AgriVest 2018 Speakers, Panelists & Judges

 

Aharon Aharon

CEO, Israel Innovation Authority

Guest Speaker

The Israel Innovation Authority (IIA) is an independent public entity that operates for the benefit of the Israeli innovation ecosystem and Israeli economy as a whole. Its role is to nurture and develop Israeli innovation resources while creating and strengthening the infrastructure and framework needed to support the entire knowledge industry.

 

Prior to his role at the IIA, Aharon served as VP of hardware technologies and general manager of Apple Israel. Aharon joined Apple in 2011, as its first Apple employee in Israel, and managed the R&D activities of Apple’s Hardware Technologies in Israel.

 

In 2004, Aharon co-founded Camero, a start-up developing through-the-wall micro-power radars for the defense and HLS markets. He served as the CEO and chairman of the company, which was acquired by the SK Group in 2010.


From 2003 till 2010, Aharon served as an active chairman of the board at Discretix, a start-up providing solutions for data security in mobile phones and hand-held devices. Discretix was acquired by ARM in 2014.
 

Aharon managed Seabridge, a wholly owned subsidiary of Siemens. As CEO, he oversaw the successful turnaround of the company.

Aharon served as COO of Zoran (NASDAQ: ZRAN) in Silicon Valley, managing all aspects of company activities along with the financing of development of chips for consumer electronics markets.


Aharon began his professional career at the IBM Research Division in Haifa, Israel, where he spent 14 years and held a number of senior management positions including deputy manager of IBM Research’s Haifa operations.

Aharon holds an MSc and a BSc in computer engineering and electrical engineering respectively from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, where he lectured for more than 15 years (1983-1999).

Florentine Fockema Andreae

Investment Partner, SHIFT Invest

Judge

Florentine Fockema Andreae has years of experience in venture capital and mid-market buyouts. As investment partner at SHIFT Invest, a Dutch based venture capital fund, she backs innovative entrepreneurs in the agro-food, waste, and biorefinery value chains. Her background in banking and private equity and her open-minded approach make her a valuable partner for entrepreneurs growing their business. She has a strong interest in environmental impact and is responsible for assessing and monitoring the environmental impact of SHIFT’s portfolio companies over time.

Severine Balick

Business Advisor & Investor, Matador Ventures

Judge

Severine Balick is a VC investor, dedicated to food and agtech with a strong focus on impact and sustainability (FoodAssembly, Ynsect, InFarm, Winnow, Olio, Omnom). 

She is currently exploring AI blockchain, robotics to find solutions to food waste, food safety and transparency, and better food and nutrition (plant-based diet, cellular-ag, alternative proteins, and more).

 

She advises corporates on innovation and corporate venturing and helps them source and invest in start-ups in specific areas or assists them in running investment programs. She also invests in food and agtech, mainly Series A and B on behalf of HNWI and family offices.

 

Severine is passionate about impact investment and driving more women into technology and venture capital. She received her master's in philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) from the Institut d'Etudes politiques de Paris (Sciences Po).

Eyal Ben-Chanoch

Director, Business Strategy Biotechnology, Monsanto

Panelist

With more than 25 years of business experience in the innovation-driven technology field, Eyal Ben-Chanoch is a skilled entrepreneur and executive with a proven track record of creating and executing successful strategies that bring new innovations to customers in fields such as telecommunications, software systems, and, in the last decade, to animal health and agriculture.

 

At Monsanto, Eyal has held leading roles in business strategy, first in chemistry and currently in the biotechnology organization focusing on two main areas: bringing innovative external technologies to Monsanto in terms of prospecting, and closing deals and improved management practices in the organization.

Eyal joined Monsanto in late 2011 with the acquisition of Beeologics Inc., which he co-founded in 2007 and was president and CEO. In that role, he set the strategic direction for Beeologics, collaborated with scientists on the company’s research efforts, and determined go-to-market strategies that enabled Beeologics to achieve its vision of bringing RNAi-based products to agriculture and animal health. 

