TECH start-ups are being offered €200,000 and a chance to partner some of the world’s leading business in Europe’s first medical cannabis accelerator
Malta Enterprise is providing €2.5m to the TechforCannEU accelerator program which is initially looking to back 20 early-stage cannabis tech firms.
The innovation cash comes with the potential of mentoring and proof of concept input from leading cannabis players with a base in Malta. These could include; Materia Ventures, MGC Pharmaceuticals, Panaxia, Aphria, Zenabis and Aurora.
TechforCannEU is the brainchild of female co-founders Lilac Mandeles and Yona Cymerman. Ms Cymerman told BusinessCann: “We are not dealing with the plant, as such, but rather with the technologies behind the plant.
‘Tremendous’ Deal Flow
“Our targets for the accelerator programme are early-stage businesses looking to validate their concepts or prototypes. Being based in Malta means this can be achieved in the gold standard, Maltese EU-GMP facilities.
“We have a tremendous deal flow and with this we aim to support the creation of a world-leading Maltese and European cannabis tech sector.
“We are interested in helping businesses develop their IP and it could be in anything from cultivation to extraction, and delivery systems to new formulation APIs.” (See panel below for its four workstream categories).
The female entrepreneurs are both based in Israel and possess an extensive network linked to the country’s world-leading cannabis cluster, which will be made available to the accelerator companies.
They have previously worked with almost 100 cannabis companies across the globe in similar engagement programmes.
Its first accelerator cohort is expected to be chosen by the end of the summer with the 20 companies all set to benefit from an initial €100,000 investment.
The programme is expected to run for 12 weeks and at the end of that the aim is for the participants to be in a position to secure additional funding, to look for a JV partner and take their next commercial step.
TechforCannEU is looking to raise raise a further €1.5m to support the businesses with a potential further €100,000 in a second round of investment.
Ms Cymerman said the current deal flow includes companies looking at new aerosol delivery technologies, on-site cannabis disinfection, low cost bio-reactor cultivation.
Whilst it also has interest from pharma-focused companies looking at topicals for skin melanomas and other indications and digital platforms looking to create user-friendly interfaces for physicians and patients.
Malta has a progressive approach to medical cannabis and Malta Enterprise has embraced its potential as a driver of economic growth for the Mediterranean island nation.
Kurt Farrugia, CEO at Malta Enterprise, said: “By all estimates, Europe will be the world’s largest market for medical cannabis within a few short years, and the Maltese Government has declared its intention for Malta to be a centre of excellence of Europe.
Milestone For European Cannabis
“Hosting the accelerator in Malta will allow us to position ourselves at the head of the R&D sector in the industry, complementing our incentives for start-ups such as Start-up Finance and the various Research and Development Support measures, thus helping to bring new solutions and products to the global market”.
Accelerator participants will also gain access to marketing, finance and regulatory services and will be facilitated access to in-person, pitch events with a global network of partners, customers and investors.
The development has been welcomed by Alastair Moore, Co-Founder and Director of UK cannabis consultants Hanway Associates, a keen supporter of innovation in the space.
He said: “This is a milestone moment for European cannabis. Not just the first dedicated cannabis tech accelerator on the continent, but one funded by a foreign investment agency of a European nation.
“The message this sends is clear – Europe is ready to compete on the global stage, and countries that embrace the sector early will attract the best and brightest to their country (along with tax and associated revenues).
“I’m very excited to see not only what kind of entrepreneurs this attracts to the sector but how their start-ups could act as catalysts for the European market.
“There are multiple problems across traceability, data collection, patient management, and regulatory tracking that could be solved with the right technology.”
The accelerator currently focuses on four categories, including:
Healthcare/biotech – Delivery methods, digital health, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, formulations, delivery devices, testing, education;
Agtech – Genetics, breeding tech, growing materials;
Digital operations – infrastructure (water, lighting), extraction, AI management/control, operational technology; and
Product technology – including research and innovation in the areas of wellness, topicals, veterinary products, etc.