Israeli agri-tech R&D partnership Smart Agro has announced that it is planning to raise NIS 25 million on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE). Smart Agro, which will invest in startups that are developing technologies for agriculture and the cannabis industry, will be the first agri-tech R&D startup on the TASE. The IPO will be led by Leumi Partners Underwriters.
The Smart Agro public offering is being conducted after an amendment in February 2019 to TASE regulations in order to allow public offerings of limited partnerships in R&D. Prior to the amendment, the TASE only allowed partnerships operating in the oil and gas exploration and film production sectors to hold public offerings. In recent months there have been IPOs by food-tech and healthcare R&D partnerships on the TASE.
Smart Agro is led by a management team with extensive knowhow in the agri-tech industry. CEO Omri Rothman previously served as CFO of bio agri-tech company Kaiima and as CFO of the Etgar venture capital fund. Chairman Erez Meltzer was formerly CEO of Gadot Chemicals, Africa Israel and Netafim. In recent years, VP finance and business development Limor Stoller was until recently CEO of Rootility.
Smart Agro has already selected its first investment and will invest $2 million in CanBreed, which was founded in early 2017 and develops enhanced genetics for seeds, based on CRISPR gene editing technology. CRISPR is the most advanced form of New Breeding Techniques (NBT) technologies used in agri-tech industries for enhancing agricultural yields. Only recently the two scientists who developed it won the Nobel Chemistry Prize for 2020 for their work. CRISPR technology allows the precise cutting of the seed's DNA in order to silence or activate genes. Consequently, the technology has enormous potential in the fields of medicine and agriculture. CanBreed is applying CRISPR technology on a range of agricultural crops (vegetables and field crops) including seeds for the medical cannabis industry.
CanBreed's target markets have an estimated worth of billions of dollars and will bring about a solution for many needs, such as adapting the structure of the plant for mechanical harvesting, increasing its protein content and adapting its cultivation to changing climates. In the case of the cannabis market, the company is offering solutions for all market segments: from medical cannabis through to industrial cannabis, including cannabis strains with a specific chemical profile suitable for the pharmaceutical industry. CanBreed will launch its beta product to the medical cannabis market by the end of the current year.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 22, 2020
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