In 2007, Eyal established GreenOvation Labs, a business accelerator focused on green technology, which led to the foundation of Beeologics and other sustainable technologies-based businesses. Prior to this, he founded and led several technology companies through a series of mergers and acquisitions that culminated in the formation of Concerto Software, which later became Aspect Software, where in his last role as senior VP of Global Customer Support, he led a team of 850 individuals across 23 countries. Prior to Aspect, Eyal served as chief engineer at Tadiran Electronic Industries, Inc. (TEI), a leading PBX manufacturer. During his career, he held several engineering roles in the Israeli technology industry with companies such as IAI, Elbit, and Intel. At Intel, he was part of the team that developed the architecture and design of the first Pentium microprocessor.

He received an MSc and BSc in computer science, both from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Ofer Ben-Yehuda

Partner, Shibolet

Guest Presenter

Specializing in high tech and venture capital, with a particular emphasis in medical devices, high-growth, and emerging companies. Ofer advises both private and public companies in relation to venture capital financing, M&As, private placements, venture law, and corporate and commercial law.

Johan Botterman, PhD

R&D Alliance Management, Bayer Crop Science

Judge

R&D Alliance Management is a global function supporting Crop Science R&D with technology scouting, partnerships, and equity investments.

 

Johan has more than 30 years' experience in R&D strategy, managing R&D projects, and strategic partnerships in seeds and traits at several companies, Plant Genetic Systems, Hoechst Schering AgrEvo, Aventis CropScience and Bayer Crop Science.

He received his PhD in industrial microbiology from the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Oded Distel

Founder and Director, Israel NewTech

Organizer & Company Selection Committee Member

Oded Distel is the Founder and Director of Israel NewTech, Israel’s world-renowned National Energy & Water Program at the Ministry of Economy & Industry.

 

The pioneering program has spearheaded Israel’s water and energy ecosystem since its founding in 2007. Israel NewTech brings all stakeholders together – start-ups, entrepreneurs, companies, multinationals, academia, regulators, policy makers, and investors -- to cooperate in order to deliver smart solutions to global challenges in the cleantech arena.

Israel NewTech is recognized as a successful case study of an innovative and effective way government can be involved in supporting the cleantech sector of a country.  The program has been studied and emulated by a number of governments and countries throughout Europe and the world.

 

Oded plays a pivotal role leading the program. He is recognized both in Israel and internationally as the leading expert on Israel’s water and energy industries. In 2015, Oded was selected to the list of the 100 most influential people in the Israeli high-tech arena by Geek Time. 

 

Prior to his current position, Oded was the Israeli Commercial Attaché in Greece, where he formed and implemented Israel’s foreign business policy as well as assisted Israeli companies in developing their business in the Greek market.

 

Oded holds an MBA and a BA in business administration, both from the School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University.

Eitan Elkin

Head of Marketing, Start-Up Nation Central

Judge

Eitan Elkin heads marketing at Start-Up Nation Central and the guy who weaves dry tech facts into stories. Eitan is an experienced product professional, with many years of management roles in product marketing, product management, sales support with a unique diversity of experience and methodologies. Eitan has held various positions at start-ups and corporations in domains such as gaming, telecommunications, digital health care, and more.

Eyal Emmanuel, PhD

Senior VP, Scouting, Ideation &Technology, Yissum

Judge

Eyal Emmanuel, PhD, is a Senior VP of Scouting, Ideation & Technology at Yissum, where he is responsible for translating research results into commercial ready technologies within the Robert H. Smith Faculty Agriculture, Food & the Environment.

 

Eyal also serves as the CTO for Agrinnovation, an investment partnership founded by Yissum to nurture agricultural inventions originating from The Smith Faculty.

 

Eyal brings to Yissum over 10 years’ experience in heading multinational and multidisciplinary R&D teams at Evogene, a leading biotechnology company specializing in crop productivity.

 

Prior to joining Evogene, Eyal served as a researcher promoting biomedical technologies at Life Science Research Israel, Israel's premier life sciences research center.

 

Eyal received his PhD and MSc from the Weizmann Institute of Science and a BSc in agriculture from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He also holds an MBA from the College of Management in Israel with a concentration in biomedical management.

Xenia Frank

Investor and philanthropist

Panelist

Xenia Frank is a Russian investor and philanthropist with interests in the areas of agriculture, logistics, and social entrepreneurship. She has acted as an adviser to young entrepreneurs and as an investment judge for the Skolkovo StartUp Academy. She is on the board of directors of Transoil, one of the largest private oil and oil-product logistics providers in Russia.

