TechNation: U.S. Agri Giant Exploring Food-tech Investments in Israel

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The Sea of Galilee: The inhabitants of Ohalo II lived on its shores 23,000 years ago, subsisting on hunting animals, fishing, gathering a ton of plants - and deliberately growing grain.
The Sea of Galilee: The inhabitants of Ohalo II lived on its shores 23,000 years ago, subsisting on hunting animals, fishing, gathering a ton of plants - and deliberately growing grain. Credit: Gil Magen

Cargill exploring food-tech investments in the Galilee

Cargill, the giant U.S. food and agricultural company, is exploring the possibility of investing in Israeli food-tech companies in the Galilee region. Bill Aimutis, Cargill’s global director for external innovation, was in Israel this week as a guest of Erel Margalit, a Labor lawmaker and veteran venture capitalist  who is behind a plan to turn the eastern Galilee into a global center for food technology. As part of the drive, Margalit dedicated a new high-tech center in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona dedicated to food-tech. 

Margalit said the two discussed setting up a research and development center, investing in startup companies and forming research collaboration in food processing and farming. With 150,000 employees in 70 countries and 18 R&D centers, Cargill had revenues of $107 billion last year, but like other big food makers it faces the challenges of rapidly changing consumer tastes toward healthier food and needs new technologies to deliver it. (Ora Coren)

Waze goes wayward for second time in a week with erroneous traffic report

For the second time in a week, the Waze navigation app created a needless traffic tie-up on Wedesday after it reported wrong information to users. Last week, it warned drivers away from Route 1 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, causing them to crowd onto Route 443, which runs parallel; Wednesday morning, Waze warned drivers that there was heavy traffic on 443 (which was true) and attributed it to part of the highway being closed (which was false), causing many to switch to Route 1. “Some drivers accidentally received an erroneous announcement that the reason for the traffic jams was a road closure, but at no time did the application itself show a closure,” Waze said. The mistake caused lawmaker Merav Ben-Ati (Kulanu), one of the drivers to act on the erroneous report, to provide her own traffic advice over Twitter. “Don’t repeat our mistake, don’t take Route 1,” she said. “In short, don’t believe Waze.” (Oren Dori)

Medisafe raises $14.5 million for platform that helps patients take medications properly

Medisafe, which has developed a platform to ensure patients are taking their medications property, said on Wednesday it had raised $14.5 million from investors led by Octopus Ventures, a London and New York based venture capital firm. M Ventures joined the round, which also included money from existing investors Pitango Venture Capital, 7wire Ventures, lool Ventures, TriVentures and Qualcomm Ventures. Medisafe’s platform makes use of internet, mobile and big-data technology, to help ensure people take their medications as prescribed, solving the problem known as medication non-adherence. Non-adherence in the U.S. and Europe alone is estimated to cause a death every four minutes and places a burden on health systems estimated at a combined $500 billion annually, according to the company. Medisafe said it would use funds from the latest round to expand its sales and marketing teams, expand the platform’s capabilities and open an office in London to better service its European partners. (Eliran Rubin)

OurCrowd teams up with German utility Innogy

The German utility Innogy has signed a deal with Israel’s OurCrowd to give it access to the crowdfunding firm’s pipeline of startups in return for providing access to its customer base, Innogy CEO Peter Terium said on Tuesday. Terium said his company would spend “several million euros” from a 130 million-euro ($137.8 million) venture fund to exchange knowledge and product roll-out opportunities in the energy market and beyond. “OurCrowd gives us access to their pipeline of startups. We have the option to participate in that,” Terium told Reuters. He said Innogy is interested in technologies related to smart homes and cities, data management and security offered by OurCrowd portfolio companies. The deal would also allow startups under the OurCrowd umbrella to test applications in and among Innogy’s 23 million customers. OurCrowd has raised $400 million for 110 companies in Israel and worldwide. Innogy, whose businesses include renewables and power networks, is part of RWE. (Reuters)