This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel Nov 24, 2019
The highlights include:
- Doctors can now repair knees using Israeli-developed artificial cartilage.
- Israel received a humanitarian award for its aid to Puerto Rica.
- An Israel-developed herbicide controls weeds by making them infertile.
- Israel’s good economic performance surprises all the analysts.
- Israeli fraud-detection software is popular with UK banks.
- Fifty baby gazelles have been born in Jerusalem’s urban nature park.
- The winner of Israel’s International Bible quiz is getting married to the runner-up.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Israeli-developed artificial knee cartilage. Israeli doctors performed the first commercial replacement surgery of the meniscus (knee cartilage) on two Israeli patients. Via a small incision, they each received the NUsurface artificial meniscus implant developed at the Netanya, Israel R&D center of US company Active Implants.
Positive results for Brainstorm’s ALS trial. As reported (here) previously, the stem cell treatment for ALS from Israel’s Brainstorm is doing well in trials. The latest Phase 2 trial of Brainstorm’s autologous bone-marrow derived MSC-NTF cells (Nurown) in 48 patients at 3 US sites was effective and well tolerated.
The first Hadassah accelerator graduates. Hadassah Accelerator, run jointly by Hadassah Medical Center IBM and the Jerusalem Development Authority, has graduated its first six med-tech startups. They are MyMilk, TuneFork, Deep Health, Neuroya, Ukappi and MDI Health Technologies.
New med-tech TV series. A US TV production team has been filming for a documentary series on Israel’s medical device industry. It will showcase the people and technologies that are saving lives around the world. The show, called “TrueFuture,” will feature Israel in eight to ten episodes in Series 3.
More Euro funding for virus / bacteria test. (TY UWI) The European Innovation Council has just added 2.5 million Euros to international funds that Israel’s MeMed previously received (see here) to roll out its test that distinguishes between a virus and a bacteria. Very timely for World Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov 18-24).
Let’s get loud. (TY Janglo) On October 15th, 2019, Koolulam collaborated with Israeli NGO ‘One in Nine’ to mark International Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 2,000 people got together in Tel Aviv to sing Jennifer Lopez’s hit “Let’s Get Loud” and celebrate life alongside breast cancer survivors, families and friends.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Ten years of empowering women. (TY Sharon) I’m always pleased to publicize (see here) the annual Jerusalem Temech Conference for its work promoting and supporting Jewish businesswomen and entrepreneurs. This year’s conference entitled “Unlock the Wealth” attracted a record one thousand participants.
Wheels of Love. Sharon’s recent blog on the Real Jerusalem Streets featured the Wheels of Love charity bike ride. It raised $2.5 million for ALYN which treats patients ranging from babies with illnesses needing constant special attention, to older persons challenged and needing special therapies due to accidents or illnesses.
Growing success for Arab-Jewish learning program. The Abraham Initiatives’ Shared Learning program has more than doubled its size, from 15 middle and high schools and 500 students last year to 40 schools and 1000 students today. It is Israel’s first nationwide broad and systematic language study program.
Ethiopian Airlines plane is named Tel Aviv. The name of one of the new Dreamliner planes ordered by Ethiopian Airlines is “Tel Aviv”. An eagle-eyed plane spotter noticed the name on the aircraft as it left the Boeing plant in Charleston, South Carolina. It was meant to be revealed in a ceremony at Ben Gurion airport.
Rhode Island governors. Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo recently led a delegation of governors on an economic and policy mission to Israel. It met entrepreneurs, policy experts and elected officials, to strengthen relationships with the State of Israel and build new partnerships with its business community.
Latinos give humanitarian award to Israel. SOMOS Inc is a charity working to help many of the 4 million Hispanics in New York State. But they took time in their annual conference to present Israel with the Humanitarian Leadership Award for its aid to Puerto Rica after hurricane Maria devasted the Caribbean island.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Engineering studies is the top choice. 18.4% of Israeli undergraduate students enrolled in engineering courses this academic year, making it the top choice for the second consecutive year. Engineering includes electrical and electronic, software, information systems, civil and mechanical and chemicals and materials engineering.
Israel’s largest gas power station. Israel is to build its largest private natural gas power plant, costing up to NIS 3 million. It will be constructed near the Sharon region city of Kfar Saba and will supply up to 1,300 megawatts, around 10% of the current capability of the Israel Electric Corporation.
Solar power from a parking lot. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel has nearly completed building the largest solar array on a parking lot in Israel and connecting it to the electric grid. Located in the Emek Hefer industrial park, it has a capacity of 130 kilowatts. Charging stations for electric cars have also been installed in the parking lot.
