This Weeks Sanity Report from Israel Dec 24 2017
The highlights include:
- Israeli surgeons are re-growing a patient’s leg from his own fat cells.
- 30 wheelchair-bound Israelis got to the top of Masada.
- An Israeli NGO saved starving villagers in drought-stricken Uganda.
- Israel plans to use desalinated water to refill the Sea of Galilee.
- The European Union is guaranteeing loans to Israeli tech companies.
- Virtual Reality brings history to life at three top Israeli tourist sites.
- Three archeological discoveries shed light on Jewish life in Biblical Israel.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Growing his leg from his own fat cells. I reported previously (27th Aug) about tech from Israel’s Bonus Bio used to repair bone loss in the arm of a patient at Emek hospital in Afula. Now another patient at Emek has had groundbreaking surgery to regrow part of a shin bone using bone tissue grown from his own fat cells.
Good results for Acute Leukemia treatment. Israel’s BioSight has announced positive results of the Phase 1/2 study of its lead product BST-236, a novel cytarabine pro-drug, as a single agent for induction therapy in acute leukemia patients. It was effective on many patients who had failed with previous standard therapy.
Oxygen treatment for Alzheimer’s. I reported previously (twice) of Israeli use of hyperbaric (high pressure) oxygen to treat many medical conditions from chronic pain to strokes. Now Tel Aviv University researchers have discovered that it can also ameliorate symptoms experienced by people with Alzheimer’s disease.
New treatment for NASH. (TY Atid-EDI) Israeli biotech ChemomAb has developed a monoclonal antibody designed to treat fibrotic and inflammatory diseases. The antibody’s first target is nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), known also as fatty liver disease. ChemomAb has just raised $10 million of funds.
Fast-track for migraine treatment. Israel’s Teva has been granted fast-track status for fremanezumab, an anti-calcitonin gene-related peptide (anti-CGRP) monoclonal antibody developed for the preventive treatment of migraine. It also applies to the prevention of cluster headaches, which are similar to migraines in symptoms.
Infection treatment now to target the kidneys. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (several times) on Israel’s Atox Bio and its Reltecimod treatment for Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections. Atox Bio has just raised $30 million to fund trials of Reltecimod in Acute Kidney Injury patients, for which there is no current cure.
Four new UK-Israel stem cell projects. The Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange (BIRAX) program is investing £1.5 million in four stem cell projects to tackle diabetes, heart disease, leukemia and Alzheimer’s disease. The Israeli organizations are Weizmann Institute, Hebrew University and the Technion.
UK award for Israeli antibiotic resistance research. Israel’s Team Prismatix – combining scientists at Israel’s Technion Institute and Bnai Zion Medical Center – has won a Discovery Award for its research into rapid diagnostics for antibiotic resistance. The awards are part of the UK Nesta Foundation’s Longitude Prize challenge program.
Space program polymer used for orthopedic surgery. Orthopedic surgeons at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center have performed hip and knee replacements using MP1 – a material developed in Israel for NASA’s space program. MP1 was originally developed by Aliza Buchman for the Israel start-up M.M.A Tech.
New emergency control center. Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan, inaugurated the national dispatch and command center for United Hatzalah at the organization’s national headquarters in Jerusalem. The center will ensure that EMS volunteer responders are sent to the emergencies that are closest to their location.
One paramedic, one bike, 2,500 calls, 300 lives saved. In his four years as a United Hatzalah volunteer EMT, Meir Farkash has responded to more than 2,500 emergency calls (over 300 life-threatening) on his personal bicycle. In his honor, the residents of Meir’s home town Ramat Hasharon donated an e-bicycle for him to use.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
New Israeli law to provide jobs for disabled. (TY UWI) It is already illegal in Israel to discriminate against the disabled in the workplace. A new extension order requires companies with over 100 workers to have 3% disabled employees. They must also have a person responsible for the employment of people with disabilities.
