Israeli Art Lending Library; Rescuing refugees on Lesbos; OrCam wins German innovation prize; and much more!
by: Michael Ordmam
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Know your enemy
Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute and the Israel Institute for Biological Research have identified four new proteins and 19 peptides that Covid-19 infected patients produce. They believe that these may help the virus to replicate, so targeting them could lead to new treatments.
That 3D-printed heart
Back in 2019 there was much excitement when Tel Aviv University scientists 3D-printed the first heart produced from human tissue (reported here previously). What was not reported was that the technology itself was licensed to Tel Aviv University from award-winning Israeli biotech Matricelf.
New allies in the fight against viruses
Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute have discovered that bacteria contain viperins – enzymes that produce antiviral molecules. These substances are undergoing testing that may lead to the development of highly effective antiviral treatments against influenza and COVID-19.
Israel hosts Covid-19 conference
Israel hosted an online conference to discuss cooperation on fighting the coronavirus. It comprised science ministers of Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Italy, Peru, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Bridge over troubled water
This newsletter previously (here) featured the coronavirus sanitation bridging tunnel developed by Israel’s RD PACK. The video describes its key component – the disinfectant spray – comprised, amazingly, of electrolyzed water (no chemicals) developed at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University.
Printing lungs & kidneys
Good article about Israel’s Collplant (reported here previously) and its technology that turns tobacco leaves into bio-ink for printing human organs. Collplant, together with United Therapeutics Corporation have already made lung parts and will now start working on printing replacement human kidneys.
Expanding digital health across USA
Israel’s DarioHealth (reported here previously) is partnering US giant HMC Healthworks to incorporate DarioHealth’s digital therapeutics solution into HMC’s comprehensive care management programs. The platform will also be offered on a stand-alone basis.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Inspiring women to be entrepreneurs
Inspira is a bi-weekly Israeli educational podcast that will be launched in November to promote female entrepreneurship and creativity. It aims to highlight the success of women in the tech world as well as other areas such as space, science, sport, and politics.
Druze leader of elite Israeli IDF unit
Israel-Druze Arab Lt. Col. Ayoub Kyuff – currently a commander in the Golani Brigade – has been appointed as the new head of the IDF’s elite Shaldag unit.
Madagascar forms Parliamentary Israel Allies Caucus
The African island country of Madagascar has initiated the formation of an Israel Allies Caucus for the country parliament. The new caucus will be joining the Israel Allies Foundation’s (IAF) international network of 44 pro-Israel caucuses.
Rescuing refugees on Lesbos
IsraAID has been providing medical, psychological and educational support to some 12,000 Syrian, Afghan and Iraqi refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos for the last five years. Even after devastation by arson and coronavirus outbreaks, IsraAID’s volunteers are staying to help with recovery.
Aid for Chad
Israeli NGO Israeli Flying Aid (IFA) and the AJC have donated PPE, tents, sprayers and more, to help Chad fight floods, Covid-19, malaria, and to absorb refugees fleeing Boko Haram. IFA also sent supplies and medical aid to Chad in December (reported here previously).
Water for Vanuatu
Israeli humanitarian aid NGO IsraAID has helped the South Pacific country of Vanuatu install water-filtration systems, taps and pipes in Latano, South Tongoa and Central Pentecost. The previous system broke down some 40 years ago and residents have been walking over a kilometer to the nearest source.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Innovator of the Year
Israel’s Kando has won the Innovator of the Year competition, held this year by data storage solutions company Seagate. Kando was ranked first with its smart use of data and algorithm that can be installed in sewage treatment systems to monitor irregular metrics that might impact the health of the public.
AI research agreement with UAE
Israel’s Weizmann Institute has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the United Arab Emirates’ Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence. The agreement would allow for exchange programs, conferences and seminars, and a new joint institute for AI.
Building a tech park in Panama
Israel’s Innovation BaseCamp is helping the Panamanian government build a high-tech park project. Its aim is to transform Panama into one of Latin America’s top innovation countries. The announcement came during the CybertechLive Latin America online conference.
