15-minute Covid-19 test; An eco-village in the Negev; Good Night 2020; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
One million vaccinations
Over a million Israelis have now had their first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. More than 150,000 vaccinations are being administered each day – the highest per capita in the world. The number of vaccinated Israelis is now double the total number that have ever been infected with Covid-19.
Positive results for Covid-19 treatment
Preliminary data from Phase 2 trials of opaganib from Israel’s Redhill (reported here previously) on 40 hospitalized Covid-19 patients showed positive results. Patients receiving opaganib had significantly reduced dependence on ventilators and faster time to discharge.
Treatment may cure genetic deafness
One in 400 children are born with a genetic mutation that causes hearing loss. Tel Aviv University scientists have developed a harmless synthetic virus that replaces defective genes with healthy genes. It may prevent deafness when injected into the inner ear hair cells soon after birth.
Futuristic surgery today
Doctors at Israel’s Galilee Medical Center successfully completed the first-ever repair of a fracture in the floor of an eye socket using augmented reality (AR) and 3D technology. A CT-scan of the patient’s eye was used to 3D print the new socket and the surgeon used HoloLens AR glasses to insert it.
15-minute Covid-19 test
Several years ago, Bar-Ilan University’s Dr. Amos Danielli founded the biotech MagBiosense (reported here previously) to commercialize his innovative device to detect an imminent heart attack and also to diagnose the Zika virus. He has now adapted it to diagnose Covid-19 in just 15 minutes.
Race for the vaccine
An opportunity on 5th Jan to attend a Technion UK webinar featuring Professor Yotam Bar-On of Israel’s Technion Institute. Professor Bar-On is a virologist, specializing in COVID- 19 who will speak about immunity, about the virus itself along with its variants and how different vaccines work.
Genesis winner donates prize to medical startups
Israel’s 2019 Genesis Prize winner, Natan Sharansky, donated his $1 million prize to 10 Israeli startups developing innovations to combat Covid-19. The 10 are Kamada, Pluristem, Sight Diagnostics, Sonovia, Biobeat, EyeControl, K Health, Picodya, IAI and MyZeppi.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Helping seniors get vaccinated
Israeli non-profits United Hatzalah and Yad Beyad for the Development of Mevaseret Zion have partnered in a project to transport the over 60s and the disabled to Covid-19 vaccination centers during lockdown. The volunteer EMT will also assist with registration and drive them home afterwards.
81 Haredi women complete tech training
81 religious Jewish women completed the first two-year Adva program that trains women for tech development jobs. The virtual graduation event was attended by Israeli tech executives, who recruited the graduates for Apple, Facebook, Check Point, XM Cyber and others.
Proud female Christian Israeli IDF officer
Hadeel reveals what life is really like for minorities in the Jewish State.
Ethiopian woman is top advocate for Israel
Ethiopian Israeli Ashager Araro (reported here previously) is one of Jewish News Syndicate’s top 40 global advocates for Israel. Born on the roadside on the way to Israel, she became a top IDF paratrooper, graduate of IDC Herzilya and ambassador at Stand With Us.
$1 million raised for social app
21-year-old Israeli May Piamenta has raised $1 million for her social startup Vee. The platform connects companies and organizations interested in mobilizing their staff for the sake of the community with volunteer activities and allows all activities to be managed remotely – vital during a pandemic.
Israel becomes a green economy
The Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) has accepted the Bank of Israel as a full member. The NGFS helps financial systems manage risks and mobilize capital for green and low-carbon investments and environmentally sustainable development.
Top of their class
A study by Stanford University identifies the top 2% of researchers in various disciplines worldwide. It includes 333 researchers from Tel Aviv University, with 74 of them in the top 0.5%.
The earliest grinding tool in history
Researchers at the University of Haifa have discovered that a rock found in the Tabun Cave on Mount Carmel near Haifa may be the earliest grinding tool used by prehistoric man. The artifact dates to the late Lower Paleolithic era. No similar finds from this period have ever been discovered.
Bringing life to Africa during a pandemic
In 2020 and despite COVID-19, Israeli NGO Innovation: Africa brought water and light to over 200 villages across Africa. They used Israeli technologies to bring solar energy, clean water, healthcare, and food security to millions of the world’s most vulnerable people.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Israel Innovation lab
Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck, and Teva are to establish an Innovation Lab at Rehovot Science Park to research digital health and computational biology. The Israeli government has allocated the lab a NIS 32 million budget.
