Israel to accelerate medical cannabis research with hi-tech incubator

The development will take place in the small Negev town of Yeruham whose mayor commented that the city's dreams of being a medical cannabis 'production capital' are now being realized.

A worker tends to medical cannabis plants.  (photo credit: AMIR COHEN)
A worker tends to medical cannabis plants.
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN)
A hi-tech incubator for the development of breakthrough medical cannabis technologies will be established in Yeroham, the Israel Innovation Authority and Economy Ministry announced Monday.
Projecting an estimated investment of NIS 150 million into the small Negev town, the tender to operate the government-backed CanNegev incubator was awarded to crowdfunding investment platform OurCrowd, nonprescription pharmaceutical giant Perrigo and Israeli medical cannabis cultivator BOL Pharma.
The consortium will operate the first-of-its-kind incubator for five years, with an option to extend its license for an additional three years. Six start-up companies operating in the field of medical cannabis will join the incubator annually, with the facility supporting a total of 30 companies over the initial tender period. Start-ups will be eligible for R&D support valued at NIS 1m.
Hailing “positive news” for the local council, Mayor Tal Ohana said the town is now realizing the vision of turning Yeroham into a research, technology and production capital for medical cannabis.
“The incubator will serve as an anchor for innovators from around the world and will upgrade the activities of entrepreneurs, who are already in the process of allocation of land for the establishment of cannabis extraction plants in Yeroham,” he said.
Driven by increasing demand for cannabis for the treatment of chronic pain, revenue from the global legal cannabis market is expected to exceed $59 billion by 2025, according to a recent report by Global Market Insights. While the government approved exports of locally grown medical cannabis in January 2019, the reform has since stalled and exports are yet to commence.
“We will find start-ups with breakthrough technologies, make seed and follow-on investments, and equip them with all the necessary tools for success in the international market,” said Jon Medved, founder and CEO of Jerusalem-based OurCrowd.
“The member firms of the consortium have a wealth of knowledge and experience in the medical field and in medical cannabis, and this will be placed fully at the disposal of the innovators.”
In addition to the medical cannabis incubator, the Innovation Authority and Economy Ministry also announced the establishment of two additional incubators located in peripheral areas, which are forecast to assist a total of 130 start-ups over the coming years.
An Industry 4.0 incubator will be established by “I 4 Valley” in the northern city of Karmiel and in the Galilee, partnering with academia and industry in the region to promote entrepreneurship in advanced industries. Incubator shareholders include Wipro Givon, Kusto (Tambour), Keter Plastic, Trellidor, Flying Cargo and Klil.
A third incubator will be built at the Idan Hanegev Industrial Park, targeting innovation in the fields of cleantech, agritech, plastics and advanced industry. The incubator, located near the large Bedouin city of Rahat, is backed by investment firms Alpha Capital and Netafim Holdings Hatzerim, as well as leading companies such as SodaStream, Revel, Netafim, Tami (Israel Chemicals) and Dolav Plastic Products.
“Establishing technological incubators in the periphery is a significant milestone that is expected to generate significant economic value in the local ecosystem, attracting numerous investments, industry and human capital,” said Economy Minister Eli Cohen.
“The establishment of these centers will result in the increase of hi-tech companies opening R&D operations in the periphery, a future increase in the number of active hi-tech employment centers, an increase in high-yield jobs and a decrease in migration of professionals to the center of the country,” he said.