OrCam wins German innovation prize
Israel’s OrCam (see here) is the first Israeli company to win Germany’s NRW.INVEST award. The annual prize is given to four exemplary companies that strengthen innovation impetus and bring new products, services and processes to North Rhine-Westphalia and Germany.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xf8YjpalZuM (in German but mostly intuitive for English speakers)
Many of today’s shops, fast-food outlets, medical centers and airports use touch-screen digital kiosks for customers and the public – not Covid-friendly. Israel’s Touchless.ai uses cutting edge voice technology to replace touch taps for screen options with voice commands, also eliminating noise interference.
Safer remote access
Israeli startup Odo Security has developed a new, cloud-based technology that can be deployed in five minutes via the Cloud to provide employees working from home with secure access to their company’s systems. Odo has just been acquired by Israeli hi-tech giant CheckPoint Software Technologies.
Smart fish farming
Israel’s GO Smart has developed hi-tech hardware and software for managing fish farms. They can analyze water quality, fish biomass, mortality, and behavior. Its precision farming systems include an underwater camera to measure fish sizes, oxygen sensors and sophisticated data analysis.
Goodbye to plastic packaging
Israel’s W-Cycle has developed SupraPulp – plastic-free packaging made of sugarcane fiber waste (baasse) that is fully compostable, safe, non-absorbent yet durable. Ready meals in SupraPulp can be frozen and heated to 270 degrees centigrade in an oven, steam cooker or microwave.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
High demand for tech skills
There are still plenty of vacancies in Israeli companies for hi-tech personnel, despite the pandemic. Salary levels also remain high. DevOps engineers and Data specialists are extremely sought-after and cyber security professionals are now seen as critical.
UAE tech company to open Israel office
Group 42, an Abu Dhabi-based hi-tech company, is opening a subsidiary in Israel to give the UAE company “access to one of the most vibrant and mature tech ecosystems in the world.” Group 42 already has partnership agreements with Israeli companies NanoScent, Rafael and IAI.
A gem of a deal
The Israeli and Dubai diamond exchanges have struck a deal to boost trade. The Israeli Diamond Exchange will open an office in Dubai, while the Dubai Multi Commodities Center, an economic free zone, will set up shop in Ramat Gan, Israel, the base of the Israeli exchange.
$150 million fund for Israeli tech startups
Israeli VC company Greenfield Partners has closed a $150m fund to continue its strategy of supporting early growth stage Israeli and Israel-related technology and tech-enabled businesses. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/greenfield-partners-announces-close-of-150m-fund-301126254.html
$100 million fintech venture fund
Israeli cybersecurity startup foundry Team8 (see here) has launched Team8 Fintech – a platform to establish and scale-up transformative financial technology companies. Team8 is investing $100 million, looking to satisfy the demand for digital solutions in a post-Covid-19 world.
Another tech fund
Israel-based Hetz Ventures has closed its second flagship fund totaling $77 million, bringing its total amount to $130 million. Hetz has invested in 10 pre-seed Israeli AI, Big Data, cybersecurity, fintech, and DevOps companies since its launch in 2018.
More success during Covid-19
Israeli transcription startup Verbit (reported here previously) now has more than 120 employees and has raised a total of $65 million. 2020 has been its most successful year ever – growing to 500 paid customers (including Harvard and Stanford Universities) and seeing revenues grow fivefold.
100 startups generated
The Tel Aviv municipality held Israel’s largest-ever bootcamp (reported here previously). Speakers included MK Nir Barkat, OurCrowd’s Jon Medved, and IAI CEO Aharon Aharon. Volunteers managed 100 projects, 20 speakers, and 60 mentors over Zoom calls and WhatsApp groups.
BMW use Israeli tech to feel the road
Israel’s Tactile Mobility has signed a deal to provide BMW with its road-sensing software that allows smart cars to “feel the road” and adjust like a human driver. Volkswagen subsidiary Porsche has already invested in the Israeli startup (reported here previously).
