This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel Sept 1 2019
The highlights include:
- Israeli scientists have been able to prevent secondary cancer in the brain.
- A new Israeli anti-malaria vaccine requires no refrigeration.
- Israel’s MDA gave six-months’ first-response training to Arab-Israelis.
- Israel is helping extinguish fires in Brazil’s rainforest.
- Intel Israel’s new microchip can help computers reason for themselves.
- Europe is helping fund Israeli antibacterial coating to prevent infections.
- Sagi Muki is Israel’s first male World champion judoka.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Preventing secondary brain tumors. (TY UWI) Up to 40% of cancer patients develop secondary brain tumors shortly after surgery to remove a primary tumor elsewhere in the body. Researchers at Tel Aviv University have shown that an intravenous injection of CpG-C (synthetic DNA material) can prevent these metastases forming.
New research into age-related immune failure. In lab tests on aging and the immune system, biologists at Israel’s Ben Gurion University have profiled over 24,000 T-Cells. They identified that 30% deteriorate during the aging process and could establish new areas of medical intervention to prevent age-related illnesses.
Software to monitor cancer patients at home. I reported previously (see here) on Israeli startup Telesofia when it developed personalized medical videos. Now Israel’s Sheba Medical Center is to pilot Telesofia’s tele-medicine software for cancer patients at home to communicate with doctors about chemotherapy side effects.
Alzheimer’s treatment also benefits autistic children. Israeli researchers at Sheba Medical Center have found that a medication used to treat Alzheimer’s patients also has strong therapeutic effects on autistic children. 60 such children were given Donepezil and Cholin for six months and their language skills improved significantly.
US approval for blood pressure wristband monitor. Israel’s Biobeat develops wireless products (wristwatch and patch) to measure blood pressure, oxygenation, pulse, stroke volume and more. Both items sync data to the cloud, enabling remote monitoring. The US FDA has just given clearance to the combined products.
A stable vaccine for malaria. Malaria kills half-a-million people annually. In this “Weizmann in Focus” video, Dave Doneson explains that current anti-malaria vaccines break down in hot climates. However, scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute redesigned the protein RH5 to enable the vaccine to be stored at room temperature.
Hope for multiple myeloma patients. Thanks to Israeli discoveries and research, patients with the bone marrow cancer multiple myeloma are leading longer, better lives.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Israel’s first social-impact bank. I reported previously (Jan 2012) on the Israel Free Loan Association, now called Ogen (Hebrew for Anchor). It has provided over $300 million in interest-free loans to some 60,000 low- and middle-income families and small businesses. It will soon provide low-interest loans to even more Israelis.
Accessible tourism. Israel-based startup Travaxy offers tourism services for people with disabilities or special needs. Online you can book flights, hotels, wheelchairs, crutches, and other mobility aids that will wait for you at your destination, which currently includes Tel Aviv, New York, Amsterdam, Berlin, Barcelona and London.
Tech integration program for Haredim. Israel’s Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services is setting up a new program to help ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) Jewish students find jobs in international tech companies. It will offer scholarships of NIS 12,000 a year, help students seek potential employers, and provide guidance on acquiring essential workforce skills.
Jerusalem united in Shalom (Peace). (TY Sharon) Sharon recently took many photos of diversity in Jerusalem’s Mamilla Mall: Muslim women eating at the adjacent table and Arab families shopping in the Jerusalem mall. But her favorite photograph was of medical volunteers, published by United Hatzalah.
MDA trains Israeli Arabs. (TY UWI) Israel’s emergency service, Magen David Adom, concluded its first-ever first responder course for some 20 civilian volunteers in the Arab town of Taibe. The six-month-long course taught the necessary skills to be ambulance drivers and medical emergency responders.
Still saving Syrian lives. In 2013, Salman Zarka was head of the IDF medical corps, bringing Syrians wounded in their civil war back to Ziv Medical Center in Safed. Now, he is in charge of Ziv and continues to treat Syrians who come to the Israeli border in need of lifesaving medical interventions.
Israeli kids donate soccer jerseys to Kenyan kids. (TY UWI) Children from Israeli schools have donated 80 soccer shirts to children at four schools in Kenya. The Kenyans have just adopted The Equalizer program – an Israeli model of academic tutoring and soccer coaching for at-risk schoolchildren.
