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Israeli’s foodtech sector puts 3D-printed vegan steak on the menu

Israel continues to lead the way in 3D printing food, with a new solution to ‘digitalize’ meat elected as one of the winners of the 2018 Food Accelerator Network Program competition.

Ness Ziona-based foodtech startup Jet Eat received the €60,000 cash prize at the contest, hosted by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIT), a food innovation initiative made up of a consortium of industry players, startups, research centers, and universities from across Europe seeking to create a sustainable and future-proof food sector. EIT has a Food Accelerator Network in Israel at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, where Jet Eat took part in a four-month accelerator program.

Founded in early 2018 by Eshchar Ben Shitrit, Jet Eat’s technology uses plant-based formulations and 3D printing technology to emulate the appearance, texture, and taste of natural meat. The product aims to create a vegan meat alternative using digital processes to greatly reduce meat consumption, and help keep food waste in check. There are hopes a commercial product can be rolled out in 2020.

“Israel is the birthplace of innovation in 3D printing and digital printing and is a true expert in using technology to address the problems of conventional markets,” Ben Shitrit told Israeli publication NoCamels. “Nowadays, digital printing is being utilized in areas ranging from organs to dentistry and I believe that, in an increasingly digitalized world, it can be applied to food as well.”

The concept and technology behind the 3D printing of food originated in October 2017, when the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Yissum Research Development Company developed a platform that, based on edible calorie-free nano-cellulose fiber, would enable the 3D printing of personally tailored food. The technology was developed by Professor Oded Shoseyov of the Robert H. Smith Institute of Plant Sciences and Genetics in Agriculture and Professor Ido Braslavsky of Jerusalem’s Hebrew University of the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Foodtech — the art of using technologies to make healthier food or streamline distribution and to develop the next generation of food and beverages — is a growing sector in Israel, with some 266 active startups working in the field.

Earlier this year, The Israel Innovation Authority announced plans to set up a new foodtech incubator in the north of Israel, close to the city of Safed, with an investment of over NIS 100 million ($28 million) over eight years. The project is part of a government push to transform Israel’s north into a hub for agriculture and foodtech companies.

Other Israeli foodtech companies are already developing other ‘clean meat’ technologies: SuperMeat is developing lab-grown poultry extracted from the stem cells of a live chicken; BioFood Systems is culturing meat using bovine embryonic stem cells. Meanwhile, Jerusalem-based Future Meat Technologies has received seed funding from Tyson Ventures – the venture capital arm of Fortune 100 company Tyson Foods, one of the world’s largest food producers – for its project producing lab-grown meat based on Professor Yaakov Nahmias’ research at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

(via NoCamels, The Times of Israel)