From coffee to vaccines; Independence for the disabled; Flying pizza; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
The Vaccination Nation
Nearly 3 million Israelis have now received at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and nearly 1.7 million have now received the second. Covid infections and serious illnesses of Israelis over the age of 60 are now 60% lower than before vaccinating started. An inspiring video.
From coffee to vaccines
Israel’s Youtiligent has developed an IoT (Internet of Things) solution for checking that a vaccine has been kept at the correct temperature. Youtiligent is piloting the system with two of Israel’s four Health Management Organizations. Before Covid, Youtiligent monitored coffee machines and ice cream!
A Breath of Health
Israel’s Breath of Health (BOH) has developed a breath test system that identifies Covid-19. Clinical trials at Israel’s Hadassah and Sheba Medical Centers have shown preliminary success rates of 98%. BOH has signed an agreement with India’s Reliance Group to distribute the system throughout India.
New pathway for targeting cancer
Normal cells have 23 chromosomes from each parent. But cancer cells do not, and scientists have been trying for years to exploit that fact. Now Tel Aviv University scientists have deciphered the phenomena and can guide oncologists to the therapies most appropriate for each type of cancer.
Hope for Parkinson’s treatment
Ben Gurion University researchers have discovered that proteins called BMP5/7 are new promising potential therapeutics for Parkinson’s disease. In lab tests, the proteins prevented the accumulation of toxic alpha-synuclein clumps and loss of vital dopamine-producing brain cells.
Trial success for kidney monitor
Israel’s Serreno (reported here previously) reported over 96% accuracy in the trials of its Sentinel monitoring system for Acute Kidney Injury in three Israeli Intensive Care Units. The devices will now be manufactured by Israel’s Elcam Medical, which has also invested $1.5 million in Serreno.
AI to improve IV
Israel’s Embrionics is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve the success rates of fertility treatments. Founded by Haredi female entrepreneur Dr.Yael Gold-Zamir, Embrionics is breaking new ground in embryo selection, genetic analysis and utilizing Big Data to help bring happiness to childless couples.
Tel Aviv is world’s 6th healthiest city
Tel Aviv, known for its vegan scene and vibrant culture, was ranked the 6th healthiest city in the world, according to a new report from UK’s Money.co.uk. It compared life expectancy, obesity levels, pollution levels, safety score, sunlight hours, and cost to be healthy.
EU funding for antibiotic alternative
Israel’s Omnix (reported here previously) has been awarded €10.8 million in EU funding under the EIC Accelerator Programme, part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research funding program. Omnix’s OMN6 peptide destroys the bacteria’s membrane, regardless of its resistance.
Europe approves skin tightening device
Israel’s Sofwave (reported here previously) has received Europe’s CE Mark plus Israeli approval for its revolutionary skin tightening and wrinkle reduction device. Sofware’s SUPERB (Synchronous Ultrasound Parallel Beam) has already received US FDA approval.
Working to prevent pre-cancerous colon polyps
Israel’s Digestix Bioscience is in the early stage of developing a medical device and treatment to prevent recurrence of certain colorectal polyps. These polyps occur in at least 25% of people over 50 and if not removed can develop into colon cancer.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Reducing the stigma of mental illness
The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) has partnered the McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School. 30 Haredi 4th year JCT nursing students will be the “agents of change” to deconstruct the stigma of mental illness in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.
Independence for the disabled
Israel’s VoiceITT (reported here previously) has enhanced its mobile speech recognition app to allow people with speech impairments to access and interact with Amazon’s Alexa. Now the disabled can control lights, aircon, TV, computers etc. without having to call for help. Great video!
Arab hi-tech integration
The number of Israeli-Arabs studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Tel Aviv University’s School of Electrical Engineering has nearly doubled from 237 in 2016 to 459 in 2020. They include 150 Arab women – almost three times higher than in 2016. Small numbers but encouraging trend.
Helping Israel-Arabs MoveUp
Israeli non-profit PresenTense (reported here previously) has partnered with the British Embassy in Israel and others to launch MoveUp – an accelerator for Arab-Israeli tech entrepreneurs. 10 or 12 entrepreneurs will take part in a two-month virtual program led by Israeli and UK experts.
One of the world’s oldest mosques
Israeli archeologists had a surprise when they were unearthing an 8th century CE mosque in Tiberias. They discovered the foundations of a 7th century CE mosque underneath it! They also found coins and pottery which helped to date the older mosque – the world’s oldest to be excavated.
