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Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Launches $1B Innovation Fund With Tel Aviv Office

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 05:09

January 14, 2018 | Auto alliance Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, also known as Alliance Ventures, announced on Sunday that it was launching a new $1 billion venture capital fund for “next-generation mobility,” with offices in Tel Aviv, Silicon Valley, Paris, Yokohama, and Beijing. The alliance says the locations were chosen based on proximity “to the technology and research centers of the Alliance member companies, as well as to areas with strong innovation ecosystems.” The fund will prioritize “open innovation in new mobility, including electrification, autonomous systems, connectivity and artificial intelligence,” according to a press release. The funds will be invested over the next five years. The first deal will be a strategic investment in Ionic Materials, a US company developing cobalt-free solid-state battery materials, the companies announced. Carlos Ghosn, chairman and chief executive officer of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi, said, “Our open innovation approach will allow us to invest and collaborate with start-up companies and technology entrepreneurs, who will benefit from the global scale of the Alliance. This new fund reflects the collaborative spirit and entrepreneurial mindset at the heart of the Alliance.” Renault (40 percent), Nissan (40 percent) and Mitsubishi Motors (20 percent) will jointly fund the venture. Renault opened an innovation center in Israel in 2016.


Gal Gadot Becomes Face Of US Cosmetics Brand Revlon & Chinese Phone Maker Huawei

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 02:33

This past year has been quite a year for “Wonder Woman,” also known as Israeli model and actress Gal Gadot.

The badass female action hero blockbuster garnered more than $800 million at the box office worldwide, making it the 5th highest grossing US superhero movie of all time. Gadot herself has become a household name with serious star power, mentioned in the same breath as Hollywood’s top actors.

SEE ALSO: Meet The Top 10 Most Influential Israelis In International Business, Science, and Culture In 2017

Now, the 32-year old married mom of two has bagged two prestigious new roles — as brand ambassador for multinational giants Revlon and Huawei.

Last week, Gadot took to Instagram to announce she was the new Global Ambassador for Revlon’s Live Boldly campaign. She noted that the brand’s ideals clearly line up with her own. “They love women, they celebrate women, and they’re very accessible,” she told fashion industry trade journal Women’s Wear Daily on January 9.

“Revlon is such an iconic and groundbreaking brand, a champion of women, and I am so happy to be part of this family now. There’s a cultural shift happening, which Revlon celebrates, where feminine power is recognized, and I’m so proud that I get to witness and live this amazing change,” she said in a statement.

President and CEO of Revlon Fabian Garcia said, “Gal captures the beauty, strength, modernity and boldness that Revlon represents,” adding that the Israeli actress “and all the new Revlon brand ambassadors are emblematic of the beauty, determination and attitude that reflect what it is for women to live boldly in today’s world.”

You know I love a bold red lip, right? Well, I’m about to make it official. Check out this little teaser from @revlon #LiveBoldly pic.twitter.com/W1b4x7Fa3t

— Gal Gadot (@GalGadot) January 9, 2018

On the same day, Chinese telecommunications company Huawei, the world’s third-largest phone maker behind Apple and Samsung, announced that it had signed Gadot as a celebrity spokesperson for the company, crowning her “CEO” — Chief Experience Officer.

Huawei announced Gadot’s new role during a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week hosted by the company’s actual CEO, Chief Executive Officer, Richard Yu.

“In this new role, Ms. Gadot will help shape the company’s brand experiences and play an active role in listening to and providing ongoing ideas to inform how Huawei will bring the best experiences to its consumers,” the company said in a statement, as reported by Tech Crunch.

Gadot’s history with Huawei

Gadot has been associated with Huawei in the past and has reportedly been using Huawei phones, including its newest Mate 10 Pro. She had also been promoting the brand in Israel and in 2015 and 2016, appeared in tv commercials for Huawei in her native country. In 2017, she advertised Huawei’s P9 phone as a spokesperson alongside actress Scarlett Johansson.

The Mate 10 Pro Android phone, which Huawei calls its flagship device, and “the best phone you’ve never heard of,” comes with its own AI-powered chips that the company says can process data faster than products from Apple and Samsung. The phone was launched in Europe in October 2017, with a cost of $955.

Gadot is set to star in a Huawei Mate 10 Pro ad in February, to coincide with the expected launch in the US.

But those plans may have hit a snag. Huawei’s new deal with Gadot came just as talks of the phone’s US distribution “collapsed at the 11th hour because of security concerns,” Reuters reported, citing “people with knowledge of the matter.” Huawei had planned a deal with US carrier AT&T to be included in its lineup to sell the Mate 10 in the United States, but the deal fell through at the last minute.

It was a unique turn of events, placing another obstacle in front of Huawei’s pursuit to break into the US market. The company had already tried a number of times, weathering allegations of espionage and partnership with the Chinese government. Carrier distribution in the US is significant for international smartphone makers that want to break into the US market, since a majority of devices are purchased through carriers.