 

Xenia holds a MA from the University of Edinburgh and an MBA from INSEAD. She lives in Moscow with her husband and two children.

Professor Louise O. Fresco

President, Wageningen University & Research, The Netherlands

Keynote Speaker

Professor Louise O. Fresco is the President of Wageningen University & Research in The Netherlands. Louise combines a long academic career as a professor at both Wageningen and Amsterdam with an extensive involvement in policy and development, with many programs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and teaching in Sweden, Belgium, and the United States.


She is a member of eight scientific academies. Ten years of her career was spent as Assistant-Director General at the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, as well spending extensive periods in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. She served on the boards of companies like the Rabobank and Unilever, and also serves in various philanthropies.

Her successful book, Hamburgers in Paradise: The Stories behind the Food We Eat, (translated in several languages). In total, she published 13 books of fiction and nonfiction. She also writes a biweekly column in NRC, the leading evening paper of The Netherlands. She presented a six-part documentary on food and development for Dutch public television (found in translation on her website www.louiseofresco.com). And you may have seen her TED talk in Palm Springs in 2009.

Limor Ganot

Managing Partner, Gefen Capital

Company Selection Committee Member

Limor Ganot is the managing partner of Gefen Capital, a US-Israeli investment fund targeting high potential Israeli start-ups.

She has led acquisitions, IPOs, private placements, and turnaround situations in different companies, and has created and implemented growth strategies for mature and start-up companies.

 

Limor is a member of the Global Advisory Board of Diners Club International and is also a board member of Diners Club Israel. Previously, she held different positions at the Alon Group and served as co-CEO of Alon Blue Square.

Gil Granot-Mayer

CEO, Yeda Research & Development

Judge

Yeda Research & Development is the technology transfer organization (TTO) of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

 

Gil Granot-Mayer was appointed as Yeda’s CEO in 2016 after having served as deputy CEO and General Counsel of Yeda for 10 years. Prior to joining Yeda, Gil worked in prominent law firms both as a commercial lawyer and as a litigator specializing in intellectual property (IP), cyberspace law, e-commerce, and banking.
He appears and speaks frequently in various forums covering issues related to IP, licensing, and technology transfer.

Gil holds an MBA from the Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration and an LLB, both from Tel Aviv University. He served in the Israeli Navy as a submarine crew member during his extended military service. He is married and has three children.

Dan Harburg, PhD

Venture Associate, Anterra Capital

Panelist

Dan Harburg is a venture associate at Anterra Capital, a specialist food and agriculture venture capital fund backed by Rabobank, a global leader in financing the food and agricultural sectors, and Fidelity Investments, the large asset manager.  Dan invests in hardware and robotics companies working to improve the efficiency of the global food supply chain. He previously ran business development at Soft Robotics Inc., a venture-backed start-up developing a revolutionary soft end-of-arm tool enabling automation in highly labor-intensive areas of the food and agriculture industry. Prior to Soft Robotics, Dan was an entrepreneur-in-residence at North Bridge Venture Partners, working with scientists at Harvard, MIT, and the University of Illinois to commercialize technologies at the intersection of materials, medicine, and advanced manufacturing.

 

He completed a PhD in electrical engineering at Dartmouth and was one of Dartmouth's first Innovation Fellows.

Professor David Harel

Weizmann Institute of Science

Guest Speaker

Prof. David Harel is the VP of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities. He has been at the Weizmann Institute of Science since 1980, serving in the past as Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science. He has worked in logic and computability, software and systems engineering, modeling biological systems, odor reproduction, and more. He invented Statecharts and co-invented Live Sequence Charts. Among his books are Algorithmics: The Spirit of Computing, Computers Ltd.: What They Really Can't Do, and Come, Let's Play: Scenario-Based Programming Using LSCs and the Play-Engine.

