The Jordan Valley-based Kinneret Innovation Center (KIC) announced last week a new venture capital fund dedicated to agritech investments. KIC intends to raise $50 million for the fund, which is set to invest in startups local to the Jordan Valley. The fund will be backed by agricultural communities and kibbutzim in the area, and by international investors, KIC said.
KIC is an agriculture and food technology hub and research lab located on the banks of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. The hub was founded by the Kinneret Academic College in collaboration with Zemach Regional Industries, a cooperative owned by 27 agricultural communities in the Jordan Valley.
Five startups are operating as part of KIC today, including water treatment companies Bio Castle Water Technologies and Smart Water, and software company Agriware Agricultural Solutions.
Israel’s rural agricultural communities and kibbutzim — the country’s formerly socialist rural communes — have been after their own share of the country’s tech economy, funneling funds into venture capital investments, and backing initiatives such as coworking spaces and innovation hubs.
In January, Israel’s Kibbutz Industries Association (KIA) published data revealing that Israeli Kibbutzim had invested NIS 110 million (approximately $29.9 million) in Israeli startups in 2018, a 45 percent increase compared to the year before.