Trendlines and Mitsubishi join to identify ‘close-to-market’ start-ups

Mitsubishi Corporation has selected Trendlines Agrifood to be its local partner as it looks for emerging agricultural technologies and start-ups in Israel.

Mitsubishi Corporation’s partnership with Trendlines Agrifood will seek to identify “companies that are closer to market or in the market,” Trendlines business development vice-president Sarai Kemp told Agri Investor.

The partnership struck between the duo is designed to put the Israeli firm in a position where it can identify promising agricultural start-ups into which the Japanese conglomerate can invest.

Responding to a question about whether the two firms will co-invest on any opportunities, Kemp said “all options are on the table.”

“They’re looking for companies that are closer to market or in the market,” she added. “But at the same time, they and other strategic partners that we work with want to see technologies that are out there, so the stage [of the company’s development] is not necessarily a limiting factor.”

Kemp declined to disclose any details about how the partnership between the two firms is structured but did clarify that “there is a financial agreement, but we are not able to disclose it.”

Trendlines Agrifood CEO Nitza Kardish said the value of the partnership goes beyond payment for services for the Israeli firm, due to the insights and de-risking opportunities it presents.

“Start-ups, innovation and entrepreneurship is a very risky field and you have to manage the risk. Sometimes working with the market players is one way to de-risk because you can get very good information or impressions in terms of what are the market needs from the market perspective,” Kardish explained.

“The entrepreneur’s perspective is very biased. [Start-ups] will always say that the market needs exactly the technology they have but it doesn’t always work like that – the market has the need. So working with strong and important players can give us a lot of insight and information of how they look on innovation, what they are looking for, what the real needs are. That has a lot of value.”

The firm’s existing portfolio companies might also benefit, said Kardish, given that Mitsubishi may wish to also invest into them.

The Japanese company has not expressed a desire to invest in a specific segment of the Israeli agtech space, added Kemp, but given the proliferation of cultured meat companies in the country and Mitsubishi’s strategic partnership with cultured meat start-up Aleph Farms in January, this could be one of several areas that could be identified for investment.