 

His awards include the ACM Karlstrom Outstanding Educator Award, the Israel Prize, the ACM Software System Award, the Eme”t Prize, and five honorary degrees. He is a Fellow of ACM, the IEEE; and the AAAS; a member of the Academia Europaea and the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities; a foreign member of the US National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Sumer S. Johal

Founder & CEO, Agralogics

Guest Interviewer

Sumer Johal is a seasoned leader with over two decades of experience in building and managing technology-based ventures with high-performance teams across multiple industries and global geographies. He has extensive experience across executive, engineering, and business development functions using a data-centric, problem-solving paradigm.

 

Sumer grew up in an agriculture family in Northern India (Punjab) and came to the United States as a teenager. He earned an MS and a BS in computer science and electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a minor in economics. His MS thesis work focused on real-time data analysis and computer algorithms for decision support of human/machine scheduling applications for semiconductor fabrication.

 

After MIT, Sumer started his career in operations research and decision-support at Analog Devices (NASD: ADI), a, $15 billion-plus fortune-100 global leader in semiconductor chip design and manufacturing. At ADI, hel designed and implemented an industry-first, real-time factory scheduling system that improved productivity, reduced cycle time and increased throughput, thereby saving ADI over $100 million. After ADI, Sumer spent the next 15 years as a Technology and Business Executive, disrupting some of the world’s largest industries in the telecom, consumer retail, financial services, semiconductor and renewable energy sectors, at both private- and publicly traded companies, in the United States and around the world.

 

In early 2013, Sumer founded Agralogics —the “Internet of Food” — with the intention of making it easy for food and water enterprises, across the globe, to improve their efficiency via data-informed decision-making.

 

Sumer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area (Lafayette, CA) with his wife and their two sons. He enjoys joining his sons in martial arts (Taekwondo) and teaching Punjabi folk dance and music (Bhangra) to youth in the community. He and his family are avid foodies and well-traveled, global citizens.

Nitza Kardish, PhD

CEO, Trendlines Incubators Israel

Organizer

Nitza Kardish has 20 years of experience working in senior management positions at life science companies.

 

Previously, she served as VP Business Development at TechnionSeed, the technological incubator founded by the Technion R&D Foundation 2, Ltd., where she was responsible for the life sciences and cleantech fields. Nitza managed business development at Rafael Development Cooperation; served as CEO of Clal Life Sciences, a R&D center for emerging life science companies; and was CEO of UroGyn, a start-up that developed minimally invasive surgical tools.

 

Nitza earned her PhD (life sciences) and MSc from Tel Aviv University (both with distinction) and studied law at Tel Aviv University. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Plant Genetics at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

George Kellerman

Chief Operations Officer & General Partner, Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley

Moderator

George Kellerman is a founding member of Yamaha Motor Ventures & Laboratory Silicon Valley (YMVSV) where he serves as the COO and general partner. George leads YMVSV's global agtech initiatives, and he is primarily focused on agricultural automation and robotics. 

 

Before joining YMVSV, George was a venture capitalist investing in early-stage startups, and he also served as a senior executive at companies such as Dell Japan, Experian Interactive, Yahoo Japan Corporation, and Yahoo!.

George earned a JD from the UC Berkeley School of Law and a BA in philosophy from the  University of Hawaii. He also served as a combat medic in the US Army Reserves and as a firefighter and rescue crew chief in the US Air Force.

Michael Lavin

Founder & Managing Partner of Germin8 Ventures

Panelist

Michael Lavin founded Germin8 Ventures, a venture capital fund that seeks to improve the global food system and is innovative in its own right, providing both investment and strategic resources to the founders of transformative food and agtech companies around the world.

 

Michael oversees the fund’s operations, investment activities, and investor relations, as well as participates on the boards of invested companies. He serves as a mentor and member at several accelerators and incubators, including 1871, The Good Food Accelerator, Family Farmed, The Hatchery, and the TERRA program at RocketSpace.  

 

Previously, Michael was an investment banker at Chicago-based Mesirow Financial where he successfully executed numerous M&A, capital raising, and restructuring transactions across a variety of sectors, including food and consumer, industrial technology, aerospace and defense, packaging, and industrials. Additionally, he served on Mesirow’s corporate development team and advised the board of directors on matters related to acquisitions, investments and divestitures. Prior to joining Mesirow’s investment banking practice, Michael worked in the consulting practice advising on corporate turnarounds and financial restructurings, as well as forensics and litigation support.  

