Israel devotes NIS 150m. to lasers, super material and eating flies

The IIA outlined its areas of focus for 2023, and announced a 150m NIS budget to launch three “innovation consortiums” — groups of innovative tech companies.

 A black soldier fly. (photo credit: PR)
A black soldier fly.
(photo credit: PR)

2023 could likely see the rise of data processing using light, advanced nano-structures and eating bugs, according to the Israel Innovation Authority. The IIA outlined its areas of focus for 2023, as well as announcing a 150m NIS budget to launch three “innovation consortiums” — groups of innovative tech companies — which will advance technological innovation in three fields: Photonics, metasurfaces and black soldier fly farming.

“The funding provided for these three consortiums forms part of the authority’s strategy to encourage high-risk endeavors within Israeli tech industry, while developing new core capabilities that will enable penetration into groundbreaking new markets with disruptive technologies, both for startup companies as well as large corporations,” said Aviv Zeevi, the authority’s VP technological infrastructure.

Photonics: Data at the speed of light

The photonics consortium, which will consist of four companies — Elop, Cielo, Quantum Source and New Photonics — will tackle the advancement of photonic technology, which relates to the use of light as a means of data processing, chip development and communications systems.

The group will aim to advance several technologies within the photonics space. One that carries particularly significant weight is the development of integrated photonic light, which can enable further advancements in the field of quantum computation.

 Aviv Zeevi, VP technological infrastructure at the Israel Innovation Authority. (credit:  Hanna Teib/Israel Innovation Authority) Aviv Zeevi, VP technological infrastructure at the Israel Innovation Authority. (credit: Hanna Teib/Israel Innovation Authority)

As well, Zeevi pointed out that photonics can be used to significantly optimize chips by utilizing high-powered airborne lasers. “The integrated photonics’ consortium is based on groundbreaking technology with potential for development into different product lines in different markets,” he said. “Chips are a highly strategic sector, and the consortium will drive the development of home-grown capabilities in this area, without conceding technological excellence and groundbreaking innovation.” 

Metamaterials: Super fabric, sensors and perhaps invisibility

The second consortium is a group of eight companies dedicated to metasurface and metamaterial technology: these careful combinations of extremely tiny nano- and micro-structures can be engineered with special properties via electromagnetic wave manipulation.

Potential applications for the technology include unconventional mirrors, extremely thin lenses and a host of other tools that can be integrated into practical applications yet to be fully explored. The hope is that together, Elbit Systems, Ceragon, SatixFy Communications, Galel, Spectralics, SDC, PCB, OPSYS, FVMAT and IKOM will begin to chart those bountiful waters.

“The technologies that will emerge from the meta consortium will boost the domestic industry’s competitive advantage in a large and still growing market and will enable the continued rollout of a range of advanced technologies in medical diagnostics (MRI and endoscopy), comms (satellite communication and low-cost adjustable antennas), advanced sensors and LiDAR, and avionics support systems,” suggested Zeevi.

Black soldier flies: High in protein and love eating trash

Lastly, a budget of 28M NIS has been allotted to the launch of a Black Soldier Fly consortium, which aims to kill three birds with one stone: the advancement of BSF farming could make a huge impact in circular economy and alternative protein production.

The eight companies of the consortium — FreezeM, Ambar, Shachar Group Ltd., NRGene, Neomena, Entoprotech, Bagira and Rafael Feed Mills Ltd. — will approach the potential of BSF farming from several different angles. If properly engineered, the flies could be used to better recycle organic waste and more efficiently feed livestock and potentially people. BSF products also carry potential in the fields of cosmetic and medicine development.

For the most part, the hope is that the companies of the group will be able to hammer out the details on what it takes to properly utilize Black Soldier Flies as farm animals, in regards to breeding, health, nutrition and scalability.

Zeevi noted that BSF farming’s potential effect on global climate change can’t be overstated: “The creative use of bugs as a solution to the problem of organic waste hazards, while reducing environmental pollution, has proven itself to be highly effective – bugs have high nutritional potential, produce fewer greenhouses gases and emit less ammonia than farm animals; industrial-scale farming of bugs requires less space, water and land than a cattle farm; and they are more effective at converting food to biomass.”