This Weeks Sanity Report from Israel Feb 4 2018
The highlights include:
- Israel’s emergency preparedness conference attracted 1000 from 35 countries.
- Israeli tech secured the funeral of the former King of Thailand.
- Tel Aviv University has started building micro satellites.
- An Israeli company is now saving water in 4 continents.
- A record number of Israelis will compete at the Winter Olympics.
- Archaeologists have found ancient building remains of the Kings of Judea.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Treatment for Fabry disease fast-tracked. I reported previously (Jan 2015) on the promising trials for the Fabry disease treatment PRX-102 from Israel’s Protalix. PRX-102 is currently in Phase III trials and has just been granted fast-track status by the US FDA. Fabry disease damages the kidneys and heart and has no cure.
How iron levels are maintained. Researchers at Israel’s Technion have uncovered the mechanism by which the body transports the essential protein ferritin around the body. Ferritin maintains iron levels in the red blood cells that bring oxygen to the brain. Iron deficiency is a major cause of many brain diseases.
Breakthrough brain device. I reported previously (4 times) on Israel’s MedyMatch, whose software gives more accurate assessments about strokes and intracranial bleeds. MedyMatch has now been granted Expedited Access Pathway and Breakthrough Device designation by the FDA for intracranial hemorrhage detection.
$18 million donation for Health Discovery tower. I reported previously (30th Apr) about the new 20-story medical research tower being built at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa. Now the Helmsley Trust is donating $18 million to the project and the building is to be named the “Helmsley Medical Discovery Tower”.
Recovery is in the balance. Israeli startup Bobo has developed a smart board that records, analyses and gives feedback to physiotherapists on a patient’s ability to maintain balance during rehabilitation following surgery or treatment. Trials in Hadassah Medical Center have proved Bobo’s usefulness and it is now heading to the USA.
Latest news on POP repair device. I reported previously (Aug 2016) on the minimally-invasive inter-uterine device from Israel’s POP Medical that repairs Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) affecting 50% of women. The FDA-approved NeuGuide is soon to undergo new trials in the US and Israel to build confidence and data.
Disaster training for 1000. (TY Nevet) The fifth IPRED international conference led by Israel’s Ministry of Health and the Home Front Command attracted 1000 emergency responders from 35 countries. It ended with a simulated mass-casualty exercise in Petah Tikva that received media attention from as far away as China.
New Center for Translational Medicine. Tel Aviv University is establishing an innovation center for translational medicine. The aim is to reduce the time for bringing a new treatment to market by combining academic research with clinical trials. Only afterwards will the treatment be licensed to a commercial company.
The first International Biomedical Informatics conference. In December, Israel’s Technion hosted the first international conference on biomedical informatics – where data collected by universities, hospitals and health funds is analyzed and the results used to adapt treatments to individual patients.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
US Second Lady supports Israeli creative arts therapy. US Second Lady Karen Pence’s champions Art Therapy and the Israeli PM’s wife Sara Netanyahu is a child psychologist. Both participated in a roundtable in Jerusalem with top Israeli creative arts therapists. (Seated on Mrs. Pence’s right is my wife’s cousin Dalya.)
Hi-tech scanning increases PA trade. Israel has implemented a new system for scanning cargo containers that will enable 200 containers to cross between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority each day – double the current number. The PA Economy Minister said it “will save exporters and importers a lot of efforts and costs”.
NASA honors Israel’s first astronaut. NASA honored the astronauts killed aboard shuttle Columbia 15 years ago, with a special musical tribute by Tal Ramon, the son of Ilan Ramon – Israel’s first astronaut. Tal recalled how his father’s spaceflight was “a huge thing” not only in Israel, but the United States as well. Also see video.
Cape Town starts water rationing. I reported previously (Jun 2016) that Israel had offered to help South Africa with its water management. Sadly, the government refused help and now residents of Cape Town are rationed to 50 liters per day. Worse, from April, they will have to stand in queues to get water.