No mountain too tall. (TY ILTV News) 30 Israeli adults in wheelchairs had the unforgettable Hanukkah experience of reaching the top of Masada, thanks to the Yad Sarah and Mangishei Derech organizations. One by one they were taken by cable car to the top of the national site.
Free programming training for women. Israel’s Ministry of Labor has launched a joint venture with She Codes, an Israeli organization promoting the inclusion of women into the tech industry. The three-year plan will establish 40 centers to provide free computer programming training for 4,440 women to work in the tech sector.
Three female IAF deputy commanders. Captain “Y”, an F-15 navigator, has been appointed the first female deputy commander of an Israeli Air Force combat squadron. She will be promoted to Major in the summer. Meanwhile, two other female IAF officers were appointed as deputy commanders of a squadron of drones.
Praying side by side. (TY WIN) EMT volunteers at United Hatzalah exemplify Israel’s inclusiveness.
Co-existence is flowing at SodaStream. Nice article on Israel’s SodaStream, highlighting the excellent relations within company’s multi-ethnic workforce. For example, the 22-year-old Bedouin female team leader who supervises two Bedouin men, a Palestinian Arab, a Jewish woman and a Russian.
Multi-faith delegation from Bahrain. (TY Zev) A 25-member Bahraini delegation made a 5-day visit to Jerusalem to talk about peace and coexistence. The group included Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, Christians, the leader of a Hindu temple and a Sikh. It was led by Betsy Mathieson, a British ex-pat, now a Bahraini citizen.
Israel promotes UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. UN Development Program rep Roberto Valent said, “The UN is very happy that Israel is advanced in not only its own actions towards the SDGs implementation, but in also providing a platform for others in the areas of gender, gender equality, education, and especially in innovation.”
Israeli NGO saves Ugandan villagers. Villagers in Akuyam, Uganda, hadn’t eaten in three days when Sivan Ya’ari and her Innovation: Africa staff visited them in February. They organized an emergency food relief mission and implemented a water-pumping project to raise the long-term standard of living of the village.
Zambia to host first Africa-Israel Summit. Zambia is to host the first ever Africa-Israel Summit in 2018, according to Zambia’s President Edgar Chagwa Lungu. President Lungu flew to Israel to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and accepted his request for Zambia to host the summit.
Disaster training for the Philippines. (TY TIP) A Magen David Adom (MDA) delegation recently went to the Philippines to train instructors for emergency medicine teams on dealing with mass casualty incidents. The Philippines has suffered natural and man-made disasters, requiring highly skilled medical and rescue forces.
Technion Institute opens campus in China. I reported previously (Jan 2016) that Israel’s Technion had laid the cornerstone for its new research center in the southern Chinese city of Shantou. The Guangdong Technion Israel Institute of Technology (GTIIT) is now open and ready to educate some 3,000 students.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Israeli tech in AR headsets. I’ve reported previously (see here) on the Augmented Reality (AR) optical engines developed by Israel’s Lumus. Now Taiwan’s Quanta Computer is to manufacture AR headsets with the Lumus technology inside. The product is expected to be on the market by mid-2019.
The carbon footprint of freight transport. I reported previously (several times) on Israel’s Freightos, which is making international freight transport easier and cheaper. Freightos also makes it eco-friendlier by providing a CO2 footprint calculation on every quote. Customers can then choose the route and mode (air, train, ship etc.).
A refund if prices drop after you purchase. Most people aren’t aware that their credit cards or favorite retailers have price protection policies when products get discounted after purchase. Israeli startup and app Earny tracks the prices of products online and claims refunds for its users when prices of past purchases drop.
The solar energy valley in the desert. The Ashalim thermo-solar power station in Israel’s Negev Desert covers 988 acres with 28,000 tons of steel. With an adjacent thermos-solar plant and 2 nearby photovoltaic plants, they will provide some 300MW of electricity daily into the National Grid – 2.5% of the current total.
