma compounds, and more).
The field of alternative proteins can be divided into three main categories:
- Plant-based meat and dairy substitutes
- Cultured meat and dairy substitutes
- Proteins and various components derived from microorganisms through fermentation
Among these three categories, fermentation technology for food production is emerging as a highly promising market.
The established fermentation facility will include equipment, skilled human resources specialized in fermentation and food, services enabling fermentation at pilot and demo scales, separation and purification services, analytics, assistance in food regulation, and more. This will enable infrastructure customers from Israel and around the world to conduct fermentation at various volumes, conduct economic feasibility experiments, produce small-scale batches for potential customers, establish a regulatory dossier, and even create small trading batches. Taking a broader perspective, this will prevent brain drain and preserve the vast knowledge existing in Israel today, and encourage companies to move from the development stage to production, thus maintaining Israel's relative strength in the field of alternative proteins and fermentation.
This article was first published on 18 June by ISERD.