Israeli incubator NaturaGrowth launches in Sderot to support 80 global agri-foodtech start-ups

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AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
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On March 1, Israel will see the launch of a new incubator, NaturaGrowth, set up to support a minimum of 80 agtech, foodtech and climatetech start-ups. The incubator is said to be the largest of its kind in Israel.

NaturaGrowth was set up the latter half of 2021 by a group of entrepreneurs led by Oren Heiman, an attorney and businessman who is leading the incubator, and Hagai Sarusi, its Founder Managing Partner, who has over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and investor in the aquaculture and agtech sector.

Eight other professionals will work with Heiman and Sarusi to support the 80 innovative and disruptive start-ups.

Heiman and Sarusi announced the new incubator, previously known as NegevTech Ventures, at the Food For Future Summit, which took place in Dubai on 23-24 February.

NaturaGrowth aims to support a range of innovative companies tackling environmental challenges and food-related issues worldwide.

The incubator, which will be based in the city of Sderot, in Israel’s southwestern Negev region, is a for-profit enterprise aiming to create sustainable food and climate solutions globally, while also developing the Western Negev area by following strict ESG and SDG policies.

NaturaGrowth will hold a fund of $160M, made up of $40M from private investments from Israel and other countries around the world, as well as a $120M of non-dilutive government grants.

Successful start-ups who are accepted into the incubator will receive up to $1.5M a year as a whole, in funding, as well as tailored advice on how to improve their business model and facilities. They will also be supported until they have reached a level of independence as a company.

NaturaGrowth will be assisted by an advisory board made up of a range of universities and research institutions such as Israel’s Volcani centre, banks, VCs, local businesses, including the national water company Mekorot, and international groups such as Strauss, Pepsico, McKinsey, Evogene, HaZera, Osem-Nestle, Netafim and Emerson.

Investors contributing to the incubator will include international and Israel-based corporate venture arms and family foundations that have an interest in agtech and climatetech.

Once it launches its operations, NaturaGrowth will work on developing an investment committee at home and abroad, by travelling to Europe, the UAE, Asia-Pacific, North America and South America to find eight financial partners that can each invest around $5M a year into the incubator.

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