 

Michael received master's and bachelor's degrees in finance from the University of Illinois.

Ran Maidan

President & CEO, Netafim

Keynote Speaker

Ran Maidan joined Netafim in 2014 as CEO following 15 years of senior managerial experience in areas such as finance, operations, M&As, marketing and sales. Prior to joining Netafim, Ran was CEO of Asia-Pacific, Africa & Middle East at Makhteshim Agan Industries (now Adama Agricultural Solutions), a leading global manufacturer and distributor of crop-protection solutions. In this capacity, he developed business opportunities and new markets, established long-term infrastructure, and generated significant top-line growth and improved margins. Before that, Ran served as CFO of the Makhteshim Agan group from 2006 to 2010.

 

Prior to joining Makhteshim Agan, Ran held a number of senior managerial positions at Koor Industries, including SVP and CFO, VP in charge of Mergers, Acquisition and Taxation, and Corporate Controller. He also served as CFO of the Elisra Defense Group and as Audit Manager at KPMG Somekh Chaikin.

 

Ran holds an MBA specializing in finance from Bar-Ilan University and a BA in accounting and economics, and he is a CPA in Israel.

Spencer Maughan, PhD

Partner, Silicon Valley, Finistere Ventures

Panelist

Spencer Maughan heads Finistere's Silicon Valley office, based in Palo Alto, California.

 

Previously, Spencer has been an entrepreneur-in-residence at KPCB, working alongside members of the Green Growth Fund on agtech opportunities and as an investor at Venrock, a venture capital firm with >$2 billion under management.

 

Spencer’s investment focus has been centered on technology-driven companies that intersect with sustainability and agriculture. He sits on numerous boards, including being a catalyst member of University of Wisconsin’s WARF accelerator program as well as an adviser to the ARENA-sponsored Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund, which is managed by Southern Cross Venture Partners.

 

Spencer has a PhD and BSc in genetics from the University of Melbourne where he was a Melbourne Research Scholar, with funding from Bayer Crop Science. Upon finishing his PhD, Spencer was named a Marie Curie fellow at the University of Cambridge (UK) within the Institute of Biotechnology. While at Cambridge, Spencer’s work on malarial drug-resistant type proteins received a commendation from the UK Houses of Parliament. Spencer also holds an MBA from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business where he was the American Australian Association’s Macquarie Bank Fellow.

Prof. Avi Perl

Chief Scientist, Israel Ministry of Agriculture

Chairperson, Company Selection Committee

Senior scientist in the Department of Fruit Tree Sciences, Institute of Plant Research, Volcani Center, Israel; previously, Volcani’s deputy-director of Institute of Plant Research and head of the Floriculture Department. ​

Mitchell Presser

Head of US M&A, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Guest Interviewer

Mitchell Presser is the head of Freshfields’ US M&A practice and focuses on global business transactions, including M&A and leveraged buyouts, for international corporations and financial institutions.

 

Mitchell gained his skills and knowledge through wide experience on both sides of transactions, as adviser and as principal. From 2006 to 2013, Mitchell was a founding partner of Paine and Partners LLC, a private equity firm managing a $1.2 billion fund focused on food and agribusiness investments. Previously, Mitchell was a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, where he concentrated on M&As, private equity, leveraged buyouts, corporate governance, and securities law matters.

 

Recent work

  • Advised Paine Schwartz Partners on its sale of Icicle Seafoods to Cooke Seafoods and on its acquisition of Global ID Corporation and its international acquisitions of Suba Seeds and Spearhead International

  • Advised Fox Paine & Company on its acquisition of Seminis Inc., the world’s largest seller of commercial fruit and vegetable seeds, for an approximate value of $650 million and its subsequent sale to Monsanto Company for $1 billion.

 

Mitchell received his JD from Yale Law School and a BS in accounting from New York University.

“Distinguishes himself with expertise in private equity, especially food and agricultural investing.”  The Legal 500

Steve Rhodes

Chairman and CEO, The Trendlines Group

Organizer

Steve Rhodes began his professional career in 1979 at the Chicago branch of Bank Leumi, where he became the director of marketing. In 1985, Steve relocated to Israel with his family and was appointed deputy manager of Bank Leumi’s International Division. Steve joined Israeli medical device start-up SRD Medical in 1988 as CFO and later became VP of Sales and Marketing.

