Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), a leading international venture capital fund, announced May 15 a new partnership with Mars Inc. on a first-of-its-kind research and development (R&D) agreement in Israel aiming to pursue innovative technological solutions for global food, agriculture and nutrition challenges.
By collaborating on this R&D investment, Mars will support Israeli start-ups and the formation of companies and will work together with leading Israeli academic institutions, such as Hebrew University, the Weizmann Institute, the Technion, Migall and Tel Hai College, among others, to further food tech innovations.
Mars Edge and the Mars Advanced Research Institute, representing Mars, will explore the converging fields of food, health and technology fueling the next generation of agriculture and nutrition. The partnership will tackle major global sustainability issues by providing scalable solutions to the challenges of feeding humanity in a way that preserves and protects the environment. It has the potential to unlock opportunities in the emerging space of personalized nutrition, the companies said.
"Israel has been a case study for how innovation can change a country and transform the world," JVP founder and executive chairman Erel Margalit said. "After building global companies and solutions in cybersecurity, [artificial intelligence] and big data, Israel has set its sights on food as the next frontier. As food and nutrition needs change around the world, we need to create more nutritious, accessible and sustainable food solutions, and by partnering with Mars, one of the world's most iconic brands at the forefront of innovation, we are confident in Israel's ability to be the food tech leader of the future."
Jean-Christophe Flatin, president of innovation, science, technology and Mars Edge at Mars, said, “Mars is passionate about leveraging leading science and technology to innovate. Our ambition is to provide people around the world with consumer-centric products, services and experiences. One example is personalized nutrition solutions that fit an individual’s lifestyle by reconciling the food they want with the nutrition they need. We are clear that we need forward-thinking partnerships and collaborations to do this.”
Mars said it brings its legacy of scientific rigor, commitment to science and technology and track record of convening partners to address complex societal issues, particularly those intensified by climate change.
“We are eager to partner with JVP and tap into the innovative ecosystem of the Israeli food, health and technology community,” said George Graham, vice president of the Mars Advanced Research Institute. “This exciting collaboration will help us access and be part of solutions specific to global challenges in the food system related to ag tech, nutrition and food security.”
For 25 years, JVP has served as an international venture capital fund based out of Israel and now identifies food tech as one of the most impactful spaces of tomorrow. Around the world, agriculture and food tech start-ups raised $16.9 billion in 2018, which represents a 43% increase over the previous year, according to a 2018 AgFunder report. Israel also is continuing to grow its presence in the ecosystem, with more than 230 active agri-food tech start-ups. As such, JVP has made the strategic decision to invest in and build globally disruptive technologies in this field.
The JVP-Mars R&D partnership is part of JVP’s food tech initiative to transform Israel’s Upper Galilee region into the global food tech epicenter. Israel’s connection to other global “tech” hubs, ranging from the U.S. West Coast to Singapore, will help Mars further its efforts to drive global conversations and help lead the industry toward solutions for a more sustainable and healthy future.