This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel Oct. 13 2019
The highlights include:
- First patient trials show new Israeli ALS treatment slows disease significantly.
- Surgeons have used Israeli virtual reality system to treat thousands of patients.
- Three typical Israeli examples of “extraordinary” life-saving events.
- Israeli food tech innovations include meatless meat and egg-free eggs.
- Israeli startups raised a billion dollars of funds last month.
- The first arrival of a Virgin Atlantic plane in Tel Aviv.
- Israeli conservation center is releasing 200 rare baby green turtles into the sea.
- How to enjoy the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) in Israel.
The Jewish festival of Sukkot (Tabernacles) celebrates Israel’s fruit harvest. The latest positive Israel newsletter includes many examples of the fruits of Israeli labor. Lives saved by new medical treatments, innovations and humanitarian activities; new vegan foods, successful startups, record numbers of tourists and reviving endangered species.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Positive results in human trial of ALS treatment. As reported (here) previously, the stem cell ALS therapy developed by Israel’s Kadimastem showed promise in the lab. Now, early results from human trials at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem show that it has significantly slowed down disease progression without major side effects.
Helping doctors focus on treatment. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Maverick Medical AI has developed software for reading patient notes to analyze chronic conditions and risk factors. US Health Systems (USHS), in partnership with Arizona Complete Health, is to deploy Maverick’s software within its organization.
Predicting high-risk cardiac patients. (TY Atid-EDI) As reported (here) previously, the algorithms of Israel’s Medial EarlySign detect disease early. Its latest algorithm identifies cardiac patients with a high risk of complications after hospital discharge following a Percutaneous Coronary Intervention (PCI) procedure.
Blocking bone cancer in children. Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have had promising results in the lab with experimental treatments for Ewing sarcoma – a bone cancer common in teenagers with a specific defective gene. Mifepristone – a glucocorticoid receptor blocker – stopped the cancer spreading to other organs.
Another early warning of Alzheimer’s. As reported (here) previously, there are at least two signs of the early advance of Alzheimer’s disease. Now doctors at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center have developed Clara – an AI chatbot that questions the patient and compares the answers to a baseline. It is 95% accurate.
New blood center takes shape. Excellent article on the progress of the new blood center being constructed in Ramle. It also describes why it is being built. Existing facilities are unprotected. And although they provide for Jews and all minorities, they were built for an Israeli population of 5 million – not the current 9 million citizens.
Revolution in the operating theater. (TY OurCrowd) As reported (here) previously, the Virtual Reality (VR) systems from Israel’s Surgical Theater are changing the nature of surgery. Now installed at 15 US hospitals, they have been used in thousands of life-saving operations. https://www.foxla.com/video/607973
Defending Israel’s health. The Rosh Hashana edition of the newsletter from the American Friends of Soroka Medical Center describes how medical staff at the hospital have saved many lives. It also describes opening the new Autism center, building new departments, Friends events in NYC, 2020 mission to Israel and much more.
Renewing the cycle of life. Israel’s Bio-Technology General (BTG) develops therapies for reproductive health, endocrinology (growth hormones), orthopedic (knee lubricant), ophthalmology and arthritic pain relief. BTG has just inaugurated a new production line to enable expansion at its Be’er Tuvia site.
NYC symposium – Breaking the Barriers of Brain Science. Three of Israel’s top brain scientists from Ben Gurion University of the Negev will be presenting at a symposium in New York City on Sun 27th Oct. Their subjects – Processing Face Recognition, Combating Autism and Treating Head Trauma. Tickets just $18.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Medic saves a life while 9-months pregnant. Oshrat Mualem is vice president of marketing at Radio Kol Baramaha and a volunteer paramedic with Israel’s United Hatzalah. She is also 9 months pregnant, expecting her sixth child. But she never hesitated when she had to save a young man electrocuted in a swimming pool.
Paramedic chief saves life of Arab woman. (TY Janglo) Eli Beer, President of United Hatzalah, was at Ben Gurion Airport on route to a fundraising event in London. Suddenly an 80-year-old Arab woman collapsed. Eli began CPR and called in other paramedics. The woman was taken to hospital and Eli comforted her children.
Helping youth at risk. As reported previously (May 2017) Shanti House in Jaffa provides temporary housing and long-term support for young people living on the streets. This new ILTV video reports that Shanti House provides some 116,000 hot meals every year and has helped 54,000 at risk youths since it started in 1984.
Acre Kibbutz promotes co-existence. (TY Diana) Newsletter subscriber Diana Bletter writes about the Educators’ Kibbutz in the Northern Israel city of Acre. Its aim is to change Acre’s image from a “mixed city” to a “shared city”. Acre / Akko has 50,000 inhabitants, mostly Jews, plus Moslems, Christians and Druze.
Ancient city uncovered. The Israel Antiquities Authority have unearthed a vast city, around 5000 years old, the largest ever discovered in Israel. in the Ein Iron area of northern Hasharon. Some 6,000 inhabitants would have lived in the 650 dunam city, which was built on top of an earlier settlement of around 7,000 years old.
