This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel May 26 2019
The highlights include:
- Israeli scientists can protect the blood-brain-barrier to prevent brain diseases.
- Israelis are generating water from the air for Uzbekistan orphans.
- An Israeli rescue robot can fly over or drive through the roughest terrains.
- The Carmel Forest fires inspired Google Israel to develop a Crisis Response system.
- The EU has tripled its financial backing for Israeli startups.
- Eurovision was a big technological and PR success for Israel.
- 80 hearing-impaired children celebrated their coming of age in Jerusalem.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Dual therapy to treat neurological disorders. BGN Technologies, the technology-transfer company of Ben-Gurion University, has introduced a therapy for neurological disorders such as stroke and Alzheimer’s. Memantine and Losartan are combined to protect the blood-brain barrier from neurotoxic blood products.
Combining medicine with positivity. Sanofi of France has partnered Israeli-founded Happify Health to develop digital therapy solutions. Medicine nearly always works better when the patient is in a positive frame of mind. The partnership aims to generate new solutions combining treatments with mood improvement games.
Stroke prevention system expands to China. I reported previously (Oct 2016) on Israel’s Rapid Medical after the 500th aneurysm operation using its innovative Comaneci mesh device. Its products will shortly be marketed in China for the removal of blood clots from the brain. Rapid Medical has just raised $20 million of funds.
Simulation training for medical professionals. (TY UWI) 3D Systems acquired Israel’s Simbionix in 2014 but the Israeli R&D center is still the vital heart of the new company. It has developed a virtual environment where surgeons can get hands-on experience of new technology and new medical procedures.
Investing in precision medicine research. The Israel Science Foundation has awarded grants totaling NIS 60 million to the first 14 Israeli research teams in the Israel Precision Medicine Partnership. They are among the largest grants ever awarded to Israeli researchers by an Israeli body. https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israel-announces-NIS-60-million-investment-in-precision-medicine-research-590176 https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-fund-chooses-14-research-teams-in-bid-to-boost-personalized-medicine/
Heal yourself – hug a teddy. Research has proven the positive psychological effects of hugging. Since 2002, Israeli non-profit Healing Teddies has gifted about 37,000 teddy bears to cancer patients, trauma survivors and others. The patient is instructed to hug the bear for 10 minutes, three times a day to “activate” its abilities.
The full spectrum of healthcare. Israel’s Mixiii-Biomed 2019 conference in Tel Aviv focused on the “full spectrum of healthcare.” 6.000 delegates from 45 countries discussed clinical care from cure to prevention, as well as the importance of rehabilitation to quality of life. In addition, an exhibition featured 150 exhibitors.
The future for medicine is bright. Israeli VC fund aMoon Partners organized a summit near Jerusalem for health-tech startup entrepreneurs and investors pursuing futuristic technologies. Ideas presented included virtual doctors, crowdfunding for shared ailments and personalized “Waze-like” health maps. (See also JPost article.)
Genetic health screening. MyHeritage, the Israeli online genealogy and DNA testing company, is to offer customers a genetic health report. It will identify carriers of recessive genetic diseases, or the inherited BRCA gene or genetic markers for risk of so-called “polygenic” diseases, like heart disease and type-2 diabetes.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
The real stars of Eurovision. Israel’s very “special” Shalva band were unable to represent Israel at Eurovision due to the competition’s requirement to rehearse on Shabbat. But their performance of “A million dreams” during a break in the semi-finals was inspirational. And two Israeli TV channels catered to visually impaired.
Social network for signing community. SignTalk Foundation, a U.S.-based non-profit that promotes, fosters and advances public awareness of the deaf community, launched its online social network, SignTalkers, in Israel. New York-based deaf performer Douglas Ridloffv presented workshops and performances around Israel.
Jews and Arabs perform together in Acre. The annual International Festival of Classical and Andalusian Arabic Music is held in the Crusader fortress in Old Acre (Akko) and throughout the city. The opening night of the Arabesque festival features the Firqat El Nour orchestra of Arab and ultra-orthodox Jewish musicians.
The 6th best digital country for expats. (TY Janglo and Nevet) Israel came in sixth in the InterNations report of the best places in the world for Digital Life Abroad. Based on the latest Expat Insider survey, Israel rated 3rd for unrestricted access to online services (e.g. social media) and ease of getting a local mobile phone number.
New terminal for pets at Ben Gurion airport. (TY Janglo) A new 2,200 sqm terminal is set to open in 2020 at Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport. It will cater to the 80,000+ families traveling with pets annually.
