Recovered patients volunteer at hospitals; From Startup Nation to VacciNation; An impossible year; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
“This can change the fate of humanity”
Israel’s PM heralded the latest Israeli Covid-19 therapy, EXO-CD24, developed at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky (Ichilov) Medical Center. When given to 30 moderate to severe Covid-19 patients, 29 were discharged 3-5 days after having the treatment and one recovered a little later.
Fall in number of serious Covid-19 patients
The number of patients suffering from serious cases of Covid-19 has dropped below 1000, as more people over the age of 60 received their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
Recovered patients volunteer at hospitals
Israel’s Ichilov and Sheba hospitals are employing volunteers who have recovered from the Covid-19 infection to help look after seriously ill coronavirus patients. They are tested for antibodies and then work in shifts on the Covid-19 wards, providing reassurance and practical support.
Treatment for deadly bacteria approved
Following successful Phase 3 trials, the US FDA has approved Reltecimod from Israel’s Atox Bio (reported here previously) for the treatment of NSTI (Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections), commonly referred to as flesh-eating bacteria. (fast-tracked in 2012!)
A mission to end food allergies
Israel’s Ukko is working to re-design gluten proteins so that they do not trigger an immune response in people with celiac and other gluten sensitivities. In addition, Ukko is developing an edible medicine that can promote immune tolerance for people with peanut allergy.
The secret to reversing brain damage
Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers and Seattle scientists have demonstrated the restoration of communication between damaged nerve cells. They implanted artificial connections (synapses) in the nervous systems of tiny translucent C. elegans worms.
The human touch in healthcare
Patients often lapse their health improvement programs. Israel’s Well-Beat (reported here previously) recently completed a pilot at Sheba’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Center where it proved to triple adherence to recommended care. Well-Beat recently received its 3rd Israel Innovation Authority grant.
European prize for pediatric endocrinology
Professor Moshe Phillip of Israel’s Schneider Children’s hospital was awarded the Andrea Prader Lifetime Achievement Prize by the European Society of Pediatric Endocrinology (ESPE) for his outstanding contribution towards pediatric endocrinology.
Safe testing for healthy babies
Israel’s AIVF has devised a method to test embryos in vitro in a noninvasive manner to detect possible genetic abnormalities. Its scanning device and an AI algorithm avoids the current riskier PGT (Preimplantation Genetic Testing) biopsies which remove cells from the embryo.
An end in sight to medical biopsies
Hebrew University scientists have developed a blood test that they say could replace nearly all cancer screenings within a decade. It detects cancer cells and identifies the exact location of the tumor in the body. New Israeli startup Senseera will now perform clinical trials.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Great name for an Israeli NGO that helps busy techies who wish to give back to communities in need. Give&Tech provides high tech courses for those in the sector looking to enrich their knowledge, and then donates the course proceeds to non-profits who need financial support. Everyone at Give&Tech is a volunteer.
Mental health app for company employees
Israel’s Binah.ai (reported here previously) has added a mental health and wellness app to its vital-signs solutions. Binah Team helps organizations monitor the wellbeing of their employees, students, or any other member. It supports iOS, Android and Windows, plus 11 languages.
Israeli helps UK predict outbreaks
Epidemiologist Professor Michael Edelstein from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has helped develop a complex algorithm that gives a 17-day early warning of any English towns that are at risk of Covid-19 outbreaks. It has already been tested in Italy, Australia and South Africa.
Helping to build accessible systems
Evinced is another “socially-aware” Israeli hi-tech startup that aims to make on-line systems more accessible to the one billion+ people globally living with a disability. Evinced’s platform visually analyzes websites and applications to detect and fix potential accessibility issues.
Food security conference to help UAE
20 Israeli food-security and agri-tech companies attracted an audience of 1,000 to an Israeli-UAE online investment conference. The speakers addressed issues challenging the UAE in agriculture and food security, such as precision agriculture, desert farming, resilient species and food storage.
UAE trades with Judea and Samaria businesses
Yaakov and Naama Berg employ 40 – 50 Arab workers at their Psagot Winery near Ramallah, producing over 750,000 bottles of wine per year. They are seeing the Abraham Accords initiate trade links between the Gulf and Judea & Samaria and opening a new era of peace.
New homes for Guatemala volcano victims
Israel’s embassy in Guatemala has just finished its Guatelinda project in the town of Escuintla. It has built new homes for 39 families that lost their properties in the 2018 Fuego volcano eruption. The Guatemala Government named the street “Jerusalem Capital of Israel”.
