Supporting Entrepreneurship

Wonder Wine is a group of ambitious young Tel-Hai students who have come together to transform your glass of wine; Also possible originated from diverse background across Israel, this group is representing the exciting mosaic of Israeli society.

This is the second year, that a group from Tel-Hai is participating in the iGEM competition, and though we have learnt much from the past experience of the first Tel-Hai group, much work have been put into refining the working process.

It was important for us to establish and work on an idea that will have both scientific and applied value. Once our project has been selected, two parallel stages took place- on a scientific level, Steps were taken to implement the idea; Further, we focused on investigating the potential applied usages of our idea. We consulted the industry-wineries and experts who emphasized and elaborated on the type of issues and challenges they are facing in their wine production process. ( Based on those conversations, we engaged in several discussions, in which innovative and ground-breaking potential solutions were suggested. Eventually we chose to focus on the four most interesting and challenging problems: eradication of Brett, addition of resveratrol and miraculin and redirecting the biochemical path of ethanol to glycerol.

The main objectives of our work were:

Preventing Brett contamination in wine: The yeast Brettanomyces bruxellensis (Brett) is a common contaminant of red wine that thrives during the aging stage. Red wine contaminated with Brett is characterized by taint odors described as ‘phenolic’, ‘horsy’ and ‘leather’. These are attributed to Bret’s metabolic products which are mainly volatile phenols, tetrahydropyridines and acetic acid. Brett causes a great deal of losses to wineries each year, estimated by hundreds of thousands of dollars and is traditionally controlled by the use of sulphurdioxide (SO (1)

Enhancing wine qualities: studies have linked red wine and resveratrol to decreased occurrence of age related decline in cardiovascular function. Amid the increasing health concerns among consumers, preferences are changing toward healthier foods and beverages. Consumers have shifted their diets to include less saturated fat and cholesterol while increasing consumption of fiber. In addition, there has been a marked growth in the demand for functional foods. Functional foods, defined as foods fortified for additional health benefits, reached $37.3 billion in US sales in 2009, which was up from $28.2 billion in 2005. The French paradox suggests that consuming red wine daily not only helps the cardiovascular system, but it also increases lifespan due to the resveratrol in red wine.(2)

The European Union is witnessing a rising level of concern regarding the relationship between diet and health. In response to this demand the food industry has developed so-called “functional foods”. Demand for these products is increasing in both volume and expenditure and the food industry is witnessing developments trying to expand the functional attribute to new groups of products. In studies done in various places in Europe, it can be seen that functional attribute positively and significantly affects the probability of selecting ared wine and that the willingness to pay for this attribute is as important as for aging wine.(3). In Conclusion there is potential to leverage the health aspects of wine as a marketing tool. With the growing competitive landscape in the wine industry, enhanced knowledge of consumer preferences can help wineries and wine retailers improve sales and incorporate new marketing techniques. As the interest in functional food and beverages expands, the health aspect of red wine could be a marketing tool used to set a winery or wine retailer apart from its competitors.

Rendering miraculin Enriched wine to diabetic people: According to the latest estimates published on the occasion of International Diabetes Day on November 14, 382 million diabetics are currently living in the world, and by 2035 the number will rise to 592 million, with one in ten of the world coping with a disease characterized by too high levels of blood sugar. The artificial sweetener industry currently accounts for about $ 1.9 billion a year in the United States. In Israel, the market is NIS 18.5 million a year. About 18% of the Israeli public uses sweeteners, compared with 15% in the United States and 17% in Western Europe.

Routing part of the biochemical pathway of generating ethanol for the benefit of glycerol production. After we explored about lowering ethanol levels in wine and search the literature, it became clear almost immediately that the glycerol pathway held the key.Rational engineering strategies to redirect carbon flux from ethanol towards glycerol have provided great insight into potential biological mechanisms to lower alcohol content in wine. Numerous studies showed that by converting the metabolic pathway away from ethanol production and towards glycerol, you have wine that's less alcoholic, but is unmarred by unwanted characteristics, that occurs in alternative pathways. (4)

Upon completion of our preliminary market research we began working on the project. In parallel, we engaged in raising awareness for our project, among the public but also among potential investors and customers. A few notable activities can be mentioned:

We contacted wine professionals in prominent wineries across Israel, which taught us about the main issues concerning the world wine industry. Wine makers also gave us ‘tip’ about the significance of wine festivals for marketing wine initiatives.

We participated in a wine Festival organized by the company “Grape man”. The festival, which takes place yearly close to the holiday of Succoth, combines between the end of harvest festive and the beginning of a new circle of life for the wines which have just started their new way, forming a perfect event in perfect timing. We bought 200 Wine openers with the wonder wine iGEM 2017 printing as a giveaway for the people from the wine industry and guests.

wine festival

We set up a ‘Wonder Wine’ stand in “Tel-Hai Tech”, an entrepreneurship convention that takes place in the upper Galilee in Israel. It was a fantastic learning experience, where professionals shared their knowledge about commerce in the Galil, governmental compliance, how to attract investors and other tips for young, aspiring entrepreneurs. During the convention, We were invited to join Hula Valley - Community of Entrepreneurs in the Galilee fund raising ( Also, we met two potential investors who have expressed interest in our project (Ongoing discussions).

Center Conference

Radio broadcast: We were invited to the Kan Bet 95.5FM national radio station for a live interview discussing our work. It was a great experience and a wonderful opportunity to promote our project.


In the community of “Timrat”, where one member of the group lives, a parliament of the settlers takes place every week, in which discussion topics are raised. At one of the meetings in the community, our representative came to present our project, in particular to raise a discussion about the synthetic biology in food and present the fundraising campaign for the project.


Project funding - Initially, there were no funds available for this project, so we had to raise the whole amount of 30K$ ourselves from the following sources:

The David Friedman Fund, who focuses on supporting young student entrepreneurs.

The chief scientist at the Israel ministry of Science.

Crowdfunding Campaign: web-based platform was established including making of a movie to fund: marketing, product development, material and lab costs and potential investor search (

Fund raising event in Tel-Aviv: A selected group of potential investors and philanthropists was invited to a special event in a prestigious restaurant ( This event was enabled through the personal connections of one of our group members, who used to work as a chef for the renowned chef Ran Shmueli who is the owner of this restaurant and donated the event to support this group of young entrepreneurs.

Fund raising event

We feel that the iGEM project has been a wonderful platform for us to engage in a promising and intriguing project, which has enabled us to develop and learn how to progress an innovative idea to help it emerge. Throughout our experience the idea has been received with great enthusiasm and interest.

  1. Delaherche, A., Claisse, O. and Lonvaud-Funel, A. (2004), Detection and quantification of Brettanomyces bruxellensis and ‘ropy’ Pediococcus damnosus strains in wine by real-time polymerase chain reaction. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 97: 910–915. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2672.2004.02334.x
  2. Higgins, L. M., & Llanos, E. (2015). A healthy indulgence? Wine consumers and the health benefits of wine. Wine Economics and Policy, 4(1), 3-1
  3. Barreiro-Hurlé, J., Colombo, S., & Cantos-Villar, E. (2008). Is there a market for functional wines? Consumer preferences and willingness to pay for resveratrol-enriched red wine. Food Quality and Preference, 19(4), 360-371.‏
  4. 4. Mota, C. J., Pinto, B. P., & de Lima, A. L. (2017). Biotechnological Routes of Glycerol Transformation in Valuable Chemicals. In Glycerol (pp. 21-37). Springer International Publishing.‏