Jeff Bezos' Climate Fund Halts Investment in Israeli Foodtech Center Amid War Uncertainty

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by Ifi Reporter Category:Hitech Apr 24, 2024

The Bezos Earth Foundation, spearheaded by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has decided to withhold its planned $30 million investment in establishing a center of excellence for foodtech in Israel. The decision, attributed to the ongoing war in the region, comes as a blow to Israeli universities Technion and Hebrew University, which had submitted proposals and received praise for their innovative approaches.

In a recent communication to research teams, the Bezos Earth Foundation cited "uncertainty surrounding the war" as the reason for not proceeding with the significant grant. Andy Jarvis, director of the foundation's "future of food" field, had visited Israel in September to explore collaboration opportunities.

Missed Opportunity for Israel

The proposed center, which would have been a joint effort with a $70 million investment from one of the universities, aimed to address sustainability and nutrition challenges in the food industry. This setback is seen as a loss for Israeli research and innovation, particularly in a field where the country holds a significant advantage.

While the Israeli project faces postponement, the Bezos Earth Foundation has already begun establishing similar centers worldwide as part of its $10 billion commitment to addressing climate issues by 2030.

Disappointment in Israeli Universities

Prof. Benny Hefetz, director of the University Center for Food Systems, expressed disappointment, describing the decision as a blow to Israeli academia and research. He emphasized the center's potential to drive innovation in technology, products, and sustainability efforts.

The decision comes at a time when the alternative protein industry in Israel has been experiencing significant growth, with billions of dollars invested in recent years. Israeli startups, such as cultured meat company Alf Farms and alternative protein company Redifine Meat, have been at the forefront of this global trend.

Wider Ramifications

This refusal marks a stark departure from previous trends, highlighting concerns about the impact of ongoing conflicts on Israeli academia and research endeavors. It underscores broader challenges faced by the region in attracting international investment amidst geopolitical tensions.

 

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