Approval has been given to begin construction of the Ramat Gan Diamond Exchange in a suburb of Tel Aviv. The new tower is set to become Israel’s tallest building at 120 floors and 520 meters, surpassing the Sarona Tower which is 238 meters tall, with 61 floors.
International energy challenge winner
Israel’s H2Pro (reported here previously) was named by Royal Dutch Shell as “best company in the scale-up track” in its New Energy Challenge competition. H2Pro’s E-TAC system generates clean energy hydrogen, plus oxygen in two separate low-cost processes.
The road to hydrogen-powered vehicles
Israel’s Bazan Group, an investor in Israeli startup H2Pro (above) is starting a NIS 12 million pilot project to create Israel’s first hydrogen refueling station. Bazan is Israel’s largest producer of hydrogen and set up the Bnnovation cleantech innovation lab (reported here previously).
An eco-village in the Negev
Israeli NGO Ayalim Association is building an eco-friendly neighborhood in the Negev city of Dimona. Shahak Heights will rely on sustainable solutions for its water, electricity and sewage. Israeli HomeBiogas systems will supplement gas for cooking. Solar energy will provide most of the power.
Innovation award for accessibility
Israel’s Orcam (reported here previously) has won a CES 2021 “Best of Innovation” award in the accessibility category by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), for its handheld digital device that reads full pages or screens of text aloud from any printed or digital surface.
Mandating green construction
40% of all construction approved last year complied with the Israeli Standard for Green Building (No. 5281). In March 2022, the standard will be mandatory for all new construction. It will cut pollution, reduce waste, recycle materials and result in buildings being more energy efficient.
Growing coral in the lab
Ben Gurion University scientists are growing coral nurseries five times faster than natural coral production. These are then transplanted into the Red Sea and become floating coral islands. BGU is also partnering scientists in the Florida Keys, to grow coral tissue resilient to rising ocean temperatures.
Air quality on your iPhone
Israel’s BreezoMeter (reported here previously) has been integrated into the Weather app on Apple iPhones as part of the new iOS 14.3 update. BreezoMeter’s sensors and data feeds provide real-time, street-level air quality data including air pollution, pollen, and smoke from nearby fires.
A solar farm for Dead Sea minerals
Israel Chemicals Ltd is to build a 5.5 MW solar power plant to supply energy to its Dead Sea Periclase magnesium production facility. ICL will test storing excess solar energy in bromine-based batteries and plans to install solar systems at other production sites and on its water reservoirs.
During March, drones from Israel’s Blue White Robotics (reported here previously) transported pollen to date palm trees’ flower stigmata. 90% of the trees were successfully fertilized. Due to lack of labor during the pandemic, the system has been successfully marketed to New York and California farmers.
New species of Israeli bee
Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have found a new species of bee, joining the approximately 1,100 bee species known to live in Israel. The bee was discovered in the Alexander River National Park, which was established to reverse the effects of road construction and pollution on the area.
Eat my dust
Scientists at Ben Gurion University have discovered that plants in desert regions grow hair on their leaves when they are short of the essential element phosphorus. The hairs trap dust in the desert air, which contains naturally occurring phosphorus. The dust can replace harmful chemical fertilizers.
Silently protecting millions of computers
Israel’s Morphisec in June 2018 was preventing cyber attacks on a million computers and mobile users. Its shape-shifting software now outwits sophisticated hackers on 4 million computers worldwide. System managers are amazed that it works in the background, without making a fuss.
The video call that floats
Israel’s MyZeppi has developed technology designed to help older adults and their caregivers “visit” each other through video calls via safe and unthreatening self-flying helium balloons. The 20-inch projection lets seniors feel their loved ones are there in their room and can even perform safety checks.
Israel’s Caring Company has launched a new app, CaringApp, to provide remote support and assistance to family members and relatives of the elderly. It can monitor and identify life-saving moments such as alerts to falling, mood monitoring, and inactivity. It can even interact with the senior’s phone.
