Good News Israel Archive from the week of July 19, 2015: Israeli bees save Japan’s crops; a smart helmet for formula racing and much more.
By: Michael Ordman
ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Stem cells may repair damaged lungs
A study by Weizmann Institute scientists has shown that embryonic stem cells may be able to repair damaged lung tissue and help alleviate chronic respiratory disease. Mice with damaged lungs were injected with these cells and in six weeks their breathing had improved. (Nature medicine)
Good early results in Universal flu vaccine tests
Preliminary results from the Phase 2 clinical trials of Universal Flu vaccine M-001 from Israel’s BiondVax have shown the treatment to be effective and safe. Recipients showed an immune response against strains not included in the standard flu vaccine.
Israeli medics at Dubai conference
Israel’s emergency response organization United Hatzalah attended a first-ever conference in the Arab Emirate, Dubai on improving medical and emergency care around the world. Hatzalah explained how Israeli hi-tech, volunteers and motorcycle ambulances dramatically cut response times.
Israeli cancer research charity gets top rating
The Israel Cancer Research Fund (ICRF) received a top 4-Star rating from Charity Navigator, the world’s premier charity evaluator. ICRF has given 2,115 grants worth over $52 million to Israeli cancer researchers, leading to significant breakthroughs.
Analyzing disease at the single-cell level
Israeli scientists are working with those at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT to help eradicate diseases at the cellular level. One Israeli scientist at Broad has published a paper of which of the 20,000 genes is essential to particular cancer cells, and therefore weak spots to target.
A medical wonderland for healing kids
Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center has just opened its Wilf Children’s Hospital. It has several facilities to calm young patients, including an animal house, music school, arts and craft therapy, books and games libraries and Israel’s specialty – medical clowns.
Israeli vets save tooth of US peacekeeping dog
Veterinary surgeons at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem operated on Belgian Shepherd dog Dano to repair a canine tooth broken during service with the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in the Sinai. Dano broke the same tooth during previous service in Afghanistan.
ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL
El Al stewardess uses sign language
El Al’s Larisa Speyer studies sign language and discovered that a deaf athletic team was flying out to Taiwan. So she managed to get assigned to the flight. The deaf passengers were delighted. And if you are flying from Luton UK, look out for EasyJet’s Israeli flight attendant.
An iPad keyboard for disabled kids
Four employees of SAP Labs Israel have developed an interactive keyboard that disabled children at Beit Issie Shapiro can use in order to learn to type.
IDF medical unit for Palestinian Arabs
A newly designated IDF reserves company will focus entirely on providing medical care and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian Arab population. They also will work closely with Palestinian Authority medical institutions to help develop PA medical infrastructure.
Israel Inside: Netafim
Worth watching this video from Jerusalem U featuring Israel’s Netafim and its drip irrigation system. Internationally, transforming unproductive land into flourishing agricultural centers.
Israeli bees save Japan’s crops
Israeli bumblebees are being sent to Japan to help make up for a lack of bees caused by increased use of pesticides in the rice fields. Israel’s Bio Bee firm, at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, ships the bees in spacious hives, each with an impregnated queen bee and 50 worker bees.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
AVG launches R&D center in Israel
Online security company AVG is establishing its global Center of Excellence for mobile technology in Tel Aviv. AVG previously bought Israel’s DroidSecurity which developed AVG’s AntiVirus for Android with over 100 million downloads.
Snap it, find it, and buy it
The on-line shoe business is worth $10 billion per year and Israel’s SnapGet’s Android or iOS app makes it even better for customers. Just take a photo of a shoe that you want to buy and SnapGet will search 50,000 styles and 18,000 merchants to find it (or something very similar) at the best price.
Ensuring the purity of our drinking water
Israel’s national water company Mekorot is implementing remote water monitoring kits from Israeli startup Ayyeka. The kits work with all types of sensor to measure the level of chlorine and turbidity (murkiness). Mekorot plans to roll out the kits throughout Israel.
Iron dome tech to maintain New York power supply
Israel’s mPrest will use a $900,000 grant from the Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation to change its missile-deflecting technology so it can detect malfunctioning power transformers operated by the New York Power Authority.
Yet another “doggy” app
PlayDate can now be added to the list of dog-friendly Israeli apps. The app is a one-stop service that allows dog owners to connect in a completely new way. Dog owners can swipe through profiles of canines in the area, and set up doggy dates through instant messaging.
Solving world hunger with – grasshoppers
Israeli startup Steak Tzar Tzar (Hebrew for “cricket”) is farming grasshoppers to solve the world’s protein shortage. The insect is 70% protein and marketable to at least the 2.5 billion people who already consume insects. And they are even kosher – to the traditions of Yemenite Jews.
A smart helmet for formula racing
The entry of Israel’s Technion for the 2015 Formula SAE competition in Italy in September features a helmet with a head-up display, so the driver can read the car’s systems while keeping eyes on the road. The car has also been vastly improved. The students won prizes in 2013 and 2014.
Watch the students of Israel’s Technion compete to race elastic-band powered boats (built in advance) to travel eight meters, anchor by means of a magnet, and fire a jet of water into a funnel from a distance of three meters – all this is in the shortest possible time and with smallest number of rubber bands.
Eco-friendly pesticide for nematodes
Israel’s Adama has received Israeli approval to market NIMITZ, a novel, non-fumigant nematicide with unprecedented user safety and simplified application features. The innovative product controls nematodes, one of the most destructive and problematic pests in agriculture.