 

In 1993, Steve founded Trendlines International, an Israeli business development consultancy, with Todd Dollinger. In 2007, Trendlines became The Trendlines Group (www.trendlines.com), an innovation commercialization company that invents, discovers, invests in, and incubates innovation-based medical and agricultural technologies. Trendlines’ unique business model mitigates risks inherent to innovation-based investing. The Trendlines Group is traded on the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX:42T).

 

Steve is the chairman and CEO of The Trendlines Group, chairman of Trendlines Agtech, and a director and chairman of the board of a number of public and private companies.

 

He received his MBA from the University of Chicago and a BA from Harvard. He is a CPA in the state of Illinois.

Steven Saunders

Founder, Owner & Managing Director, Plus Group

Panelist

Steven Saunders has 34 years’ experience in the horticultural and food sector and is the founder, owner, and managing director of the Plus Group of companies, specialising in horticulture management consultancy, orchard ownership, global pollen production, robotic development (Robotics Plus Ltd), international ventures, applied technology, environmental research, innovation and science. 

 

Steven is the co-founder of Newnham Park Innovation Centre in Tauranga (New Zealand), which hosts eight local export award-winning independent companies predominately in the food sector, a major stakeholder in the kiwi fruit industry, an active angel investor, a director of many privately owned companies and tech start-ups, an elected member of the executive board for Priority One (driving economic growth in the Bay of Plenty, NZ), independent director Lincoln Hub, Agrigate, Māori Economic Development Advisory Board, and founding shareholder and director of Rockit Global Limited.

 

Steven is an active member of the Te Hono Stanford Business School Alumni, Nuku Ki Te Puku (Māori food and beverage cluster) and Te Tiro Toi Whakangao (Māori tech cluster).

 

He is a founder, shareholder and director of WNT Ventures tech incubator and a founding member of PlantTech, Tauranga (NZ), recently awarded Regional Research Institute, a private sector-government initiative.

 

Steven was awarded the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, Westpac Business Leadership Award in 2014 and the Tauranga Boys College 2016 Old Boy Award.

Hedva Schickler, PhD

Partner, Webb & Co.

Company Selection Committee Member

Registered patent attorney for more than 10 years; postdoctoral research focus on gene expression in maize.

 

Previously, she was a lecturer at the Kennedy-Leigh Centre for Horticultural Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She then joined IBR, Israeli Biotechnology Research Ltd., a start-up company developing natural active ingredients for the cosmetic industry and was the  head of R&D for three years.

 

She received her BA and PhD from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences.

Barry J. Schindler

Chair, Global Patent Prosecution Group, Greenberg Traurig

Judge

Greenberg Traurig's Global Patent Prosecution Group is a group of approximately 4,000 domestic and 4,100 foreign applications pending -- and over 100 attorneys, who are registered with the USPTO.

 

Barry has extensive experience counseling clients in the food industry regarding commercialization, cross-licensing, and defensive claim strategies.

 

Barry obtained a BSc in chemical engineering with a dual major in food science from Cornell University, and he also completed graduate courses in food engineering.

 

His research and engineering technical expertise includes frozen foods, consumer packaging, coffee, tea, emulsions, carbohydrates, chocolate, beverages, stabilizers and meat products, as well as all aspects of agritech.

Erich Sieber

Founder & Managing Director, PeakBridgePartners

Judge

Sixteen years of experience as partner/SVP with Nestlé’s strategic venture fund manager, Inventages Venture Capital, in portfolio and investment management; previously, at Nestlé, the World Economic Forum, and German Finance Ministry. 

 

Erich has built and led investment management teams and generated quality deal-flow, performed due diligence, closed deals, and performed proactive business support and exits.

He holds an LLM from the University of Geneva and trilingual MBA from ESCP Europe.

