This Week’s Sanity Report from Israel Aug. 16, 2020
The positive news from Israel is always remarkable, but this has been a truly historic week. Nothing can top the announcement of the forthcoming establishment of full diplomatic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. And it is possible that there could be similar news from other Arab countries in the near future.
In comparison, some “merely” exceptional Israeli news items include the installation of an Israeli aircraft safety system at Qatar’s Hamad International Airport; an Israeli hospital performing Phase 3 testing of the Russian Covid-19 vaccine; 3 new Israeli irrigation projects in India; Israeli electric vehicle charging systems for Europe and another major boost for Israel’s prospects in the Tour de France.
Thanks to Sharon Altshul of The Real Jerusalem Streets http://rjstreets.com/ for the photo of an outstanding floral display at Jerusalem’s Bloomfield Gardens.
The highlights include:
- An Israeli passive vaccine is saving critical Covid-19 patients.
- Israeli expectant mothers are being issued with a home ultrasound monitor.
- The United Arab Emirates is making peace with Israel.
- An Israeli device allows patients on ventilators to communicate.
- Israel is investing a billion Shekels to support the tech economy.
- An Israeli system is to recharge electric vehicles in Eastern Europe.
- Another top international cyclist has signed for Israel’s Tour de France team.
- An Israeli paramedic saved a life at his own son’s wedding.
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Covid-19 passive vaccine cures 3 Israelis. Three of the first critical Covid-19 patients treated with the new IgG plasma-derived “passive vaccine” product developed by Israel’s Kamada and Hadassah Medical Center (reported here previously), have made a rapid recovery and have now been discharged from Hadassah hospital.
Pluristem’s Covid-19 Phase 2 Germany trial. Israel’s Pluristem Therapeutics (reported here previously) has been approved by German’s health regulatory authority to conduct a Phase 2 clinical trial of its PLX PAD stem cells on 40 serious Covid-19 patients. Pluristem is already conducting a 140-patient Phase 2 trial in the US.
Previous TB vaccinations help young Covid-19 patients. Researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion and Hebrew Universities have found that vaccinations given against Tuberculosis (BCGs) in the last 15 years reduced death rates and infection rates in COVID-19 patients under 24 years of age. Data from 55 countries was analyzed.
Hadassah tests Russia’s Covid-19 vaccine. Professor Zeev Rotstein, CEO of Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, has revealed that its clinic in Skolkovo, Moscow is involved in clinical safety trials of the new Russian Covid-19 vaccine. Phase 3 trials are still ongoing, even while Russia’s President Putin inoculated his family.
The Israeli at Moderna’s vaccine project. This 30-minute video features Israel’s Dr. Tal Zaks – chief medical officer of Moderna, a front-runner in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. He summarizes the progress of the latest trial, and how his education at BGU’s Joyce and Irving Goldman Medical School shaped his career.
Approval to test treatment for advanced cancer. Israel’s KAHR Medical has received US FDA approval to begin Phase 1 & 2 clinical (human) trials of its DSP107 treatment of advanced solid tumors (reported here previously). The trials will assess DSP107 both by itself and in combination with Roche’s atezolizumab.
https://www.jpost.com/health-science/fda-gives-jerusalem-based-company-go-ahead-to-start-cancer-drug-trials-638355 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2NLNV3CB2U https://kahr-medical.com/technology/pipeline/
Stress relief pre surgery reduces metastatic risk. Tel Aviv University researchers reduced secondary cancer following colorectal tumor removal. Deralin and Etopan were given before and after surgery. 3 years later the cancer had spread significantly less than in a control group. Now pancreatic cancer patients will be tested.
https://english.m.tau.ac.il/news/cancer-stress (2017 trial on breast cancer patients)
Moses 2.0 launched. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel-headquartered Lumenis (reported here previously) has launched a superior version 2.0 of its Moses platform for minimal and non-invasive laser removal of urinary (bladder) stones and other stones. https://lumenis.com/medical/holmium-products/lumenis-moses-pulse-120h/
Home ultrasound for pregnant Israelis. Israeli healthcare provider Clalit, with 4.6 million Israeli members, has authorized the use of the PulseNmore home ultrasound device (see here) for expectant mothers. It will reduce numbers of unnecessary hospital visits (average two per pregnancy) during the Covid-19 pandemic.