Kids use tech to solve real-life problems. “PICO kids” is a program for two thousand children at 31 Jerusalem schools. Mentored by 80-plus university students and local entrepreneurs, they build useful devices, do lab experiments, program computers and use 3D printing and robotics to help (e.g.) the disadvantaged.
A bottle designed for breastmilk. The award-winning, Israeli designed and manufactured Nanobébé bottle is said to be the first baby bottle designed to preserve essential breastmilk nutrients. The bottle works directly with an expressing pump, allows for quick and even cooling and warming, and provides easy and efficient storage.
Ultra-secure mobile takes on Messi. Israeli startup Sirin Labs is developing an ultra-secure mobile phone using blockchain technology. It has also hired Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi as its brand ambassador.
Turn your headphones into a biometric sensor. Israel-based startup Bugatone develops software that enables ordinary headphones to act as sensors. They can recognize you by your ears, take your temperature, start and stop playing music when you put them on or remove them, and more. Bugatone just raised $3 million of funds.
Bringing hi-tech to the building industry. The Israeli Government and the Israel Builders Association have teamed up with SOSA, a company that connects startups with investors, to set up the Construction Innovation Zone. Its aim is to bring new technologies to cranes, planning and building procedures, and infrastructure.
Israel plans to refill the Kinneret. To increase the level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) after a series of bad droughts, Mekorot (Israel’s national water company) will pump desalinated water back into the Kinneret from the Eshkol water filtration plant – the fourth largest facility of its kind in the world.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
The largest cut in tariffs since the 1990s. Israel is to abolish customs and purchase taxes on a wide range of products, including electronics, cosmetics and toys. It will remove about a quarter of the total industrial tariffs in Israel – costing around NIS 800 million a year.
November tourism up 24%. 355,900 tourist entries to Israel were recorded in Nov 2017, about 24% more than Nov 2016 and 70% more than Nov 2015. In the period Jan-Nov 2017, about 3.3 million tourist entries were recorded, a 25% increase on the same period last year.
87 foreign R&D centers since 2014. A total of 87 companies from 18 countries have opened offices in Israel since 2014 to pursue research and development or innovation, according to new report published by Start-Up Nation Central, a nonprofit organization that connects international businesses with Israeli startups.
European finance backs Israeli tech. The European Investment Fund (EIF), with Israel’s Bank Leumi, have renewed their program offering loans to small and medium Israeli tech companies. Leumi can offer up to $200 million, with EIF guaranteeing the funds as part of Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation program.
Microsoft’s new Israel campus. Microsoft has completed a lease for its new campus in Herzliya Pituach. The company will rent the 10-story 44,000 square meter Sea Tower building currently under construction. On completion, Microsoft Israel will relocate its staff from several Herzliya Pituach locations to the new building.
WeWork goes large in Shanghai. Co-working real estate company WeWork, led by Israeli Adam Neumann, has leased an office building in Shanghai, where in 2018 it intends to open its largest co-working space to date. The ten-story building covers 27,000 square meters.
Technical support at home within the hour. Israeli-founded startup Puls sends a technician within 60 minutes in response to a request to install or repair your electronic device. Accept the fixed price quote on Puls’ website and they dispatch one of 1300 freelance technicians to your home. Available in 43 cities in 22 USA states.
The fastest growing startup. Mobile ad startup YouAppi was the top company in the 2017 Deloitte Israel Technology Fast 50 list. YouAppi helps companies reach users through mobile ads and analytics, and has grown by 16,230 percent in four years. YouAppi’s platform is used by over 2 billion people.
Frutarom’s 11th & 12th acquisitions in 2017. Israel’s Frutarom has bought Poland’s Fabryka Substancji Zapachowych Pollena-Aroma, one of Poland’s leading producers of ingredients for the aromatherapy and natural cosmetics industries. It has also taken a 51% stake in Brazil’s savory solutions maker Bremil Industria.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Festival of Light meets Light Festival. Although the Jerusalem Light Festival took place at the end of June, this video of the event was released to coincide with Hanukah – the Jewish Festival of Light.
