Between the years 2017-2019, the cannabis industry enjoyed a boom, with the majority of investment dollars going toward licensed producers and cultivation. By the end of 2019 investor appetite was waning, and the first year of the Covid pandemic curbed investments further. While 2021 is showing an uptick, the cannabis market is quite insular, with investment dollars going to market consolidation and brand acquisitions.
Looking forward, in order to remain a dynamic growth industry, the cannabis industry must offer more products, processes and solutions that are clinically validated, safe, sustainable and cost-effective so more patients can benefit from this remarkable plant.
The newly established TechForCann Europe accelerator seeks to support early-stage start-ups from around the world who address those very needs and answer industry challenges.
Entrepreneurs who are accepted to the program receive funding of up to 200K EU and can achieve millstones in validation of their technology or commercialization milestones at an EU-GMP licensed facility. The intensive 12-week program includes mentorship and a curriculum given by global industry experts, and eligible startups also benefit from the accelerator’s comprehensive services package covering legal, marketing, finance, regulatory etc. Valuation of startups is expected to increase upon completion of the accelerator program, with access to a large pool of investors for follow-on investments.
The accelerator was founded by Lilac Mandeles and Yona Cymerman – two Israeli industry experts & entrepreneurs with a strong track record in investment, business development and strategy. The company has 2.5M EU committed by Malta Enterprise – the island government’s innovation authority, to be allocated to 20 start-ups over 18 months.
“At TechforCann Europe we believe in applying technology to address industry challenges that remain a barrier of entry to the biotech, pharma, and high-tech sectors to enable growth,” said Lilac Mandeles – co-founder & CEO of TechforCann EU. “Challenges like product stability at scale, reducing operations costs while improving environmental sustainability, validated biopharmaceutical products for new and specific indications, digital health solutions, and many more”.
“With a first cohort targeted to begin at the end of Q3 2021, we are actively building a tremendous portfolio of up to 18 cherry-picked, IP-based startups who will go through an extensive due diligence process, complete a concrete validation milestone, and increase their valuation – in a three-month period. We see this accelerator as a huge step forward in giving the industry long-term validity and increasing access through science and technology,” adds Mandeles.
Malta has a viable ecosystem of medical Cannabis EU GMP certified production, with easy access to mainland Europe. Unlike other markets in Europe, import and export guidelines and regulations are clear and many world-class cannabis companies have set up operations on the island, including Panaxia, Materia Ventures, MGC Pharma, and more. The Maltese government is extremely agile and is investing in the growth of a tech-based operation, with 100M invested in infrastructure, including to the TechforCannEU accelerator. The island offers strong pharmaceutical experience and infrastructure – in addition to low corporate tax and financial incentives.
From a COVID perspective, Malta is a small island that is quickly coming out of crisis, and is therefore well positioned to host entrepreneurs while also allowing for a much needed breath of fresh, clean Mediterranean air.