Protecting Thai funeral. The Red Sky 2 drone defense system from Israel’s IMI Systems was operated for the first time by the Thai Air Force in October to protect the 250,000 attendees at the funeral of the former King of Thailand Bhumibol Adulyadej. The system intercepted and neutralized two unauthorized drones.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
A pen for dyslexics. I’ve reported previously (see here) about Israeli help for dyslexics. Now Israeli startup Wizcomtech has developed a reading pen that scans text and breaks words down into syllables using a digital voice. It then gives synonyms for the words to aid understanding and remembering.
An alternative to GPS. Israeli startup Hoopo has developed a geolocation estimation algorithm as an alternative to GPS. It uses low-power wide-area (LPWA) network data transmissions to generate a precise location. Hoopo has just received $1.5 million of funding.
Spirit of creativity. A short video showing just some of the technological innovations with which Israel is changing the world.
Simulating Mars in the Negev desert. A specialized structure simulating the Red Planet Mars’s unique environment is currently being built near Mitzpe Ramon in Israel’s Negev desert. Six Israeli astronauts will experience Martian conditions, communicating to the Rehovot control center via Israel’s AMOS 7 satellite.
Making the physical world searchable. (TY Israel21c) I reported previously (Sep 2013) about four Israeli startups providing indoor GPS-like location services. Now Israel’s Oriient provides visitors to megastores, malls, offices, hospitals and universities with better accessibility. No additional hardware needs to be installed.
CyberTech 2018 opens in Tel Aviv. Israel’s CyberTech conference (29-31 Jan) is the most significant gathering in the industry outside the United States. The 3-day event brought 15,000 attendees, 170 speakers and 120 companies to discuss challenges facing the cyber industry.
Building miniature satellites. Tel Aviv University has launched a new space exploration center focused on constructing 4-inch cube-sized satellites. A team of engineers will build the “CubeSats” in collaboration with university researchers. Costs are around $500k each compared to tens of millions for the current large satellites.
No flies on Orri Jaffa mandarins. Israel’s Plant Production and Marketing Board (PPMB) has announced the launch of Orri Jaffa, an easy peeler mandarin, fully protected using biological controls. To repel Mediterranean fruit flies (Medflies) Orri Jaffa farmers use natural baits and sterile insects to reduce fly populations.
Predicting car crashes. I reported previously (16th July) on one Israeli system that can predict and prevent car crashes. Now scientists at Bar Ilan University has also developed artificial intelligence-based crash prediction software using 13 years of car accident data. The technology will soon be tested by Israel’s traffic police.
IBM sets up its largest lab outside US. Multinational IBM has inaugurated a new cybersecurity laboratory in Beer Sheva – its largest outside of the United States. The lab will focus on researching systems to detect insider threats – one of the biggest current causes of data security breaches.
Construction begins on Israel’s most efficient power plant. Construction has begun of the 450-megawatt Israel Power Management (IPM) power plant at Be’er Tuvia. When complete in 2020, the natural gas-fueled plant will provide 3.5 % of Israel’s electricity at an efficiency rating of 60% – the highest in Israel.
Self-driving Cadillacs on Israeli roads. General Motors’ development center is carrying out trials on Israeli public roads of prototypes of Cadillacs with high-level autonomous driving systems. GM’s Super Cruise needs no driver intervention on high-speed roads, including overtaking, emergency braking, and moderate turns.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Highest hotel occupancy in a decade. Tourism to Israel is booming with hotel overnights by overseas tourists totaling 10.6 million in 2017 – 23% more than in 2016 and the highest since 2007. The nationwide hotel occupancy rate in 2017 was 67%, compared with 62% in 2016.
More flights from Canada. (TY Nevet) Canadian and Israeli Transport Ministers have signed an expanded air transport agreement that will allow designated airlines to operate up to 19 passenger flights per week between the two countries (up from 12). Air Canada and Air Transat are launching or increasing services from Montreal and Toronto.
$814.5 million raised by cybersecurity firms. Israel’s 420 cybersecurity firms raised a record $814.5 million in 2017 – a massive 16% of global investment in cybersecurity and 28% more than in 2016. There were 14 exits totaling more than $1.4 billion. Several major international security companies opened Israeli R&D centers.
Fund for AI startups. Jerusalem-based OurCrowd global equity crowdfunding platform has launched Cognitiv, a specialized $100 million global fund focused on early-stage companies in artificial intelligence (AI), deep learning, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and digital manufacturing.
