This Weeks Sanity Report from Israel Jan 28 2018
The highlights include:
- Israeli pancreatic cancer treatment shows positive results in just five days.
- Israel’s PM announces NIS 1 billion digital health project.
- Israel is top of the Middle East Freedom list – again.
- An Israeli app is helping the French public and police resolve crimes.
- Israeli tech is generating water from the air in India.
- An Israeli wireless charging system won an international award.
- At least nine major business deals signed during the PM’s trip to India.
- The US Vice President’s historic visit to Israel.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Good results in pancreatic cancer treatment trials. Israel’s BioLineRx has announced encouraging initial results from its Phase 2a trials of its BL-8040 treatment on patients with metastatic pancreatic cancer. After only five days of treatment the treatment substantially increased the numbers of T-cells fighting the tumors.
Melanoma treatment shows promise. When Israel’s BioLineRx bought UK’s Agalimmune, it also acquired its AGI-134 treatment for solid tumors. BioLineRX has just demonstrated successful results of AGI-134 in two pre-clinical melanoma studies.
Predicting and preventing PIE. Post Injury Epilepsy (PIE) occurs several months after a stroke in at least 10% of patients. Scientists at Ben Gurion University have been able to detect likely PIE sufferers using EEG (electroencephalographic) recordings of theta brain waves. Early treatment with medication can prevent attacks.
The gene that causes colon cancer. Israel’s NRGene has confirmed the identity of a genetic mutation that causes colon cancer in 60% of its hosts. NRGene was contacted by scientists at Stanford University and used its GenoMagic software to genetically screen the DNA of inherited colon cancer sufferers.
European approval for stroke analysis system. (TY Atid-EDI) Viz.ai has received the CE Mark for its Israeli-developed Direct-to-Intervention system, ContaCT, a novel approach to stroke care that automatically analyzes brain CT-scans and notifies a specialist that a suspected large vessel occlusion has been identified.
Personalized cancer treatment. (TY UWI and TIP) This video shows that Israeli doctors are saving lives of cancer patients by testing different treatments on samples of the tumors outside of the patient’s body. They can then determine the best cancer treatments to offer patients based on the success of the treatment.
Gene cancer therapy prepares to launch. Israel’s VBL Therapeutics has opened its new gene therapy production facility to manufacture VBL’s lead cancer therapy ofranergene obadenovec (VB-111), when finally approved. The Modiin gene therapy plant is one of the largest in the world, and the first in Israel.
An app to monitor the brain. Israel-based startup Montfort Brain Monitor won Israel’s Henry Ford Health System’s artificial intelligence challenge. Montfort’s “master app” uses a smartphone’s sensors to track a patient’s motor, cognitive, and affective activity. It can be tailored for the specific neurological disorder.
NIS 1 billion digital health project. In Davos, Israeli PM Netanyahu met with William McDermott, the CEO of SAP who agreed to partner with Israel on a new five-year NIS 1 billion digital healthcare project. The project aims to develop personalized and preventative medicine – regarded as a revolution in the health sector.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
The most free country in the Middle East. (TY UWI) Israel is the only free country amongst its Middle East neighbors, according to the latest report from Freedom House. With Turkey becoming “Not Free” and Tunisia about to lose its “Free” status, it is about time that the UN gave Israel due respect.
Volunteers give free roadside assistance. (TY Janglo) Echoing the Jewish principle that everyone is responsible for everyone else, Israeli organization Yedidim (Hebrew for “loved ones” or “good friends”) has over 6,000 volunteers ready to help drivers on Israeli roads. Especially useful during winter storms.
Special dog handlers. (TY Hazel) 20 members of the IDF’s “Special in Uniform” unit have graduated from the IDF’s dog handling program. They developed skills to direct, feed and exercise dogs and will now work on bases with guard-dogs, detection dogs and search and rescue dogs.
More Arabs at Israeli universities. (TY Hazel) Arab students made up 16.1 percent of Israel’s undergraduates in 2017, a 60% rise from 2010, according to the latest survey by Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE). They also constitute 13% of Masters’ students, double that in 2010. 41% of Haifa University students are Arab.
Projects to benefit Palestinian Arabs. The Israeli delegation to the UN’s Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) presented Israeli projects for the benefit of Palestinian Arabs. They include an improved cellphone network, an enhanced water supply system, a PA industrial zone in Tarqumiyah and water desalinization in Gaza.
Wounded Syrians received with Arabic greeting. A Druze Staff Sergeant from southern Israel is saving wounded civilians from Syria. “When I meet the wounded,” he says. “I just go up to them and say in Arabic, ‘Hi, my medical team and I are here to help you,’ and then just treat them.”
Powerful and innovative. U.S. News and World Report ranks Israel as the 8th-most-powerful nation based upon defensive strength, strong international alliances, and economic and political influence. Bloomberg ranks Israel as the 10th-most-innovative country based on spending on R&D and number of listed hi-tech companies.