Checkout by selfie
Israel’s Preciate has developed a facial recognition system called “Pay by Face”. A user registers with a selfie photo and uses the system to pay for goods and services. In use at Holon’s Azrieli Mall, it is relevant to fast food takeaways, stores with membership programs or just to acknowledge good customers.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Joint business council
Jerusalem deputy mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum has established the UAE-Israel Business Council which works to create deals in fields including technology, medicine and agriculture. The council already has 3,000 members and a similar Bahrain-Israel organization is in the works.
Cooperation with Croatia
Israel and Croatia signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a strategic partnership between the Foreign Affairs ministries, aiming to promote political and economic cooperation and strengthen relations in areas of mutual interest.
Promoting 5G deployment
Israel’s Innovation Authority and Ministry of Communications are to fund five Israeli companies a total of NIS 12.5 million to conduct pilots using 5G technology. They are Monogoto, Telicomm City Connect, Elbit C4I and Cyber Systems, Edgehawk Security and JpU.
Get trained in hi-tech skills
Israel’s Innovation Authority (IIA) is investing NIS 139 million in two new programs, the Human Capital Fund and the Emergency Training Program, to help the unemployed enter the Israeli tech ecosystem. It has selected 62 organizations to place 9,000 citizens in available hi-tech positions.
Good Night 2020
Ariella Drefuss’ summary of 2020 shows that it was a very good year for Israeli tech. Good news for investments, secondary sales, IPOs, venture capital, Arab partnerships, Covid-19 solutions and women entrepreneurs. The only low was the number of Israeli exits – which does not sound like bad news to me!
Toast 2021 with Israeli whisky
Say goodbye to the troubles of 2020 and l’Hayim to a better year with the award-winning single malt whiskies from Israel’s Milk & Honey. And enjoy a laugh with the second video.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Birth of the Phoenix
The America-Israel Friendship League has released a video featuring the modern Israeli Dance Troup Vertigo’s breathtaking performance in Jerusalem: “Birth of the Phoenix”. Vertigo have been streaming their works free as part of their December virtual festival.
More success for Gal Gadot
The movie Wonder Woman 1984 staring Israel’s Gal Gadot is the most successful film of the coronavirus pandemic, grossing $16.7 million over the holiday weekend. Gal Gadot’s next movie is “Cleopatra” and work has already begun on Wonder Woman 3.
The world’s most beautiful face
Israeli model Yael Shelbia has been awarded the top spot on the annual TC Candler magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful Faces of the Year” list. Yael, currently serving in the Israeli Air Force, was 3rd in 2018 and 2nd in 2019. Israeli actress Gal Gadot is listed at number 21.
The shark shall swim with the dolphin
Although not quite the wolf lying down with the lamb, this video shows two aquatic predators swimming happily together. A taste of things to come?
Ethiopian Israeli golfer wins Israel Masters
Iso Asher immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in 1991 and has been working at the Caesarea Golf Club for 27 years. He decided to enter the Israel Men’s Masters tournament at the club for the first time. And at the age of 50, he won, after two rounds and a sudden-death playoff.
THE JEWISH STATE
20.000 make Aliyah despite pandemic
Some 20,000 olim (new immigrants) arrived in Israel during 2020. They came from 70 different countries and despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Over half of the new citizens emigrated from the former Soviet Union, 2,550 from the US and 2,220 from France.
More Ethiopian immigrants
As part of Operation Rock of Israel (see here previously), another flight has brought 219 Ethiopian immigrants to the Jewish State. Thanks to the support of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) it has united many Ethiopian families who had previously made Aliyah.
Jonathan Pollard was a controversial figure, but most Israelis were pleased to see him come home. Together with Israel’s Prime Minister, he recited the Shehechiyanu blessing for auspicious events.
Israeli charity Livnot U’Lehibanot (“to build and to be built”) is celebrating its 40th birthday. The organization (reported here previously) provides immersive Israel programs for young English-speaking Jews, combining hikes, volunteering, and “learning about Jewish spirituality through the lens of nature.”
The Abrahamic family
The Arab delegation from the UAE and Bahrain in Israel this month visited historical and cultural sites in Israel. It was chaperoned by a new Israeli organization Sharaka (Arabic for “cooperation” or “partnership”). The delegation expressed its thanks for making them “feel like family members at home”.