Pandemic research center opens; Israel Summit; Smart farming in the Caribbean; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
90% of over-50s vaccinated or recovered
Israel’s Health Minister Yuli Edelstein has announced that 90% of Israelis over the age of 50 have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19. 75% of them are eligible for a “Green Pass,” as they had their second vaccine over a week ago or have antibodies after virus recovery.
Israeli vaccine study answers global question
Researchers at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center have published the results of their study on medical staff, showing the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to be 75% effective two to four weeks after a single shot. Many countries were pleased to know that they were right to prioritize the first shot.
Racing to a Covid-19 cure
Excellent summary of Israel’s involvement in five highly promising treatments for coronavirus. Also, separate news of Phase 2 trials of the two Covid-19 treatments from Israel’s Redhill.
Vaccines for animals from microalgae
Israel’s TransAlgae has developed microalgae to deliver oral vaccine powder for animals. Current tests include against diseases affecting fish. Eventually the technology could produce oral vaccines for humans. TransAlgae has signed an agreement with giant French-based Virbac.
Using the microbiome to fight infections
Israel’s MyBiotics has partnered Swiss multinational Ferring to use MyBiotics’ microbiome-based treatments for women’s health. The aim of the alliance is to reduce the need for antibiotic use and provide a long-term treatment solution.
Pandemic research center opens
Tel Aviv University has now launched its new Center for Combating Pandemics (plans reported here previously). Thought to be the first of its kind, the center connects hospitals, government and academic institutions in Israel and around the world to prepare for future epidemics.
Femtech monitoring in hospital
Israel’s Sheba Medical Center says it is the first hospital in the world to introduce patient-operated devices for hospitalized Covid-infected pregnant mothers to self-monitor their unborn babies. Israel’s HeraBEAT and PulseNmore devices are supported remotely by hospital medics.
Heart attack patient saved with minimal invasive surgery
Doctors at Beilinson Medical Center performed the first cardiac accessory implant surgery in Israel. A patient had suffered heart failure during heart valve replacement. Doctors avoided open heart surgery by using a subcutaneous (beneath the skin) procedure.
Millions can benefit from synthetic cornea
Israel’s CorNeat KPro synthetic cornea, which was successfully implanted into Jamal Furani in February (see here), is now to be trialed in Israel, Canada, France, the US and the Netherlands. 30 million people are blind in at least one eye, due to corneal injury or disease.
Training nurses and pharmacists
Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) has launched an MA course to train nurses in internal medicine to assess and care for those with complicated illnesses. JCT has also launched 4-year Pharmacy degree in association with the Hebrew University to resolve an acute shortage of pharmacists.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Israeli exit benefits charities
The recent exit of Israel’s MyHeritage for $600 million, benefited Israeli youth charities. MyHeritage donated share options in 2013 to the nonprofit Tmura (reported here previously) which distributes the proceeds. 718 Israel startups have donated options to Tmura since 2002 – 62 new ones in 2020.
Massive economic support program
Israel has approved a NIS 700 million project to help 200,000 families most in need due to the coronavirus crisis. Colel Chabad and Pitchon Lev will manage the program which involves distribution of debit cards for purchasing critical food supplies in a way that protects family dignity.
Israel’s first woman-led Unicorn
Israel’s Papaya Global (reported here previously) whose CEO is Eynat Guez, has just raised $100 million of funds at a market valuation of $1 billion. It makes Papaya the first female-led company with the financial status of a “Unicorn”. Eynat concluded the finance deal late in her pregnancy.
Life-saving married couples
Beautiful video of four married couples where both partners are United Hatzalah paramedics. They manage to achieve a work-life balance, despite being called on at any moment to save lives.
Zaka founder wins Israel Prize
Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, co-founder and chairman of the Zaka volunteer emergency response group (see here), was declared a winner of the Israel Prize. He won the life achievement award for his contributions to Israeli society and for being a role model for the spirit of volunteering.
App to keep women safe
Israel’s SafeUP app has been downloaded by approximately 12,000 Israeli women. Any woman at risk of attack can initiate a video call to summon help from women nearby. Eight Israeli municipalities have partnered with SafeUP and a community has even been launched in Boston USA.
The first UAE Ambassador to Israel
In mid-Feb, Mohammed Mahmoud Al-Khaja was sworn in as the first Ambassador to Israel from the United Arab Emirates. He had to wait two weeks before he could arrive in Israel, due to Covid-19 restrictions.