Wounded UK soldiers in Israeli Veteran Games. Injured former UK service personnel and their families are shortly to participate in a 5-day Veteran Games event in Tel Aviv, to celebrate the vital roles sports and family play in rehabilitation. The initiative will include a conference on PTSD and mental health.
Makers for Heroes. (TY Sharon) 200 volunteers plus 19 wounded soldiers spent three days at the ReStart/TOM Make-a-thon in Tel Aviv. They developed non-patented devices to alleviate injuries for specific individuals that can then be mass-produced to help millions globally with similar injuries.
Water for Uzbekistan orphans. Watergen, the Israeli startup that produces clean water out of air, has donated a GEN-350 mobile generator to provide water for over 120 children at an orphanage in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. The city experiences serious water shortages and was recently without drinking water for almost two days.
More Israeli aid to Venezuelan refugees. I reported previously (16th Feb) on the aid that Israel’s Ziv Medical Center was providing to Venezuelan refugees in Brazil. Israeli NGO IsraAID is also distributing relief materials and support to thousands of Venezuelans refugees in Cuculta on the Colombian border with Venezuela.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
US government award for Israeli cybersecurity. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s CyberArk has been named a US Government Security News (GSN) Homeland Security Award winner for the third consecutive year. CyberArk is the platinum winner for “Best Identity Management Platform.”
MIT partners seven Israeli academic institutions. (TY algemeiner) US MIT is working with Israel’s Technion, Weizmann, Hebrew U, Ben Gurion Uni, Tel Aviv Uni, Bar Ilan Uni, and Haifa Uni and institutes to to provide up to $30,000 funding for hi-tech projects.
Rescue robot can now fly. I reported previously (2nd Sep) that Ben Gurion University engineers had built RSTAR – a highly maneuverable search and rescue robot. Just months later, they have developed it into FSTAR – a robot that can transform from driving on land to flying as a quadcopter.
Gold in Physics Olympiad. The Israeli team won gold, silver and bronze medals in the Asian Physics Olympiad in Australia. Aviv Tillinger won the Gold medal and 4th absolute place, the highest award given to an Israeli yet in this competition. Israel hosts 80 countries for the International Physics Olympiad in July.
AI to assess vehicle damage. Israel’s Ravin uses computer vision and machine learning to detect and analyze vehicle damage. It turns standard CCTV cameras or smartphone cameras into smart inspection tools, detecting more damage than the human eye can spot, thus reducing inspection costs. Shell Ventures has just invested.
AI to fix your washing machine remotely. Israeli startup Veego uses artificial intelligence algorithms to develop products that when installed on gateway devices can automatically detect, analyze, and fix problems in smart home systems. Veego has just received financial backing from the venture arm of the Bosch Group.
Brewing the world’s oldest beer. Scientists at three Israeli universities (HUJ, TAU and Bar-Ilan) have brewed a beer using yeast found in the nano-pores of 5000-year-old beer jugs. Microbiologists sequenced the genome which a local brewer then used to make beer – the first time that alcohol has been made from ancient yeast.
Growing trees in sidewalks. Israeli startup Frizweed has developed the Treetube – a technological system for growing urban trees safely without damaging the sidewalks (pavements). Lightweight steel and plastic tubes are installed in a tunnel that keeps the tree roots in place and delivers all the nourishment the tree needs.
Google Israel made a crisis into a product. During Haifa’s 2010 Carmel forest fires, Google’s Haifa R&D center used police information to integrate emergency guidelines into Google Search. In 2017, Google’s crisis response product SOS Alerts was born. It has since helped alleviate 250 global natural and man-made disasters.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Israeli startup values are accelerating. A report by two law firms (Shibolet and Fenwick & West) shows that 89% of Israeli startups raising money in 2018 did so on higher valuations than in 2017. This compares to 81% in 2017. So not only are Israeli startups increasing in value, they are doing so at an increasing rate!
NIS 3 billion airport expansion. Israel’s Transportation Ministry has approved a huge expansion plan for Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport to handle an anticipated 30 million annual passengers. The NIS 3 billion scheme will add 90 check-in counters and 80,000 square meters of floor space, mainly at Terminal 3.
Europe increases backing for Israeli startups. I reported previously (Dec 2017) that the European Investment Fund (EIF), were guaranteeing loans by Israel’s Bank Leumi to Israeli startups up to a total of $200 million. They have now increased their guarantees to a total of $620 million as part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 program.
Next 10 startups for Barclays Techstars program. 10 Israeli fintech startups have been chosen to take part in the 2019 Tel Aviv Barclays Accelerator. In association with US-based Techstars, the intensive 13-week program will help the startups speed up the development of their technologies and bring them to market.