Most promising startups. New York research firm CB Insights chose four Israeli companies in its list of Most Promising Global firms in Digital Health. Aidoc, Zebra, HealthIQ and MDClone were selected from a pool of 5,000 companies based on patents, investors, market, partnerships, competitors, team strength and tech novelty.
Doctors fly to Cyprus to save woman in labor. Doctors from Israel’s Sheba hospital saved a woman from Nicosia who suffered a major heart problem during childbirth. Within 7 hours, four heart specialists brought specialist equipment to Cyprus, stabilized the patient and flew her back to Israel where she is now recovering.
Armenia to open embassy ASAP. (TY Atid-EDI) Reflecting close bilateral diplomatic ties, Armenia has announced that it will open an embassy in Israel “as quickly as possible” – probably by early 2020. It would be the 90th foreign embassy in Israel. Some 11,000 Armenian Christians are full Israeli citizens (see here).
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Israel’s tech miracle. (TY OurCrowd) On the Armstrong Williams show, Jon Medved of OurCrowd mentions several Israeli innovations and gives reasons for Israel’s technical and economic success. They include turning curses into blessings, education, skills learned in the army, diverse immigrants and chutzpah.
How Israel can save our planet. AgriVest 2019 on 24th Sep in Tel Aviv hosted more than 750 participants, speakers, panelists, presenting companies, and sponsors. Israeli startups demonstrated how to grow more crops and more food with less land, less water, and less energy.
Global firms get a taste of Israeli food tech. Delegates from multinationals such as PepsiCo, Danone and Mondelez (Cadbury Oreo, Toblerone etc.) attended Israel’s annual FoodTechIL in Tel Aviv. 50 Israeli startups exhibited latest technologies in the food sector (including protein alternatives) to some 1500 participants.
Vegan substitute for eggs. One of the Israeli startups exhibiting at Tel Aviv’s FoodTechIL was Zero Egg, with its plant-based alternative for eggs. It tastes, looks and functions like a real egg. It can be used to make omelets, “scrambled egg”, cakes, pasta and sauces without using eggs.
Saving male chicks from slaughter. Previous newsletters (see here) reported on Israel’s EggDetect and TeraEgg which developed technology to prevent the hatching of 8 billion unwanted male chicks. Now there’s another – eggXYt which uses ultrasound to detect a potential chick male immediately after the egg is laid.
Replacing sugar with protein. High sugar intake is a huge health issue. At FoodTechIL Israeli scientist Ilan Samish of startup Amai Proteins (see here) demonstrated his hyper-sweet synthesized thaumatin protein. He has now adapted the protein for sweetening food and drinks in the high temperatures required by the food industry.
Detecting allergens. Israeli startup Allerguard is developing a handheld device that scans and analyzes vapors from prepared food to determine the presence of allergens (e.g. peanuts). Electrochemical sensors detect non-safe molecular levels of allergens using three technologies. Allerguard has just raised $1.5 million of funds.
More meatless meat. Israeli startup MeaTech is developing technology for bioprinting meat using stem cells. It expects to achieve a viable prototype within a year. Meanwhile, MeaTech has merged with Israel’s Ophectra Real Estate & Investments. https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3771407,00.html
Growing diamonds from methane. Israeli Benny Landa is the founder of Landa Digital Printing (see here). His latest venture is Lusix, which makes quality diamonds of up to 3 carats from methane gas. His machines bond carbon atoms to a diamond seed at 5000 degrees C. The product is chemically identical to a mined gem.
Wind farm for Serbia. (TY Hazel) Israel’s Enlight Renewable Energy has inaugurated its new 104.5 MW wind farm in Kovačica, Serbia. It is Serbia’s largest wind farm and will supply electricity to 68,000 households.
As reported here previously (see here) Enlight has built wind farms in Ireland and in Israel’s Golan.
Intel likes fast Israeli connectivity. (TY Atid-EDI) The transceivers and active optical cables from Israel’s DustPhotonics enable super fast connections between servers in data centers. DustPhotonics has just received $25 million in a funding round led by Intel Capital. https://dustphotonics.com/
EU funds for ransomware protection startup. Israeli cybersecurity startup Odix (registered as Operations & Data Integrity) has been awarded a 2 million euro grant from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program. Odix’s technology disarms different malware, including ransomware.
Getting accurate feedback. (TY Atid-EDI) Israeli startup Dooblo provides mobile survey software for the market research industry. Its SurveyToGo product reduces the cost of paper-based surveys but vastly increases quality. Dooblo is used in over 100 countries and has just received an investment from California’s Anacapa.
Einstein in Shanghai. “Albert Einstein: Life in Four Dimensions,” by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is currently showing at the World Expo Museum in Shanghai China. It includes handwritten documents, original pictures, personal objects and scientific theorems. The exhibition will move to Beijing at the end of October.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Over $1 billion raised in one month. (TY WIN & JNS) Israeli startups raised at least $1 billion of funds in Sep 2019 and are on track to beat last year’s record-breaking figure of $6.4 billion. The actual figure is even higher as some companies do not reveal investment data. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afs2noENzTA
US support for Israeli startups. (TY Nurit, Jacob & Jason) 18 Israeli bio-techs presented at an event in Beverly Hills, California. They have all benefited from the Merage Institute Leadership Programs for Israeli Life Science executives and the Elite Entrepreneur Organization – a global network of entrepreneurs.