Million-dollar startup competition. Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) is offering $1 million to the winner of “The New York Play” competition for startups wishing to move between New York and Israel. Specialty areas include AI, big data, cyber, fintech, mobile, storage, cloud tech, IoT, media, agritech and digital health.
A map of the Israeli retail startup scene. There are over 250 retail technology startups operating in Israel currently. Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), Nielsen Innovate Fund (NIF), Deloitte and The Shelf have published a map of the Israeli retail technology landscape, featuring the sector’s 100 “most promising startups.”
TaKaDu’s global expansion. I’ve reported previously (several times) about Israel’s TaKaDu and its water-saving systems for water utilities. It has acquired new customers in Australia and its first one in Vietnam. Meanwhile, its first US customer Knoxville Utilities Board is already showing major benefits. Inspiring video.
CollPlant to list on NASDAQ. Israeli human tissue repair company CollPlant is shortly to list on NASDAQ. Collplant uses tobacco plant DNA to develop and manufacture collagen-based regenerative medical treatments and bio-ink used in 3D printing of human tissues and organs.
$150 million for InSightec. Israel’s InSightec’s MRI-focused ultrasound (see here) is curing patients of tremors, prostate cancer and fibroids. It has just raised $150 million of funding.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
February events. This month, Israel offers Darom Adom (Red South) on weekends; Jerusalem’s Winter Noize festival on Mondays; the Eilat Chamber festival (7th – 10th); Red Sea Jazz festival (22nd – 24th) and the Tel Aviv Marathon (23rd) with 40,000 runners.
On-line exhibitions. Israel21c has made some alterations to its on-line exhibitions. Here are the new links to its “18 Ways Israel is Changing the World” and its new exhibition “The Guide to Hipster Israel”.
Starlings flock to the Holy Land. (TY United With Israel) Every Israeli winter, flocks of Starlings perform amazing displays (known as murmurations) across the skies of Southern Israel. Here they create beautiful and dramatic shapes in the skies above Sderot.
After the rains, the waterfalls. Beautiful photos of Israel’s spectacular waterfalls, boosted by recent rains.
The perfect sport for an Israeli. On 15th Feb, Israel’s A.J. Edelman will begin his participation in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. As Israel’s first-ever competitor in the skeleton bobsleigh competition, he joins nine other Israeli qualifiers (a record), which includes seven figure-skaters. Great videos.
The other Israeli Olympic athletes. Israeli competitors at the Winter Olympics include figure skater Alexei Bychenko – Israel’s best prospect for a medal. Others include speed skater Vladislav Bykanov, alpine skier Itamar Biran, and pairs skaters Paige Conners and Evgeni Krasnopolski
THE JEWISH STATE
11-year-old girl raises money for Puerto Rica. 11-year-old Israeli Meital Sterntha is halfway to raising $4000 to purchase 100 water filters for the citizens of Puerto Rica still rebuilding after devastating hurricanes. In honor of her Bat Mitzvah, Meital founded PuertoTiko, which hand-makes and sells textile bags to raise aid money.
Fulfilling a dream. Israeli cancer charity Ezer Mizion has a special program called “Fulfilling A Dream” that enables lonely, disabled elderly housebound people to choose an event they wish to experience. In this article two holocaust survivors (one 90, the other 99) are taken on the trips of their dreams.
70 orchards for 70 years. Between now (Tu B’Shvat – New Year for Trees) and the 70th birthday of the State of Israel, Israeli farmers aim to plant 70 new orchards each containing hundreds of fruit trees and vines. To join in the Mitzvah of planting fruit trees in the Land of Israel, please visit this site and watch the video.
Remains from the time of Judea’s Kings. After five years of excavations, Israel has inaugurated a Nature Park at Ein Hanya, near Jerusalem. Finds at the site include a column capital typical of royal structures from the First Temple era 2,400 to 2,800 years ago, and one of the oldest coins ever discovered in the Jerusalem area.
Aliyah “On Eagles Wings”. This week’s Torah portion includes the famous phrase “I carried you on the wings of eagles and I brought you to Me”. As this video explains, this links to the 1950s Aliya of Yemenite Jews in Operation Magic Carpet. But it also reverberates with every new immigrant who arrives at Ben Gurion airport.