From drip irrigation to diagnosing diseases. Kibbutz Hatzerim is famous for founding drip-irrigation innovator Netafim. It has now co-founded Picodya – developer of the B-Matrix in vitro diagnostics (IVD) platform. B-Matrix gives 15-30min test results for cancer, cardiac dysfunction and viruses (including Covid).
Signs of the times. The vital signs monitoring tool from Israel’s Binah.ai (reported here previously) is to be used by 4 Japanese companies. NTT Data – Health Data Bank; Alm’s MySOS – emergencies & new Covid-19 cases; Macnica Networks – monitoring Covid-19 re-infections; SOMPO – insurance policyholder checkups.
Canon partners Zebra. Israel’s Zebra Medical Vision (reported here previously) has partnered with American radiology system distributor, Canon Medical Systems USA (part of the Canon empire). Zebra’s disease analysis platform will be made available to many more locations across the United States.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Meal for Two. Israeli restaurants and the public are encouraged to join the “Meal for Two” initiative of Israeli charity Leket. Citizens donations are used by restaurants impacted by corona to cook a meal for needy Israelis.
4 Israeli women lawmakers. 33 out of the 120 Israeli Members of Knesset (Parliament) are women. 4 of the first-time female Knesset Members include the first female Ethiopian-born MK and minister, the first female ultra-Orthodox Jewish MK and minister, the first female Druze MK, and the first MK wearing a Muslim hijab.
Enabling Arabs & Israelis to do business. Israeli Jew Yosef Mahfoud Levi founded Insijam (Arabic for “harmony”). Levi was born to a Yemenite family and grew up speaking Arabic. He learned the Bedouin dialect and teaches Arab culture. Insijam establishes Arab-Israeli business & cultural channels across the Middle East.
Israeli runway protection for Qatar. (TY Atid-EDI) Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Qatar is to deploy the RunWize Foreign Object & Debris (FOD) detection system provided by Israel’s Xsight Systems (reported here previously). HIA is ranked as one of the best airports in the world and is Qatar Airways’ international hub.
Israel and UAE make peace. US-brokered talks have culminated in an historic teleconference between Israeli PM Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed where the two leaders agreed to a full recognition and peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. It includes embassies and direct flights.
Colombia’s Jerusalem innovation center. In a video conference with Israel’s Prime Minister, Colombian President Ivan Marquez announced his country is to open an innovation center in Jerusalem. A new free trade agreement has just come into effect between Israel and Colombia – South America’s third-largest economy.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Giving voice to the speech impaired. Israel’s VoiceITT (reported here previously) enables those with cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, ALS, stroke or other brain disfunction to speak clearly. VoiceITT has just completed a pilot with the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in the US State of Tennessee.
Enabling ventilated patients to communicate. Israel’s EyeControl (reported here previously) developed its eye-tracking communication for “locked-in” patients such as ALS or stroke sufferers. Now it enables ventilated Covid patients to “speak”. The EU has just given it a $2.5 million grant from its Covid-19 Pilot Program.
Vegan toddler food is certified organic. (TY Atid-EDI) The novel, plant-based complete nutrition product for toddlers from Israel’s Else Nutrition (reported here previously) has now received the key USDA Organic certification. The product will now be launched in the US and is also available from its new e-store.
Autonomous taxis for Asia. (TY Atid-EDI) Jerusalem’s Mobileye (reported here previously) and Asian transportation giant WILLER are partnering to develop an autonomous robotaxi service in Japan, Taiwan and across Southeast Asia. Testing in Japan is targeted to begin in 2021 with plans to launch the service in 2023.
