Good News Israel Archive from the week of March 29, 2015: Israel is a world leader in cyber security, transforming the forestry industry and much more…
By Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Brain disease mechanism discovered
Researchers at Israel’s Ben Gurion University and the University of California have discovered a new molecular mechanism in a mutant gene that governs how ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) attacks motor neurons. They have also identified that the protein MIF inhibits this mechanism. The discovery is also relevant to other neuro-degenerative diseases.
Here is a roundup by “neurotech entrepreneur” Yannick Roy of the first day of Israel Brain Technologies’ BrainTech 2015 Conference in Tel Aviv. The speakers focused on the main joint ‘brain initiatives’ being conducted around the world.
Israeli nanotechnology explained
Thanks to Israel21c for a fascinating discussion of how Israeli scientists are engineering the tiniest parts of matter to make life better for millions of people around the world. Applications include a tiny robot transporting drugs to a cancer cell in your body; or artificial retina to restore lost sight.
A study, not to be sniffed at
One of the more unusual studies by scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute has uncovered that humans imitate one of the habits of dogs; by sniffing the odor of someone they meet. They do this by subconsciously sniffing their own hand after shaking the other person’s.
Device to prevent heart failure
Israel’s Vectorious Medical has raised $5 million to take its miniature wireless hemodynamic monitoring sensory implant into human trials. The device measures and reports left atria pressure – a reliable early indication of cardiac deterioration, which medication can treat.
An even bigger heart
Israel’s SHL Telemedicine specializes in providing remote diagnosis and monitoring services for patients suffering from chronic heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Its second German acquisition in two years is GPH, which monitors 10,000 heart patients.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
63.5% Israeli-Arab election turnout
Nearly two-thirds of Israel’s Arab population voted in the recent Israeli elections.
PA & Israeli girls study animal welfare together
40 girls from Jericho and Beit Shemesh participated in an event called “New Spring – New Hope,” at the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Israel. They visited animals and listened to a lecture in Hebrew and Arabic about the importance of treating animals kindly.
Baseball for all
The Israel Association of Baseball (IAB) launched Baseball for All (Baseball Le’Kulam), the first ever program to teach Jewish and Arab Israeli children to play baseball. 28 sixth graders from Modiin and Ramle learned about baseball as they also learned about one another.
Israel’s medical diplomacy in action
The parents of children awaiting heart surgery by surgeons of Israel’s Save A Child’s Heart (SACH) are nervous, because being in Israel at all is a big risk for someone from Syria, Iraq, or Jordan. And every Tuesday children from Gaza, Judea & Samaria arrive for surgery and check-ups.
India’s PM tweets in Hebrew
Relations between India and Israel have improved so much since India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected. After Israel’s elections, Mr Modi tweeted in Hebrew, “Mazel tov, my friend Bibi @Netanyahu. I remember our meeting in New York last September warmly.”
In Vanuatu, everyone loves Israel
IsraAID workers discovered that the residents of the tiny islands of Vanuatu love Israel and called the Israelis “a light unto the nations”. IsraAID distributed over 40 tons of rice, flour and drinking water to residents of the Tongoa and Mataso islands that were devastated by Cyclone Pam.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
The world leader in cyber security
To coincide with CyberTech 2015 in Tel Aviv, here is a link to the inside story of how the best and brightest Israelis go from the army’s elite cyber security unit to launch innovative startup companies. And the article (second link) explains why Israeli cyber security will continue to be a driving force in the Israeli hi-tech ecosystem. Even Chinese on-line shopping giant Alibaba is investing in it.
Cyber security for Portugal
Israel’s CyberGym has signed a NIS 45 million deal with the Portuguese electricity company Energias de Portugal (EDP) to plan, build, and maintain a cyber-defense training facility. CyberGym is jointly owned by the Israel Electric Company and Israeli IT company Liacom Systems.
UK announces 3 joint Israeli cyber Uni ventures
Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office responsible for cyber security, announced 3 UK-Israel academic collaboration ventures that will receive cyber research funding. They link UK’s universities of Bristol, Kent and UCL with Israel’s Bar Ilan and Haifa.
