Arab firefighters; Recycling waste to grow seafood; Combining music and hi-tech; and much more!
by: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Ketamine as an antidepressant
Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute and in Germany, have clarified the molecular cascade triggered by ketamine, that leads to its sustained antidepressant effects. They found that the gene Kcnq2 enables potassium ions to pass through the brain, maintaining the activity and stability of neurons.
Hi-tech blood cell analysis
Report and fascinating new video showing the features of the X100 Microscope and Decision Support System from Israel’s Scopio Labs (see here previously).
$30 million for digital health
Israel has selected 19 programs for a new digital health initiative. They include test sharing, endoscopy videos for R&D, and making data on mental health and midwifery more accessible. The databases used are anonymized and better access should contribute to more breakthroughs in Israeli health tech.
An amazing life – Michael Sela
Professor Michael Sela, formerly the sixth president of Israel’s Weizmann Institute, has passed away at the age of 98. Prof Sela co-invented Copaxone to treat MS, Erbitux for cancer, and other treatments. He helped create the field of immunology, won numerous awards, and spoke nine languages.
Identical twins give birth on same day
Identical twin sisters, Yael and Avital gave birth at Shaare Zedek Medical Center to their fourth babies (both boys) on the same day. Each already had two girls and a boy. And previously, a set of twins were born at Hadassah Medical Center, at 2:22am on the 22nd of February 2022.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
New JCT campus for women
Building has begun on Jerusalem College of Technology’s Tal Campus for women. It will provide higher education for 3,000 female students in nursing, computer science, industrial engineering, accounting, and management and will help religious women break the cycle of poverty.
31 members of the national service from Israel’s Arab community have completed the course to become assistant firefighters and will now serve at fire stations throughout Israel. A ceremony held in their honor was attended by Israel’s Minister of Internal Security and the Fire and Rescue Commissioner.
Israeli Home Guard is 12% Muslim
Israel’s Police and Defense Ministry have launched a ‘Home Guard’ campaign, training civilians to patrol their hometowns and be first responders in case of incidents. Approximately 4,000 civilians have signed up so far – 12% of them Muslims.
Morocco’s “leaders of tomorrow” visit Israel
40 young people – 20 Israelis and 20 Moroccans – took part in the Leaders of Tomorrow program, which seeks to build on the long-standing historical and cultural roots between the two countries. They saw the “real Israel, the heart of Israel, not the one that we see in the media”.
3rd Israel visit for Arizona Governor
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey was in Israel for five days of talks with political and business leaders. As in 2015 and 2019, his focus was trade, with additional interest in Israel’s water technology and its expertise in border security.
The first Israel-Greece conference
Entrepreneurs, politicians, and business experts gathered in Greece for the first Israel-Greece conference hosted by Calcalist and Brown Hotels. Speakers included Israeli President Isaac Herzog plus Greek and Israeli Ministers. Topics included real estate, innovation, and travel.
OECD Education Innovation Conference
Israel is again hosting the OECD International Education Innovation Conference (see here previously) – this time in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. 15,000 participants are expected from 48 countries including leading educational professionals from around the world.
Europe requests Israeli gas
Israel’s Energy Ministry Director-General Lior Schillat said the European Union is negotiating to import Israeli natural gas via Egypt’s two gas liquefaction facilities. He said that Israel’s exploration for new natural gas fields will continue until Europe’s gas crisis is over.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
High School is robotics contest runner-up
Team Steampunk1577 from Ra’anana’s Aviv High School came second overall of 9,000 teams in the First Championships international robotics competition in Houston, Texas. Nine Israeli teams reached the semi-final stage and Steampunk1577 won through to the “Einstein” final.
Robot companions for New York seniors
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) is partnering Israel’s Intuition Robotics (see here previously) to supply ElliQ voice-operated robots to 800 older people who live alone. ElliQ performs daily check-ins and can send texts, conduct video calls and display photos.
Revamping R&D partnership with Greece
Israel and Greece are to strengthen cooperation in science, technology and innovation. It involves partnerships in the European Union’s Horizon Europe research program, and PRIMA (the Partnership for Research and Innovation solutions in the Mediterranean Area).
