WeedOUT, an Israeli startup developing a novel biological herbicide for resistant weeds, won the Best Israeli Agtech Company Competition at the AgriVest 2018 conference in Tel Aviv on May 8.

More than 600 investors, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and academics from about 30 countries were at the fifth annual AgriVest to explore the latest in Israeli agricultural and food technology.

Efrat Lidor Nili, CEO of WeedOUT, won out over 11 other startups selected from more than 40 applicants, and received a round-trip airline ticket to attend the Business France and AER Learning Expedition program in Paris and Dijon in June.

Second prize was awarded to AquiNovo, a Trendlines portfolio company that makes growth enhancers for farmed fish to meet the increasing demand for fish protein.

AgriVest 2018, an initiative of The Trendlines Group, GreenSoil Investments and Israel New Tech of the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, came on the heels of an AgFunder report showing that global agriculture and food technology startups received a record $10.1 billion in investments last year, up 29% from 2016.

Gideon Soesman of GreenSoil Investments remarked, “In 2012, the first AgriVest conference hosted about 100 people and the agtech startups were few and far between. Now there are about 800 Israeli agtech start-ups and the agrifood tech sector has been firmly placed on the international map.”

Professional interviews and panels covered topics such as “Blockchain in the agtech food chain” (Mitchell Presser, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; and Sumer Johal, Agralogics) and “How robotics and automation will forever change the future of agriculture” (George Kellerman, Yamaha Motor Ventures; with Dan Harburg, Anterra Capital; and Steven Saunders, Robotics Plus).

Israel Advanced Technology Industries (IATI), the Israel Innovation Authority and Start-Up Nation Central were partners in the conference.

Also in Tel Aviv this week, the FoodTechIL convention on May 7 drew some 800 entrepreneurs, investors, food-industry executives, government officials, researchers and service providers from Israel, Europe, Asia and America; and the three-day 20th International Agro Technology Exhibition & Conference (Agritech Israel) got underway on May 8 at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.