Gideon Soesman

Co-Founder & Partner, GreenSoil Investments

Organizer & Moderator

Gideon Soesman is co-founder and managing partner of GreenSoil Investments. With offices in Canada, the Netherlands, and Israel, GreenSoil Investments funds companies with transformative technologies that change how we use the world’s resources. Its portfolio companies enable smart and efficient use of energy, water, and land in the agriculture, food, and real estate sectors. GreenSoil was founded in 2011 by Alan Greenberg and Gideon Soesman and has ~$100 million under management. GreenSoil's Ra'anana-based agro and food technologies fund is Israel's leading fund in the sector, with close to $40 million under management and with a portfolio of six exciting companies.

Before co-founding GreenSoil, Gideon founded and managed GMS Capital, a boutique investment bank. Prior to that, he was responsible for all global M&A activities for a major division of Royal Philips Electronics. While senior director of corporate M&As, Gideon managed deals valued at over $1.5 billion. At Philips, Gideon also served as director of corporate strategy & Venturing, with overall responsibility for all deal flow management, due diligence, deal negotiations, and portfolio management in Israel.

Prior to joining Philips, Gideon held senior positions at Shaldor and Ergo, leading strategic management-consulting firms in Israel, and served as a project manager at MATI, the Center for Entrepreneurship Development.

Gideon received an MA in business administration from Boston University/Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and holds a BA in economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He immigrated to Israel from the Netherlands in 1990, is married, and has three adorable children.

Tamar Weiss

Manager of Strategic Programs, Ag-Food-Tech Sector, Start-Up Nation Central

Company Selection Committee Member

Tamar Weiss leads the AgriFood Tech sector at Start-Up Nation Central, an Israel-based nonprofit organization that serves as a gateway to Israeli innovation, developing strategic partnerships between leading global players and the Israeli innovation ecosystem.

 

As part of her work, Tamar leverages knowledge and analysis of the Israeli agri- foodtech ecosystem to foster its growth and help it fulfill its potential towards offering meaningful and relevant solutions to pressing global challenges.

 

Previously, Tamar managed the Cybersecurity and Fintech sectors at Start-Up Nation Central.

 

Tamar holds a BA (cum laude) in philosophy, political science and economics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and served as an officer (captain, res.) in the Israel Defense Forces 8200 Unit of the Intelligence Corps.

Joseph Zhou

Investment Partner, Bits x Bites

Panelist

Joseph Zhou is an investment partner at Bits x Bites, China’s first foodtech acceleration platform and VC fund that invests in start-ups tackling global food system challenges.
 

With a mission to shape the future of food, Bits x Bites is a big step forward to inspire
China’s entrepreneurial community to bring new ideas to solve global issues. It also
serves as a critical catalyst to give start-ups the confidence and connections to
prosper and make a meaningful and scalable impact.

 

Bits x Bites has invested in companies that are advancing nanoscale contaminant detection, blockchain-based solutions for supply chains, as well as a young company building weatherproof, cloud-connected farms to enable local food production by anyone anywhere.
 

Joseph brings 12 years of experience across corporate banking, investment banking,
and private equity, having raised more than US$120 million for his portfolio
companies in the primary market. His decision to enter the food sector was driven by one clear motivation: To fight for the future of good food so that his young son grows up with plenty of safe and nutritious food options.

 

Prior to Bits x Bites, Joseph and two partners ran Fusi Capital where they
self-raised US$50 million to invest in China’s international education sector.

 

He has an MBA from the University of Chicago's Booth Business School. Joseph is an emerging voice on entrepreneurship and food tech investment. He has been a guest speaker at events including Future Food-Tech London, World Agri-Tech Innovation Summit, Startup Grind Tel Aviv, Food’s Future Summit in Hong Kong, and Food & Beverage Innovation Forum in Shanghai.
 

Areas of expertise: Food tech investment, food supply chain, venture
capital, start-up fundraising, seed- and early-stage investment, Chinese start-ups,
start-up mentoring, consumption upgrade.

Kevin Zussman

Vice President, Cultivian Sandbox

Panelist

Kevin Zussman is a VP at Cultivian Sandbox, a food & agriculture technology venture capital firm. Prior to joining Cultivian Sandbox, he worked in investment banking at Baird where he provided support on equity offerings, M&A, and other financial advisory services.

 

While an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, he worked with the school's Social Venture Fund, the nation’s first student-led impact investment fund, and completed a venture capital internship in Tel Aviv through the TAMID Fellowship program.

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