Boosting African agriculture
Africa-based Releaf and Volcani International Partnerships (VIP) US are to address African food security challenges with the assistance of Israeli expertise and innovation. VIP-US Board Member Lord Stuart Polak said he hoped that Israeli innovations would transform agriculture across Africa.
A spider to catch the spider
Israel’s BioBee (see here previously) develops natural solutions to agricultural pests. Its latest target is the red spider mite, which destroys strawberry plants. BioBee uses drones to drop millions of Phytoseiulus persimilis, a minuscule spider, whose favorite food is… red spider mites.
Recycling waste to grow seafood
Israel’s Mermade Seafoods is cutting the price of lab-grown seafood, such as scallops, by feeding the waste products of the cell culture process to microalgae. The microalgae is then upcycled into the seafood. But is it kosher?
Water from Indian air
Israel’s Watergen is partnering India’s SMV Jaipuria Group to bring Watergen’s “GENius” patented AWG technology to India. SMV will build Watergen’s water-from-air machines locally to help to 30% of Indian districts reporting critical or overexploited groundwater levels.
Floating solar power plants
Several Israeli startups have developed solar panels that float on water (see here previously). Here is another – Xfloat. Its Artificial Intelligence controlled panels move and track the sun while floating. They will be installed on the water reservoirs of Mekorot – Israel’s national water company.
Powering into energy storage
Israeli renewable energy company Solegreen, signed a $130 million agreement with Israel’s Tadiran Group (see here previously) to buy energy storage systems totaling 600MW hours for its solar energy installation projects. It is the largest ever Israeli energy storage deal.
Combining music and hi-tech
“Music is essentially the connection between math and emotion” says Yoni Bloch, founder of Israeli interactive video startup Eko. This article features musicians who merged their musical and technology skills to enhance their creativity.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Israel launches Sovereign Wealth fund
Israel’s sovereign wealth fund will start operating on June 1st, now that taxes on profits from natural gas and other resources have passed the 1-billion-shekel minimum. Profits from the fund will be allocated for Israel’s social, economic, and educational purposes.
Israeli financial companies invest in Israel
Israeli institutional investors increased their allocation to
the Israeli start-up scene, for the first time in decades. Astoundingly, the capital allocated to the Israeli tech start-up sector in 2021 increased 6.5-fold and is estimated at $864m, compared with just $134m in 2020.
Ben Gurion Airport fully reopens
Over 60,000 passengers departed from Terminal 1 at Ben Gurion Airport on its first day of re-opening after being shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic and reduced air traffic. 75,000 were due to leave from Terminal 1 the following day.
A $2 billion fund
Israel’s Liquidity Group is partnering with Japan’s MUFG Group and US Spark Group to set up a $2 billion investment fund. It plans to invest $25 – $30 million in individual growth companies, mainly late-stage tech startups.
Soaring trade with the UAE
In the last year, trade with the United Arab Emirates has increased from $270 million (see here previously) to 2.5 billion. The two countries have just signed a Free Trade Agreement.
Saudi Arabia and Israel
Saudi Arabia has lifted its ban on Israelis entering the country on Israeli passports. Dozens of Israeli hi-tech businesspeople have since visited Riyad and Neom and have concluded two multimillion-dollar desert agriculture deals, in addition to a medical equipment contract.
Qatar Airways invests in Israeli startup
Prior to a planned IPO, Israel’s Freightos (see here previously) has received private funds including from Qatar Airways, the world’s largest air cargo carrier. Freightos’s platform connects multiple airlines, shipping and trucking companies, freight forwarders, importers and exporters.
Telifonica invests in Israel
Wayra, the innovation arm of Spanish telecom giant Telefónica has made its first investment in Israel, by funding Upword, an AI tool that creates a summary of a much longer document. The company is also offering to provide capital and test facilities to other Israeli startups.
Wolt opens Tel Aviv grocery store
Finnish delivery giant Wolt has opened its first Israeli grocery store in the Neve Tzedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv. Customers can order any of its 3,000 products on-line and pay NIS 16 for delivery or free pick-up at the store. Wolt already delivers for 2,500+ businesses to 28 Israel cities.
