Toys for Arabs and Jews; Real milk, no cows; Jerusalem in transition; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
No new Covid infections
Last Shabbat (5th June) Israel registered zero new local COVID-19 infections for the first time in more than a year. There are now only some 200 coronavirus infected patients in the whole country and inoculation of children aged 12-15 has begun. On 15 Jun, Israelis can stop wearing facemasks indoors.
Healthcare appreciation ceremony
Israel has honored its health system personnel and partner agencies for their work in defeating Covid-19 in Israel. Speakers at the Jerusalem Theater event included Israel’s Prime Minister, Health Minister, Austria’s Prime Minister and the CEO of Pfizer.
Cancer patients benefit from Covid vaccine
Doctors at Israel’s Beilinson Hospital monitored 102 cancer patients after inoculation with two shots of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Only 10 failed to generate an antibody response. It should calm the fears of patients who have been self-isolating even after vaccination.
Using good viruses to kill bad bacteria
For 6 years Tel Aviv University scientists have studied how certain viruses (bacteriophages) take control of dangerous antibiotic resistant bacteria (see here). They found that a virus protein uses a DNA-repair protein in the bacteria to “cunningly” cut the bacteria’s DNA during repairs.
Eye scan to replace blood tests
Doctors at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center have developed a blood test without removing any blood. A handheld device scans the blood vessels in the eye – ideal for those who dislike needles, and no laboratory involvement is necessary. It will be tested in zero-gravity by Israeli astronaut Eytan Stibbe.
Saving the sight of AMD patients at home
The ForeseeHome ophthalmic home diagnostic service from Israel’s Notal Vision (see here previously) detects when dry AMD turns to wet AMD and can be treated. It is Medicare accredited and Notal Vision has just raised $60 million to monitor other retinal diseases.
Cancer diagnostic tech is a breakthrough
Having just received European CE mark certification for its Galen AI cancer diagnostic software (see here), Israel’s Ibex Medical has now been awarded “Breakthrough” designation by the US FDA. This will help fast-track clinical review and regulatory approval of its technology.
PillCam and the UK NHS
A couple of weeks ago I publicized Technion UK’s online event featuring the Israeli-invented PillCam colon imaging capsule. 11,000 UK National Health Service patients are to be studied using the capsules. Here is a recording of that event for those interested but who missed the live presentation.
We can fix you
Social worker Tali used to support staff at Hadassah’s Jerusalem Medical Center. Now her colleagues administer Hadassah’s CAR-T therapy (in Phase 1 trials see here) to hopefully cure Tali’s multiple myeloma. Hadassah hopes to develop cellular therapy for any type of cancer – affordable to everyone.
More swords become plowshares
During the coronavirus pandemic, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) used their missile factory to produce ventilators (see here). Now IAI subsidiary Elta and Soroka hospital are setting up an innovation center where doctors and defense engineers can jointly develop medical tech solutions.
Bystanders can save lives
The award-winning SALI video medical system from Israel’s Inovytec (see here previously) enables the public to perform non-invasive airway management, automated oxygen therapy, vitals monitoring, and defibrillation. SALI has been implemented in Germany, Romania and Israel.
Now everyone can express themselves
Back in Dec 2020, Israel’s Voiceitt (see here) announced that its real time automatic speech recognition app will allow people with speech impairments to access and interact with Amazon’s Alexa. Now anyone can download the Voiceitt app for free from Apple’s App Store.
35-second response time
When United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Ron Cohen was called to a choking baby, he rushed from his apartment, jumped onto his ambucycle, drove down his street and ran up 4 floors. 35-seconds after receiving the call he expelled the blockage in the infant’s throat, and she was able to breathe again.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Stereotype-breaking photo exhibit
Passengers travelling through Ben Gurion airport will see a new exhibit of 34 photos representing the different shades of Israeli society. They depict religious, secular, ultra-Orthodox and Arab Israelis, outside of the stereotypical way in which they are often portrayed in the media.
Biotipac wins Women of AgriFood Nation 2021
Ifat Hammer, CEO of Israel’s Biotipac (see below) won the Women of AgriFood Nation competition designed to increase exposure to women-led technological ventures in AgriFood. Hammer receives a $200,000 investment from Israel’s COPIA Agriculture and Food Technologies.
The Arab dentist who builds bridges
Muslim Arab Khalil Bakly has a dental practice in Netanya and Nof Hagalil. His local organization Habustan (the Orchard) brings together Nof Hagalil’s Arabs and Jews. They have just initiated a social media campaign called “Arabs and Jews in Nof Hagalil against violence”.