Mars wants Israeli food tech solutions. Mars Inc, manufacturer of M&M’s, Snickers, and Skittles, has partnered Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) to pursue innovative food tech solutions in Israel. Mars will back Israeli startups, plus work with Israeli academic institutions, such as the Hebrew U, Weizmann and Technion.
Insurance on the move. Israeli startup Voom (previously SkyWatch) began life offering on-demand insurance to the owners of drones. It has now expanded to include e-scooters, motorboats, and small planes. In fact, anything you can ride, sail or fly. Its mobile app sends real-time hazard warnings, feedback, and insights.
Israeli innovation in New York City. New York’s Yeshiva University has launched its new YU Innovation Lab in partnership with Yissum, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s technology transfer company. It will serve as an incubator for student entrepreneurs and a home for Israeli start-ups seeking to explore US markets.
Tel Aviv’s digital wallet pilot. (TY Janglo) Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality has launched a pilot project to examine using a “digital city currency”. Residents who spend at least NIS 20 five times at local businesses using the Colu app get a reward of 25 digital coins. A youth musical charity also benefits from each transaction.
SafeCharge exits for $890 million. Israeli-founded SafeCharge has been acquired by multinational Nuvei Corporation for $890 million. SafeCharge is listed on London’s AIM and specializes in payment processing, smart payment, and risk management technologies. It has a research and development center in Tel Aviv.
Ford to open Israeli innovation center. American carmaker Ford Motor Company is launching a Tel Aviv innovation center. In June, Executive Chairman Bill Ford (great-grandson of Henry) will lead a delegation of Ford executives to Israel to seek out Israeli technology covering AI, autonomous driving, and cybersecurity.
US AI Institute opens Israeli branch. Seattle’s Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence is to open an Israeli branch with an initial investment of NIS 30 million ($8.4 million). The Israel branch will be the institute’s first outside of the U.S. and will focus on natural language processing.
Florida’s “bi-partisan” trade missions. (TY Hazel) Florida’s Republican Governor Ron Desantis is leading 90 state leaders on a business development mission to Israel. Simultaneously, Florida’s Democratic agriculture commissioner, Nikki Fried. is in Israel seeking technology for agriculture, water, security and medicine.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Jerusalem Prize is her greatest achievement. (TY Sharon) Acclaimed US author Joyce Carol Oates made her first-ever trip to Israel to receive the prestigious Jerusalem Prize. The author of 60 novels, winner of the National Book Award and five Pulitzer nominations, called the Jerusalem Prize “the high point” in her career.
The best site at the Buenos Aires Book Fair. Israel’s booth at the Buenos Aires Book Fair was awarded the prize for Best Site in the “Countries,” category at what is considered the most well-attended book fair in the Spanish-speaking world. At the booth, Israel’s Orcam donated a device that helps blind people read.
The World’s largest Vegan food festival. The Sarona complex in Tel Aviv is hosting Vegan Fest – the “world’s largest vegan festival” from June 6-7. 50,000 attendees are expected to sample vegan options from 100 food stalls. The free event features live performances, workshops, lectures and children’s entertainment.
The real winner of Eurovision was Israel. Tiny Israel showed that it could host the largest music competition in the world. It put on a slick, polished, dynamic production on a fabulous stage. Tel Aviv’s Eurovision Village was a hive of activity all week and the positivity of the event resounded
Haredi woman wins Riga half-marathon. Beatie Deutsch from Jerusalem finished in first place in the Riga half-marathon in Latvia. Mother of five children, Deutsch began running only 3 years ago and is the first haredi person to win an international athletics competition. She is now training for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
THE JEWISH STATE
Israeli students plant trees in rocket craters. Students of the “Mietarim” academy in Nahal Oz, situated near the Gaza Strip, have initiated a new project in which they are filling craters created by rocket explosions with trees. From something bad, they are making something good.
Bar and Bat Mitvot for hearing impaired children. Eighty deaf and hard-of-hearing Israeli children had a joint bar and bat mitzvah ceremony in Jerusalem. Sponsored by the International Young Israel Movement and the Jewish Agency, they also visited the Western Wall, with the tour presented in sign language.
Become a digital ambassador. Applications are now open for the August 2019 – May 2020 paid internship of Israel21c’s Digital Ambassador Program. Students aged 18-25 enrolled in a North American university who want to do something for Israel can develop digital communication, journalism, and social media skills.
The Zionism of Herman Wouk. (TY IsraPundit) Most of the international media (Washington Post, New York Times etc) ignored Zionism in their summations of the life of writer Herman Wouk. Except that Zionism is what guided his life. Moshe Phillips’ article provides the facts.
Christian supporters of Israel, we thank you. I’m sure that this video is self-explanatory.