Fundbox launches debit card
Israel’s Fundbox (see here previously) is partnering with Visa to strengthen its digital payments platform. The first result of the partnership is the launch of the Fundbox Flex Visa Debit Card, which will help small business customers better manage their cash outflows.
Investment in Israeli startups to 5/6/22:
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
Agam museum reopens
Recently reopened after more than a year of pandemic closure, the Agam museum in Rishon Lezion is filled with examples of Yaacov Agam’s unique and colorful kinetic art created over the past six decades. It is one of only a few museums in the world dedicated to Kinetic Art.
Shiloh winery, where it all started
Shiloh was the capital of Israel for 369 years before King David established Jerusalem. Now, a local winery, Shiloh Wines, has harnessed the history of the Jewish people in their land to develop one of the finest wines in the country and maybe in the world.
Beauty meets social responsibility
At the Yvel Design Center in Motza, a few miles west of Jerusalem, beauty, creativity, and social responsibility combine. At the peaceful location, some 22 Ethiopian Israelis train to produce gold-plated pendants, earrings, bracelets, rings and even a diamond & solid gold Covid-19 mask.
Pianist prodigy wows the world
Up-to-date article about 18-year-old Israeli pianist Yoav Levanon whose amazing piano-playing talent has won him numerous awards. He has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, the Verbier Festival in Switzerland and just released his debut album “Monument to Beethoven”.
Deep Purple is timeless
British rock band Deep Purple played to a sold-out Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv. They also played in Jerusalem. Formed in 1968, they played all-time classics plus from their 2020 and 2021 albums. Don Airey even did a keyboard solo rendition of Naomi Shemer’s “Jerusalem of Gold”.
Israel is recommended – by CNN
CNN Travel has named Israel as one of the top eleven destinations to visit this summer. It singles out Eilat, the Dead Sea, Masada, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and a classic Israeli breakfast.
18 cool things to do for free in Tel Aviv
Though Tel Aviv ranks as one of the world’s most expensive city to live in, visitors will find plenty of activities that don’t cost a shekel. And read below about the street names.
Martial Artist honors survivors
Israeli lightweight mixed martial artist (MMA) Natan Levy has just won his first top-level Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) match. In recognition of Holocaust Remembrance Day, he is to auction off his equipment from the fight to raise funds for Holocaust survivors.
THE JEWISH STATE
Section of 2000-year-old aqueduct uncovered
Excavations in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood have revealed a 40-meter piece of the capital’s ancient main water carrier dating back to the Hasmonean era 2100+ years ago. The complete 21 km aqueduct was in use until the British replaced it with electric pumps.
A drone over Judea on Independence Day
As Israel celebrated Yom Ha’Atzmaut, Ezri Tubi captured these beautiful views of Judea and Samaria from the air, using his drone and camera.
Independence Day in Bahrain
In Bahrain, hundreds celebrated Israel Independence Day for the first time. The event attracted members of the government, the Shura Council, military personnel from the ministries of Defense and Interior and the Bahrain Defense Force, and ambassadors to Bahrain from other countries.
Suriname to open Embassy in Jerusalem
The South American republic of Suriname will open an embassy in Israel’s capital. In return, Israel has offered to send humanitarian workers to northern Suriname, to help with aid efforts after severe flooding left many residents homeless. Suriname is eight times the size of Israel.
Enjoy some of the excitement of Israel’s 55th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem. Over 50,000 participated in the Flag March.
Saving a life on Jerusalem Day
A school worker suffered a sudden cardiac arrest in Petach Tikvah. United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Sariel abandoned Jerusalem Day prayers and together with fellow paramedics restored the man’s pulse and breathing. Sariel returned to his synagogue in time to sing Hallel – praise and thanks.
Ethiopian immigration resumes
181 Ethiopian immigrants landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Jun 1st as Israel resumed flights bringing new immigrants from Ethiopia to Israel. Another 160 were scheduled to arrive on Jun 2nd with a total of 3,000 expected by end November. Most are relatives of Ethiopians already in Israel.
Cleaner finds and returns NIS 1 million bank check
One of the cleaning staff of the Yitzhak Navon train station in Jerusalem found a wallet containing a bank check for one million shekels. After trying to contact the owner, Israel Railways’ lost items department phoned the bank, who came after Shabbat to collect the check.