Water technology conference. WATEC Israel 2019 (Nov 18-21) is Israel’s premier water technology and environment control conference. Its focus this year was “Water Stewardship and Innovation – driving global leadership in the responsible planning management, and protection of water”. https://watec-israel.com/
Monitoring and securing hydrants. One of the innovative Israeli companies exhibiting at WATEC Israel 2019 was Hydrantech. It has developed a smart device for fire hydrants that alerts authorities to leaks, water theft or malicious attempts to penetrate a water supply. It also supplies useful data on water usage.
More on the Dubai Robotics Olympiad-winning Israelis. Last week’s newsletter broke the news of the Israeli team winning silver at the FIRST Global Challenge in Dubai. The team comprised students from Megiddo Regional High School in northern Israel. On returning, they showed their robot to the Prime Minister.
Amos-17 reaches operational orbit. The launch of Israeli communications satellite Amos-17 was reported here previously (20th Aug). It has successfully completed systems testing and reached its designated orbit point in space. Its owners Spacecom plan to begin commercial operations to Africa in the coming days.
Communicating on all frequencies. As reported previously, (7th July) the first cubesat satellite from Israel’s NSLComm was launched into orbit by a Soyuz rocket. CEO Raz Itzhaki says that NSLSat-1 is communicating at all frequencies: UHV, VHF, S-band and Ka-band. Improvements to the next two cubesats are in production.
Robots to inspect industrial machinery. Israel-based Kitov Systems develops artificial intelligence-based solutions to train robots for visual inspection of manufactured products. It has just signed an agreement with Japan’s Denso Corporation to install Kitov’s technology in over 100 of Denso’s auto mobility systems.
Smart traffic light timing. Israeli startup Axilion develops smart traffic light timing software capable of distinguishing between different kinds of vehicles and prioritizing public transportation. The technology is currently being used in Jerusalem to prioritize the city’s light rail. Axilion has just raised $6 million of funds.
Eco-friendly weed-killer wins $250,000. Israel’s WeedOUT has developed a unique formulation of weed pollen that makes weeds infertile. It eradicates weeds that have developed resistance to chemical hernicides. WeedOUT won Agrivest 2018 and now Radicle Challenge Israel with its $250,000 investment award.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Third quarter growth exceeds forecasts. Israel’s GDP grew at 4.1% in the third quarter of 2019, far in excess of the market’s 2.6-2.8% expectations, according to an initial estimate published by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The unexpected result indicates that economic growth is stronger than most analysts believed.
Another solution to hi-tech worker shortage. Most newsletter readers will know that Israel has vacancies for many thousands of hi-tech workers. It has computer training programs for Haredim, Israeli Arabs and even African migrants and Palestinian Arabs. Now it is seeking retirees who want to get back into the workforce.
Promoting tech innovation in Haifa. The Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), has selected the ILAB group including JVP and Mellanox to promote tech innovation in Haifa. ILAB will receive $25 million which it will match. ILAB will support 150 startups focusing on digital health, energy, environment and smart mobility.
Michigan State wants to buy Israeli tech. US State of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, visiting Israel, signed an agreement with Israeli Nonprofit Start Up-Nation Central to pinpoint Israeli technology that can boost the quality of life for Michigan’s citizens. Governor Whitmer also attended Israel’s WATEC conference.
BA upgrades Tel Aviv-London route. British Airways has crowned Tel Aviv as one of the most popular vacation destinations for 2020. It has also inaugurated a new aircraft, the Airbus a350-1000, on the Tel Aviv-London route. The Tel-Aviv London route is one of the first to use the new plane on a daily basis.
Business is an Adventure. Virgin Atlantic and Calcalist organized the recent “Business Is an Adventure” conference in Tel Aviv. Eco-friendly ECOncrete (see here) won the “Pitch to Rich” event to Richard Branson and a trip to London plus the opportunity to join Virgin’s startup accelerator.
More orders for electric planes. (TY Hazel) Israel-based electric-plane startup Eviation Aircraft (reported here recently) has signed up two more US customers for its pioneering commuter aircraft, taking the orders for “Alice” to more than 150 planes. Eviation’s CEO spoke at Israel’s “Business is an Adventure” conference.
Helping banks prevent fraud. As reported previously, (see here) Israel’s BioCatch is used to prevent fraud by top UK bank Nat West and seven tier-one banks in Brazil, Chile, Columbia and Mexico. This WSJ article reveals that the Royal Bank of Scotland also uses BioCatch’s behavior analysis to stop fraud.
