TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — InnovoPro, a developer of plant-based protein ingredients, has raised $18 million in a funding round led by Jerusalem Venture Partners. Additional investors included Icos Capital, iAngels and the Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund, part of Rabobank’s investment arm. InnovoPro previously participated in Rabobank’s FoodBytes! global startup discovery platform.

Founded in 2015, InnovoPro developed a proprietary extraction process to concentrate protein from the chickpea. The company offers a 70% protein concentrate from chickpeas that has a neutral taste, high functionality and high nutritional value, according to the company. Applications include dairy-free yogurt, ice cream, veggie burgers and energy bars.

Food-tech investments totaled $4.8 billion during the first half of 2020, which compared with $7 billion in all of 2019, according to Rabobank. The investment in InnovoPro further strengthens its presence in the $40 billion global plant protein market, which is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11% to reach $75 billion by 2027.

“In line with the more informed and sophisticated consumer, novel plant-based protein solutions are coming under greater scrutiny in the context of their nutrition and sustainability footprint,” said Richard O’Gorman, managing director of Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund. “Chickpea with its high protein, fiber, iron and other characteristics leads to a more nutritious alternative and allows for cleaner labeling with no need for the emulsifiers, enhancers or masking agents necessary with competing analogues. Chickpea is a sustainable source, driven by crop characteristics such as comparatively lower water usage and carbon footprint with rotational qualities.

“For these reasons we believe chickpea will be a leader in the next wave of non-animal protein sources. We are therefore very proud to back InnovoPro, the strong market leader in the space, and look forward to scaling the company with an expert management team and strong group of investors.”

Erel Margalit, founder and chairman of Jerusalem Venture Partners, added, “The COVID-19 crisis has created a new reality, positioning food security as an essential need. The significant decrease in world trade and in available employees on farms, creates the need to be self-sustainable at all times. Additionally, the COVID-19 crisis has raised worldwide awareness to healthier foods and better food processing standards. This has increased the need for creative sustainable solutions and innovation in the changing world of what we eat. InnovoPro has become a leader in the Israeli food-tech industry and is on the path to becoming a world food-tech leader.”

Taly Nechushtan, chief executive officer of InnovoPro, said the company will use the funds to scale up operational capabilities through increasing production capacity and for further business development activities, including forming joint ventures with strategic partners.

“As part of our sustainable growth strategy, we will also use the added funding to explore production collaboration options for our protein and future products in the EU, to expand our EU supply chain capabilities,” Ms. Nechushtan said. “The Rabo Food & Agri Innovation Fund, being part of the leading bank in the food and agriculture financing arena, will leverage its significant global business network to facilitate more opportunities to form such strategic partnership.”