Good News Israel Archive from the week of December 13, 2015: Israeli researchers have created a new, flexible material that is sensitive to touch and can heal itself automatically; World Bank brings Brazil delegation to Israel and much more.
By: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Missing protein causes hearing loss in elderly
Joint Israeli-US research has discovered that the absence of protein RFX in many elderly people causes hearing loss. The protein is responsible for maintaining tiny hairs (cilia) in the inner ear. When these hairs die off, the person becomes deaf. The team believe their discovery will help develop treatments to restore hearing in patients.
Self-healing artificial skin
Israeli researchers at Israel’s Technion have created a new, flexible material that is sensitive to touch and can heal itself automatically if there is damage within 10-30 minutes, according to research published in the Advanced Materials journal.
Protein link to aggression
Researchers at Israel’s Weizmann Institute investigating the protein tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) found in the brains of humans and animals, have discovered that low TH levels increase aggression in males. High TH levels reduce aggression in males but increase motherly instincts in females.
US approves leukemia treatment
The US FDA has approved BENDEKA, (bendamustine hydrochloride) injection from Israel’s Teva for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and for indolent B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). BENDEKA is expected to be commercially available by 1st Quarter 2016.
Israel’s SmartZyme is developing new proteins and enzymes for medical and industrial uses. One enzyme has improved bio-electrochemical glucose catalysis, to be used on glucose test strips for the Self Monitoring Blood Glucose (SMBG) market. SmartZyme has just received $4 million of funding.
Infrared imaging checks quality of sealed treatments
Israel’s DIR Technologies has invented a system that checks every package of medicine using thermal imaging. Operators can then find and fix problems causing faulty seals whenever they occur, without destroying a sample or holding up the production line.
Kids kicking cancer in Israel
Kids Kicking Cancer, founded by Detroit Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg, has now expanded to five Israeli hospitals. Children who have life-threatening diseases are taught martial arts in order to help them cope with the aftermath of the disease. The pool of instructors includes both Jews and Arabs.
Identifying your “Sleep DNA”
Israeli crowdsourcing platform Sleep ASAP (see Jun 2015 newsletter) offers insomniacs a solution to their sleeping problems. In a recent study, Sleep ASAP analyzed personality traits and sleep habits of 2500 participants. It successfully determined the reason for the insomnia in 99% of cases.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
Public transport costs down, child benefit up
2.5 million Israeli travelers will benefit from expanded public transportation discounts or free travel. They include 2 million children aged between 5 and 18, 280,000 disabled people; the blind and those accompanying them. Child benefit will increase by up to 34%, backdated to May.
The Ethiopian festival of Sigd
The Sigd holiday, 50 days after Yom Kippur, is now celebrated annually in Jerusalem. Kessim (leaders of the Ethiopian Jewish community) in traditional garb sat under colorful umbrellas. Buses brought tens of thousands of Israeli Ethiopians from all over Israel to participate.
Glide awarded for work with hearing-impaired
US national advocacy group for the deaf and hard of hearing, TDI (Telecommunications for the Deaf and hard of Hearing) has awarded the Andrew Saks Engineering Award to Israeli startup Glide for making its video messaging app accessible to the hearing-impaired.
New bridge to connect Israel and Jordan
A new bridge is to be built across the Jordan River to connect Israel and Jordan. The bridge is a key part of the Jordan Gateway project – a joint industrial and business area spanning the river that is a natural border between the two countries.
3,000 come to honor fallen Druze hero
3,000 people, from all over Israel, attended the memorial of Druze policeman Zidan Saif, killed whilst responding to a terrorist attack at a Jerusalem synagogue one year ago.
IDF’s dramatic rescue of wounded Syrians
The UK Daily Mail has published video footage of an IDF mission to evacuate seriously wounded Syrian Sunni rebels and treat them in Israel. The mission also returned treated patients to Syria.