Innovation week brings Israelis to Silicon Valley. Israeli NGO ICON organized its sixth annual Innovation Week in Silicon Valley, California. It was attended by some 450 delegates from around the globe. Non-profit ICON bridges the Israeli and San Francisco tech startup communities.
Successful Israeli companies merge. Israeli content distributors Taboola (see here) and Outbrain (see here) make billions of dollars by attracting Internet users to the websites of large on-line companies. Now they realize that they can be even more successful by working together – so they are merging. From startups to grown-ups.
Moving into more cities. As reported previously (Jun 2016) Israel’s Moovit has integrated its public transit app into Uber’s ride-sharing app. The partnership has now been extended into 15 additional cities globally, including Paris and San Francisco. Moovit operates in 3,000 cities and has over 500 million users.
Virgin begins London – Tel Aviv flights. (TY Janglo) Virgin Atlantic’s maiden flight from London Heathrow landed at Tel Aviv on 25th Sep. It will provide competition on the popular London to Tel Aviv route with El Al and British Airways as well as with low cost airlines easyJet and Wizz which fly from London Luton.
Scientific dynamo. Fascinating bio of Israeli cancer expert and entrepreneur Dr Aya Jakobovits. Founded Adicet Bio in 2014 and is still a Director. Co-founded Kite in 2010, selling it for $12 billion (see here). Exec VP of Agensys ($0.5 billion exit in 2007). Principle scientist at Abgenix (exited for $2.2 billion in 2005).
Eximo exits for $46 million. As reported (here) previously, Israel’s Eximo has developed a laser-catheter for treatment of peripheral artery disease (PAD). Eximo has just been acquired by US medical device company AngioDynamics for a minimum of $40 million. Development will continue in Israel.
Tesco to implement Israeli cashless checkout. After successful trials (as reported here), UK supermarket giant Tesco has decided to integrate the cashless checkout system from Israel’s Trigo. Tesco has invested funds in the Israeli startup, and will integrate Trigo’s technology into its app.
Unlocking trillions of debt. (TY Atid-EDI) As reported previously (Mar 2015) Israel’s FundBox lends money to small businesses who are struggling with their cash flow. The idea has caught on so much that FundBox has raised $326 million to enable its goal of releasing much of the $3.1 trillion locked up in accounts receivables.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Jerusalem biennale. At the Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art (10th Oct – 28th Nov) 200 artists from 15 countries will display their works in 12 city center venues. https://jerusalembiennale.org/
Jewish wedding contract designer wins global award. Israel’s Naomi Shiek of Woodland Papercuts designs beautiful, intricate paper ketubahs (Jewish wedding contracts). She was one of several winners of the very first international design awards by Etsy, the e-commerce site for handmade or vintage items and goods.
Hilarious solutions for everyday problems. Israel’s Shaul Cohen made around 50 unique “Israeli humor” objects as part of his degree course at Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. They include unusual snow globes, a talking seashell and a candies slingshot for bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.
Celine Dion heads for Israel. French-Canadian superstar Celine Dion will be making her Israel debut in Tel Aviv next summer. She is scheduled to perform on 4th August at Park Hayarkon as part of her Courage World Tour (named after her new album). She posted “See you soon Tel Aviv, Love, Celine” on her twitter page.
Windsurfer wins silver at world championships. Israel’s Katy Spychakov came second in the women’s RS:X Windsurfing World Championships on Lake Garda in Italy. It is the first Israeli medal at the global competition since 2014. https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-windsurfer-takes-silver-medal-at-world-championship/
THE JEWISH STATE
Reception for Ambassadors. (TY Sharon) Just before Rosh Hashana, Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin held a reception for the Ambassadors of all countries that have diplomatic relations with the Jewish State. Between the Ambassadors of Jordan and Egypt sat the President’s (Druze) Military Secretary Brig General Alaa Abu-Rukan.
Saving the green turtle. (TY Hazel) The World Wildlife Fund has designated green turtles as an endangered species. Israel began a breeding program in 2002 and the Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center at Mikhmoret beach has just released 60 of 200 hatchlings into the sea. In the coming years, this should increase to 1,000 per year
Torah and Technology. (TY Janglo) The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) has launched the first-of-its-kind Torah and Technology Research Center. With a unique combination of rabbinic scholars and engineering professors, it will provide the expertise needed to respond to today’s complex ethical and Halachic issues.
Re-building Jerusalem. (TY Janglo) The Jerusalem Municipality has approved part of the Kidmat Gonen Pinui Binui urban renewal plan in the Katamon neighborhood. It includes five high-rise apartment buildings, 998 affordable housing units, commercial areas, new public areas and upgraded public space.
The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). In Israel all you can hear is the sound of hammer against wood and metal as thousands of tabernacles (booths) are being assembled for the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). Here are some of the events and activities taking place in Israel during the seven-day festival.