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KPMG impressed by Israel’s ‘chutzpah’ as it takes more risks in funding agtech startups

KPMG urges Australia to get more ‘chutzpah’ and take risks in developing agtech start-ups to emulate Israel.

In a new report called Dial up the Chutzpah! KPMG highlights the gaps between Australia and Israel in how agricultural technology is funded.

KPMG’s head of agtech, Ben van Delden, observed that the Israelis were not afraid to take risks.

“Chutzpah means the audacity to give something a go,” he explained.

“Who would have thought of greening the desert, because that’s the space where Israel produces 80 per cent of their milk, and 80 per cent of their food product is exported from.”

Local agtech business should take more risks, and soon

KPMG said Australian agtech businesses and governments should learn from the Israelis and do a lot more partnering, take more risks and do it soon.

Mr van Delden said that in Israel, entrepreneurs were linked with universities and government departments like defence to start new ventures.

He noted that Israel sits second behind Switzerland on the Global Competitiveness Index (2015-16) while Australia is 26th.

Israel has more start-ups per capita than any other nation, and is a leader in biotechnology.

“One example is EdenShield, which looks to create a biologically-friendly alternatives to chemical pesticides,” Mr van Elden said.

“It tricks the pest through aromatics. It creates an aromatic shield at the greenhouse and also applies a foliage spray over the leaves and prevents the insect from wanting to go anywhere near your crop.

“The global pesticide market is [worth] $14 billion and the biological pesticide market is growing at 19 per cent per annum.”

There is also Collplant, designed by professor of plant biology at The Hebrew University on Jerusalem, Oded Shoseyov.

Collagen is mostly harvested from animals and cadavers and is expensive but Collplant is growing human collagen in tobacco plants, and it can sell for an extraordinary US$1 million per kilogram.

Read the full article by Sarina Locke at ABC.