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Global specialty minerals and chemicals company ICL Group has launched the ICL Planet Startup Hub, which aims to fast track innovative foodtech and agritech startups to the marketplace and provide them with support, including mentoring and investment.
Tel Aviv-based ICL Group has set up the ICL Planet Startup Hub to serve early stage, pilot-ready start-ups, as well as mature, market-ready start-ups in the agriculture and food tech sector and as a result address, the urgent needs of the world and have a positive and sustainable environmental impact.
The hub will focus on two core areas – one will be dedicated to areas in crop nutrition, such as organic fertilizers, nutrient use efficiency, biostimulants, micronutrients and nitrogen fixation. The other one will focus on those startups that are working on sustainable solutions like alternative proteins, natural ingredients, plant-based functional ingredients, and white biotechnology.
To steer the hub in the right direction and help it achieve its goals, the Group has appointed Hadar Sutovsky as the vice president of external innovation and general manager of ICL Planet. In the past, Sutovsky has partnered with the Aquagro Fund, the Global Unilever Open Innovation Hub, and Frutarom and has experience in incubation and investments and global business development for major agrifood firms and VCs.
In a press release seen by Green Queen, Sutovsky said that the hub is looking for start-ups that match with its organization on the value of sustainability and product direction. “The goal is to synergize efforts and know-how to meet the fundamental needs of our customers and to work together to solve key challenges in the food and agri industries. Start-ups that join us benefit from our corporation’s accrued wisdom and advanced infrastructure, and to attain a fast track route to commercialization.”
Through the hub, the ICL will offer a dual-track program and service envelope for startups associated with it through which they can use its business and infrastructural ecosystem like investment support, co-working space, access to laboratories and analytical equipment, and R&D support, including field trials and new-product pilots.
For mature start-ups especially, with market-ready products, they can look to the Market Runway Track program that will offer them a business acceleration contract that will help them grow through investments, business development, and strategic partnerships, with an opportunity for M&A(mergers and acquisitions) as well as benefit from ICL’s established reputation in the marketplace.
The goal is to synergize efforts and know-how to meet the fundamental needs of our customers and to work together solve key challenges in the food and agri industriesHadar Sutovsky, vice president, external innovation and general manager of ICL Planet
Sutovsky added: “As global leaders in the field of agriculture, food and engineered materials, we are constantly developing impactful solutions to improve the quality of life for millions worldwide via our established R&D infrastructure. Our value proposition is much more than merely funding; we answer early stage companies’ needs to run pilots and move them to the commercial stage with full support.”
The hub is an extension of ICL’s present external innovation activities, where from 2014, it has been sponsoring long-term R&D and proof-of-concept projects and in exchanges asks for a royalty-bearing license. Till date, it has supported 45 projects with 13 more in the process.
“A key milestone in our business transformation is centered around the idea of responsibility for our collective future and leading innovations that can favorably impact the industries we work in,” concluded Anantha Desikan, EVP and chief research, development and innovation officer of ICL.
Lead image – prototypes developed by ICL technical experts in St. Louis, Missouri, courtesy of Pat Arnold.