An ag-tech innovation center in southern Israel

Arieli Capital and Ramat Negev Regional Council set to establish
May 21, 2020
An ag-tech innovation center in southern Israel

Arieli Capital has signed a cooperation agreement with Ramat Negev Regional Council and Ramat Negev Industries, for the establishment of an ag-tech innovation center to take advantage of the region’s achievement in turning the desert into an unmatched agricultural success story. The new facility will operate within the jurisdiction of the regional council in southern Israel. The initiative is part of a plan to expand the economic potential of the region’s booming agricultural sector and the agricultural research and development capabilities developed at the region in recent decades.

The Eilat Technology Center (ETC), a subsidiary of Arieli Capital, will plan and lead the establishment of the innovation center. The center will be located near Ashalim and focus on areas of specialization in the region, including general agriculture, desert agriculture, marine agriculture, cannabis and more. The total investment in the planning and establishment of the center will be around $5 million. Arieli Capital will take the lead in this venture, with the participation of the Ramat Negev Regional Council and other investors.

The initial stage of activity will entail an ag-tech accelerator. Five to ten of the most promising startups will be selected by senior officials in the agricultural and investment fields to participate in the first accelerator. From the outset, the entrepreneurs will be offered several options to assist them in facilitating their entry into the global market. These include financial support and mentoring by technology and business experts from the agriculture and food industries, access to labs and R&D facilities including the Ramat Negev Agricultural R&D Center. Other resources will include direct access to leading Israeli and global agricultural and food industry brands, participation in the future plans for business development and capital raising for investment, as well as unlimited possibilities for conducting technological pilots of new innovations in the regional council’s agricultural fields.

Ramat Hanegev is one of the largest and most successful agricultural regions in Israel. The innovation center will be able to take advantage of the unique capabilities developed in the region and contribute greatly to the field of precision agriculture and business development. The agricultural know how has been developed over the past 50 years at the Desert Agricultural Center, with agricultural research and pilots conducted at the experimental station. Over the years researchers and technologists at the center have conducted hundreds of applied research projects in a vast range of fields: efficient water usage and irrigation; solving of common problems such as soil diseases and pests; development of new products and the acclimatization of existing products; development of agricultural techniques for improving the profitability of crops; conducting and overseeing of international projects in the field of highly advanced agriculture, and more. All the products and techniques developed have been used by the farmers of the region to improve their crops, for increasing yields and maximizing the economic return on their investment.

The Ramat Negev region is the largest municipality in Israel. It covers 4.2 million dunams (1.050 million acres) and accounts for about 22% of Israel’s total land area.  Vegetables are the main crops grown in the region and the total annual output is about $177 million (NIS 629 million). About 70% of total production goes for exports, primarily to Europe and the U.S. There is also a brackish water desalination plant in the region which produces 3.5 million cubic meters of high-quality water for use by the local communities and in agriculture.

Or Haviv, partner and head of innovation at Arieli Capital, said: “The combination between the agricultural knowhow of Ramat Hanegev and the extensive agricultural lands of the region and the international business infrastructure of Arieli Capital will lead to the development of major food and agricultural companies on a national and international level.”
 
Eran Doron, head of the Ramat Negev Regional Council and chairman of the Innovation Center, noted: “The establishment of the agricultural innovation center in the Ramat Negev region is fantastic news for the region as well as for startups in the agricultural sector. The potential for an innovation platform in agriculture is huge and together we will bring this wonderful news of innovation and food security.”

Yankale Moscowitz, R&D director of the Ramat Negev Regional Council and of the council’s Agricultural Center, commented: “For many years now R&D in the Ramat Negev region is at the forefront of advanced agriculture and applied agricultural research. The establishment of the innovation center in the Ramat Negev regional council, with the project being backed by highly experienced strategic partners with proven experience in advancing startups, is a much-needed effort in these times.”

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