Helping Jordan tackle Covid; Digital quality of life survey; An electric & hydrogen truck; and much more!
By: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
End of the 4th wave?
The number of serious Covid cases in Israel is now under 400 (mostly unvaccinated) and several hospitals have closed their Covid wards. Over 3.8 million Israelis have now had the booster vaccination. The government plans to allow in fully vaccinated, individual tourists from 40 countries from late November.
Blood test to detect recurring cancer
Asaf Zviran co-founded Israel’s C2i Genomics (see here previously). It has developed a blood test that can identify whether a cancer patient will survive after the tumor has been completely removed, or whether further chemotherapy is necessary.
The biological basis of empathy
Scientists from Tel Aviv University and North America used phosphorus and calcium markers to monitor brain patterns in rats when they go to the aid of a trapped member of their breed. A neural network activates in a similar way to when they are given a chocolate reward.
High ranking for Sheba
In its annual list of the World’s Best Specialized Hospitals, Newsweek magazine ranked Israel’s Sheba Medical Center number 40 for neurosurgery, 42 for cardiology care and 44 for gastroenterology. See here for previous top Newsweek rankings for Sheba.
Personalized Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Israel’s Sagol Center at Shamir Medical Center is the world’s largest hyperbaric medicine and research facility. Israel’s Aviv Scientific has partnered with Sagol to provide personalized cognitive and physical HBOT training. It also has clinics in Florida and Dubai.
The doctor who invented a typhus vaccine in Buchenwald
Dr Ludwik Fleck, who fled to Israel from Poland in 1957, made a groundbreaking discovery of a vaccine for typhus whilst a prisoner in the Nazi’s Buchenwald concentration camp during WWII. He managed to fool the Nazis and vaccinated many thousands of Jews.
7th partner for AI treatment discovery startup
Israel’s CytoReason (see here previously) has added SPI (part of Japanese giant Sumitomo) to its growing list of partners. SPI will use CytoReason’s unique immune focused machine learning platform and represent CytoReason in the Japanese market – the third largest globally.
A med-tech visionary
Israel’s PixCell Medical (see here previously) has won the 2021 MedTech Visionary award for Best Medical Device, plus MedTech Visionary in the Field of Medical Devices for Real-Time Blood Testing. PixCell’s HemoScreen allows blood tests to be performed by anyone, anywhere.
Helping Jordan tackle Covid
Mohammed Al-Hadid, president of the Jordanian Red Crescent, praised Israel for training his paramedics to face the Covid pandemic. He said Magen David Adom was “a fantastic organization” and the staff they trained “were instrumental in the Covid crisis.”
Muslim wedding couple’s first response
Muslim United Hatzalah EMTs Nour and Mohamed, had finished their pre-wedding photos when they saw an accident involving a young cyclist and a truck. Dressed in their wedding clothes, they didn’t hesitate to provide emergency medical treatment to the injured nine-year-old boy.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Healthy body, healthy world
Daniel Putterman co-founded Environmental Fitness, combining exercise and beach trash removal. He has personally adopted the 5,000-acre Nitzanim Sand Dune Nature Reserve, running up to three times a week, while hauling a sand sled to collect the trash.
Bedouin host Jews for Sukkot
Bedouin Arabs from the Jahalin tribe in Judea and Samaria turned one of their tents in Khan al-Ahmar into a sukkah (tabernacle) and invited Jews to enjoy Bedouin hospitality during the Sukkot holiday.
A new way to promote coexistence
Israeli organization “A New Way” connects Arabs and Jews through drama, sports, music, discussions, and volunteering. Initially a project between two schools in Kfar Kassem and Ramat Hasharon, it now serves many thousands (children and adults) in dozens of Israeli communities.
Jews & Arabs keep beach safe
(Another article by Diana Bletter) On the beach in the village of Shavei Zion in the Western Galilee, three Arab and three Jewish lifeguards have been working together from sunrise to sunset, every day, since March 15.
First commercial flights to Bahrain
Here is the story to accompany last issue’s photo of the check-in desk at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport. Gulf Air flight GF972 was the inaugural flight for the new Tel Aviv-Manama route that will include two weekly return flights between Israel and the Kingdom of Bahrain.
Help for Afghans
Israel’s SmartAID is helping give mental health support to at risk women in Afghanistan. They are also providing cell phones, data packages and solar battery packs. Separately Israel’s Global Development Corporation is rescuing Afghan refugees and even received praise from CNN.
