By Staff Writer
As more communities are becoming open-minded to the benefits of legalization, the cannabis movement is hitting a handful of major milestones in 2020.
One of the most remarkable is that Israel is opening medical cannabis tech incubators. This makes Israel the first country to have a government-sponsored cannabis incubator.
“Incubators” are organizations dedicated to aiding companies in their early stages. This specific firm, CanNegev, will aim to create new technology for the medical cannabis industry.
At the end of 2019, OurCrowd, a Jerusalem-based crowdfunding platform, made an exciting announcement. They were granted government approval to star CanNegev following their partnership with Perrigo (private pharmaceutical company) and BoL Pharma (licensed Cannabis cultivator).
While this is an immense achievement overall, it is noteworthy here considering cannabis is technically illegal in Israel. Despite their relatively conservative views on the substance, Israel is considered a leader in medical cannabis research.
In fact, they have been conducting cannabis research for several years now (Mechoulam, 2015). Regardless of history, direct government involvement has caught some people by surprise.
While it might seem like a strange move at first glance, it is easy to understand their motivation when you take a look at the people behind the scenes.
CanNegev will be run by an agency of the Economy and Industry Ministry, the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA). Affiliated funders plan to invest about ₪150 million shekels.
This translates roughly to about $43.7 million USD— no small price tag by any estimate. It also serves as a move that demonstrates the confidence the Israeli government has in such an industry.
“The government and the consortium intend to transform the town of Yeruham into the cutting-edge of the global medical cannabis market, which is projected to expand to $59 billion in 2025,” Jon Medved, CEO/ founder of OurCrowd.
It seems that with every breakthrough discovery and passed legislation, these projected values just keep growing. Aside from the booming economic growth they likely expect from such a move, there are other benefits to be gained.
There is something to be said about how much Israel invests in science and technology research. Their interests have paid off and many consider their investments to be an economic success (Trajtenberg, 2001).
With their dedication to research, it is no surprise that they would be interested in a hot topic like medical cannabis. Consider the strides in agricultural or medical research that could be achieved with this kind of foundation.
Another aspect is its potential to compete with other huge markets. Most notably, there has been a longstanding discussion within the scientific community on cannabis’s application in pain management.
In 2015 alone, the field of pain management pharmaceuticals had an estimated worth of $36.6 billion (Fitzgerald, 2020).
With this in mind, try to consider the economic value of a substance that has the potential to contend with opioids without the risk of addiction or harsh side effects (Lucas & Walsh, 2017).
These discoveries and supported professionals contribute to global understanding and unlock the potential for collaborations.
CanNegev can mark a turning point in the market and expand potential global connections, offering innovation beyond the Israeli borders.
This puts a lot of pressure on the success of a project. How exactly does CanNegev plan to achieve these expectations?
The incubator will support several different startups that demonstrate a significant amount of potential. Considering some of the groundbreaking projects currently going on in Israel, we can set the bar pretty high.
These startups may not only focus solely on the pharmaceutical aspect of it. Israel has also been the site of some interesting agricultural research with real-world applications.
One such promising topic is brought to us by the company Cann10 EpiGen, formerly known as Cann10 and Epigenetics. As their name would suggest, the company seeks to combine the fields of cannabis cultivation and epigenetics.
Epigenetics has been a buzzword for a while— but, what is it exactly? Simply put, it is the study of observable traits or phenotypes.
It is a breeding technology— researching how to get the cream of the crop. Several projects are geared towards the optimization of different agricultural products.
In terms of the cannabis industry, they want to make cannabis farming better and more efficient. This strategy has already been implemented successfully in a wide variety of crops such as corn and tomatoes (Gonzalez, Ricardi, & Iusem, 2013).
If cannabis epigenetic results work out anything as they did for the predecessors, cannabis farmers may have a lot to look forward to in upcoming years. Better strains, hardier plants, and better yields can make the agricultural practice much easier and inexpensive.
The IIA doesn’t have its full focus on cannabis incubators though. They also have plans to open tech incubators for research involving Industry 4.0/ plastics, cleantech, and agtech.
“The incubators will bring significant added value to support technological entrepreneurship in the periphery, whether via entrepreneurs or research institutions, by granting access to their wide network of contacts and potential clients and by using their vast business and technological experience in bringing products to market.” Aharon Aharon, CEO of IIA.
These three additional incubators will be open in the next several months, aiming to facilitate 130 different startups with almost $30 million. These support programs will be a real game-changer for the market.
CanNegev will be the first of its kind in the world. As the cannabis industry blossoms, it seems Israel will be at the forefront of a movement.