Truly international development. Israel’s PerceptionBox helps startups and medium-sized businesses build their development teams, sourcing the best of 100,000 personnel from countries all around the world. It is essentially a matchmaker between visionary entrepreneurs and skilled, remote-working IT professionals.
Quantum Machines is a Cool Vendor. Israel’s Quantum Machines (QM) has been named a Gartner Cool Vendor in the June 2020 Cool Vendors in Quantum Computing report. QM’s platform enables an entirely new approach to controlling and operating quantum processors, capable of running the most complex algorithms.
Protecting Israel’s precious water. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Waterfall Security Solutions (reported here previously) has deployed its Unidirectional Security Gateways to protect the Shafdan wastewater treatment plant – Israel’s largest treatment plant, producing high-quality irrigation water for Israel’s agricultural industry.
Automatic security updates for your apps. Israeli cybersecurity startup Adaptive Shield offers companies its solution to completely automate control of the security of their SaaS applications, like Zoom, Salesforce and Office 365. It configures those apps to protect them from cyber-attacks that can lead to data breaches.
Lasers combat Gaza arson balloons. (TY WIN) Israel’s Light Blade laser defense system, developed by Ben Gurion University, was deployed for the first time to target incendiary balloons and kites from Gaza, which have started countless fires in Israel. Light Blade (“Lahav Or”) has an effective day/night range of 1.2 miles.
Award-winning security. Israel’s Perimeter 81 currently serves 1,000 enterprises, including Fortune 500 companies. Its innovative secure network as a service has won international awards, including Info Security’s Global Excellence, Frost & Sullivan’s Technology, Cybersecurity’s Breakthrough and Gartner’s Cool Vendor.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Retraining unemployed for tech. The Israeli government’s Innovation Authority (IIA) is setting up a fund dedicated for programs that retrain unemployed workers for R&D positions in the high-tech industry. The fund consists of NIS 7 million up to end 2020 and NIS 20 million for 2021 and prioritizes underrepresented Israelis.
A billion shekels to stimulate tech economy. Separate to the new IIA fund, the Israeli ministries of Finance and Employment published a NIS 1.1 billion plan to encourage investments and employment in the Israeli technology and industry sectors. The plan is part of the NIS 8.5 billion aid package to accelerate the economy.
Government backs social lender. Non-profit Ogen (reported here previously) is to distribute loans backed by state guarantees, as part of a push to help businesses struggling with the coronavirus pandemic. The guarantees enable Ogen to raise additional lending funds from philanthropy, impact investors, and institutional investors.
Swiss backing for Israeli innovation. Swiss biotech giant Roche and Israeli Venture Capital fund aMoon are to launch an early-stage investment program named “StarFinder Digital Innovation Lab.” It will support 3 Israeli Life Science startups for 3 years with annual investments, mentoring, contacts and offices.
Charging electric cars in Eastern Europe. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s Driivz (reported here previously) has been selected by Budapest-based energy company MOL to manage its electric vehicle (EV) charging network. MOL operates chargers in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Romania.
Another 3 Indian irrigation projects for Netafim. Israel’s drip irrigation pioneer Netafim (reported here previously) has won an $85 million contract for another three irrigation projects in India. This time they will benefit 35,000 farmers in Karnataka state, southwest India.
4G for Latin America. Gilat Satellite Networks has won several recent contracts including $10M for a 5-year project servicing half a million people in rural Latin America (see link below). Others include a US Tier 1 mobile operator, Africa Mobile Networks, a leading Mexican mobile operator and Telefonica in Argentina.
The right size for online shoppers. (TY Atid-EDI) Israel’s MySize (reported here previously) has opened a new subsidiary in Moscow to meet the growing demand for its online measurement solutions. MySize recently expanded its operations in France and is doubling its size recommendations every month (now over 1 million).