Water for Ethiopian kids
Israel’s Technion Institute chapter of Engineers Without Borders has built a safe drinking supply water system in a village school at Meskele Cristos, in northern Ethiopia. The system collects and stores rainwater from rooftops during the rainy season giving fresh water to over 600 schoolchildren.
Israeli-trained medics treat Paris trauma victims
15 French clinicians, trained by Israeli experts, provided psycho-trauma treatment to victims of the Nov 13 Paris terror attacks. The Israel Trauma Coalition trained 80 French mental-health professionals following the terror attack on a Paris kosher supermarket last January.
6 million seeds for Indian farmers
The Indo-Israel vegetable center of excellence in Haryana state, India has boosted the annual number of seedlings grown by state farmers from half a million in 2011 to six million in 2015. Farmers from Punjab, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh are also using the facility.
World Bank brings Brazil delegation to Israel
A delegation of 4 World Bank representatives and 20 from nine Brazilian states came to Israel in November to view water and agriculture technologies that can be implemented in the extensive World Bank and other projects planned in Brazil.
UN Euro conference protected by Israeli technology
The Skystar 180 tactical aerostat surveillance balloon system developed by Israel’s RT Ita Systems was used to protect world leaders at the recent United Nations climate summit in Paris. And a nice cartoon by Dry Bones to illustrate the significance.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Millions use Israeli app after Paris attacks
During the 24 hours after the Paris terror attacks, 4.1 million people checked in with friends and relatives using Facebook Safety Check, a technology developed by Facebook Israel’s research and development department. The app then sent messages to 360 million people to inform them that their loved ones were safe.
Germany and Israel sign space agreement
Representatives of the German and Israel Space Agencies signed an agreement in Tel Aviv for cooperation on technological R&D to benefit mankind. Among the topics will be space missions, observations of Earth, communications, navigation and deep space.
Research with the UK to double
The Israeli Ministry of Science, Technology and Space will partner with the UK Government’s Science and Innovation Network on a new set of Researcher Exchange Programs, doubling the number of research scientists for the next four years.
TA University and China
Tel Aviv University has forged links with over 30 leading universities and major Chinese cities – the latest with Nanjing and Yunnan. TAU also signed a memorandum of understanding with Peking University to establish a joint agricultural research institute in Weifang, China. Research will focus on climate, improving crop yield, and creating food strains with enhanced nutritional properties.
4 Israelis in MIT’s top 35 innovators under 35
Four Israelis are among 35 honored this year by MIT with its annual list of young researchers who have had a huge impact on the world – and are expected to go on to do much more. They are Dr Gilad Evrony (brain cells), Professor Cigall Kadoch (neuro-technology devices), Dr Rikky Muller (cancer research) and Ben Rubin (Meerkat video app).
A whole new tire design
Israeli start-up Galileo Wheel has invented a new design of tires for agricultural vehicles. It provides better control, a wider footprint, more stability, and the ability to transform between tire and track mode, depending on what terrain the vehicle is riding on.
Detecting the smallest of leaks
Israel’s Aquarius Spectrum can detect water leaks from holes only 1.5mm diameter. The startup has just received $2.2 million of funding.
Juice-flavored water cups
Israeli startup The Right Cup has developed a fruit-scented cup that tricks the brain into thinking it is drinking juice instead of plain water. CEO Isaac Lavi created the product after contracting diabetes and forced to avoid sugary drinks. He has raised $90,000 more than his $50,000 target.
A much better tour
Israeli start-up Manage Your Trip collects, collates and analyzes data to determine the pluses and minuses of a tour, a guide, a venue, a restaurant, a bus company, and many other factors. The system is geared not only to provide tourists with a better experience – but tour organizers with bigger profits.
Get a better job, faster
Israeli startup Highr recently completed Microsoft’s accelerator program (see July newsletter) and is now matching qualified people to technical job vacancies with a success rate of 78%.
Protecting mobile apps
Israeli startup AppDome protects any mobile application. It allows users to download a secure version of an app within minutes and distribute it via the App Store or Google Play. AppDome was named 2015 Gartner Cool Vendor in Mobile Security and has just raised $13 million of funding.