And food secure. The United Nations ranked Israel 19th out of 180 in its 2017 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report on how well countries can feed their populations.
Hundreds of foreign students at TAU. (TY Atid-EDI) 370 international students are beginning the spring semester at Tel Aviv University – the most in two decades. They hail from the USA, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Greece, Panama and UK. The average age is 20 and 69% are female. Most are on TAU’s study abroad program.
Reporting crime in Nice. I included previously (Apr 2016) an article about Israel’s Reporty which forms the basis for an emergency video app used by Israel’s Magen David Adom. Now Reporty is being piloted by 2000 members of the French public in Nice to film and report crimes or incidents to the police.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Generating water in India. Israel’s WaterGen is launching a water generation pilot with India’s Tata. A joint entity in India will oversee local manufacture and installment of mid-size AWG (Atmospheric Water Generators) GEN-350G units.
Agriculture for good. Israel’s agricultural group Yakhin is joining with Israeli non-profit Tech for Good, to set up Yakhin Impact – an accelerator to mentor agri-tech entrepreneurs. It will help sustainable development start-ups develop solutions with the potential to transform agriculture in Israel and globally.
Saving Africa’s crops from going to waste. Israel’s Farmster links Tanzanian farmers to buyers for their crops even if they can’t access the Internet. They are given a simple SMS (texting) facility on their low-tech mobile phones and the buyers (who have smartphones and the FarmZee app) can quickly see what is available.
TAU’s Russian Intelligence ally. No, not a spy story. Tel Aviv University is partnering Russian tech company Yandex to provide courses in artificial intelligence (AI). The Yandex Machine Learning Initiative, will feature courses on machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing, computer vision, and robotics.
Boot camp for hi-tech developers. Muhammad Zahalqa, CTO of Experis Israel (part of Manpower group), came on ILTV news to explain how his company trains Israeli graduates for the hi-tech industry. In his words, turning them into “ninja developers” to help address the shortage of technical skills in the Startup Nation.
Smartphone case and selfie stick in one. Why carry your smartphone in one pocket and a selfie stick in another? That’s what the son of David Sherman, CEO of Israeli startup Stikbox, thought. The promotion video for Stikbox received nearly 10 million hits on Facebook and over 380,000 on Youtube.
Superfast Internet cable by 2020. (TY Janglo) A new sub-sea Internet cable will connect Israel with Spain in 2020 that will have 40 times more capacity than existing Internet cables. The new 7,700 km cable will reach Bilbao, Spain, where an equally powerful internet cable already connects Spain to the main Internet backbone.
Cutting energy costs for hotels. I reported previously (see here) on two Israeli startups with energy-saving solutions for hotels. Now Israel’s Vortex Energy uses sensors to compare a hotel’s internal and external temperatures to control heating and air conditioning systems. It can save up to 20% of a hotel’s operating costs.
Upgrading India’s optical network. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s ECI has been chosen by Idea Cellular Ltd (Idea), the third largest mobile operator in India and sixth-ranked in the world, to upgrade its optical network. Idea has nearly 200 million subscribers. ECI is a global provider of flexible network solutions.
WiFi charger wins CES innovation award. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (here) about Israel’s WiFi charging system Wi-Charge that charges mobile phones using infra-red beams in the ceiling lights. Wi-Charge received FDA approval in 2017 and won the Best of Innovation (Smart Energy Product) award at CES 2018.
Secure cashless payment. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s On Track Innovations (OTI) makes secure cashless payment solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, vending machines and petrol pumps. OTI’s UNO-8 (SATURN 8700) system has just been granted EMVCo Visa & Mastercard approval.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
More money for social causes. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s 2019 budget has just been approved. It includes large increases in spending on education ($18 billion), welfare ($13 billion) and healthcare ($11 billion).
Israel’s sustained growth. Ambassador Yoram Ettinger highlights Israel’s economic successes in 2017. Tourism up 24.6%; unemployment down to 4.1%; exports up 5% (despite strong shekel) to $100 billion; low inflation and debt to GDP below 60%. And Israeli startups raised $5.24 billion – up 9%.
Chinese tourism soars. (TY Hazel) In 2015 there were 47,000 Chinese visitors to Israel, which the Israel Tourism Ministry wanted to double by 2018. (see here) It has smashed that target already, with 113,000 Chinese visiting Israel in 2017.
Over 50 Israeli wineries exhibited. More than 50 Israeli wineries, together with international brands, were displayed in the “Sommelier 2018” exhibition in Tel Aviv. Israel’s largest annual wine event is normally just for industry professionals, but this year it opened to the public during the evenings.
Bringing leading-edge startups to multinationals. Israeli venture fund Jerusalem Venture Partners has launched JVP Play. It aims to connect Israeli startups, developing artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning solutions, with major retail and financial services such as Tesco, Microsoft, Barclays and Deloitte.
