This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel Nov. 17 2019
The highlights include:
- A new Israeli treatment successfully protected six severely ill sepsis patients.
- An Israeli emergency paramedic delivered 3 babies in 48 hours.
- Israeli heart surgeons saved 80 children from Gaza, Iraq & Syria.
- An Israel-designed solar generator is going to the International Space Station.
- Israeli scientists have a solution for wastewater formaldehyde contamination.
- You can now book direct flights from Chicago to Tel Aviv.
- Israel’s beautiful Hula Valley now has a hi-tech visitor center.
- Rockets don’t stop Israeli weddings.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Good results in sepsis treatment trial. As reported previously (see here) Israel’s Enlivex Therapeutics has developed Allocetra which rebalances the immune system. Allocetra was given to six patients suffering from severe sepsis at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. All survived. Many others with sepsis didn’t.
Amazing medical innovations. Great video by Naftali Hananya about Israeli medical innovations previously reported in this newsletter. It highlights nano eye drops to restore vision (see here); Savicell’s lung cancer test (see here); the multiple myeloma treatment XPOVIO (see here); and Relivion’s migraine headset (see here);
Teva launches anti-cancer treatment. Israel’s Teva is launching Truxima, a biosimilar for Rituxan – Roche’s oncology treatment. It is initially targeted at non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma patients but also could treat rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions.
Early diagnosis of autism. Professor Ilan Dinstein of Israel’s Ben Gurion University has developed a method of detecting children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) from the early age of 18 months. He tracks eye-movements of children watching films. ASD children have significantly more idiosyncratic gaze patterns.
Another discovery about memory. Researchers from Ben-Gurion University working with Spanish scientists have discovered that single-cell organisms such as amoebas are capable of developing memory capabilities. The breakthrough could help treat patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Seven joint UK-Israel medical projects. The British-Israel research organization BIRAX is granting funds of £2.8 million to seven, new, three-year bilateral scientific research projects in the field of ageing. These focus on vascular, brain and eye diseases, plus diabetes and involve precision medicine and Artificial Intelligence.
Sheba’s Innovation Center. (TY Stuart) Israel’s Sheba Medical Center has launched its ARC Innovation Center, with world-class medics plus top technology experts developing new approaches for treatment and rehabilitation. It is the first hospital in the world to provide a virtual reality rehab facility.
The robot will see you now. Israeli startup Diagnostic Robotics has developed an Artificial Intelligent Emergency Room triage robot that assesses the urgency of each patient to determine their priority in seeing a human doctor. The robot also provides the doctor with a preliminary diagnosis and recommendations.
Volunteer paramedic delivers 3 babies in 48 hours. Israel’s Issachar Weiss is a volunteer paramedic for Magen David Adom in the Tel Aviv area. He delivered one baby at 4:30am Sunday in Givatayim, another at 5am Monday in Bnei Brak and a third at 5pm Monday in Hatikvah Tel Aviv. It may be a new record.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Playschool for 3,000 on Gaza periphery. Just before Islamic Jihad began firing rockets against Israel, the Eshkol Regional Council bordering Gaza broke ground on a new safe playschool and learning center. Thanks to JNF USA and philanthropist Pastor Jentezen Franklin, it will serve more than 3,000 children from the region.
A Druze Arab Sheikh speaks out. (TY Avi) Druze Sheikh Salim Abu Salah tells of his hopes for the future.
Israeli Arabs are flourishing. (TY Hazel) Incredible article in Haaretz. Since 2007 Israeli-Arabs in high-tech increased 18-fold. Arab civil servants doubled to 11.3%. 15% of Israeli doctors are Arab. Israeli-Arab schools are receiving unprecedented levels of funding. And a third of new students at Israel’s Technion are Arab.
Israel helps diabetics everywhere. This video for World Diabetes Day on 14th Nov, features 4 Israeli innovations for diabetics. It includes the online site Sehatuna (Arabic for “our health”) where Israel’s Sheba Medical Center provides diabetes advice to patients across the Middle East including Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt.
Fixing children’s hearts despite no diplomatic relations. (TY Hazel) Doctors at the Edmond J. Safra International Congenital Heart Center at Sheba hospital have repaired the hearts of some 80 children from Gaza, Syria and Iraq during the past year. They were brought to Israel by Christian organization Shevet Achim.
Israelis win robotics medal and friends in Dubai. Israeli students won a silver medal at the First Global Challenge Robotics Olympiad in Dubai. Of the 191 countries competing, Israel finished the preliminary stages with the highest points ranking. It also won a special prize for its extraordinary assistance to other groups.
Israel & USA conduct cyber defense exercise. The IDF and US Cyber Command recently held their fourth Cyberdome exercise, preparing for attacks from hackers threatening the national security of both countries. The event constitutes part of the strategic partnership in cyber-security defense between Israel and the US.
