TechNation: Cannabis-based Drugs Startup InnoCan Raises $830,000 via Crowdfunding

Cannabis-based drugs startup InnoCan raises $830,000 via crowdfunding ■ Israel spent hefty 4.5% of GDP on R&D last year, but half was by foreign companies ■ Israeli university R&D companies’ patent income marks fourth year of decline

A worker tends to cannabis plants at a plantation near the northern Israeli city of Safed.
REUTERS/Baz Ratner/Files

Cannabis-based drugs startup InnoCan raises $830,000 via crowdfunding

InnoCan Pharma, which is developing skin-disease treatments that marry cannabinoids with smart delivery systems for skin diseases, has raised 3 million shekels ($830,000) by crowdfunding. The fundraising was small but interesting in that no venture capital funds or other institutional investors were involved; instead, InnoCan raised the money from more than 500 individuals in 40 days using the online crowdfunding platform Pipelbiz. Israel began to allow crowdfunding like this last December without a prospectus as ordinarily required in selling shares to the general public so long as it is conducted on an authorized crowdfunding platform. “Crowdfunding enables startup owners to raise money and sell a small part of the company, not tens of percent as is usually the case,” explained Or Bennun, CEO of PipelBiz, who founded the company three year ago. InnoCan has blue chip backing: Its chairman is former Teva Israel CEO Ron Mayron and its founder Yoram Drucker, cofounder of Brainstorm and Pluristem. (Eran Azran)

Israel spent hefty 4.5% of GDP on R&D last year, but half was by foreign companies

At twice the average level for countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Israel remains a big spender on research and development, but more than half of that comes from multinational corporations with R&D operations in Israel, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday. Israel spent 57.8 billion shekels ($15.7 billion at current exchange rates) in 2017, or 4.5% of gross domestic product on R&D. That was more than the average of 2.2% for OECD countries and far ahead of the other R&D spending leaders Japan (3.1%) and South Korea (4.1%). But the CBS said foreign multinational accounted for 56% of Israel’s spending, whose profits from commercial development go overseas. Israeli government spending on R&D accounted for just 13%, the CBS said. In addition, the growth in R&D spending slowed sharply in 2017 to just 5% from an increase of 8.3% in 2016 and 6.6% in 2015, it said. (Ruti Levy)

Israeli university R&D companies’ patent income marks fourth year of decline

Israel’s university-affiliated research and development commercialization companies have suffered a decline in income as well as in the number of scientific discoveries they reported and patents filed, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday. The eight companies – whose achievements include commercializing the intellectual property that went into Mobileye auto-tech and the multiple sclerosis treatment Copaxone – saw income from their IP assets decline 9.5% in 2016 to 1.32 billion shekels ($360 million at current exchange rates). Although patent-licensing income is subject to sharp annual swings, 2016 marked the fourth straight year of declines. For 2017, the number of scientific discoveries reported by the companies was down 20% to 1,070 while the number of patents filed dropped 5% to 604, the CBS said. The companies participated in forming 39 startups last year, up from 34 in 2016 but down sharply from 53 in 2015.  The R&D compapnies emplopyed 124 people in 2017, down 5%. (Ruti Levy)

Program aims to improve commercialization of Israeli-U.S. agricultural research 

After 40 years of supporting agricultural research, the U.S.-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development Fund is starting a new program to ensure that the fruits of the R&D it funds stand a better chance of being commercialized. BARD said on Monday it had launched a joint program with the Israel Innovation Authority that add an extra year or even two to the three-year R&D grants it gives American and Israeli agricultural researches at universities to “pull the research out from the walls of the academy,” in the words of executive director Yoram Kapulnik. “After 40 years we came to the conclusion that even when researchers had undertaken major research, it was hard for them to develop a business from it,” he explained. For-profit businesses that want to join the project and help give it a commercial focus will get aid from the IIA under the terms of Israel’s R&D Law. BARD has funded $300 milion worth of projects by university researchers in the two countries since it was founded. (Eliran Rubin)