Tnuva, an Israeli global kosher food manufacturer with American headquarters in New Jersey, has launched an “exciting” collaboration with the Rutgers University Food Innovation Center (FIC). The announcement was made in partnership with the New Jersey-Israel Commission and the nonprofit economic development organization Choose New Jersey.
“Tnuva is one of Israel’s most exciting brands,” said New Jersey-Israel Commission Executive Director Andrew Gross about the company whose American headquarters is in Lincoln Park. “A large bulk of Israel trade is in food and food products, and that really emphasizes the importance of having a large Israeli food brand in New Jersey.”
In a phone interview, Gross called FIC “a wonderful ally and world-class facility,” adding, “By having them here they help to attract this very important food industry to our state. I’m really excited these two players have come together and to see what innovation comes out of it.”
The collaboration will combine the resources of Tnuva, known as a pioneer in research and development, and the FIC, a unique food-business incubator and accelerator that supports established, early-stage entrepreneurs and existing food companies from concept to commercialization. As part of the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, the FIC uses its experience and advanced technology to provide businesses with the tools that they need to help run successful businesses as well as promote growth.
The collaboration is the result of Choose New Jersey’s four-day economic mission to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in February 2020, where the delegation visited Tnuva’s Petach Tikvah headquarters, meeting with senior Tnuva executives. Choose New Jersey President and CEO Jose Lozano said the goal of the mission “was to strengthen economic and cultural ties with one of our longtime allies.
“We are excited to continue to see results from our trip to Israel with the announcement of a collaboration between Tnuva and the Food Innovation Center at Rutgers University,” Lozano said. “This partnership is just another example of how New Jersey is the best place to do business, and showcases how we are seeing global interest in our state’s thriving innovation ecosystem.”
FIC Acting Director Nolan Lewis told The Jewish Link that the center had been aware of Tnuva’s presence in the state, and that “multiple people referred them to us and us to them.”
Following a Zoom meeting with Tnuva leaders, the parties decided to work on several smaller projects “to see what the mutual crossovers could be.
“Right now plant-based anything is very hot,” Lewis added. “There are a few things I’m certain we’ll be able to help them with,” he said, noting that a memorandum of understanding has been signed to help in the development of alternative ingredients.
Lewis told The Jewish Link that the FIC is working closely with Gross and has spoken with the Israeli Consulate in New York as well.
This marks the second food-based alliance the university has reached with Israel. The New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition and Health at Rutgers had signed a memorandum of understanding more than five years ago with Tel-Hai College in the upper Galilee, launching the New Jersey-Israel Healthy, Functional and Medical Food Alliance.
Tnuva USA CEO Yoram Behiri said in a statement that the company is sharing some of its research and development projects and jointly exploring where and how FIC can support Tnuva’s own research and development based on the center’s knowledge, experience and food-tech capabilities. “We are excited for this innovative partnership between the Food Innovation Center at Rutgers University and Tnuva, and we look forward to seeing the results this collaboration will produce,” Behiri said.
Gross said the commission and state are committed to finding more economic opportunities with New Jersey and Israel. The state “performs at a very high level in terms of investment coming from Israel,” he said, only behind much-larger New York among states in the Northeast in terms of attracting Israeli companies.
“We welcome Israeli companies to expand into New Jersey,” said Gross. “We believe they have a strong reason to choose New Jersey, which is the best state in the United States for Israeli companies.”
He noted the state has a very strong and active Jewish community and a number of native Israelis already living here, making companies and their employees “feel very welcome and comfortable joining those pre existing communities.” New Jersey is home to the fourth largest Israeli-born population in the country.
“Tnuva stands as a great example of a New Jersey-Israel relationship that is a very deep relationship,” said Gross. “It’s a relationship that is creating a lot of jobs and opportunity for people both in New Jersey and Israel.”
Mark Levenson, commission chair and Choose New Jersey partner, said: “In a year filled with such uncertainty, it is encouraging to see that our February 2020 economic mission trip continues to produce real results for the State of New Jersey, As we look toward rebuilding and recovering in the months ahead, I look forward to seeing how this collaboration will benefit the New Jersey economy moving forward.”
By Debra Rubin