Medical robotics (illustrative)
Medical robotics (illustrative) iStock

The Israel Innovation Authority on Wednesday approved the establishment of four new consortiums in the fields of cultivated meat, insect farming, human-robot interface, and fluid sampling focused medical diagnosis. The estimated operating budget for the four consortiums to total around NIS 220 million ($68,827,022) over three years.

The move represents one of the largest public sector investments in cultivated meat in the world, bringing together leaders from the industry and academia, following a $10 million grant provided by the US Department of Agriculture to Tufts University.

The funding is being provided through the Israel Innovation Authority's Generic Technology Research Consortium program, operated by the Authority’s Technology Infrastructure Division. The program offers grants for research and development cooperation within the framework of a consortium (an association of industrial companies and research institutions for the joint development of technologies), with the aim of promoting and supporting technological collaborations for the development of infrastructure and pre-products, that are at the leading edge of global technology - with a significant economic impact on Israeli companies and on the economy as a whole. Each consortium will eventually include about 10 companies and 10 academic research groups (candidate companies are listed below).

Dror Bin, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority commented, “The four new consortiums, we have approved speak to the Authority's strategy of supporting groundbreaking technological areas with the potential for a significant economic impact, with a substantial need for government involvement. Such government involvement is especially required in areas where cooperation would not otherwise take place without the active support of the Israel Innovation Authority.”

He stressed, “All of the approved consortiums incorporate high-level multidisciplinary aspects that generally lead to significant technological breakthroughs. Two of the consortiums – cultivated meat and medical diagnosis - are, inter alia, the result of extensive activities by the Authority over the past two years to promote projects in the field of bio-convergence, which we believe are likely to have a significant impact on the Israeli economy.” His statements referred to technologies applied in the field of biology in conjunction with engineering fields or methods, such as electronics, AI, computational biology, physics, nanotechnology, materials science and advanced genetic engineering.

The fields of activity approved as part of the latest call for proposals include:

Cultivated Meat - The development of technologies for the production of cultivated meat using advanced and safe methods in order to address the significant technological challenge that will enable industrialized production at economically competitive prices with respect to the animal alternative. This initiative is being piloted by Tnuva's innovation division in collaboration with Israeli cultivated meat companies, various start-up companies relevant to this field, industrial companies for the production of animal meat products and leading researchers from Israeli academia. The activities of the consortium will help Israel maintain its status as one of the world leaders in the field and will establish a broad Israeli industry that will be export-oriented in the future.

A circular economy focused on the Black Soldier fly - The development of technologies and a complete value chain around the Black Soldier fly, in order to develop an entire industry that produces products based on the Black Soldier fly caterpillar, used to break down organic waste, reduce landfills and use surplus produce as a source of protein in the animal feed industry. This initiative is being piloted by Prism, a company that specializes in technologies for improving and preserving the reproduction of the Black Soldier Fly, along with other companies operating in the field of insect agriculture, companies specializing in the recycling and treatment of organic waste, companies that produce animal feed and other end products as well as leading researchers from academia. The activity of the consortium will create an infrastructure for the development of a variety of innovative products (especially food/protein alternatives for animals), promote environmental goals and solutions for the treatment of food waste as well as agricultural and industrial waste in Israel and create a new value chain in insect agriculture.

Fluid Sampling Focused Medical Diagnosis - The development of sensors and technologies to detect biological markers for early diagnosis of diseases by non-invasive means, even before the medical symptoms mature. The consortium is being piloted by a number of startups, headed up by Senseera, diagnostics companies and leading researchers in academia and hospitals. It will develop capabilities for early detection of a number of specific diseases (pancreatic cancer, fatty liver and hepatitis NASH and Alzheimer's) on the basis of which generic tools for early detection of various diseases in body fluids will be formulated. The consortium will develop unique capabilities for fusing a number of biological markers and the sensing of a number of molecules in advanced sensors with very high sensitivity. Success of this consortium, even if only partial, will make a significant contribution to public health and the development of an advanced Israeli industry in the medical field.

Human-Robot Interface - Developing capabilities to improve human-robot interaction to promote and streamline a variety of robotic tasks common to humans and autonomous systems. This includes, inter alia: natural and simple mutual communication between robots and humans, learning a task and expectations by imitation, and imparting a code of conduct to the robot. The consortium, led by Elbit, ICT and Cyber, in collaboration with companies specializing in robotics and leading researchers from academia, will develop a kit of generic capabilities that can be integrated into a variety of robotic applications in a simple and efficient manner. This area of activity is valued by the Israel Innovation Authority as an important technological field that may boost the capabilities of the Israeli robotics industry and enable many vital applications for both the civilian market (nursing, hospitals, industry and logistics) and security needs.