Israeli sugar-replacement startup wins global award

Rehovot-based Amai Proteins beats out over 2,000 hopefuls at the Extreme Tech Challenge.

By John Jeffay, Israel21c

Israeli company Amai Proteins, which uses a sweet protein to replace up to 70 percent of the added sugar used in the food industry, was named overall winner in one of the world’s largest startup competitions, held on June 14.

Amai (Japanese for “sweet”) is a white powder protein that is 10,000 times sweeter than sugar, with zero glycemic index. The award-winning startup in Rehovot has collaborations with food industry giants, including cranberry juice maker Ocean Spray.

Amai was named the global winner out of more than 2,000 hopefuls at the Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC) awards ceremony in Berkley, California, after its CEO and founder Ilan Samish pitched to Bill Gates and others on the judging panel.

XTC is the world’s largest ecosystem and competition for purpose-driven technology. Inspired by the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, it connects innovators with a network of investors, corporations, and mentors to help them raise capital, launch corporate collaborations, and scale their world-changing startups.

XTC entrants are judged on their credentials and experience, level of innovation, readiness of their product for market and its potential impact on the health of people and the planet.

Amai was judged best in the agtech and food sector and went on to be named the overall global winner among entrants in all categories, including biotech, cleantech, digital health, education and fintech.

“The number one non-communicable disease, accounting for most hospitalizations, is obesity and related metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. And that stems mainly from sugar overconsumption,” said Samish, who founded the company after two decades in academia and protein research.