Training New Jersey first responders to cope with trauma. Israeli NGO Natal was formed in 1998 to help Israelis cope with trauma. But for the last 2 years, it has been training New Jersey first responders in the US to identify, prevent, and respond to work-related trauma – and how to train their colleagues in these skills.
Agreements with Ukraine. The visit of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to the Ukraine led to the signing of agreements on trade, hi-tech, agriculture, patents, education, culture, language study, sports and youth. Each country will open hi-tech centers in the other’s country.
Israeli delegation visits Chad. Israel resumed diplomatic relations with the Muslim-majority Republic of Chad in January (see here). An Israeli government delegation then visited Chad during the first week of August to develop business relations and cooperation on agriculture management and education.
Helping fight fires in Brazil. Israel has sent a fire-fighting plane and flame-retardant materials to assist the Brazilian Government battle fires raging in the Amazon rainforest. In April, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro became the first head of state to tour the Western Wall accompanied by an Israeli prime minister.
UN recognizes ELEM. Israeli non-profit ELEM helps at-risk youth reclaim their lives and become productive members of society through therapy, mentoring and assistance. ECOSOC (U.N. Economic and Social Council) has granted ELEM special consultative status on the matter of vulnerable young people.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Tel Aviv’s tech hub ranks 6th in the world. (TY Atid-EDI) Tel Aviv has more startups per capita than any other country. It ranked sixth in Startup Genome’s 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER). It was 2nd overall for cybersecurity and 3rd for Artificial Intelligence. Jerusalem also received an honorable mention.
Sustainable tech in the Israeli desert. Dry lands cover over 40% of the world and are home to 2.2 billion people. This video shows how Israeli technology is making such land suitable for growing crops.
A better bus service. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Optibus is used in over 300 cities worldwide to manage some of the most complex and large-scale transportation operations. It helps streamline operations while reducing congestion, emissions and costs. Optibus has just released a major multi-route planning enhancement.
Stopping killer trucks. Overweight trucks are a major cause of lethal road accidents, due to problems braking. Highway 6, Israel’s longest road, will be installed with a system that weighs trucks as they drive, without interrupting traffic. Trucks exceeding legal limits will be signaled to pull over and their drivers fined.
Intel’s reasoning chip. Intel’s Haifa lab has developed a microprocessor for computers to gain knowledge by inference – i.e. to reach conclusions that are drawn from evidence and reasoning. The Nervana NNP-I or Spring Hill chip is designed for large computer processing centers.
More efficient construction. Israel’s Versatile Natures develops an internet-of-things (IoT) system that provides an overview of construction sites and offers actionable insights to increase efficiency and avoid wasteful or non-optimal use of resources and tools. The Bosch Group has just led a $5.5 million investment
Printing electronics around the clock. (TY Atid-EDI) I’ve reported previously (see here) on Israel’s Nano Dimension and its 3D printing of electronic circuits. Nano Dimension’s new DragonFly Lights Out technology allows 24-hour continuous digital manufacturing (LDM) with minimal human involvement.
Packaging to cut food waste. I’ve reported previously (see here) on many Israeli food packaging innovations to reduce some of the 40% food wasted in shops and at home. Now Israel’s Ministry of Agriculture is to award a NIS 9.5 million grant, as part of a pilot program to promote pre-packaging of produce by retailers.
Waste not, want not. Another innovation to reduce food waste is the Israeli SpareEat app. Consumers buy discounted fresh leftover dishes or produce from restaurants, hotels, cafes, and supermarkets. Meanwhile, businesses make extra cash on food they could not otherwise sell.
Who has uploaded my video? (TY Atid-EDI) Israeli startup Videocites is an AI-based video tracking and analytics company. It uses proprietary video fingerprinting technology to track the use of a video either to protect it from piracy or to help analyze and boost its exposure.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Businesses spent $19 billion on R&D. 2017 data just published by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics shows that expenditure by businesses in Israel on research and development totaled NIS 66.5 billion ($19 billion). Over 100,000 people were employed full-time in R&D.
Securing systems for the US Navy. I’ve reported preciously (see here) on Israel-based cybersecurity company Checkmarx. It has just won a contract with the U.S. Navy to help it improve its software security and accelerate the development of secure software applications.
El Al to fly to Dublin & Dusseldorf. Israel’s national carrier El Al Israel Airlines is launching new routes from Tel Aviv to Dublin and Dusseldorf. The thrice-weekly services commence in May and June 2020.