Planning for after Covid
In a video conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the heads of Austria, Australia, Norway, Denmark, Greece and the Czech Republic to work together to promote scientific research into vaccines. It would provide future pandemic protection for governments against market forces.
Israel opens embassy in UAE
Israel has opened an embassy in the United Arab Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The new Ambassador, Eitan Naeh, and his staff will “expand ties with the Emirati government, financial bodies, and the private sector, universities, the media and more.” The UAE has approved having its embassy in Tel Aviv.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Young scientist awards
Tel Aviv Uni’s Professor Yossi Yovel, Technion Professor Ido Kaminer and Weizmann Professor Rafal Klajn have won international Blavatnik Young Scientist awards and $100,000 each for their breakthrough research in neuro-ecology, quantum physics and nanomaterials respectively.
Israel’s largest solar power plant
The Israeli government has issued a tender for the construction of the largest photo-voltaic solar power plant in Israel, near Dimona. It will cover 3,000 dunams (750 acres) and include battery storage. Already an unprecedented 27 consortia have submitted applications to build the plant.
Israel’s SOS WiFi beams a signal that allows cellphones to freely connect to the Internet even in some of the most remote parts of Israel. It can send warnings of danger to hikers or give them a lifeline to the outside world if they need rescue or help.
Israel’s Beamr Imaging has won the Technology & Engineering Emmy Award from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Beamr has developed a technology which compresses video broadcasts on networks.
Israel’s Swapp provides real estate developers and construction companies with a single platform to build their entire construction planning project. It says it simplifies the fragmented planning process, allowing developers to create architectural plans within weeks instead of up to 12 months.
Saving 50% of the tomato crop
The Israeli Vegetable Seeds R&D center of multinational Syngenta has developed a new tomato variety. It is the first to be resistant to the tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBFRV), which over the past six years has ruined more than 50% of the tomato crop in Israel and globally.
Pizza Hut Israel is said to begin June trials for pizza delivery drones. Multiple orders will be delivered to approved landing zones – e.g. parking lots – where a driver will collect them and take them to individual customers. Israel-Australia Dragontail systems (see here previously) will manage the trials.
Protecting against digital fraud
Peruvian bank Banco de Comercio has selected Israel’s Paygilant to bolster its newly established digital channel. Paygilant secures digital and mobile banking services by intelligently analyzing transaction data for its risk of being fraudulent.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Economic resilience is down to technology
Israel has been able to survive the Covid pandemic better than most OECD countries due to its hi-tech exports. Despite high unemployment, Israel’s hi-tech companies have attracted record levels of investment by both the government and global markets.
UAE-Israel tech fund
Israel’s Liquidity Capital and Dubai’s Vault Investments have formed a joint Venture Debt Investment fund with more than $100 million based in Dubai. It will finance tech companies across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe to create new growth in the region.
New gas pipeline to Egypt
Israel Natural Gas Lines Ltd. is to lay a new subsea pipeline to export Israeli natural gas to Egypt. The $228 million route will send as much as 7 billion cubic meters of gas annually to Egypt. Gas is expected to begin flowing down the pipeline by April 2023 at the latest.
New York to Tel Aviv flights
American Airlines has announced a 6th May start date for its direct flights between New York JFK and TLV Ben Gurion airports. Tickets went on sale on 25th Jan. American has also announced direct flights from Dallas, Texas and Tel Aviv starting in September.
Record year for Intel
Intel Israel’s 13,000 employees have just received huge bonuses as recognition of their contribution to Intel Corporation’s best-ever year. Despite (or because of) the pandemic, the global demand for technical products increased Intel’s revenue by 8% in 2020 to $78 billion.
A $5 billion travel company
Israeli-founded TripActions (reported here previously) has just raised $155 million, giving it a market value of $5 billion – despite the coronavirus pandemic! During the past year, TripActions has launched 40 new products, including a Covid-19 focused dashboard.
Vegan meat for Israel
Israeli meat distributor Best Meister is to distribute the plant-based meat alternatives of Israel’s Redefine Meat (reported here previously) to Israeli restaurants and high-end butchers in the first half of 2021. Trials of Redefine Meat products disguised as real meat, were extremely popular with Israeli customers.
A bridge so far
Israel’s Dynamic Infrastructure (reported here previously) has won its first contract on the Australasia continent. It will deploy its AI-driven technology to maintain dozens of bridges and infrastructure assets in Horsham Rural City Council in the Australian state of Victoria.
