Innovations in Life Sciences; Dispensing sterile gloves; Innovation cities; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Astonishing vaccination results
Over 50% of all Israeli citizens have now received at least one Covid-19 vaccination, with 3 million (nearly one-third) having had both. The Pfizer vaccine is shown to be 95.8% effective in preventing new Covid-19 infections and nearly 99% effective in preventing serious illness.
Breakthrough in fighting resistant myeloma
Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have overcome the resistance of the most aggressive forms of multiple myeloma. In a trial of 41 patients at 15 Israeli hospitals they discovered that Cyclosporin A neutralizes the disease’s resistance to cancer-killing proteasome inhibitors.
Blood cancer treatment trial succeeds
Israel’s Gamida Cell (reported here previously) published the results of its Phase 3 trial of omidubicel (previously NiCord) in blood-based cancer patients. The treatment resulted in faster blood count recovery, fewer bacterial and viral infections, and fewer days in the hospital.
Innovations in Life Sciences
On 2nd Mar, the JNF is hosting a webinar featuring Israeli and US innovations in the Life Sciences. It includes the Chief Scientific & Medical Officer Prof. Dror Mevorach of Israel’s Enlivex Therapeutics – developer of COVID-19 “cure” Allocetra. Registration required; donations are welcome.
A healthier alternative to antibiotics
Tel Aviv University researchers have developed a biological antibiotic derived from human monoclonal antibodies, as an alternative to traditional chemical antibiotics. The antibodies were taken from a recovered tuberculosis patient and were shown to kill TB bacteria – still a major global issue.
Just one drop of blood
Ben Gurion University researchers have invented a miniaturized micro-electrode sensor that accurately checks clozapine levels in a tiny sample of blood obtained by a simple finger prick. Clozapine treats schizophrenia but the sensor is the basis for monitoring many other chemical levels.
Unique medical approval for a wristwatch
Israel’s CardiacSense has received the European CE Mark for its medical-grade wristwatch that continually measures heart rate and arrhythmias. It is the first time an official regulator has approved such a device. CardiacSense has distribution agreements worth some $100 million.
Calm in a pandemic.
Israeli-founded Dendro Technolgies and its Calmigo handheld device (reported here previously) are helping to make life less stressful for those struggling to cope in a coronavirus world. The US Veterans Administration is giving Calmigo free to veterans and the IRS have even approved it as tax deductible.
Off the hook
Surgeons at the Baruch Padeh Medical Center near Tiberias saved the eye of a fisherman who accidentally speared himself with his own fishhook. The delicate operation included cutting the hook, releasing the eye tissue and repairing the eyeball. The doctors were optimistic of restoring full visual function to the eye.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Free food with your vaccination
Tel Aviv municipality is providing pizza, hummus and cholent as incentives for vaccinating. Other offers included a voucher for a free drink at the bar for those showing proof of vaccination.
Vaccinating all survivors
The Claims Conference is partnering United Hatzalah to ensure that all of Israel’s 11,000 homebound Holocaust survivors receive their Covid-19 vaccine. The Claims Conference is investing NIS 5 million in the project to pay for the transport of all survivors to and from the vaccination centers.
Keeping an ear on the vulnerable
Israel’s Sensi.ai offers “fly on the wall” security monitoring for the elderly and vulnerable who are looked after by caregivers. In the event of a mishap, Sensi delivers a voices-only record of care sessions, ensuring oversight for care agencies and peace-of-mind for family members.
Arab medics find love at corona testing site
Several months ago, Magen David Adom volunteers Walla Tamimi and Ahmad Qarut began working shifts together at the corona testing center in Jerusalem. Last week, Qarut proposed to Tamimi at the precise spot where the two met. Qarut thanked MDA for its role in the match.
Cyber training to protect India
Israel’s Cybint (reported here previously) has partnered IIT Jodhpur WhizHack Technologies to help Indian students earn an Advanced Certification in Cyber Defense. The new 480-hour, six-month course just launched will help India combat a huge increase in cyber-attacks during 2020.
Pipeline to Egypt
Egyptian Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Tarek El Molla came to Jerusalem to sign an agreement to connect Israel’s Leviathan gas field to the Liquefied Natural Gas facilities in Egypt. He discussed joint energy projects with Israel’s Prime Minister and visited Leviathan with Israel’s Energy Minister.
Global sustainable award in UAE
Swedish-Israeli wave energy developer Eco Wave Power (see here previously) won the public voting for the Global Innovation Award in the “Life Under Water” category at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Eco Wave Power generates clean electricity from ocean and sea waves.
