Your author is back from a brief visit of little more than 48 hours to Tel Aviv. While the purpose of the trip was to meet with investors, it was still a great opportunity to take the pulse of one of the most dynamic cities in the world (not to mention the chance to enjoy some 30-degree sun in November). Despite the ongoing presence of the coronavirus pandemic, Tel Aviv was buzzing with energy, with the city very much open for business.
Most readers will be familiar with the enduring start-up culture in Tel Aviv that has spawned companies from Waze (navigation solutions) to Lemonade (AI-driven insurance products) – and many more. Some of Israel’s success can be put down to the Yozma Programme (Hebrew for ‘initiative’) inaugurated by the Israeli government in the early 1990s, which offered tax incentives for start-ups much earlier than many other nations. In addition, there is strong academic support, as well as a general culture of entrepreneurialism. Around 10% of all Israeli employees work in the tech sector, which is responsible for c15% of the country’s GDP (see here).
While there was sadly no time on this trip to meet with any companies, two of the areas where we have been most impressed with recent Israeli innovation would be within food tech and battery technologies. Begin with the former. We wrote recently that the world needs to come up with more alternative sources of protein in order to feed a growing population. Israel has been in the vanguard in this respect. Take The Chicken, which has developed what it calls “a sustainable restaurant experience” via the pioneering of SuperMeat. It claims to be the world’s first test kitchen which serves a menu of dishes developed from cultivated chicken, which is grown directly from chicken cells. If this doesn’t whet your palate, then Redefine Meat (“the future is here” per the company’s website) offers a broad swathe of plant-based meat products that are 3D-printed.
From fast food to fast cars. We all know that the future is electric, but when drivers are polled, one of their regular gripes is the charging time for electric vehicle batteries (the other is typically range anxiety). Look no further than Store Dot, an Israel start-up founded in 2012. It claims to be able to solve both these issues with its proprietary battery technology. When combined with nano-materials and data science (to optimise how the charging is done), Store Dot believes batteries can be fully charged in minutes. The business has over 60 granted patents with a further 30 pending. NASA is even testing the technology on its International Space Station in order to understand its properties further. Exciting times in Israel. Your author hopes to be back very soon!
The above does not constitute investment advice and is the sole opinion of the author at the time of publication. The author of this piece has no personal direct investment in the business. Past performance is no guide to future performance and the value of investments and income from them can fall as well as rise.
Alex Gunz, Fund Manager
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