Schroders to open Tel Aviv offices. One of Britain’s largest investment management firms, Schroders plc, announced that it is opening offices in Tel Aviv in response to growing demand from clients. Schroders has been active in Israel for about a decade but has been working from its London headquarters until now.
Israeli AI firm becomes French. French e-commerce company Akeno has acquired Sigmento, an Israeli startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help online vendors better describe their products. The company plans to keep development in Tel Aviv with Akeno staff relocating to Israel.
More deals with India. In addition to the WaterGen – Tata pilot above, at least eight other projects began during the Israeli PM’s visit to India. They include Israel’s Phinergy and Ashok Leyland for energy from aluminum-air batteries. And the Israel Electric Company with Andhra Pradesh state, for critical infrastructure.
Israel’s SCD buys US Quantum Imaging. Another example of an Israeli company taking over a US firm. Israel’s SemiConductor Devices (SCD) (jointly owned by Elbit and Rafael) has bought Colorado’s Quantum Imaging, makers of short-wave Infra-red cameras. The aim is to strengthen SCD’s US activities.
An Israeli cybersecurity merger. (TY Atid-EDI) Hod Hasharon’s Allot Communications is to acquire Tel Aviv’s Netonomy, a developer of software-based cyber security for the connected home. Allot’s multi-service platforms are deployed by over 500 mobile, fixed and cloud service providers and over 1000 enterprises.
Palo Alto opens new Israeli R&D center. (TY Atid-EDI) Since acquiring two Israeli companies (Cyvera and LightCyber), Palo Alto Networks Israel has grown to 200 employees. Hence it just moved into new Tel Aviv offices – the only R&D site for Palo Alto Networks outside of its global headquarters in Santa Clara, California.
All-consuming geothermal energy. I’ve reported previously (12 times) about Israeli geothermal energy company Ormat Technologies. Ormat has just acquired US Geothermal for a “cool” $110 million. Acquiring US Geothermal’s projects in Idaho and Oregon significantly broadens and diversifies Ormat’s US operations.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Land of wine, film and art. The nonprofit Israel Innovation Fund (TIIF) develops innovative programs to feature Israeli culture through wine, film, and art. 250 attended TIIF’s “Wine on the Vine” project launch. TIFF supporter MK Michael Oren stressed the need to change the conversation to one about technology and culture.
New museum for iconic artist. A museum dedicated to the colorful works of world-renowned kinetic artist Yaacov Agam recently opened its doors in Rishon LeZion, the birthplace of the 89-year-old artist whose career has spanned 65 years. One of Agam’s works is the famous Dizengoff Square “Fire and Water Fountain”.
Tu B’Shvat events in Jerusalem. (TY Janglo) Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish new year of the trees, falls this year on January 30-31. Here’s a roundup of Tu B’Shvat related activities, from nature walks to mystical fruit seders.
Ex-England soccer coach re-energized. (TY Hazel) Former England soccer manager Steve McClaren feels “re-energized” after five months in Israel, assisting Jordi Cruyff (son of Johan) at Maccabi Tel Aviv. “Tel Aviv was beautiful. Modern, but with history, too. Mediterranean. Multicultural, fantastic restaurants, great beach.”
THE JEWISH STATE
How he saved his daughter’s life. When Yisrael Amar’s grandmother collapsed, he was so impressed by the response from United Hatzalah that he started its paramedic training course. One of his first lessons was how to treat a choking victim. Shortly afterwards, his daughter choked on some plastic and Amar knew what to do.
Welcome Vice President. (TY Sharon) Great scoop by my friend Sharon, of the red-carpet welcoming ceremony for US Vice-President Mike Pence with a military honor guard. US flags adorned main streets along the route of the Vice-Presidential motorcade and supporters outside the Knesset waved “thank you” signs. Sharon also captured his visit to the Western Wall (Final video is by Arutz Sheva)
The first US Vice President to address the Knesset. (TY Jacob Richman) On 22nd Jan, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made history as the first American Vice President to address the Israeli Knesset. His references included the end of the Shechechyanu blessing, which gives thanks for a significant event in one’s life.
What it means to be a Zionist – from a non-Jew. Despite being a non-Jew from a UK center-left political background, Luke Akehurst has made it his mission to teach people about Zionism, as he does in this video. Luke is Director of “We Believe in Israel”. To find out more and sign up, please visit their website.
When immigrating to Israel is a senior moment. Reasons retirees give for making Aliya include a view over the Mediterranean; or following the kids or grandkids; or fulfilling a dream. Whatever the reason, this article gives advice on how to get here. And the second article (TY Janglo) gives advice about retirement homes.
Israelis crack code to Dead Sea scrolls. Israeli researchers have finally decoded two of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in the 1960s. Believed to be written over 2000 years ago by a Jewish sect known as the Essenes, the scrolls revealed their 364-day calendar and four previously unknown festivals.