Equatorial Guinea to move embassy to Jerusalem
President Teodoro Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to say it is moving its embassy to Israel’s capital where it will join the USA and Guatemala. Kosovo and Malawi have also announced plans to open embassies in Jerusalem.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Campus satellite launches into space
TAU-SAT1, Tel Aviv University’s first nanosatellite, launched into space from Virginia, USA on its way to the International Space Station. When placed into orbit TAU-SAT1 will conduct several experiments, including measurement of the cosmic radiation around the Earth.
(lecture about the satellite, followed by launch)
Center for Artificial Intelligence
Tel Aviv University has launched its new Multidisciplinary Center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Science (DS) to train the next generation of researchers and industrialists in the sophisticated and complex world of deep science. The center was launched during TAU’s annual AI Week.
Dispensing sterile gloves
Israel’s IGIN Tech (part of AIDOR International) has launched a smart machine that automatically fits disposable sterile gloves onto your hands in less than 5 seconds with no waste. Designed by Israel’s Geomatrix, it is suitable for hospitals, food preparation facilities and more. Many smart control features.
Dispensing full PPE uniforms
Israel’s Polytex dispenses clean uniforms and collects used ones in a fully automated, hands-free system. More than 3,000 Polytex machines have been installed in 20 countries.
Vaccine delivery by drone
Israel’s Gadfin (reported here previously) is preparing its drones for delivery of COVID-19 vaccines by fitting them with a vaccine delivery-compliant compartment that can maintain minus 80° centigrade for up to three hours. Gadfin’s goal is an all-weather “railroad in the sky”.
Light up your workout
Israel’s Blazepod (reported here previously) is now being used by some 300,000 athletes in 120 countries since its launch in mid-2019. Ideal for home workouts, BlazePod’s “Flash Reflex Training,” uses small LED “pods” that blink in eight colors to guide your exercise routine.
Preventing Avian flu
Israel’s eggXYt uses a gene-editing platform to develop genetic resistance in chickens against avian influenza. eggXYt (reported here previously) has also developed an ultrasound egg check that spares male chicks from being hatched. MIT selected eggXYt for its Sustainable Food Systems Challenge.
Simulating physical stores online
Israel’s ByondXR is helping Coca-Cola, Target, Lancôme and other major brands and retailers to re-create the physical shopping experience for customers, but on the Internet. It immerses the customer and brings stores to life virtually.
Beating bad bots
Israel’s PerimeterX defends web businesses with Bot Defender, Code Defender, and Page Defender. It says it proactively managed threats to $100 billion of e-commerce revenue in 2020.
VeryGoodNewsIsrael on zoom
This newsletter editor gave his first-ever zoom presentation “Good Times, Better Times” last week, focusing on some of Israel’s groundbreaking technological innovations. Luckily, the recording doesn’t reveal his shaking legs!
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Huge surge in job openings
The OurCrowd jobs index at the end of 2020 shows its Israeli portfolio of companies has seen a 400% increase in vacancies from six months earlier. Software engineers are most in demand.
Israel’s Interior Ministry and Peres Center for Peace and Innovation has selected Eilat, Beit Shemesh, Netanya and Sakhnin to join the Hazira innovation program to benefit municipal economies. They join Bat Yam, Ashdod, Acre and the Western Negev Regional Cluster, which have already launched projects.
European VC giant makes first Israeli investment
EQT Private Equity, the giant European Venture Capital fund, has invested in its first Israeli company – cybersecurity startup EVC. EVC’s flagship product, Hyver, uses advanced algorithms and graph modeling to assess an organization’s security, as well as third-party vendors.
Fashion retailer launches tech accelerator
Israeli retailer Fox-Wizel has launched Fox Labs, an accelerator for companies and entrepreneurs that are active in the retail-tech sector. It is seeking startups to invest in, partner with and that can test and implement technology, solutions and products in the chain’s 800 stores.
Milk and Honey is a winner
Israeli single malt whisky distiller Milk and Honey (reported here previously) has won Whisky Magazine’s Craft Producer of the Year in the category Icons of Whiskies Rest of World 2021.
The first Israeli bank digital wallet
Israel’s Bank Hapoalim has launched its new digital wallet, allowing customers to pay at stores by simply touching their smartphone to the checkout device. Bank Leumi and Israel Discount Bank, plus supermarket chains Shufersal and Rami Levy are also said to be developing digital wallets.
7th Israeli acquisition for Palo Alto Networks
Silicon Valley cyber powerhouse Palo Alto Networks has bought its seventh Israeli company. It is paying $156 million for Israeli cybersecurity startup Bridgecrew (reported here previously) which only emerged from stealth (secret development) in June.