Toys for Arabs and Jews
The Toy Movement of Canada and Israel’s Peres Center for Peace and Innovation (based in Jaffa) have been distributing toys to Arab and Jewish children at four nursery schools in Jaffa.
The benefits of peace with Israel
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan – Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for the United Arab Emirates – made the case for peace between Arabs and Israelis plain and simple. He stated that, ironically, the coronavirus pandemic accelerated the peace process.
Israel joins UN’s ECOSOC
For the first time, over two thirds of UN members voted Israel onto the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan said it was a “… recognition of our innovation and creativity, which serves to benefit all nations of the world …”
Israel hosts OECD security forum
Israel’s National Cyber Directorate hosted the 2021 Global Forum on Digital Security for Prosperity, an online conference of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The 3-day virtual event began on June 7 with some 40 speakers from 60 countries.
First country to ban sale of fur
In Oct (as reported here), Israel announced it would ban the sale of fur to the fashion industry – the first country in the world to do so. Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel has now formally signed the amendment into law, and it goes into effect in six months.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
The National Geographic Society has named Haifa University marine conservationist Aviad Scheinin one of 2021’s 15 “Emerging Explorers”. These are individuals who are changing the world “one idea at a time.” He joins the ranks of dedicated scientists that included Jacques Cousteau.
Tel Aviv skyscraper wins international design award
The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat chose Tel Aviv’s ToHa skyscraper as the overall winner in the office building category of its 18th annual awards program. The 2019 28-story tower by Israeli architect Ron Arad is shaped like an iceberg.
To boldly go (and return)
Here is an interview featuring Jonathan Geiffman – co-founder and CEO of Israel’s Helios (see here previously) explaining his company’s process for extracting oxygen from the surface of the Moon and Mars. Space exploration could be dependent on this technology.
Watch your crops from space
Israel’s PlanetWatchers analyses the condition of crops using AI and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) from satellites’ microwave radiation. The information is useful to farmers, financers and insurance companies. Reports can be produced quickly, remotely, and in any weather conditions.
Keeping it naturally fresh
Israel’s Biotipac has developed technology to keep agricultural produce fresh in the field, on the shelf and in food products. It prevents spoilage by encouraging beneficial bacteria while eliminating pathogens. It means less fungicides, longer shelf life, reduced packaging and less food wastage.
Real milk, no cows
Israel’s Imagindairy (see here previously) uses proprietary precision fermentation to produce nature-identical, animal-free versions of whey and casein proteins for the dairy products industry. The startup, founded by Tel Aviv University researchers, has raised $1.5 million in seed funding.
A cellular network for emergencies
Israel Aerospace Industries and Israeli-founded Carbyne have jointly developed a new emergency communications network. 911 Ultra-EN is an instant alternative private cloud-based cellular network to reconnect users in disaster zones with emergency services.
No more passwords
Israel’s Transmit Security has developed BindID which uses biometric sensors built into every new smartphone to log you in securely and seamlessly. No more complex combinations of numbers, letters and symbols to memorize. All you need is a fingerprint or a scan of your face.
O for the wings of a dove
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and in Oregan USA have discovered that birds are able to fly because they genetically lack the molecule ephrin-B3. The molecule allows mammals and reptiles to walk with a stepping motion but unable to flap wings (if they had them) and fly.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
More investment than all of 2020
Anti-BDS news – investment in Israeli startups so far in 2021 has beaten the total for the whole of last year. Investment up to 8th Jun totaled $10.5 billion compared to $10 billion for all of 2020 (also a great year). It includes 30 investment rounds of over $100 million (only 21 in all of 2020).
20 projects for US-Israel joint funding
The US-Israel Bi-national Agricultural Research and Development (BARD) Fund (see here previously) is investing $6.7 million in 20 joint US-Israel projects. They focus on irrigation, harvesting, disease control, plant nutrition, production efficiency, food & water quality and safety.
A sustainable future
Having established ICL Innovation in 2012, Israel’s ICL (see here previously) has now launched ICL Planet Startup Hub. It says its mission is to propel food-tech and ag-tech startups to the marketplace. It seeks to empower pilot-ready startups to work with ICL and implement their technologies.
CyberArk’s new Beersheva R&D center
Israeli cybersecurity giant CyberArk has inaugurated its new R&D center at the Gav-Yam Negev Tech Park in Beersheva. It will be close to Israel’s Cyber Directorate’s CERT center, IDF’s C4I unit, Ben Gurion University and more than 70 development centers and startups.