5,000 students from 100 global universities attended the on-line Israel Summit. Tal Zaks, the Israeli Chief Medical Officer at Moderna said, “The productive exchange of ideas in medicine and technology between the US and Israel is based on “alignment of fundamental values about the sanctity of life,”.
The 10th best hospital in the world (again)
For the third year in a row, Newsweek magazine ranked Israel’s Sheba Medical Center in its “Top 10 Best Hospitals in the World” Its 10th place was due to superior care, innovation and pioneering research. Newsweek surveyed 2,000 hospitals globally in 2021 – twice that in 2019.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Joint AI program with UAE
Following September’s agreement (see here), Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) and the UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the two institutions have now established the WIS-MBZUAI Joint Program for Artificial Intelligence Research.
New BGU Chemistry building dedicated
Ben Gurion University has held a dedication ceremony for its new five-story 6,300 square meter Lorry I. Lokey Chemistry Building. Its modular, state-of-the-art laboratories and workspaces allow all BGU research groups to be located close together for the first time in 40 years.
Reducing paper waste
Israel’s ePaper has developed technology to reduce the environmental footprint of office work. It uses tighter security and control printing systems to reduce paper usage by up to 35% and over 40% of office power consumption. Other impacts include far less pollution, CO2 and deforestation.
Zapping malaria-spreading mosquitos
Israel’s zzappmalaria uses topographical analysis to determine the formation of bodies of water. It helps professionals scan the fields, find these bodies of water where mosquitos may breed, and upload them to the system so that the spraying team can go in and apply treatment.
Israel’s GenCell (reported here previously) has partnered Japan’s TDK to manufacture environmentally friendly ammonia at low cost. The patented electrochemical process uses solar energy to make ammonia without emitting CO2. The next stage is to develop a proof of concept.
Signaling the end to empty buses
Israel’s Opertti is developing a smart public transportation app that will send vehicles of just the right size to pick up travelers on set routes, on demand. It saves fuel, reduces pollution and ensures the most efficient use of drivers. Pilots are planned in Israel and in the Czech Republic.
New UK center for Israeli wheels
Israel’s integrated wheel system developer REE Automotive (reported here previously) has opened a new Center of Excellence at the UK’s MIRA Technology Park – Europe’s mobility R&D center. It will help REE’s plans to bring its REEcorner technology to production by 2022.
Put your tractors into automatic
Israel’s Blue White Robotics (reported here previously) has launched a kit that can convert any tractor into a fully autonomous unit or fleet with the flick of a switch. Its sensors, obstacle detection and AI allow multiple tractors to work 24 x 7, whilst monitored by a single human operator.
Smart farming in the Caribbean
Israel’s Volcani International Partnerships and the Caribbean Israel Leadership Coalition have launched a series of free webinars. In them, Israeli experts explain smart farming to government officials, farmers and entrepreneurs in the Bahamas, Anguilla, Aruba and Barbados.
Converting animal waste into odorless fertilizer
Intensive livestock farming has led to immense problems disposing of dung. Israel’s Paulee CleanTec (reported here previously) has developed the BioLizer to convert animal waste into odorless organic fertilizer. A demonstration system is on display at a kibbutz dairy farm.
Israeli software for top UK bus company
Stagecoach, UK’s largest bus operator, is partnering Israel’s Optibus to help plan the bus networks of the future as people emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Optibus’ AI-based software platform is already used in over 450 cities to deliver smarter timetables and networks.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
More UAE alliances
The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) has established ties with Invest in Israel and the Israel Innovation Authority – government entities that help accelerate investment and innovation. Also, Gulf-Israel Green Ventures and the UAE’s United Stars Group are partnering for sustainable development.
World number 2 for home working
Israel’s Labor and Welfare Ministry reports that due to the high number of workers in education and technology, 47% of Israel’s employees can perform their jobs from home. Israel is second only to Luxembourg for telecommuting and far ahead of the OECD average of 38%.
Israeli-based vaccine factories
Israel is in talks with Covid-19 vaccine developers Pfizer and Moderna regarding setting up vaccine production in Israel. Austria and Denmark have expressed interest in Israel’s plan to enhance Pfizer vaccines to handle virus mutations, as they do not want to rely on the EU’s vaccine strategy.
Takeover expands testing
Israel’s Qualitest (reported here previously) has just acquired India’s QA InfoTech India. InfoTech’s 1,000 employees will triple Qualitest’s existing offshore automation testing capacity.
Fresh packaging reaches San Diego
Divine Flavor, a San Diego-based grower-owned distributor of fruits and vegetables and part of Grupo Alta, have adopted the new Xgo standing pouches from Israel’s StePac (reported here previously). Customers were really happy with the extended freshness and sustainability of the packaging.