Cereal paradise. A new restaurant bar “Lulu & Co” has opened in Rothschild Boulevard Tel Aviv, serving mainly breakfast cereals. It offers many all-time childhood favorites, plus toppings such as hazelnut cream, salted caramel and marshmallow. Lulu plans to add new cereals each month, plus cereal-based ice creams.
Another year for the Bubble. The Israeli transportation ministry has approved Via’s ride-sharing 10-seater van shuttle service “Bubble” (reported here previously) for an additional period of one year. Via’s passengers book rides in and around Tel Aviv through an app, specifying their desired pick up and drop off locations.
An app to manage your personal finances. A new Israeli app called FamilyBiz allows families to manage their finances and set budgets and goals during difficult periods. FamilyBiz consolidates in one place data from banks, credit cards, insurance companies, investments, and more, aiming to be the “Spotify” of financial tools.
Gong becomes a Unicorn. Israel’s Gong.io (reported here previously) has just raised $200 million, giving it a market value of $2.2 billion. Gong says its keyword speech recognition technology for sales conversations “gives Gong some tailwind” in the current situation. “The interest in Gong has gone through the roof”.
Investment in Israeli startups: Gong.io raised $200 million; Perimeter 81 raised $40 million; Picodya raised $10 million; EyeControl raised $7.5 million; Adaptive Shield raised $4 million; env0 raised $3.5 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Sail-in movies. We all know about “drive-in” movies. Now Tel Aviv is launching Israel’s first “sail-in” movies. From Aug 22-28, an open-air cinema at the boating lake in Hayarkon Park will show 8 movies to DigiTel Resident Card holders, floating in 70 boats at least two meters apart in front of a large screen.
The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem. Israel’s Yes Studios has begun production of a new period drama “the Beauty Queen of Jerusalem”. Set in early to mid-20th century Jerusalem, the “colorful, passionate and tragic series interwoven with Judeo-Spanish traditions…” stars actors from Israeli successes “Fauda” and “Shtisel”.
Beyoncé wears Israeli outfits for “Black is King”. (TY UWI) Beyoncé’s visual album Black is King features the mega star wearing Israeli designed clothes. They include those of two established Israeli designers – Alon Livne and Shahar Avnet, plus recent Shenkar College graduate Avy Amram.
Israeli team gears up for Tour de France. (TY Arutz Sheva) Israeli cyclist Guy Niv tells I24 News how Israel’s Startup Nation cycling team is preparing for its first Tour de France. Meanwhile, top Canadian cyclist Michael Woods has just signed with the Israeli team to join Chris Froome, who has won the race 4 times.
THE JEWISH STATE
Shining a light on life in Judea. 2nd and 1st century BCE oil lamps excavated in and around Jerusalem were different to lamps from that time found in other Middle East countries. Researchers from Bar-Ilan University have suggested that Jews in the Hasmonean period wanted to keep their identity separate from the Hellenists.
Canadian Philanthropy. Canadian philanthropists are funding Israeli education and cancer research. The Goodman family is funding scholarships for Ethiopian Israelis and the Shapiro family is funding scholarships for IDF veterans. The Soyka Foundation is supporting the Hebrew University and Sheba Medical Centers.
100 years of loving Israel. Another Canadian philanthropist, Marcel Adams (born Meir Abramovici), passed away nine days after his 100th birthday. He survived Nazi labor camps and Israel’s War of Independence. He funded brain research at Tel Aviv University and Israel’s Academy of Sciences and Humanities. A great story.
Saving a life at his son’s wedding. Dr David Kupferberg volunteers for Israel’s emergency NGO United Hatzalah. But he did not expect to have to go into action at his own son’s wedding. Shortly after the chuppah, one of the female guests had a major allergic attack and the mother of the bride pulled him from the dance floor.
“Operation Home” brings Jews from Mexico. A first-of-its-kind charter flight from Mexico carried 50 Mexican Olim (immigrants) to Israel, plus 150 Hanoar Hatzioni graduates. Dubbed “Operation Home,” the flight also carried dozens of Israelis who had been stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic.