Hunger in many parts of the underdeveloped world, climate change, obesity in developed countries due to overconsumption of junk food, the decline in natural resources and other factors has made food technology an increasingly important field.
Now, the Technion-Israel Institute in Technology has received a major donation to expand and upgrade the existing Food Industries Building to become the first FoodTech facility of its kind in Israel and one of the most advanced in the world. It will feature a research and development (R&D) center for industrial production, a packaging laboratory, an industrial kitchen and tasting and evaluation units that will be used for teaching and research in the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering.
The Carasso FoodTech Innovation Center will include a visitor area that will expose high-school students to the world of FoodTech and serve as a hub for startups, where they can benefit from R&D services.
Forty-five years after the Carasso family’s first contribution to the Technion and now as part of a multigenerational initiative, the Carasso Family and Carasso Motors, which imports vehicles to Israel, are contributing toward this new initiative. The donation will be used to renovate the building, as well as expand and upgrade the Center’s research infrastructure. Alongside this activity, a scholarship fund will be established for advanced research.
The gift, which will enhance Israel’s research presence in the global food industry, is part of the family’s legacy – which emphasizes Zionism, excellence in science education, closing gaps in the Israeli society and investment in infrastructure.
“Eradicating world hunger and improving food security are among the main challenges facing humanity in the 21st century, as defined by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” said Technion president Prof. Uri Sivan. “The Technion has the only faculty in Israel for research in food engineering, a faculty that leads the Israeli FoodTech industry. We are grateful to the Carasso Family for their generous contribution, which will help us promote groundbreaking scientific research in the field, train the next generation of the Israeli FoodTech industry and maintain the faculty’s position at the global forefront of research and development.”
Carasso Motors chairman Yoel Carasso said: “In 1924, our Grandfather Moshe immigrated with his family to Israel from Thessaloniki, where he was one of the leaders of the Jewish community. In Israel, he cofounded Discount Bank, Ophir Cinema (one of the first movie theaters in Tel Aviv), and of course Carasso Motors Company. For me and for my uncle Shlomo and my cousins – Ioni, Orli, Sarah, Tzipa and Arik – this is coming full circle from a century ago,” he said.
The family decided to support the Carasso FoodTech Innovation Center “because the Technion is synonymous with excellence. The Technion is an engine for combining basic and applied science in the Galilee and in Israel as a whole. We believe the Carasso FoodTech Innovation Center will contribute to the industry and to collaborative work in this field, and thus strengthen the Israeli economy and society.”
Prof. Marcelle Machluf, dean of the Technion’s Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, said “the faculty is one of the only ones in the world that combines the disciplines of bioengineering, technology, food sciences and life sciences. Coping with the COVID-19 pandemic has only emphasized the importance of food and biotechnology in maintaining our existence and meeting future existential challenges.”
To address the many challenges in this field, including access to healthy, affordable food and innovative medical treatments, continued Machluf “we need advanced infrastructure that will enable the integration of new engineering and scientific tools; these will enable us to develop the necessary technologies, as well as the infrastructure and equipment that will support the development and assimilation of the knowledge required to tackle tomorrow’s food challenges.”
Carasso Motors CEO Izaac Weitz concluded that his company, representing its various vehicle brands – Renault, Nissan, Infinity, and Dacia – “is committed to innovation and connection with our diverse customer base in Israel. Food technology is an evolving field that brings value in many ways to our stakeholders. Food research tackles environmental and global warming challenges, providing food security and a balanced diet, accelerating paramedical developments that combine medicine and food and of course contributing to the development of innovative solutions that will put Israel at the forefront of science globally. We jumped at the opportunity to make such a significant contribution to the establishment of this advanced research center, which will also improve and advance Israel’s education and society.”