Gett updates app for blind passengers
Israel’s Gett, the black cab app, has made its smartphone app more accessible to visually-impaired passengers. 17-year-old Israeli developer Adi Kushnir, who has been blind since birth, worked with Gett to integrate Apple’s “VoiceOver” and Google’s “TalkBack”.
A driverless car on Israel’s roads!
The Bloomberg reporter takes off his shoes and puts his feet on the dashboard as he takes a car fitted with Israel’s MobileEye on Route 1 – Israel’s busiest highway.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
New record currency reserves
Israel’s foreign currency reserves as at June 2015 rose to a new all-time record level of $88.186 billion. It includes a $7.15 billion fund from the natural gas program.
Chinese giant buys Israeli bio-fungicide developer
Israel’s Stockton Group, a world leader in the bio-pesticide business, is being acquired by China’s Hebang Group for $90 million. Stockton’s Timorex Gold bio-fungicide is sold in 20 countries to treat rice, coffee, grapes, tomatoes, bananas, and other fruits and vegetables.
Facebook buys Israeli hand-tracking startup
Facebook’s Virtual Reality subsidiary Oculus has spent around $60 million to acquire Israel’s Pebbles Interfaces, which specializes in technology that can track hand movements. Pebbles says it uses micro-optics and computer vision to help take virtual reality to the next level.
Non-stop to Tokyo
Representatives from Israel’s airline El Al and Japan’s biggest airline, All Nippon, have signed a deal to offer 14 direct flights each week between Tel Aviv and Tokyo. 13,000 people travelled from Japan to Israel in 2014 but had to make connections via Hong Kong or Seoul.
Israeli business students visit China
Graduate students in real estate and business administration at the Netanya Academic College have had first-hand encounters with corporate leaders in China. They learnt how to deal with the challenges that foreigners face when seeking to operate in China.
Intel launches accelerator for Israeli startups
Intel Israel has announced its Ingenuity Partner Program (IPP), an accelerator program that will provide assistance, mentoring, and connections to Israeli startups. Nine companies are already enrolled into the first six-month program.
SAP’s Israeli R&D center
SAP’s innovation center in Ra’anana is profiting strongly from its relationships within the Israeli startup ecosystem. SAP Israel has partnered with “The Junction,” Israel’s most successful accelerator for young startups. SAP Labs Israel will support by selecting and mentoring the teams.
11 graduates of Microsoft’s 6th startup program
Another 11 Israeli startups have completed Microsoft’s accelerator program, bringing to 70 successful Israeli startups launched by the program. The latest include employment apps GetJob and Highr; DOV-E and Bontact support shopping; Taranis is an agro-tech startup.
An incubator for food tech startups
A new incubator in Ashdod, The Kitchen, hosts Israeli food technology startups. In partnership with the Strauss Group, the program was awarded a government franchise for eight years. It will tackle alternative sources of protein, spoilage of food, quality and food safety, and robotics.
Germany opens startup initiative in Tel Aviv
Israel is the first country to participate in Germany’s EXIST program, which has been supporting students, graduates, and scientists from universities and research institutes as they work to get highly innovative start-up projects off the ground.
CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT
The English National Theatre of Israel
Launched in June 2014, the English National Theatre of Israel produces, promotes and provides a platform for professional theatre and musicals in English. They have just finished staging five performances of “You won’t succeed on Broadway, if you don’t have any Jews”.
Keeping cool in the summer heat
Tourists walking in Jerusalem’s pedestrianized Yoel Moshe Solomon Street will be able to get a little shade this summer thanks to 1000 colored umbrellas suspended across the artsy lane. The Umbrellas Street Project has free shows by local street artists and musicians until 5th Oct. And TY Size Doesn’t Matter and The Culture Trip for 5 other ways to cool down in Jerusalem.
For music, head for the Port
Rock & Port is a series of outdoor concerts with top Israeli musicians and bands at the Port of Tel Aviv – all free! The sandbox on the north deck will turn into an outdoor concert venue during July and August. E.g. Aug 23 – Avraham Tal, Tuesday, August 25 – Hadag Nachash
Lacrosse in Israel
My wife recently met a US intern working with the Israel Premier Lacrosse League (IPLL). He had been coaching children at an Israeli summer camp. El Al sponsored a Taglit-Birthright trip for more than 40 US lacrosse athletes who have donated equipment and are teaching Israelis to play.
THE JEWISH STATE
2000 Olim from North America this summer
Nefesh b’Nefesh reports that 2,000 Jews from the USA and Canada are to begin new lives in the Jewish State this summer. Last week 221 (32 families and 53 singles) arrived on a charter flight. 25% are in the “Go North” and Go South” programs to settle in the periphery. In the Youtube, 90-year-old Olah Sue Friedman is coming home. (TY Jacob Richman for photos of the arrival flight)
Yeshiva opens IDF cyber defense program
For the first time ever, Hareidi religious boys are learning cyber defense in a four-year Beit Midrash program, whilst preparing for IDF service. After the first year at Beit Midrash Derech Chaim, 80% of the boys passed the cyber test in which 35% is considered a high achievement.
Israeli-Christian group produces anti-BDS guide
The Christian Empowerment Council, an Israeli Christian group headed by Father Gabriel Nadaf, has released a new guide entitled “Test the spirits: A Christian Guide to the Anti-Israel Boycott Movement”. The guide challenges Christian anti-Zionism at the ideological level.
The “Israelification” of Jerusalem’s Arabs
Almost all Arabs living in Jerusalem used to opt for permanent resident status in order to identify with other Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria. Now, hundreds apply for Israeli citizenship every year. They are abandoning politics for a better quality of life.
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