Meet the biggest cannabis R&D facility in Israel

Israel is the most important country when it comes to research on medical cannabis. Thus, it does not come as a surprise that the medical cannabis companies there are particularly advanced and can rely on growers and experts with extensive experience. One of these companies is Canonic, which has the biggest R&D facility in Israel. “Canonic had set the largest cannabis R&D facility in Israel. Including 22,000 sq foot of greenhouses, a molecular lab, and tissue culture rooms all fully equipped, licensed, and operational since October 2019. The company aims to commercialize its product first in the Israeli market followed by Europe and North America,” Arnon Heyman Canonic CEO explains.

The biggest R&D facility in Israel
“Canonic is developing medical cannabis products using computational genomics AI tools in order to commercialize effective, precise, and stable medical cannabis products for optimized therapeutic impact,” Arnon continues. “As a wholly-owned company of Evogene (NASDAQ:EVGN), it has exclusive access to Evogene’s Computational Predictive Biology (CPB) platform to develop [medical] cannabis products. The company is currently developing two types of products – MetaYield, aiming at enhancing total active compounds, and Precise aiming at enhancing specific active compounds for medical indications such as inflammation and chronic pain. The company’s strategy includes the commercialization of medical cannabis products independently or through collaborations.” 

The challenges of the cannabis industry
Backed up by years of plant genomic research and on an experienced team, Canonic is very much aware of what the challenges of the cannabis industry are, and what is necessary to overcome them to market safe products. “The very first challenge is genetic stability,” Arnon remarks. “There is high genetic variability among available cannabis lines, which results in the current state of cannabis inconsistency. Canonic is utilizing its computational technology, as well as its enormous plant/genomic library and databases to address this issue. 

“The second challenge is cannabinoid yields: the price per gram of cannabis is decreasing making it more sensitive to the cost of production. The ability to increase the yield of cannabinoid per square foot is a significant factor to be addressed which is one of Canonic's strengths. The third challenge is the cannabinoid specificity: while there are currently hundreds of pre-clinical and clinical trials testing various cannabinoids, there is still a lack of clinical data demonstrating the correlation between medical effects and the genomic and cannabinoid profile of the cannabis plant. Canonic is using its advanced breeding technologies to improve the properties of cannabis varieties, establishing unique cannabis varieties and identifying specific genomic elements in order to enhance either specific active compounds in the plant or the plant’s total active compounds.”

“In order for the cannabis industry to grow and fulfill its promise we believe these are the challenges that should be met. The opportunity for Canonic lies in the fact that plant genetics and state-of-the-art computational technology can address these challenges.”

Data collection and attention to details
In order to overcome said challenges, Canonic built an extremely technologically advanced facility, which also happens to be the biggest in the country. “Canonic facility is designed for R&D,” Arnon says. “All greenhouses hold integrated technologies for collecting plant-specific data and are synchronized with Canonic's computational platforms. The greenhouses include a quarantine facility supervised by the Israeli plant protection services, allowing the company to import diverse genetic material and shorten time to its breeding pipeline.” Thanks to the extreme attention to the smallest detail, Canonic has set out to develop truly unique cannabis varieties. “Our main uniqueness is the computational technology we bring to advance our breeding program,” he says. “It’s not the cultivation part of the value chain but the genetic development that makes the difference.’

In an ever-evolving cannabis industry where the market is becoming increasingly competitive, growers are asked to bring their A-game to their cultivation as the future of the sector might be looking even more competitive, yet consolidated. “We envision the cannabis industry in 5 years as a mature market with a few big players in each territory and clear demands for innovation and premium products. In this space we can see Canonic as a world leader of cannabis genetics, staying ahead of the curve and introducing premium medical-grade cannabis products,” Arnon concludes. 

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