UK buys Israeli night vision goggles
Israel’s Elbit Systems UK has won an £11.5 million ($16 million) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence to provide the UK Armed Forces with XACT Night Vision Goggles (NVG). Elbit’s XACT systems are used in several NATO countries, including Germany and the Netherlands.
On-line retail with a difference
Israel’s Avo supplies products to New Yorkers and Tel Avivians. It has contracts with large companies and owners of large buildings. When employees or tenants order products, Avo consolidates the orders and delivers them to the company or building location, with no shipping fees.
Face-painting failure inspires fintech success
Great article about Israel’s Adam Kima who founded PayMe after his previous business crashed due to the lack of payment facilities. Now PayMe’s platform provides own-branded fintech services to companies of all sizes. It is now expanding its services to European clients.
Traveltech prepares for tourist boom
Israel’s TripActions (see here previously) is preparing for the return of global tourism by expanding its Israeli R&D center to employ 200 developers. As soon as coronavirus vaccines were available, TripActions received a massive investment of funds and launched new travel products.
$120 million VC fund for Israeli tech
Israel’s Sweetwood Ventures has launched its second venture capital Fund-of-Funds, targeting $120 million in investments in leading early and growth-stage Israeli technology companies. The fund “aims to provide investors with access to the most promising Israeli technology startups”.
Israel’s latest Unicorn
Israel’s Verbit (see here previously) has just raised $157 million, giving it a valuation of more than $1 billion and the financial status of a “Unicorn”. Verbit’s transcription and captioning services are used by more than 1,500 customers including CNBC, CNN, FOX, Harvard and Stanford Universities.
Monday has a very good day
Israeli project management firm monday.com (see here previously) completed its Nasdaq IPO, raising $574 million at a valuation of some 7 billion – one of Israel’s largest tech listings. With offices in 8 major global cities, monday.com reports having 120,000 customers in more than 190 countries.
Investment in Israeli startups:
Monday.com raised $574 million; Verbit raised $157 million; Notal Vision raised $60 million; TailorMed raised $20 million; Stoke raised $15.5 million; Monogoto raised $11 million; PlanetWatchers raised $3.5 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Crime novel is a love poem to Tel Aviv
Michael Fertik’s latest book, HIP SET, is a page-turning crime mystery based in Tel Aviv that introduces the reader to some of Israel’s cultural diversity.
Israel opens first underwater National Park
Israel’s first marine national park off the coast of Caesarea, is now open to snorkelers and scuba divers. The waters of the park hold ancient Roman ruins including vessels, and coin treasures. Aquatic tourists can also explore many species of fish, stingrays, octopuses and corals.
Rihanna has another baby
11-year-old white rhino Rihanna gave birth to her third calf (see here previously) at Ramat Gan Safari near Tel Aviv. It is the 33rd rhino to be born at the safari – the world’s leading rhino breeder. After a poll, the baby was named “Ruvi” – the nickname of outgoing Israeli President Reuben Rivlin.
THE JEWISH STATE
Hatikva wows judges – in Uruguay
Lucia Abealar advanced to the next round of “Got Talent Uruguay” after impressing all four judges with her performance of Hatikva – Israel’s national anthem. Lucia translated the lyrics and one of the judges said, “‘To be a free nation in our land’ – That is something that touches each of us.”
Jerusalem in transition
The buildings and streets of Jerusalem are in a state of flux. Reasons include preparing for a new President, the Israel Festival, summer activities for children, building a new business park, wedding ceremonies, preparing for tourists and pomegranates forming on trees along the streets.
Christian “birthright” tours to resume
American NGO Passages has restarted its tours that connect Christian students with modern State of Israel. The program plans to bring 1,000-plus American students to Israel by the end of 2021, and 3,000 by the summer of 2022. Since 2016 Passages has brought 8,000 US students to Israel.
Which came first?
An intact chicken egg dating back 1,000 years has been discovered by Israeli archaeologists at a site in Yavne. Whole chicken eggs are rare and this one was cracked during its extraction. Experts say poultry farming was introduced in Israel 2,300 years ago, during the Hellenistic and Early Roman periods.
The oldest legal instruments
Archeological finds at Tel Tsaf in Israel’s Beit She’an Valley included 150 clay seal impressions (bulla). Analysis of the bulla and other items at the site provided unique evidence of long-distance trade in the Southern Levant over 7,000 years ago – predating the development of written language.