3 baby Unicorns
In just one week, three Israeli startups raised funds, to push their market value over $1 billion and gain the financial status of a “Unicorn”. They are Melio, OwnBackup and Drivenets, reported previously here, here and here.
Investment in Israeli startups:
DriveNets raised $208 million; OwnBackup raised $167.5 million; TripActions raised $155 million; Melio raised $110 million; DarioHealth raised $70 million; Run.AI raised $30 million; Swapp raised $7 million; CardinalOps raised $6.5 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Tu BiShvat in the Land of Israel
Here is a link to the New Year for Trees edition of the Mizrachi magazine. Published in Jerusalem. https://mizrachi.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/HaMizrachi-Tu-BiShvat-5781.pdf
Tu Bishvat in Jerusalem
Some beautiful scenes of fruit and flora in Jerusalem.
Plant a vine for Tu BiShvat
An alternative to planting trees is to plant a vine. With 10 vines you get a free bottle of wine from the winery of your choosing. https://www.wineonthevine.org/
King David’s colors
Israeli researchers working in the Timna Valley near Eilat have found three textile scraps colored with the biblically described “argaman” royal purple dye. They have been dated to circa 1,000 BCE – the era of King David. They were found in the area known as “King Solomon’s Mines”.
Set Me Free
Eden Alene anticipates becoming first Israeli of Ethiopian descent to represent Israel at the Eurovision song contest in May 2021. Hopefully, this time the contest will go ahead as Eden was originally chosen for the cancelled 2020 event.
Chess unites new friends
Just six weeks since Israel and Bhutan agreed to formal diplomatic relations, the two countries are holding their first chess tournament. 170 participants are taking part, including 29 from Bhutan. Israel and Morocco have already held their first chess tournament, following new diplomatic relations in Dec.
THE JEWISH STATE
The fruits of Land
To celebrate the Jewish New Year for Trees, this article summarizes the annual harvest of the Jewish State. It includes 55,000 metric tons of grapes, 60,000 tons of pomegranates, 2400 tons of figs, 32,000 tons of dates, 4.5 million bottles of wine and 16,000 tons of olive oil. Read also about Israel’s trees.
Plant a tree by Zoom
No matter how far away you may be, KKL-JNF can plant a tree for you in the Tzora Forest near Beit Shemesh. You can fully participate in the ceremony online, together with members of your family anywhere. Visit the plantatree site, choose a date/time and get a link to the tree-planting ceremony.
Israel’s oldest Indian Jewish community
Hundreds of India’s Bnei Menashe community have just arrived in Israel. But Israel’s 8,000 Cochin Jews can trace their Indian roots all the way back to the times of the biblical King Solomon. The Cochin Jewish Heritage Center is situated in Nevatim, a moshav in the Negev Desert.
Reaching out to the Jewish world
Israeli Diaspora Minister Omer Yankelevich has been holding virtual Kabbalat Shabbat services with Jewish communities around the world. They include Abu Dhabi, Mumbai, Warsaw, Lausanne, Baku and Helsinki. Zoom has made it possible to globally share live music and learning.
Unit for women EMTs
More than 1,000 of United Hatzalah’s volunteer paramedics are women. Around 100 of them serve in UH’s special unit for religiously orthodox women. They attend emergencies where the patient would be uncomfortable being attended to by a male EMT. And delivering babies is all part of the job.
Returning Jewish artifacts to Israel
Before Covid, Israeli Rabbi Eliahu Birnbaum traveled the world collecting Jewish relics found in junk shops and synagogue genizot (repositories for discarded holy items). Hundreds of objects telling the history of the diaspora are now displayed at Ohr Torah Stone in Eftat, Israel.
Jordan river unites faiths
Last week’s article on the Jordan River landmine clearance should have mentioned that the baptism site is also where the Children of Israel crossed into the Promised Land and where the prophet Elijah is said to have ascended to Heaven. Photos are from last year’s Jewish tour.
Israeli Covid patients rescued from Nigeria
When 3 Israelis fell ill with Covid-19 in Lagos, Nigeria, the local Chabad went into action. They completed all the complex paperwork and organized the first ever El Al plane to land in Nigeria to take the Israel’s home before Ben Gurion Airport was closed to all flights.
The end of the pandemic?
On Thursday, Jerusalem residents woke up to the sight of a huge rainbow stretched across the whole of Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives. The director of Midreshet Kidmat Yerushalayim said, “… on this festive day of Tu B’Shvat may it symbolize the end of the deadly coronavirus…”