How does the daily operational work at The Kitchen look like?
Our hub is a startup-oriented environment, designed as a coworking space. Every startup has its dedicated office and a lab based on their specific needs. Inspecto, for instance, develops a nanoscale portable device for early detection of food contaminants in the field. Their lab has sophisticated optical equipment that identifies pesticides, herbicides and everything else that you don’t want in your food.
Better Juice is a company that reduces the amount of sugar in natural fruit juice. As this startup works with enzymatic processes, their lab is biological.
We also have a large communal space, the kitchen of The Kitchen, where we gather for lunches and happy hours. We created a strong community where all the startups interact and cooperate. Each startup has 3 to 5 employees in the team. Many of them are travelling frequently, trying to scale the business.
The Kitchen team works closely with each one of the startups on their existing challenges. We rely on the expertise of Strauss Group as they have a lot of knowledge and expertise that FoodTech startups need. Sourcing of raw material, packaging, labelling, regulation, process engineering — someone at Strauss Group is an expert in that area.
At our FoodTech Hub, we have room for 12 companies. A typical program lasts for 18-24 months but some startups stay longer, we allow that if we have some space available. Startups that graduate move to their own facility.
What are you looking for in the startups that are applying for The Kitchen FoodTech Hub?
The requirements are roughly the same that any investment company or group would have: big market, a major problem to solve, unique technology, scalability, a team of entrepreneurs that can grow the business. It doesn't need to be a food product, we work with various technologies that add value to the food industry. As our motto is: better industry, better food, better world, we look for the companies doing something good for the environment, nutrition, the planet.
Tell me about one of your graduate startups you are proud of.
Aleph Farms is a good example of that. Initially, we approached professor Shulamit Levenberg who was a Dean of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, Technion Institute of Technology and an expert In tissue engineering. Together with her and the team we recruited for this purpose we started a FoodTech business in the clean meat segment.
18 months later, Aleph Farms was the first company to ever demonstrate a steak grown in a lab environment from cow cells. The company moved on to raise 12 million dollars in series A round and keeps scaling rapidly.