From Startup Nation to VacciNation
Jon Medved is one of Israel’s leading high-tech venture capitalists and promoter of Israel’s achievements. He explains how Israel propelled its world-leading vaccination drive through its Startup Nation ethos, efficient health systems, medical expertise and desire to be a light to the nations.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Vehicle AC removes coronavirus
Auto Cool is Israel’s leading manufacturer of customized Air Conditioning (AC) systems for commercial vehicles and trucks since 1982. It says its ADS3000 system will remove any virus from buses, trains, taxis, vehicle fleets, and ambulances in Israel and around the world.
Speeding up websites
Israel’s Zaraz (formally known as Sweeps) helps reduce the time taken to load a website. It does this by optimizing the loading of third-party tools, connecting these using the website’s server instead of by the user’s browser. It claims a 40% improvement to company website loading times.
120 cyber companies on one page
Glilot Capital and IVC have published a map showing over 120 of Israel’s largest private cyber companies. They are split into 14 areas: access, application, blockchain, cloud, email, endpoint, fraud, IoT, network, ops & threats intelligence, privacy, vulnerability, web & workload protection.
AI machine is a mathematical genius
Professor Ido Kaminer of Israel’s Technion Institute has developed the Ramanujan Machine – an Artificial Intelligent device and program to generate new mathematical formulae. He has just published the 19 hardest to prove hypotheses it has generated over the last two years.
Higher steaks (animal-free)
Israel’s Aleph Farms (reported here previously) has announced that it has 3D-printed the world’s first laboratory cultivated rib-eye steak, complete with all the flavor and texture of regular meat, minus the harm to animals. Previously, Aleph Farms only 3D-printed thin cuts of meat.
Safe herbicide controls resistant weeds
Israel’s AgPlenus (reported here previously) has developed APH1 – a new herbicide that effectively controlled weeds and grass known to have resistance to existing herbicides. APH1 had no harmful effect on agricultural crops such as corn and cereals.
Oracle opens cloud data center in Jerusalem
US tech giant Oracle, with Israeli systems integrator Bynet Data Communications, is launching an underground data center in Jerusalem. Oracle is the first global tech giant to open a cloud region in Israel and stated it constitutes “an unprecedented investment in Jerusalem”.
A virtual global SIM card
Israel’s Simtex provides a solution for travelers needing a low-cost Internet data-only package overseas for their smartphone, tablet or computer. No physical SIM is needed, just scan a QR Code. Most countries available. https://simtex.io/
An iToF camera
Israel’s Tower Semiconductor (reported here previously) and China’s OPIX have developed a Time-of-Flight (iToF) technology platform where sensors accurately measure the distance to an object. Its applications include 3D imaging, face recognition, Augmented Reality, industrial inspection and robotics.
Drone finds its way without GPS
Israel’s Sightec (reported here previously) has achieved the first-ever autonomous flight of a drone to its destination without GPS navigation. The drone flew five routes in southern Israel using Sightec’s NavSight software, that turns its cameras into smart “self-aware” sensors.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Even more reserves
Almost every month Israel hits a new record for its reserves of foreign currency deposits. In Jan 2021 they rose by another six billion dollars to almost $180 billion. The Bank of Israel is selling Shekels to encourage exports, but the value of the shekel keeps rising due to global confidence in the Israeli economy.
Record Japanese investment
In 2020 Japanese firms invested some $1.1 billion in Israel – 20% higher than in 2019. (In 2015 it was just £87 million.) Japan now accounts for more than 11% of all foreign investment in Israeli high-tech (compared to under 2% in 2016). Mitsubishi and Sumitomo were the largest investors.
Plenty of funds for new startups
A recent survey by US-Israel Ground Up Ventures debunks reports that there is a drought of funds for new Israeli startups. 37 of Israel’s leading venture funds they surveyed made 145 investments at the seed stage in 2020 (rising from 112 in 2019). The average investment also rose – by 20%.
An impossible year
Israeli VC firms JVP, Pitango and Qualcomm thought the coronavirus pandemic would sink many Israeli startups. But something crazy happened – the opposite occurred, and funds flooded in. They found that business can be done without face-to-face meetings and that (in Israel at least) anything is possible.