3D printing in metal
Israeli startup Xjet has developed technology to print 3D objects made of metal (current 3D printing is based on plastic). It could revolutionize the production of custom-made metal objects, which currently require an expensive mold to take liquid metal that then solidifies.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Economy strengthens as exports surge
Israel’s economy grew by an annualized 2.5 percent in the third quarter of 2015. Private spending (Israel’s main growth driver) rose 2.4% and exports grew by 4.4%.
Lower water charges
Water charges will fall by 3% in Israel from Jan 1. Charges have been cut by a cumulative 20% in the past three years. The current cut is thanks to a 16% annual fall in the price of electricity – the main cost in water desalination that produces much of the water consumed in Israel.
No VAT on public transportation
The Israeli cabinet has approved the exempting of public transportation from VAT. From Jan 1 2016, the cost of public transportation for all Israelis will fall by 17%.
600 million mites to Colombia
Bio-Bee, of Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu is providing up to 600 million predatory mites to Colombian farmers. The mites naturally eliminate harmful species of mites decimating Columbia, allowing farmers to reduce the use of pesticides and meet ecological requirements for overseas exports.
44% more Indian tourists
The number of tourists to Israel in October from India increased by 44% over the same month last year. Overall, Oct 2015 saw a 5% increase in tourists compared with Oct 2014
Tel Aviv’s first tech IPO in 2015
Israeli security startup Safe-T has launched on the Tel Aviv stock exchange (TASE) – the first tech company to do so in 2015. Safe-T expects to raise $5.6 million from the IPO.
A better rate for your currency?
Foreign exchange platform CurrencyTransfer has announced that it will be extending its services to holders of Israeli shekels. The UK firm has just opened new offices in Tel Aviv and offers rates within 0.5% of market rates with no fees or charges. Banks vary between 2-5% of market rates.
Six joint US-Israeli projects received a total of $5.1 million from the 2015 Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Energy program. Israeli companies involved are 3GSolar, Ayyeka, Haogenplast, Pentalum, Solaris-Synergy and Yissum. See video of US Secretary of Energy.
The 4th best airport in the world
Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport was ranked as the world’s fourth best international airport in a survey conducted by Condé Nast Traveler readers. With a rating of 7/10, Ben Gurion Airport was praised for easy access from downtown Tel Aviv, and as “one of the world’s most secure airports.
Invest in the Startup Nation
Now you can purchase, on NASDAQ, units of the ITEQ ETF, a new Exchange Traded Fund that exclusively hold shares of public Israeli and Israel-linked technology companies by tracking the TASE-BlueStar Israel Global Technology Index (TA-BIGITech).
Amazon selects Payoneer for Cross-Border Payment Options
Internet giant Amazon has chosen Israeli-developed Payoneer to expand cross-border payment options to sellers from 24 countries.
Low-salt vegetable mix launched
Israel’s Salt of the Earth has launched Umamix (see Aug 2015 newsletter), its new sodium reduction ingredient for hamburgers and processed meat at Fi Europe, Paris. Umamix is derived from tomato, shiitake mushroom, kombu seaweed and pure Red Sea salt.
Frutarom’s 11th & 12th acquisitions of the year
Israeli flavors and specialty fine ingredients company Frutarom Industries has acquired 75% of Polish savory flavor solutions company AMCO Sp for $20.7 million. Frutarom then purchased China’s flavor developer Inventive for $17 million.
Lipogen builds new R&D center
Israeli biotech Lipogen is building a new phospholipids Research & Development center in Haifa in response to a 50% jump in sales of brain and stress health solutions in 2015.
UK utility buys Israeli sensor company
Energy company Direct Energy (a subsidiary of UK’s Centrica) has paid $60 million for Israeli startup Panoramic Power, which uses sensors and software to monitor the energy use of businesses.
