Israeli company Fruitura Bioscience eyes Cincinnati for U.S. headquarters

Dietary supplement firm has big growth potential

CINCINNATI - Cincinnati could become the U.S. headquarters of an Israeli company that developed a dietary supplement designed to deliver the heart health benefits of red wine.

Fruitura Bioscience Ltd. is a 7-year-old startup company housed in the Weizmann Technology Park on Revohot, which is well known for biotech innovations. It is one of two active economic development prospects that emerged from a trade trip to Israel last September, organized by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber held a briefing Friday on its marketing efforts in Israel at the downtown offices of law firm, Thompson Hine LLP. Chamber officials say Fruitura is attracted to Cincinnati because of local academic research expertise that could allow it to prove that its dietary supplement is beneficial to heart health. The Cincinnati region also offers marketing expertise and several food manufacturing companies that could aid in Fruitura's development.

"If they enter the U.S., the job potential is very significant," said Denyse Ferguson, the chamber's senior vice president and executive director of the Cincinnati USA Regional Partnership. "The potential is really massive for what they could do with this."

Fruitura Chief Financial Officer Eli Mor confirmed Cincinnati is among the "different alternatives" the company is considering for a U.S. headquarters. The search is part of a strategic planning process that will be completed in two to three months, he added.

Studies have demonstrated that red wine may reduce the risk of heart attack and help control cholesterol levels. Some researchers have focused on an anti-oxidants found in the skin and seed of red grapes.

Fruitura developed a manufacturing process that delivers "a fine pink-purple powder comprised of complete natural matrix of polyphenols, the active ingredients of red grapes," according to its web site. Other manufacturers have tried to produce those active ingredients through chemical filtering, which left behind potentially harmful solvents. But Fruitura develops the ingredients by growing fruit cell cultures in bioreactors, making them safer for human consumption.

Ferguson said the supplement could become a global brand, used in cereals, nutrition bars, health drinks and other food products. The company is considering Cincinnati initially as a site for efficacy studies and later, a manufacturing facility, she said. Ultimately, the project could take years to unfold.

The chamber organized its third trade trip to Israel last September, emphasizing Cincinnati's strengths in marketing and promoting research collaborations between Children's Hospital Medical Center and Israel's Ben Gurian University of the Negev.

Chamber consultant Marc Coles, president of Ridgeback Business Development, participated in Friday's panel discussion.

He said Israel's strengths lie in turning research discoveries in to commercially viable ideas.

"What they're not as good at is the go-to-market strategy," Coles said. "So, joining the Israeli innovation with the go-to-market talent in Cincinnati is a key element of our strategy."

Coles said the Brandery startup accelerator in Over-the-Rhine is working on a memorandum of understanding with StarTau, Tel Aviv University's Entrepreneurship Center. The deal would bring Israeli startups to Cincinnati for the marketing assistance that the Brandery offers to 10 startups every year.

Ferguson said an Israeli-owned company is considering a big Cincinnati investment in its research and development arm, focusing on the food and agricultural industries. She declined to identify the company, but said the investment could lead to the creation of 200 new research jobs.

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