Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has joined Ashkelon-based medical cannabis company Univo as an investor and professional adviser, the company announced on Wednesday.
Olmert, the company said, will “help promote Univo’s business goals both in Israel and globally, and will support the company’s future fundraising efforts.”
Olmert, who served as prime minister from January 2006 to March 2009, is currently the head of Israel’s Public Council for Healthy Lifestyles, and chairs the advisory board of venture capital firm Genesis Angels, which has invested in top medical technology companies in Israel.
Founded in 2016, Tel Aviv Stock Exchange-traded Univo possesses licenses for the cultivation, research and development, production, and distribution of its own cannabis product.
The company, led by CEO Golan Bitton, is currently developing a new 750 square-meter facility, including an on-site R&D laboratory, to cultivate a wide variety of cannabis strains.
“The tech revolution has entered the medical cannabis space and is expediting all R&D, manufacturing and even regulatory procedures, with the goal of relieving pain for patients suffering from a spectrum of diseases,” said Olmert.
“Israel is stepping up and joining the world’s most progressive nations in developing a pivotal local industry that has the potential to contribute to global medical cannabis R&D efforts,” he said.
“After I examined Israel’s top medical cannabis companies, I chose to contribute my experience and knowledge to Univo, because I believe that Univo has the best chance of becoming an independent entity when it comes to manufacturing and distributing top cannabis-based products. I am thankful for the opportunity to step in and help this company become a global leader.”
The global medical cannabis market was valued at $8.3 billion in 2017, and is projected to soar in value to $28b. by 2024, according to a recent report by Energias Market Research. In January, the Israeli government approved exports of domestically-grown medical cannabis to the worldwide legal market.
Ido Hagag, a real estate developer and one of Univo’s major investors, said Olmert’s “connections with global markets and his capabilities in the health sector” will enable the company to improve patient care worldwide.
“We’re proud to have Mr. Olmert supporting our vision and putting his trust in our manufacturing and supply chain. This is a major milestone for Univo that soon enough will bear fruit,” said Hagag.
Olmert is the second former prime minister to enter the medical cannabis industry to date. Since September, Ehud Barak has served as chairman of Canndoc-InterCure, a holding company of Israeli medical cannabis firms.
Barak is responsible for the company’s global growth strategy and the development of international business. The company is currently examining going public on the NASDAQ stock market.