Wix is worth $20 billion
Website construction tools company Wix.com has become Israel’s most valuable company. Its market value of nearly $20 million tops that of Check Point, Solar Edge, Novocure, Nice Systems and Teva. Wix earned almost $1 billion in revenue in 2020 and, due to expansion, it is still not making a profit!
Fintech startup Earnix develops artificial intelligence software that allows banks and insurers to personalize offerings to customers. It has just raised $75 million at a company valuation of $1 billion giving it the financial status of a “Unicorn”. Earnix has won recognition from both CB Insights and P&C 360.
Yet another Unicorn
Israel’s Axonius (reported here previously) gives organizations a comprehensive cybersecurity asset inventory, uncovers security solution coverage gaps, and automatically validates and enforces security policies. Axonius has just raised $100 million for a $1 billion valuation and “Unicorn” status.
Lumenis’ surgical business sold for $1 billion
US medical devices maker Boston Scientific has bought the surgical business of Israel-based Lumenis (reported here previously) from Barings PE Asia for $1.07 billion. The unit will remain in Israel and become Boston Scientific’s global center of excellence in laser technologies.
Medi-Tate exits for $300 million
Israel’s Medi-Tate (reported here previously) has been acquired by Japanese medical corporation Olympus for $300 million. Olympus invested in Medi-Tate in 2018 and has been distributing Medi-Tate’s solutions for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
Investment in Israeli startups:
Yotpo raised $200 million; Axonius raised $100 million; Papaya Global raised $100 million; Earnix raised $75 million; TytoCare raised $50 million; Pomvom raised $40 million; Medisafe raised $30 million; Rewire raised $20 million; Seebo raised $15 million; Blend raised $10 million; Torii raised $10 million; X-trodes raised $1 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Covid-friendly cultural events
Thanks to the new Green Pass issued to fully vaccinated citizens, Israel has launched several cultural and entertainment activities. They included Jerusalem’s “Follow the Lights”, a Nurit Galron concert in Tel Aviv, the Tower of David’s Banai exhibit and a show at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem.
Israel’s Magen David Adom took a mobile vaccination unit to a forest in the south of Israel, where thousands were visiting to see the spring flowers. The emergency service said that dozens of visitors to the Shokeda Forest were vaccinated in the operation in the national park.
We are sailing
Royal Caribbean is re-starting cruises from Israel. Its newest ship, Odyssey of the Seas, will make its sailing debut from Haifa in June with vaccinated Israeli passengers. Royal Caribbean said it will be the first cruise line operator to offer “fully vaccinated sailings”. The cruise will visit Greece and Cyprus.
Iranian and Israeli chess players compete together
For the first time, Iranian chess players took part in the Chess4Solidarity competition – an Israeli initiative. They joined chess players from over 40 countries, including Indonesia, Iraq, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Sudan and Yemen. Prizes totaled 1000 Euros.
THE JEWISH STATE
Hear O Israel
Yehoshua Soudakoff, Israel’s only deaf rabbi, is bringing the entire Torah to life for Israel’s 15,000 hearing impaired. He and his team are translating the Tanach (Five Books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings) into visual format using Israeli sign language.
The American Zionist Movement (AZM) has launched a Herzl 125 initiative to highlight important Zionist anniversaries in 2021-22. The 14th of February was the 125th anniversary of Herzl’s 1896 publication of Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) – the Zionist leader’s vision for a modern Jewish state in the land of Israel.
The Israel Antiquities Authority discovered under the Western Wall plaza the single largest collection of ancient dice in Israel, and they’re identical to modern dice. It seems the Romans also cheated – one die contained two four-spot sides but no side with three spots.
Cancer survivor now defends his country
Nathan always dreamed of joining the IDF, but at age 6, he was diagnosed with cancer. Years later, after recovering, he was barred from the IDF due to his medical history. But he persevered and Sgt. Nathan has just completed his training in the IDF Nahal Brigade’s elite battalion.
Coronavirus was not going to prevent Israeli superheroes from bringing Purim cheer to hospitalized Israeli children. Real life superheroes from elite units of the Border Police and Firefighters abseiled from the roof of Haifa’s Ruth Rappaport Children’s Hospital to deliver sweets to the delighted young patients.
Purim in Jerusalem
Because of Shabbat, Purim this year in Jerusalem was spread over 3 days and residents celebrated for a whole week. The pandemic meant multiple, socially distanced readings of the Megillah of Esther, listening on cell phones with outdoor meals & music, while wearing spectacular costumes.