Water from the air to Uzbekistan. (TY Hazel) Israel’s Watergen has signed a deal to provide thousands of its Gen-M atmospheric water generators to towns and cities facing water shortages in Uzbekistan. Each generator can make as much as 800 liters of water per day from moisture in the air.
South African President praises Israel. South Africa’s new President, Cyril Ramaphosa, recently expressed hope that his nation can emulate Israel’s approach to economics and technology. He saw Israel as a shining beacon of progress, incentivizing its citizens to innovate and create through special “challenge funds.”
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Israeli solar power for space station. (TY INN) NASA is set to send a prototype of an Israeli-developed miniaturized solar-power generator to the International Space Station. Designed by scientists at Ben Gurion University, it has been hailed as a “major step forward for commercial space missions”
Government tech investment. Israel’s Innovation Authority (III) is to pay up to NIS 2 million per year over 3 years to multinationals and Israeli startups to develop and implement specialized Artificial Intelligence (AI) training programs. It will also pay up to NIS 15 million to local institutional investors to recruit tech specialists.
Matching technology with art. TechnoArt is an Israeli Venture Capital fund and incubator. It set up a $5 million micro-fund and startup accelerator in 2015 that has launched Israeli startups Playit (event production) and Markers (connects advertisers with artists). It now aims to raise a further $75 million.
Fifty years of Technion Computer Science. Thousands of alumni celebrated the 50th anniversary of Israel Technion’s Computer Science faculty. Its scientists have invented the Zip compression algorithm, 3D camera technology, AI and computer learning innovations, cyber security protection and much more.
Thousands attend Tel Aviv next-generation drone event. (TY I24 News & UWI) Israel recently hosted the annual International Conference on Unmanned Vehicles. It attracted international leaders in the field to see Israel’s cutting-edge drone technology. And Israel’s Skylock has just sold an anti-drone system to Thailand.
Vegan honey. Students at Israel’s Technion Institute have developed synthetic honey that has never been near a bee. They manipulated the bacterium Bacillus subtilis in the lab to produce the same enzymes that occur in the bee’s stomach. Their innovation won gold at MIT’s international iGEM competition for synthetic biology.
Hydrogen is the fuel of the future. As reported previously (1st Oct) Israeli startup H2PRO extracts Hydrogen from water to generate a cheap, non-polluting fuel. A spin-off from Israel’s Technion, one of H2PRO’s main investors is Hyundai Motors. Here is H2PRO’s latest video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HP66wj1zdpY
Jerusalem R&D center for auto brake company. Rassini, a leading manufacturer of braking systems for GM, Ford, Toyota etc. is opening a research center at the Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT). Its aim is to help formulate future strategy. Rassini’s CEO said, “Israel is known as an epicenter for research and development”.
Constant checks for cybersecurity weaknesses. Israeli startup Pcysys develops cybersecurity software that enables enterprises to continuously test their network to detect security vulnerabilities. Automatic and self-learning, Pcysys has just raised $10 million of funds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hjK5HQV_IV0
Removing formaldehyde pollution. Cancer-causing formaldehyde is released in many industrial processes. Scientists from Israel’s Technion have developed a new process to purify formaldehyde contamination in wastewater. It combines an innovative absorbent clay with resistant bacteria discovered in the Negev desert.
Another award for deep learning chip. (TY OurCrowd) As reported previously (see here) Israel’s Hailo manufactures microprocessors designed to run AI applications. Having won a Red Herring award in June, it has now been recognized as a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Honoree.
Three promising “upstart” startups. There are 3 Israeli cybersecurity companies in “Upstart 100”, an annual list of 100 promising startups to watch by US business TV channel CNBC. Cheq uses AI to detect Ad fraud; Cylus protects railways (see here); and Silverfort develops agentless multifactor authentication.
Walking the dog – on a bike. (TY Ronnie) Israeli startup Malabi was founded by dog owners who happen to be Engineers. Their quality dog exercise equipment includes the innovative EasyRide – a dog biking leash that is safer for cyclists and more enjoyable for their dogs. Note the scenes from dog-friendly Tel Aviv.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
It’s getting easier. Israel leapt 14 places to number 35 in the annual World Bank survey of the ease of doing business in 200 countries. Israel even beat Switzerland in the process.
State of Arizona opens Israeli trade office. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey has announced the opening of a trade and investment office in Tel Aviv. Trade between Arizona and Israel totaled more than $460 million in 2018 – double that in 2010. Governor Ducey led the first ever Arizona trade mission to Israel in 2015.
Direct flights to/from Chicago. El Al has announced the launch of nonstop flights between Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion and Chicago’s O’Hare Airports from 22nd March 2020. The service will operate three times a week (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays) flying passengers on a 282-seat Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Amazon launches in Hebrew. On-line giant sales company Amazon has launched a new Hebrew-language interface. It comes with a limited time offer of free shipping to Israel for some 50 million “eligible items”.