12 young science geniuses
Twelve teenagers won the top prizes in the Intel-Israel Young Scientists Competition in Jerusalem. Their projects covered medicine, mathematics, linguistics, music, anthropology and satellite technology. The twelve will travel to finals in Pittsburgh and Milan and receive academic scholarships.
Hundreds of schools in tech contest
Hundreds of Israeli middle and high schools are participating in the biggest programming contest in Israeli history, with prizes totaling NIS 100,000. Israel’s Center for Educational Technology wants students to learn to write code, using CodeMonkey – an Israeli interactive computer game.
The winning project at this year’s Brainihack in Tel Aviv, Emochat, used a Neurosteer Brain Computer Interface device to interpret another person’s emotions based on their brain activity. So no need anymore to see facial expression or hear voice tone.
Microsoft’s opens new Haifa R&D center
24 years after selecting Haifa for its first Research & Development center outside the US, Microsoft is inaugurating a new R&D center in the city. The new building will cover 7,500 sq.m, houses 150 engineers and allows Microsoft to expand by hiring dozens more.
Multinational cooperation week
The Israeli R&D centers of Motorola, Microsoft, Marvell Technology, Deutsche Telekom, Citibank, Kodak, and GE are holding their third Weekathon in three years to develop new products together. Each company is sending up to 5 senior programmers to develop “the next big thing”.
The most popular national pavilion
The crowds flocked to the Israel pavilion at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Here is a roundup of some of the innovative Israeli products and apps on show.
Magisto revolutionizes Facebook
Magisto, an Israeli video storytelling platform with more than 55 million registered users, is a key part of Facebook’s newly launched Messenger Platform. Using Magisto’s patented AI technology, EmotionSense, text and photos are transformed into a video with music, motion and special effects.
Real-time road-traffic information
Israel’s Decell Technologies provides historical and predictive road-traffic information captured from smartphones and GPS-enabled car systems in Tel Aviv, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw and Bratislava. Decell has just been acquired by US-based AirSage.
Transforming the forestry industry
Israel’s Intelescope Solutions utilizes drone and satellite imagery to produce an accurate inventory of a forest. Forestry companies in the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, Indonesia, India, and China utilize services from Intelescope, which just raised $8.3 million of funds.
Where to go next with your smartphone?
Israel’s Deeplink.me has launched AppWords – a mobile search and ad platform that uses keywords to trigger relevant content between one app and another. E.g. after finishing booking with a theatre tickets app, you receive “bids” for your custom from your restaurant apps.
Citi launches tech challenge in Jerusalem
International banking giant Citi has launched the Citi Mobile Challenge in Europe (London & Warsaw), The Middle East (Jerusalem) and Africa (Nairobi). Developers can win $100,000 and Citi support by building innovative solutions based on Citi’s digital platform.
Israeli scientists calculate Saturn’s “day”
Scientists at at Tel Aviv University have solved the mystery of Saturn’s days, determining that one day on the planet lasts 10 hours and a little more than 32 minutes – seven minutes shorter than originally calculated.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
The Bank of Israel’s Composite State of the Economy Index increased by 0.25 percent in February 2015. Reasons included increased house building, trade revenue and job vacancies. Also a surge in purchases of new cars, due to reduced taxes. And (TY Michelle) investment in Israeli hi-tech is surging ahead.
Unemployment is at the lowest ever level
Israel’s unemployment rate in February fell dramatically from 5.6% to 5.3% – the lowest adjusted rate ever recorded by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
Israel Dealmakers Summit
About 250 Israeli startups and leading investors are taking part in the Israel Dealmakers Summit in New York. The summit is focusing on digital media, cleantech, Web infrastructure, medical equipment, big data and cloud computing. And Venture capitalists are eager to attend.
“Startup Nation” index
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and BlueStar Indexes on Tuesday launched a “Start-up Nation Index” that will track Israeli tech companies listed both locally and internationally. The BlueStar Israel Global Technology Index (BIGITech) comprises 57 companies, with a total share value of $75 billion.
