Israel to Establish World’s First State-Sponsored Cannabis Start-Up Incubator


Photo Credit: Eyal Basson, courtesy of Israel Ministry of Health

Medical cannabis

In what is considered to be a global first, the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) has announced it will establish a state-sponsored incubator for start-ups focused on medical marijuana.

The CanNegev center will be located in Yeruham, a town in the Negev desert and will admit six start-ups from the medical marijuana sector per year for the first five years of the center’s operation.


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Over $40 million (NIS 140 million) are set to be invested into the incubator, according to the IIA. The center will be managed by OurCrowd, an Israeli crowd-funded investment fund, BOL Pharma, an Israeli medical marijuana com Perrigo, the world’s largest over-the-counter pharma company.

In April 2018 Israel announced it would be providing the first export licenses to farms producing marijuana for medical purposes. Some 50 Israeli farms were recipients of the licenses. That month, Israel’s first pharmacies gained permission to start providing customers with medical marijuana. Israel has steadily been revising laws governing the use of cannabis since legalizing medical cannabis products in 2016.

According to data by Israel’s Ministry of Finance, local medical cannabis exports are an estimated $1.2 billion (NIS 4 billion) industry.

The latest announcement by the IIA also shone a light on plans to open two further incubators.

The “I 4 Valley” is set to host start-ups focusing on so-called 4.0 technologies, include artificial intelligence and large-scale automatization. The center will be located in the Galilee town of Carmiel.

Idan Hanegev Industrial Park near the Bedouin town of Rahat will see the opening of an incubator focussing on agrictech, cleantech, and advanced industry.

Twelve projects throughout the country had applied to be designated an IIA incubator, with the three projects ultimately chosen for funding. They join 19 projects already funded by the IIA.


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