More historical stamps. (TY Jacob Richman) Dec 2017’s new Israeli stamps include Israeli submarines from 1959 to 1976, ancient Roman arenas in Israel and 20 years of Or Yarok (Association for safer driving in Israel).
Virtual Reality archaeology tours. Israeli startup Vortex has developed a virtual reconstruction technology that enables the public to “relive” momentous historical events in 360 multisensory (4D) fashion. Roman and Crusader period “ArchTour” simulations are available at Caesarea, Acre and Jerusalem’s Western Wall Plaza.
Ringo Starr to come to Israel. Ex-Beatle Ringo Starr – the one-time lovable mop-top drummer for the Fab Four is finally going to make his debut in the Jewish state, on June 23 and 24 at the Menorah Mivtahim Arena in Tel Aviv. He will become the second former Beatle to perform in Israel, after Paul McCartney in 2008.
THE JEWISH STATE
Birthright trips to Israel for 27 to 32-year-olds. (TY Janglo) For the first time since its founding, a limited number of Birthright Israel trip options for 27 to 32-year-olds will be introduced this summer in addition to the standard programming available for 18 to 26-year-olds.
Cycling from Metula to Eilat in 24 hours. On Chanukah, 11 cyclists lit candles in Metula on the Israel-Lebanon border and then cycled over 500km to Eilat to light candles the next evening. In doing so, they hoped to raise NIS 500,000 for Israeli emergency rescue charity United Hatzalah. Please help them if you can.
Police commissioner lights first Hanukkah light at the Kotel. (TY Leonie) Israel’s Police Commissioner Roni Alshich lit the flame for the first night of Hanukkah at the Kotel (Western Wall). He said, “The lighting of one Hanukkah candle creates and symbolizes the unity of the Jewish people. One nation with one heart.”
Mother and daughter discover lamp from Maccabean period. While hiking in the Beit She’an Valley, Ayelet Goldberg-Kedar and her 7-year-old daughter discovered a clay oil lamp dating to the Hellenistic period 2,200 years ago – when Hanukah hero Judah Maccabee fought against the ruler Antiochus IV Epiphanes.
Ancient menorah inscription recycled in Tiberias. An ancient seven-branched menorah inscribed on a large slab of basalt has been unearthed in Tiberias from a Crusader-era building built using the remains of mosque. The slab was originally the door of a 2nd to 4th century CE Jewish cemetery, used to build the ancient mosque.
Menorahs inscribed on early Islamic coins. Researchers in Israel have discovered menorahs prominently adorned on Muslim coins and vessels from the early Islamic period 1,300 years ago. Many 7th to 8th century CE Umayyad dynasty relics showing the seven-branched Jewish symbol are now being exhibited to the public.
Free trees for Jerusalem Christians. (TY Hazel) The Jerusalem Municipality continued its annual tradition of distributing complimentary Christmas trees to Jerusalem’s residents in celebration of the holiday. 150 trees were distributed on Dec 21, at the Jaffa Gate Plaza upon presentation of a valid ID card.
Publicizing the miracle. (TY Janglo) Rain in Jerusalem doesn’t prevent Jewish residents from displaying their beautiful Hanukiyot outside their homes. Specially made glass-fronted boxes help keep the flames burning in all weathers. And (TY Sharon) eight days of Hanukah are just not enough for Jerusalem.
Allenby enters Jerusalem. (TY Sharon) 100 years ago, General Edmund Henry Allenby entered Jaffa Gate, to end centuries of Ottoman rule. The historical event was marked by a re-enactment and the opening of a new Tower of David Museum exhibition, “A General and a Gentleman: Allenby at the Gates of Jerusalem”.