Amidst Covid restrictions, 2020 turned out to be a transformative year for GFI in Israel, our first full year of operation.
In 2020 we doubled the size of our team, established an online presence with our new website, initiated and participated in dozens of conferences and seminars, supported the ecosystem’s growth, and helped raise awareness and shape the vibrant public discourse around alternative protein. We’d like to share some highlights from this turbulent year, and thank you, our partners, for sharing this journey.
Prime Minister Netanyahu appoints a coordinator to the alternative protein sector
The undisputable highlight of the year was the December 7th visit with PM Benjamin Netanyahu to Aleph Farms, the culmination of months of preparation. This was our break to discuss with the PM the opportunity alternative protein presents for economic growth and to present a draft of the National Policy Plan we are working on with various government ministries. At this event, Netanyahu became the first head of state to taste cultivated meat. He committed to appoint a coordinator to serve the sector and ensure “Israel will become a powerhouse for alternative meat and alternative protein.” The event was widely covered by the press in Israel and abroad, including Channel 12, Globes, Yahoo Finance and TechRound.
Alternative protein academic course
One highlight from our work with academia was the launch of a new alternative protein academic course piloted at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and being rolled out in three universities in Israel this academic year, evoking a lot of student interest. We have been approached by a number of universities abroad interested in offering the course as well.
Not a student but want to learn more about alternative protein? Check out GFI’s Plant-Based and Cultivated Meat MOOC.
A published paper by our Senior Scientist in Nature Food
Also on the science front – in May GFI Israel’s Senior Scientist, Dr. Tom Ben-Arye, published a paper on Cultivated Meat in Nature Food. The article outlines how the research team developed engineered bovine skeletal muscle tissue inside a novel, edible scaffolding material (TVP – textured vegetable protein), commonly used to generate plant-based meat analogs. Interested to learn more? Check out Tom’s lecture on his research.
We reached well over two thousand participants in various online events we organized this year – including the March event series with Dr. David Welch on investment opportunities in alt protein, cellular agriculture (fermentation), crop optimization and agtech commercial and scientific opportunities in this space. If you are looking for an intro to alternative protein – check out The Science of Alternative Protein lecture on our YouTube channel. We strengthened our partnership with the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) and co-hosted in July an event on Alternative Protein in which 12 companies and 11 academic representatives presented to the over 250 attendees areas in which they are interested in collaborating in the field of Alternative protein. In November we organised with The Israel-Europe R&D Directorate (ISERD) and GFI-Europe a virtual round table with over 50 attendees from 10 different countries to facilitate the establishment of consortiums to apply for the Farm to Fork program under Horizon 2020. We partnered with many universities and industry partners to produce targeted online events and participated as guest speakers on too many virtual stages to mention, testament to the vast interest in this rapidly developing sector.
Israel alternative protein company database
In support of the growing ecosystem and creation of new ventures, we met and consulted with all the leading food companies in Israel and over a hundred startups, investors and entrepreneurs. We compiled a list of all the Israeli plant-based, fermentation-based and cultivated meat, eggs and dairy companies in the continuously updated Israel company database in order to increase collaboration and investment opportunities.
This is just a sample of what we’ve been up to! Looking ahead – 2021 promises to be even more exciting. It has been a privilege to meet and work with the most professional and dedicated scientists, government officials, entrepreneurs, investors and food and agtech leaders. Together, we will make our global food system sustainable, healthy and just!