Europe recognizes Israeli vaccinations
Israel is one of the few countries outside of the European Union whose “green passports” have been recognized by the EU and UK. It means that Britain now accepts Israeli visitors without requiring them to have negative Covid-19 tests before arrival in the United Kingdom.
Israeli-American shares Nobel Prize for Economics
Professor Joshua Angrist has just won a share in this year’s Nobel Prize for Economics for his work on “natural experiments”. Prof Angrist made Aliya in 1982 but gained his master’s and PhD in the US. He taught at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Harvard, and MIT.
Joint statement to UK from Abraham Accords nations
Israel, UAE, Bahrain and Morocco issued a joint statement at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Based on U.N. Resolution 1325, the statement stressed the value of women’s influence on human-rights matters, peace, sustainable development, and security.
Digital quality of life survey
The compilers of the 2021 Digital Quality of Life survey, Surfshark, have asked that the source of the extract from the Times of Israel article in my last newsletter (see here) be attributed to them, which I am happy to do. Israel was ranked at number 4 in that survey, a rise from 8th in the 2020 survey.
Out of this world
Astronauts from Austria, Germany, Israel, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain are spending one month at the Ramon crater in Israel’s Negev desert. Organized by the Israel Space Agency and the Austrian Space Forum, the astronauts are simulating life on the planet Mars.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Israeli elected head of CERN
Israeli physicist Professor Eliezer Rabinovici was elected President of the council of CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research. Prof Rabinovici specializes in theoretical high-energy physics, particularly quantum field theory and string theory.
Technion top in Europe for AI research
CSRankings has rated Israel’s Technion Institute Europe’s number one institute for machine-learning research. It also placed the Technion at number 11 in the world for machine learning research and 15th in the world for Artificial Intelligence research.
Scientists at Israel’s Technion Institute, together with German scientists, have successfully combined an array of Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Lasers (VCSELs) to produce a single powerful laser.
A better name search engine
Scientists at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University have developed algorithms that can identify names that sound similar but are not necessarily written in the same way. It will help companies to search job applicants or individuals who might want to search for a distant relative.
Accelerating AI companies
Israel’s Tasq.ai provides Artificial Intelligence companies with essential AI data labeling processes, allowing the companies to focus on developing their AI models and solutions. Markets include autonomous vehicles, drones, robotics, agriculture, sport, media, entertainment, e-commerce, and retail.
An electric & hydrogen truck
UK-based Tevva, (see here) co-founded by Asher Bennett, brother of Israel’s Prime Minister, has unveiled a 7.5-tonne electric truck, for mass production in the UK. It has a 250km range in pure battery (BEV) mode or up to 500 km with its hydrogen-based patented range extender (REX) technology.
Using AI to reduce travel delays
Israel’s Intellact (see here previously) uses artificial intelligence to analyze millions of CCTV cameras at airports, seaports etc., to identify operational bottlenecks and hazards, to increase efficiency and improve safety. Intellact is conducting a pilot with El Al at Ben Gurion airport.
US innovation award
Israel’s Utilis (see here previously) has won the Innovation Award of the nonprofit American Water Works Association for its Asterra product line using patented algorithms to locate and assess underground leaks and other hazards around critical infrastructure from ground-penetrating satellite images.
Raising spirits from beer
The mission of Israel’s Verstill (see here previously) is to revolutionize the craft spirits industry. It has partnered with the Israel-based Malka craft brewery to help it produce and scale its very first beer-based spirit, named “Distilled Malka” and launched a second edition.
Hi-tech vanilla production
Israel’s Vanilla Vida aims to capture 15% of the $3 billion vanilla industry with its proprietary greenhouse methods for controlling how and when the valued orchid blooms. The startup also aims to reduce the price of natural vanilla, making artificial vanilla (from petrochemicals) much less attractive.
Making better crops
Israel’s BetterSeeds is using Nobel Prize-winning CRISPR gene-editing technology to enhance some of our most vital of crops, such as cucumbers, cowpeas (black-eyed peas), soybeans and other legumes. For example, it is producing cucumbers that grow in fields rather than trellises, for easier harvesting.
Israel’s Ganit Goldstein (see here previously) has taken her innovative sustainable textile developments even further. Working with Swiss textile company Saurer, she has now embedded electronics and VR applications to enable the garments to react to body gestures and glow in the dark.