A million new potential crowdfunding customers. Israeli venture capital crowdfunding platform OurCrowd is partnering with US investment bank Stifel Financial Corp. OurCrowd will offer crowdfunding opportunities to Stifel’s one million clients. Stifel will provide investment services to OurCrowd portfolio companies.
ECI Telecom exits for around $455 million. US-based Ribbon Communications is to acquire Israel-based telecommunications equipment supplier ECI Telecom for $324 million in cash plus shares worth another $130 million. ECI was founded in 1961. https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3773770,00.html
Frog becomes a Prince. Israel’s Netanya-based software startup JFrog has been reported (here) several times, but not when it raised $165 million last year. That transaction valued the company at $1 billion to award it the financial term “Unicorn”.
One of Israel’s biggest cheerleaders. Excellent bio and interview of Jon Medved – Founder and CEO of Israeli crowdfunding platform OurCrowd. He reveals that Israel is almost neck and neck with China in terms of an absolute number of AI (Artificial Intelligent) startups.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Digitizing 120,000 books. The “People of the Book” are aptly named. The National Library of Israel is working with Google to digitize 120,000 books from its extensive collection of Jewish texts and upload them to the internet for public use. 20,000 rare and fragile books will be scanned in-house, the rest in Germany.
New Israeli stamps. (TY Jacob Richman) New Israeli stamps issued in November feature Israeli-invented board games Rummikub and Taki, Ethiopian-Israeli Jews’ Sigd festival and Weizmann Institute’s 70th anniversary https://jr.co.il/stamps/index-2019.html
Things to do in Israel in December. December 2019 in Israel offers a great selection of events and festivals for all tastes, ranging from major cultural festivals to folk music festivals, and from comedy tours, to concerts.
“Hello” what happened to Lionel? I was wondering if reports of Lionel Richie coming to Israel were “Truly” accurate (see here), until I received notification from my local AACI organization that they were selling tickets for his 2nd March concert. Now, I’ll be crying “All Night Long”, because I’ll be in the UK that evening!
Soccer stars arrive. Terrorist rockets and threats didn’t deter the Polish soccer team from playing their Euro 2020 qualification match in Israel last week. The were rewarded with a victory. And then the Argentinian national team (including Lionel Messi) played an international friendly match against Uruguay in Tel Aviv.
Israeli wins ju-jitsu gold in Abu Dhabi. Israeli 17-year-old Israeli Alon Leviev won gold in the junior under 55kg category at the Ju-jitsu World Championship in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates. The Israeli national anthem Hatikvah was played and the Israeli flag was displayed.
Israelis win 14 medals at Euro Thai boxing championships. Israelis took home an astounding 14 medals, (4 of them gold) from the International Federation of Muaythai (Thai boxing) Amateur (IFMA)-EMF European Championships, in Minsk, Belarus. It included medals for the three Gordon brothers from Shiloh.
THE JEWISH STATE
US and Israeli firefighters work side-by-side. The U.S. Emergency Volunteer Project (EVP) trains U.S. firefighters and medical personnel, and then deploys them to Israel in times of need. The firefighters came to Israel in anticipation of high winds and dry conditions. When rockets from Gaza landed, they set to work.
IDF soldier meets Canadian he saved. In 2016 in the middle of his IDF service, Eitan went to donate his stem cells. Israeli NGO Ezer Mizion found he was a match for Jack in Toronto who was dying from bone marrow cancer. His donated cells saved Jack’s life. 3 years later Eitan flew to Toronto to meet Jack.
Better access to Cave of Patriarchs. (TY Janglo) The Cave of the Patriarchs (Machpelah), burial place to Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebecca and Jacob & Leah is to be made accessible to those who cannot climb the steps to the religious site revered by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Also, there was a free shuttle during Sukkot.
The Dead Sea is coming to life. (TY Ron) An amazing effect of the contraction of the Dead Sea is that freshwater sink holes have appeared. These have sprouted lush vegetation, attracted birds and even fish. “Water flows east into the Dead Sea. Fishermen will spread their nets to catch fish.”
A winning couple. (TY Janglo) Azriel Shilat won the International Bible Quiz for Youth on Independence Day 2018 after a tie-breaking round with Oriah Cohen. The 17-year-old finalists remained friends afterwards and last month Azriel “popped” the ultimate question to Oriah. They are now engaged to be married.
A heart attack is no longer a lottery. (TY Janglo) Mifal HaPais (the Israeli National Lottery) has invested NIS 5 million to install defibrillators at 600 lottery booths across Israel. They will be wirelessly connected to the Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency service in a bid to cut the incidences of death due to cardiac arrest.