Keeping more drivers alert. As reported previously (see here), Israel’s Eyesight Technologies is helping SEAT, LG Electronics, Samsung and Exsun keep drivers’ eyes on the road. Eyesight has just won a $15 million order to integrate its DriverSense software into two new car models of a “well known” US car manufacturer.
Crossix exits for $430 million. Israel’s Crossix Solutions provides data analytical marketing tools for the top 25 pharmaceutical companies. Its Safemine product helps healthcare companies plan, target and measure their marketing campaigns. Crossix has just been acquired by New York-based Veera Systems for $430 million.
Riskified becomes a Unicorn. Israeli fraud detection startup Riskified was reported here briefly previously (Feb 2016). It has just raised $165 million, valuing the company at over $1 billion. Riskified’s 2018 revenue surpassed $100 million and it is preparing to open offices in Shanghai to add to those in Tel Aviv and NYC.
Supporting farmers in 20 countries. (TY Hazel) Since Israel’s Agritask was last reported here (Jan 2017) it was improving farming efficiency in seven countries. That has now almost tripled to 20 and Agritask has just raised $8.5 million of funds to continue its expansion.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
More from the Jerusalem Biennale. (TY Sharon) As reported previously (16th Oct) the Jerusalem Biennale (“For Heaven’s Sake”) continues until 28 Nov. Here are some of the 17 murals painted by International street artists. Unlike other exhibitions, the art will be permanently displayed, leaving a lasting impression on the city.
Jerusalem – one of the world’s most beautiful cities. Flight Network included Jerusalem in its report of the World’s 50 most beautiful cities. The guide was compiled by more than 1000 international travel writers, travel bloggers and travel agencies. https://www.flightnetwork.com/blog/worlds-most-beautiful-cities-jerusalem/
UK newspaper recommends Tel Aviv. (TY Hazel) The UK Telegraph wrote a feature article recommending Tel Aviv “Why this Mediterranean city should be your next destination for winter sun”. It highlighted its marvelous coastline, a growing crop of culinary hotspots and a dynamic and buzzing nightlife scene.
Why not the whole country? (TY Hazel) Condé Nast Traveler ranked Israel 15th in “Top 20 Countries in the World: Readers’ Choice Awards 2019,” Four Jerusalem hotels appear in the “Top 15 Hotels in the Middle East”. Some 600,000 readers submitted comments for the 2019 awards.
Hi-tech visitor center opens in Hula Valley. Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper opened the Stephen J. Harper KKL-JNF Hula Valley Visitor and Education Center in Northern Galilee. It features the latest virtual reality, multimedia and interactive exhibits on bird migration and the restored Hula Valley marshlands.
Zero One. (TY Sharon) “Zero.One” (27-28 Nov) is a Digital Art Festival in Jerusalem which explores the connection between human artistry and technology. It centers on the connection between light and shadow, between past and future, between actual and virtual. The Tower of David will be covered in lights from 7pm.
Iron Maiden to perform in Israel. Heavy metal giants Iron Maiden have confirmed their first concert in Israel in 25 years will be at Tel Aviv’s Bloomfield Stadium on May 30th, with Israeli heavy metal band Orphaned Land opening the show. Iron Maiden has sold over 100 million albums and played over 2,000 concerts.
Jerusalem to host Euro U18 Athletics Championships. The European Athletic Association has chosen Jerusalem as the venue of the 2022 Under 18 European Championships for light athletics. Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor said it was an expression of confidence and support from European countries in the status of Jerusalem.
Record breaking marathon runner loves Jerusalem. UK’s Nick Butter has just completed a marathon in every country in the world. Due to concerns, he left Israel almost until last. However, Israel’s Daniel Pearlman (originally from the UK) helped organize Nick’s Jerusalem run and Nick was delighted with the experience.
THE JEWISH STATE
30 orphans celebrate Bat and Bar Mitzvot with Israeli President. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin hosted 30 children celebrating their Bat / Bar Mitzvah. All 30 had lost a parent who had been serving in the IDF. The President noted that they had grown up much quicker and that their event was celebrated by the whole country.
Nurse saved by stem cell donor. It’s personal stories that illustrate the amazing impact of Israeli bone marrow database organization Ezer Mizion. In this case, a medic finds herself on the receiving end of medical attention.
Don’t stop the weddings. Israel couples in Southern Israel continued with their weddings, despite rocket fire from Gaza terrorists. One even took place in a bomb shelter. And when Eurovision 2018 winner Netta Barzelai saw on TV that Efrat and Eliran were downsizing their Beersheba wedding, she rushed over to entertain them.