Heads up for the sea horse
Seahorses swim slowly but prey on small, quick-moving animals. Tel Aviv University researchers have discovered that seahorses can move their head up in an incredible 0.002 seconds. This causes a powerful flow of water that snags their prey right into the seahorse’s mouth.
Honey buzzard treated and released
Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority hospital for wild animals treated a European honey buzzard found with a fracture to its clavicle (collarbone). The injury was most likely from a collision while migrating through Israel. The buzzard was freed at the Palmachim nature reserve.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Exports rise 24%
Israeli exports of goods and services rose 24% in the first half of 2021 to $67.6 billion compared to the same period in 2020. Exports rose an unprecedented 38% in the second quarter.
Unicorn Nation – Israel’s billion-dollar company production line
Excellent article explaining the surge in Israeli Unicorns – companies valued over $1 billion. The coronavirus pandemic means it is no longer relevant that Israel is far from the USA or Europe. Also, Israeli companies already are geared up for the global market.
Defense for the Czech Republic
The Czech Ministry of Defense signed a 2-billion-shekel (about $627 million) deal to purchase the Spyder surface-to-air missile system from Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It replaces a Soviet Kub system from the 1970s.
Microsoft believes in Israel
Microsoft says it will double the number of employees in its Israeli research and development (R&D) department to 4,500 in the next four years. Microsoft’s 2,000 R&D staff is 30% more than 18 months ago. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s venture fund M12 invested in Israeli employee tech GrowthSpace.
Guardicore exits for a king’s ransom
Israeli cybersecurity Guardicore (see here previously) protects companies from hackers that demand a huge ransom to release control of their systems. Guardicore itself has now been “captured” by US cybersecurity giant Akamai Technologies for the grand total of $600 million.
Multinationals’ products based on Israeli glass
The smart glass technology of Israel’s Gauzy (see here previously) has been integrated into the headlights of the new BMWi Vision Circular electric vehicle. Meanwhile, LG’s new OLED panel uses Gauzy’s tech for dynamic displays on public transportation vehicles.
Contactless checkout in Netherlands
Israel’s Trigo Vision (see here previously) is piloting its grab-and-go, checkout-free shopping technology in the Netherlands with German-owned supermarket chain Aldi. Trigo’s technology will power a 400-square-meter Aldi Nord grocery store in Utrecht.
Investment in Israeli startups:
Orca Security raised $340 million; Valens raised $155 million (IPO) Totango raised $100 million; Optimove raised $75 million; Speedata raised $70 million; EquityBee raised $55 million; Avo raised $45 million; Aviv Scientific raised $40 million; Empathy raised $30 million; Buligo Capital raised $20 million (TASE IPO); Appwrite raised $10 million; MetoMotion raised $5 million; Joyned raised $4 million; Tasq.ai raised $4 million;
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
Piano festival returns to life
The Tel Aviv Piano Festival (Oct 27-30) returns to the stage, with a live audience, having been entirely televised last year. 250 artists feature in 56 shows, including 24 concerts fronted by Israeli women artists. The festival mixes genres, stars, new artists, multi-generations and even kids’ shows.
Making beautiful music together
On 26th September, the StandWithUs Interfaith Alliance held a musical celebration of Israel. Christian and Jewish voices came together in support of Israel.
Chess for Peace
To mark International Peace Day on 21 Sep, Israeli organizations Chess4All and Sharaka (Arabic for “Partnership”) hosted an international “Peace Day Chess Tournament.” There were over 600 participants including from Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh. (see also here previously)
THE JEWISH STATE
Aliyah up by 31%
Despite the pandemic, immigration to Israel has increased by 31% over the same period last year to over 20,000. From the USA the increase was 41%, from France 55% and South Africa 56%.
Sukkot during the Yom Kippur war
The National Library of Israel has released many rare photos of Sukkot (Tabernacles) being celebrated during the 1973 Arab Israeli war. Many soldiers built improvised sukkahs (booths) on jeeps and other military vehicles – some even in enemy territory.
They will all come to Jerusalem
Around one million people visited the Western Wall during the High Holy Day season this year. Rabbi of the Western Wall, Shmuel Rabinowitz said it was “proof of the Jewish nation’s connection with the Western Wall, which unites us all through preserving tradition and its holiness.”
Innovating in the Bible
Excellent Hashana Rabba OU lecture by Michael Eisenberg. He highlights how Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph were innovators. Maybe Jews and Israelis inherited these characteristics!