Citi spotlights Tel Aviv
Financial giant Citi has hailed the success of its Israel Innovation Lab – an accelerator program which since 2013 has helped 43 Israeli startups. The lab was responsible for developing the mobile version of Citi Velocity – the bank’s trading platform for institutional clients.
Trendit to launch on LSE
Israeli startup Trendit grabs data from mobile phone signals to build real-time information about pedestrian traffic. The information will become increasingly useful to service developers in “Smart” cities. Trendit wants to raise £3m from listing on the London Stock Exchange.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
The Israel museum at night
On one night of the year Jerusalem’s Israel Museum stays open until 3am.
Itzhak Perlman receives US Medal of Freedom
The famous violinist, 70-year-old Itzhak Perlman, is the fourth Israeli to be awarded the US Medal of Freedom – America’s highest civilian honor. The White House statement praised Perlman’s teaching of young musicians and his work on behalf of persons with disabilities.
Kol Cambridge Hanukkah special
DJ Antithesis celebrates the miracle of Hanukkah with the miracle of some fantastic Israeli music.
FIDF gala raises $31 million
Friends of the IDF raised over $31 million at their annual gala in Los Angeles. Over 1200 guests were entertained by celebrities including the Beach Boys, Jason Alexander, Antonio Banderas, David Foster and Gene Simmons.
Elton John is coming to Israel
Superstar Elton John has announced that he is returning to Israel in May 2016 to perform a concert in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park.
Sean Paul to perform in Israel
Grammy award-winning rapper Sean Paul is to perform in Israel on 23 Jan 2016 at the Menora Mivtachim Arena in Tel Aviv. He performed previously in Israel in 2007.
THE JEWISH STATE
King Hezekiah’s seal impression dug up in Jerusalem
During recent excavations next to the Old City of Jerusalem, archaeologists discovered a unique seal impression (bulla) bearing the name of the 8th century BCE biblical King Hezekiah. The inscription reads: “Belonging to Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz, King of Judah.”
1300-year-old olive press found at Shilo
An ancient olive press was unearthed at the Shilo archaeological park in the Binyamin region of Judea and Samaria. It is proof that aside from being the capital of ancient Israel for 369 years and housing the Ark of the Covenant, Shilo was also the region’s main manufacturer of olive oil.
Students unearth Hasmonean coins
A team of students from the Handasaim Herzliya High School found three coins from the Hasmonean dynasty era while on an archeological dig in the ruins at Adulam Park near Bet Shemesh. The coins were minted during the rule of King Alexander Jannaeus in the first century BCE.
PM lights chanukiah made from Hamas rockets
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a special request to grassroots pro-Israel organization United With Israel. He asked for one of UWI’s chanukiahs made from the metal remnants of Hamas rockets. The PM then attended the lighting of the chanukiah at an IDF Chanukah ceremony.
Christian leader supports Jewish State
Father Gabriel Nadaf, spiritual leader of the Aramaean Christian community in Israel, toured Samaria and met senior rabbis near Shechem. He stated that the Land of Israel, including Samaria, belongs to the Jewish people forever, based on the Bible. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/204587#.VmcR9-Ln-Vc
My tzitzit saved my life
Yair Ben Ezra had no clean tzitzit (fringed garment) to wear and was reluctant to put on the new one that he bought for his sister’s wedding the next day. In the end he put on the new tzitzit, which was lucky, for a terrorist stabbed him five times and medics used the tzitzit as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
Brazilian Jews moving to Israel in record numbers
Immigration to Israel, or aliyah, from Brazil has more than doubled in the past four years, from 191 in 2011 to over 400 so far this year. Recession and violence in Brazil are key reasons. But so is the better quality of Israeli life in educational, social and religious fields.
Bring them home
The Israeli government approved unanimously a decision to allow the Falash Mura who are still in transit camps in Ethiopia to be flown to Israel. Israeli-Ethiopian MK Avraham Negusa said, “This is a great day for the Jewish people. For thousands of years, Ethiopian Jewry prayed to return to Israel and waited for nearly a decade torn from their families. Today their prayers were answered.”
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