More protection for Europe
Germany has signed an agreement to protect its fleet of Leopard 2 tanks with Rafael Advanced Defense Systems’ Trophy active protection system. The system (called me’il ruach, or “windbreaker,” in Hebrew) is designed to protect armored vehicles from anti-tank missiles and rocket fire.
Investment in Israeli startups:
CYE raised $120 million; Gamida Cell raised $75 million; Personetics raised $75 million; Pliops raised $65 million; PerimeterX raised $57 million; Lusha raised $40 million; Redefine Meat raised $29 million; Atera raised $25 million; Nanit raised $25 million; EquityBee raised $20 million; Galmed raised $18 million; accessiBe raised $16 million; Oribi raised $15.5 million; Theator raised $15.5 million; SecuriThings raised $14 million; FundGuard raised $12 million; SuperSmart raised $10 million; Mirato raised $9 million; Acumen raised $7 million; anecdotes raised $5 million; Bio-Fence raised $3.8 million; GOTO Global raised $3.5 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
The museums are open again
Many of Israel’s world-famous museums have just re-launched. The Israel Museum had activities for Purim with free entrance for children. See links below for other exhibitions.
Israel’s eco-friendly Fashion Week
For the first time ever, Israeli Fashion Week (28 Mar – 1 Apr) will spotlight designers who focus on sustainable manufacturing and production processes. It will feature 40 of the top designers who use recycled textiles and have a sustainable vision.
Bringing Israel home
Israeli-born chef and restauranteur Michael Solomonov is famous for the Israeli cuisine at his award-winning Philadelphia restaurant Zahav. He has now launched “Bringing Israel Home,” a new 16-part web series on Vimeo where he chats about Israeli cuisine, plus what he misses about his home country.
A red carpet of flowers
Every February, a burst of red anemones totally transforms the dusty landscape of the Negev Desert. Click on the video to see the brilliant red carpet of anemones spread out as far as the eye can see.
Snow and light in Jerusalem
A blanket of snow covered the Jerusalem streets in mid-Feb. The streets were full of sounds of excited children, many seeing and playing in the snow for the first time. Ironically at the beginning of that week it was warm enough to walk barefoot through the streets of Jerusalem.
One singer has all 8 top songs
For the first time all eight places on the Apple Music chart of most listened to songs in Israel are held by one Israeli singer – Omer Adam. He released a song each day from his new album, called simply “8”, with each gaining enormous popularity.
Russian-Israeli makes tennis history
Israeli-raised tennis player Aslan Karatsev reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open in his first Grand Slam tennis tournament. He eventually lost to tournament winner Novak Djokovic, but his ranking soared to world number 42 (from 253) and he also won $850,000.
Gold for Israeli judoka
In an electrifying 20-second victory, Israeli judoka Timna Nelson Levy won the gold medal at the Tel Aviv Grand Slam in the women’s under 57-kg class.
Iranian judoka arrives to a hero’s welcome
Iranian judoka Saeid Mollaei fled Iran after refusing to avoid Israeli opponents. Saeid represented Mongolia at the recent Tel Aviv Grand Slam and won a silver medal.
THE JEWISH STATE
Israel’s 105-year-old Air Force Colonel
105-year-old Alex Ziloni was promoted to the rank of full Colonel in honor of his vital work to help establish Israel’s Air Force. In 1948 he secretly purchased 21 Auster planes from Britain, despite an embargo and the UK’s military support for the Arab forces.
Returning to their roots
A Holocaust survivor, her daughter and her grandchildren are formally returning to Judaism. The grandmother was born at the end of WW2 and brought to Israel at the age of two. In her teens she married an Arab, as did her daughter. All 3 generations went to a Rabbinical court to officially register as Jews.
302 Ethiopian immigrants and one sick boy
Israel briefly opened Ben Gurion Airport to welcome 302 new Ethiopian immigrants. All went into 14-day quarantine, apart from one six-year-old boy who was transferred to hospital for planned emergency heart surgery.
You know it’s time to make Aliya when…
Emma was about to return home to the USA after having to cut short her yearlong Israel experience due to the pandemic. At the boarding gate at Ben Gurion Airport, she broke down crying. On Dec 30 she returned to Israel with 47 other Americans on the final Aliya flight of 2020.
Vaccination for the Kotel
The stones of Jerusalem’s Western Wall are receiving injections, with medical-like syringes. Each 2000-year-old stone is inspected six-monthly for signs of weathering. Those needing repair are delicately injected with a liquid, limestone-based grout to protect the wall for at least another 2000 years.
A mid-15th century Megillah of Esther – one of the world’s oldest known scrolls from the Book of Esther has been gifted to the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem. It originated in the pre-expulsion Iberian Peninsula and was gifted by Michael Jesselson and family just in time for the festival of Purim.