“Doing good, while doing well”
Impact Investing Israel has a mission to motivate investors and startups to develop real tangible and measurable benefits to mankind. It organized Israel’s first Impact Investing Conference, primarily for investors, but showcasing 11 Israeli startups that can improve the health of society.
Watch this cyber-security company
Israel’s Sentrix has been named Network World / CIO as one of the 10 young cyber-security companies to watch in 2015. Sentrix protects websites against attack by innovative technology called “cloud replication and attack surface reduction” – acknowledged as a game changer.
Global leader in kids educational games
An excellent interview of Sagi Schliesser, CEO of Israel’s TabTale. Founded in 2010 to make kids games and education apps, it now publishes a game every week on iOS, Google Play, Amazon, and Windows. Its 350 games have been downloaded 600 million times.
Frutarom acquires more flavor
Israel’s Frutarom Industries has bought Belgian flavors company Taiga International. It is Frutarom’s sixth acquisition since the start of 2014.
Facebook hire more Israelis
Facebook Israel will be hiring 40 new employees – 30 for its R&D center and 10 for marketing. It is Facebook’s first recruitment drive since purchasing acquired Israeli startup Onavo in late 2013 and turning it into its Israeli R&D center.
Shopping for Israeli startups
Jonathan Wall, e-commerce director at UK’s Shop Direct, is in Israel to meet 15 Israeli startups, and hopes to find technology solutions to help increase his annual £1.7 billion sales of 50 million products to five million customers. (I featured Shop Direct’s link with Israel’s Cimagine last year.)
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Enjoy spring flowers in the Galilee
Thanks to Chana & Shmuel of Galilee Green and Villa Rimona, for sending their video of the rare wild iris and other spring flowers on Mount Gilboa in the Galilee.
Israel’s entry for the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest is Nadav Guedj singing “Golden Boy”.
Simcha girls in TV quarterfinals
My good friend Leonie Lachmish and her daughter Yahala reached the quarterfinals of the Israeli Musical Family series on Israeli TV. Although they didn’t win, the jury loved their performance.
THE JEWISH STATE
South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein gave a fitting tribute to Yehuda Avner, who died last week. Ambassador Avner, advisor and speechwriter to five Israeli Prime Ministers, brought “kindness, faith and justice to a world which so desperately needs these Torah values now more than ever.”
Good Deeds Day
A record number of Israeli volunteers organized 10,000 projects for Good Deeds Day on 24 March, such as cleaning up beaches, neighborhoods and distributing food to the needy. Acre opened a new park that offers unique and challenging activities for hundreds of youths with special needs, alongside their families.
110 Ukraine Jews make Passover exodus
A special refugee rescue flight sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFJC) has brought 110 Ukrainian Jews on their aliyah trip home to Israel. It was the third flight sponsored by IFJC since December, totaling 560 Jews from Ukraine alone.
Yad Sarah produces large-font Haggada
In addition to providing equipment to bring the disabled home for Passover, Israel’s largest volunteer organization, Yad Sarah has released a 67-page, Hebrew-language Passover Haggada in extra large type so those with vision problems can follow the text. It is available for download at www.yadsarah.org.il/images/stories/pdf/hagada.pdf
Charoset-flavored ice cream
One of the Kosher for Pesach flavors of ice cream produced by Vermont USA-based Ben and Jerry’s is “Charoset” – one of the items on the Passover Seder plate. It is available only in Israel. The flavor debuted in 2012 when described as “vanilla-based with apples and cinnamon, and lots of walnuts.”
A Technion Passover miracle
Here is a video of how students at Israel’s Technion Institute put together a “moving” account of the Passover story. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baQfqoZrEvI
IsraelActive is launched
I have great pleasure in launching IsraelActive.com – my brand new on-line database of positive news stories from Israel. Now you easily search 7000 news articles about the beneficial work that Israel is doing on every subject and in every part of the world. Thanks to Jake Binstein who built IsraelActive.
Click here for the latest Good News from Israel.