The crisis with a silver lining
Caja Robotics (reported here previously) is another Israeli company that learned how to adapt to the new normal during the coronavirus pandemic. It used video in recruitment and communications but despite its robotics systems, Caja focused on the human aspects of employee relations.
The end of the exit
This article by newsletter supporter Zev Stub describes Israel as the Scale-Up Nation. Relatively few Israeli startups exit in takeover events, but rather expand to become billion-dollar “Unicorns” (nine new ones in the last three months). Another 80 Israeli companies are publicly traded in the US.
An index fund of the big 50
Israel’s Big-Tech 50 R&D Partnership has launched on the TASE, raising NIS 85 million to build a portfolio of the 50 largest private Israeli tech companies. In two years, the portfolio will hold NIS 1 billion worth of shares, resembling an index, and will allow investment in those companies.
Miami to Tel Aviv
The skies could be open again soon. Starting in June, American Airlines will operate a 12-hour non-stop service, 3 times a week, from Miami to Tel Aviv. It follows the May start of its New York to Tel Aviv service and (later in September), its Dallas to Tel Aviv route (both reported here previously).
Know your customers
Israel’s Leadspace has developed a Customer Data Platform (CDP) that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help businesses manage their customers. Its clients include Salesforce, American Express, and Zoom. It has just raised $46 million of funds including from Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP).
Card-less credit cards for businesses
Israel’s Mesh Payments (reported here previously) has developed a solution to replace business credit card transactions with an entirely card-less platform. Mesh issues virtual cards for both online and offline payments, linking with mobile wallets e.g., Apple Pay, Google Wallet etc.
Big deals for vegetable collagen
Israel’s Collplant (reported here previously) has closed big deals with Canada’s STEMCELL Technologies to supply plant-based collagen for STEMCELL’s cell culture media kits. Also with Allergan Aesthetics (worth $100+ million) for dermal and soft tissue filler products.
In addition to its recent massive contracts with Greece and UK navy, Israel’s Elbit Systems also recently won a $338 million contract with the Swiss Army; with the Netherlands ($65 million, $24 million) and $82 million, Romania ($27 million), UK army ($137 million) and also with Spain.
Investment in Israeli startups:
Big-Tech 50 raised $26 million; Leadspace raised $46 million; Ukko raised $40 million; Granulate raised $30 million; Evinced raised $17 million; Mesh Payments raised $13 million; UNIPaaS raised $10 million; NeuReality raised $8 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
US dramas made in Israel
Israel’s Keshet Studios has renewed its deal with media and entertainment company Universal Television for the third time. The Israeli production studio will be developing two new dramas for NBC, “The A Word” and “Ties That Bind”. NBC also recently picked up Keshet drama “LaBrea”.
Israeli tech in Super Bowl ad
Israeli-founded Fuse.ar used its Alternate Reality filter in the Super Bowl ad for Dexcom – a diabetes management company. In the ad, actor Nick Jonas (who has Type 1 diabetes) becomes an old man, thanks to the special effects from Fuse.ar. His 30 million Instagram followers need not worry though!
More endings and beginnings
On Sunday 28th Feb there is another opportunity to watch Center Stage Israel’s live production of Endings & Beginnings, previously performed in December. Enjoy songs from the stage and charts that celebrate the fact that with every ending there is a new beginning. Smiles are returning to our faces.
THE JEWISH STATE
Design the World Zionist Village
The Jewish National Fund (JNF) is inviting ideas for its new World Zionist Village in Be’er Sheva (see here previously). Dormitories, classrooms, conference center space, cafés, houses of worship, gardens, and an iconic structure. The competition is now open, and entrants can win up to $8,600.
Helping vaccinate the vulnerable in 36 cities
In January, Israeli emergency NGO United Hatzalah volunteers began taking seniors in Mevaseret Zion to vaccination centers (reported here previously). It is now transporting the elderly, disabled and self-isolating for their life-saving inoculations in 36 Israeli municipalities.
Different views of Jerusalem
Sharon took some unusual recent photos on The Real Streets of Jerusalem. They include a clear view of the Knesset menorah, street signs “Jerusalem is Giving a Shoulder” (vaccinating), Gan Sacher Park’s memorial candle, the green roof on Jerusalem’s Bird Observatory and a very strange fisherman.
Purim, beginning on 26th Feb, is the happiest of all Jewish festivals and should be especially so in Israel as worries about the coronavirus pandemic begin to recede. Thank you Jacob Richman, who has updated his website of Purim resources to help everyone enjoy the festive occasion.