MODIIN, Israel – On Sunday evening, March 26, every single one of the 26 women selected as the top leaders driving Israel’s foodtech revolution gathered with great enthusiasm for an energized networking dinner in Jaffa to celebrate their accomplishments and forge a unified community of entrepreneurs, scientists, and investment experts.
A new initiative of Israel’s Modern Agriculture Foundation (MAF), the world’s first known non-profit dedicated to advancing the alternative protein industry, the celebratory event coincided with this month’s observance of International Women’s Day. It was designed to bring the women, many of whom had not previously met, together as a cohesive community.
In a Ted-style talk on “Building a female-friendly foodtech ecosystem,” Dr. Tali Feldman Sivan, co-founder and active chairperson of Meala FoodTech, noted a variety of metrics indicating that Israeli foodtech companies enjoy higher female representation compared to Israeli high tech in general, including, for example, 2.5 times the number of women CEOs.
“There is something exceptional about Israeli foodtech,” noted Feldman Sivan, “and this is thanks to networking. But we don’t do it enough and we don’t include enough people. Men do it and it works it.”
“Building connections between experts with complementary knowledge and talents is at the very heart of MAF’s mission to accelerate the alternative proteins ecosystem,” said Levana Shifman, the head of MAF, who led the initiative.
“For that reason, the awards evening is just a beginning, with many ongoing meetups, conversations and events to come.” “Knowledge sharing and networking are the key to creating impact,” added Carole Bibas-Barkan, MAF’s COO, explaining the NGO’s motivation for organizing the event. Another key to the advancement of women in the foodtech industry is “firgun,” said Dr. Feldman Sivan, using a Hebrew term referring to celebrating another’s accomplishments.
“Firgun” was abundant at the vegan chef Asian dinner party hosted by Mika FoodArt in her stunning Jaffa home. “What a perfect evening full of terrific energy and firgun for the sisterhood,” confirmed Keren Or Dubinsky, founder of Instegg.
“It was an impossible task to choose,” Anat Ziv, head of innovation for Tnuva, said of her responsibilities as one of the 11 expert judges charged with selecting the dynamic group of female foodtech superstars out of an initial crowded pool of 50 candidates.
Addressing the participants, she added: “I’m tremendously excited about this opportunity to honor your critical contributions. It is essential to continue to draw more women into the field, and by building this stellar network, we can further that goal.”
Each one of you is more impressive than the next,” agreed Shifman, addressing the diverse cohort with representation from companies, hubs, and VCs, including Aleph Farms, Sea2Cell, ChickP, Innovopro, Bee-io Honey Ltd., and Kinoko-Tech, The Kitchen Hub, Fresh Start, and JVP, alongside independent researchers and consultants.
Co-sponsored by Tnuva Ventures, the venture capital fund belonging to Israel’s largest manufacturer of food products, along with Reinhold Cohn, Tivall, ConexionIsrael, VidiMoni, and Midas Chocolate, the recognition for the 26 women drew a great deal of notice in Israel’s broader foodtech ecosystem, with many additional women requesting to participate in future events involving the emerging sisterhood of outstanding foodtech figures. The next networking meeting for this impressive group is scheduled for late May.