Point of Sale credit
Israel’s Jifiti (reported here previously) has signed a strategic partnership agreement with Mastercard. Jifiti has grown from being purely an in-store gifting platform into enabling point of sale financing. Its technology allows banks and retailers (e.g. Apple & IKEA) to offer immediate credit by using Mastercard.
Rivilus exits for $365 million
Singapore’s Temasek is to acquire Israeli-based micro-irrigation company Rivulis for a reported $365 million. Temasek intends to retain Rivulis’ current management, as well as its headquarters in Kibbutz Gvat. Rivulis’ 2019 sales were some $400 million. 400 of its 1800 staff are in Israel.
Investment in Israeli startups:
EverC raised $35 million; Capitolis raised $11 million; Hysolate raised $10 million; Aidoc raised $20 million; BrandTotal raised $12 million; Varada raised $12 million; Medigate raised $30 million; Sternum raised $6.5 million; Blue White Robotics raised $10 million; Ionir raised $11 million.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT`
US honor for Israeli literary program
Keren Grinspoon Israel has been selected as a 2020 US Library of Congress Literacy Awards Program Best Practice Honoree for its literary program. KGI distributes some 3.5 million books in Hebrew and Arabic each year to more than 500,000 Israeli children (reported here previously).
Israeli Art Lending Library
The first-ever Israeli Art Lending Library has been launched at US Northeastern University. Students can bring a piece of Israeli art back to their dorm rooms for the year. It is an initiative of Returning the Sparks, a non-profit which helps connect Jews with Judaism and Israel.
The Israel Director of Stand With Us, Michael Dickson, together with Dr Naomi Baum, have written a new book “ISResilience: What Israelis Can Teach the World”. It features resilient Israelis who have withstood troubles and not just survived but thrived. The aim of the book is to help everyone develop resilience.
Amazon USA; Amazon UK; Amazon Canada; Kindle; Israel;
UAE TV & film students to train in Israel
Students from the UAE will study at Jerusalem’s Sam Spiegel Film and Television School. An agreement signed soon after the Israel-UAE normalization ceremony aims to strengthen commercial ties through training programs for film and TV co-production and joint film festivals.
A Night of Heroes
For those who were unable to watch the 2020 Friends of the IDF Virtual Gala live, here is a 90-second clip of some of the scenes. And the second link will give you the full 90-minute show.
I’m in Dubai
Black Israeli hip hop singer Stephane Legar has made a music video of his trip to the Emirates city of Dubai. Probably best for the younger generation of newsletter readers, but certainly of historic value.
With one heart
Sarit Hadad and Netta Barzilai sing Belev Echad. The song appears on Tzav HaShaa (Call to Action), an album of 50 covers of classic Israeli songs by today’s best-known Israeli singers. The project aims to support the struggling local music industry.
Israeli completes the Tour de France
Guy Niv is the first Israeli to finish the Tour de France cycle race. He said, “I felt shivers when I crossed the finish line on the Champs-Elysées. It was a sense of vast relief and sheer happiness: I have done it for the next generation of young Israeli cyclists.” His team had 7 top 10 stage finishes.
THE JEWISH STATE
The writing is on the wall
A 2000-year-old clay inkwell has been discovered intact in Gush Etzion. The discovery of the inkwell strengthens the hypothesis that literacy was relatively common among the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria during the Second Temple period.
The mothers of Methuselah and Hannah
Dr Sarah Sallon, who together with Dr Elaine Soloway brought back the Judean date palm from extinction, describes the “miracle” of trees Methuselah and Hannah that were planted from 2000-year-old seeds discovered at Masada. The dates are described as delicious – naturally!
2000 more Ethiopians to make Aliya
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, the Israeli government has allocated $51 million to bring another 2,000 Falash Mura – Ethiopians with Jewish ancestry – to Israel this year. Those prospective Olim are currently living in temporary camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa.
Peace agreements signed with UAE & Bahrain
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed the Abraham Accords with the Foreign ministers of the United Arab Emirates and of Bahrain. The historic signing took place on the lawn of the White House.