Three more routes for Arkia. Arkia Israeli Airlines is launching new direct routes connecting Tel Aviv with Rome, Athens, and Prague. The twice-weekly services commence in September.
EU grant for anti-bacterial coating. I reported previously (see here) on the anti-bacterial coating for fabrics of Israel’s Sonovia when the startup was called Nano Textile. Sonovia has just been awarded a 2.4 million euros grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.
Porsche invests more funds. I’ve reported previously (26th Jan) on Israel’s road visibility chipmaker TriEye, and on previous investments by German car maker Porsche into Israeli auto-tech startups (see here). Now, Porsche has led an investment of £19 million into the Israeli startup.
Samsung expands R&D in Israel. Samsung has signed a 25-year lease on 9,000-square-meters of office space in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Town building. The six floors will accommodate 500 employees for the planned expansion of its research and development division in Israel. See here for Samsung’s many activities in Israel.
Instrument tutor has a 10 million audience. I reported previously (see here) on Israeli music education startup JoyTunes. Its main app Simply Piano has been downloaded 10 million times. JoyTunes now has more than 200,000 paying subscribers and has just raised $25 million to expand its product range.
Analyzing connections in Avis cars. (TY Atid-EDI) I reported previously (see here) on the partnerships that Israeli connected car data startup Otonomo has made with Daimler/Mercedes, Skoda and Jaguar/Land Rover. Now Otonomo is to help the Avis Budget Group streamline its connected car fleet.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Huge Israeli sculpture in China desert. The 7.2-meter high sculpture “Walking” by Israel’s Dina Merhav has been selected for the Minqin International Desert Sculpture Symposium 2019 to be installed in the Suwu Desert in Minqin, China. Her vast iron work was one of 46 chosen from 2,327 by 538 artists from 63 countries.
Jerusalem film school in top 15 again. Prestigious US magazine, Hollywood Reporter, has named the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem in its annual list of top 15 best international film schools. It is the third consecutive year the magazine has included the Sam Spiegel.
Whiskey bar and museum. I have visited Sarona Tel Aviv’s Whiskey bar and museum and admired the more than 1,000 whiskey / whisky bottles on display. ILTV recently brought their cameras to show viewers the impressive collection. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Smg_FfY8UY
Tel Aviv is the most dog-friendly city. Tel Aviv has one of the highest dog-to-person ratios in the world. This new video, made to coincide with International Dog Day, will hopefully inspire dog-lovers to come to Israel.
Judo World Champion. Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won the gold medal in the men’s under-81 kg class at the World Judo Championship finals in Tokyo, Japan. He is the first male Israeli athlete to receive the top prize.
Clean sweep at World Windsurfing championship. Israeli teenage boys won all the top medals at the RS:X Youth Windsurfing World Championship in St. Petersburg, Russia. Eyal Yohay Zror won Gold, Daniel Basik Tashtash, silver and Reuven (Roy) Hillel, bronze. Naama Greenberg won bronze in the women’s division.
THE JEWISH STATE
Finding Jewish history under Jerusalem. (TY Sharon) Newsletter supporter and blogger Sharon visited the Sifting Project in Jerusalem’s Zurim Valley and experienced the excitement of discovering artifacts and remains from over 3,000 years of Jewish settlement in Jerusalem. She also photographed many of the city’s excavations.
Another huge Indian rally to support Israel. Following on from a similar event in Feb 2018 (see here), over 10,000 Hindus united in a major rally in Kolkata, India to denounce terrorism and show support for Israel. Flooded roads and bumper-to-bumper traffic prevented many more from attending the rally.
Aliya up by 29%. Immigration to Israel by Jews and their relatives rose to just over 16,000 in the first half of 2019 – an increase of nearly 30% compared to the corresponding period last year. Some three-quarters came from countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.
The last Jews of South Sudan make Aliya. (TY UWI) Happy ending to an amazing and traumatic 30-year journey for Suzi Makoriel and her 3 children. They finally arrived in Israel after being kidnapped in Sudan on the way from Ethiopia to Israel. After a 10-year separation, Suzy was re-united with her own mother.
Dates where once only desert. Moshav Naama is one of 21 communities in the Jordan Valley that produces Medjoul dates. 35 years ago, the whole area was desert. Then Jewish farmers used drip irrigation and purified wastewater to turn the valley into an oasis of date orchards, reviving a crop that thrived there in biblical times.