Gal Gadot at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, event for her movie “Justice League.” Photo via Gage Skidmore, Creative Commons

Reuters reports that AT&T was “pressured to drop the deal after members of the US Senate and House intelligence committees sent a letter on Dec. 20 to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) citing concerns about Huawei’s plans to launch consumer products through a major US telecom carrier.” The letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, signed by 18 lawmakers, noted concerns about Huawei’s alleged role in Chinese espionage.

While Huawei is the third-largest phone maker in the world, due to its popularity in China and Europe, security concerns have always dodged the smartphone company in the United States.  Huawei has consistently denied the allegations.

Gadot did not address the setback in the statement announcing she was named as Huawei’s new global ambassador, and instead praised the company for its vision.

“Huawei is constantly pushing the boundaries and bringing cutting-edge technology to its customers, and I’m honored to join the company as it launches the Huawei Mate 10 Pro in the US,” she said. “Partnering with an innovative brand like Huawei is incredibly exciting for me, and I look forward to playing an integral part of the company’s growth in the year ahead.”

Israel’s Check Point Finds Porn Malware In Google Play Store Games

Sun, 01/14/2018 - 01:32

Israeli software and data security giant Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. alerted Google over the weekend to porn-related malware in at least 63 game apps on Google’s Play Store, prompting the US tech company to remove the games, many of which were for children.

Check Point published a report on Friday announcing its discovery of the malicious code, dubbed “AdultSwine” which the Israeli company says wreaks havoc in three main ways: “displaying ads from the web that are often highly inappropriate and pornographic”; “attempting to trick users into installing fake ‘security apps'”; and convincing “users to register [for] premium services at the user’s expense.”

SEE ALSO: Israel’s Check Point Discovers ‘Fireball’ Malware; 250 Million Computers Worldwide Infected

The malware can also “use its infrastructure to broaden its goals to other purposes, such as credential theft,” Check Point says, adding that once the malicious code “is installed on the device, it waits for a boot to occur or for a user to unlock his screen, upon which it initiates its malicious activity.”

A diagram by Check Point on how the porn malware works. Via Check Point

“Adult Swine” also displays “scareware,” frightening users into installing unnecessary and potentially harmful “security” apps, and tricks them into entering phone numbers by announcing they’ve won a prize. Once entered, the code then makes use of the number to register for the victims for fraudulent premium services, charging their accounts.

Check Point says the code operates by contacting its Command and Control server (C&C) to report a successful installation and send data about the infected device. It then “receives the configurations, which determine its course of operation,” and make decisions like “whether to hide its icon (to encumber removal), which ads to display, over which apps and on what terms.”

“It is interesting to note that the server, however, forbids ads to be displayed over certain apps such as browsers and social networks, in order to avoid suspicion,” the Israeli company adds.

In a statement to the Financial Times, Google said it had “removed the apps from Play, disabled the developers’ accounts and will continue to show strong warnings to anyone that has installed them.”

“We appreciate Check Point’s work to help keep users safe,” Google added.

Among the games hit with the malware, Check Point named three with estimates of over 500,000 minimum downloads, and eight with a minimum of 100,000 downloads. Game titles include “Exploration Pro WorldCraft,” “Drawing Lessons Lego Star Wars,” “Jurassic Survival Craft Game,” and “Temple Runner Castle Rush.”

An example of one of the ads in the affected games. Screenshot via Check Point

Google told The Verge it has a Family collection on the Play Store to help parents find content that is age-appropriate content and has a program called Family Link, which lets parents create Google Accounts for their kids and set “certain digital ground rules.”

Google said it manually reviews ads and that the apps in the family program were not among those listed by Check Point as having been infected.

SEE ALSO: 11 Israeli Cybersecurity Firms That Left Their Mark On 2017

Check Point said in its report that although the malicious app “seems to be a nasty nuisance, and most certainly damaging on both an emotional and financial level, it nevertheless also has a potentially much wider range of malicious activities that it can pursue, all relying on the same common concept.”

The company said that the simplicity of the command, in some cases just an advertisement “could also lead to whatever social engineering scheme the hacker has in mind,” and that “these plots continue to be effective even today, especially when they originate in apps downloaded from trusted sources such as Google Play.”

Business And Bollywood: Israeli PM Leads Trade Delegation To India

Fri, 01/12/2018 - 02:16

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will arrive in India on Sunday to lead a trade task force of over 100 businesspeople and entrepreneurs – including from over two dozen startups and a number of major defense industry companies – in the biggest state visit to the subcontinent in over a decade.

The last time an Israeli prime minister visited India was in 2003, when Ariel Sharon became the first Israeli prime minister to make that trip.

Netanyahu’s visit is aimed at deepening political, cultural and business ties between the two countries, and follows a successful trip to Israel last July by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That visit was the first to Israel by an Indian head of government since the countries first established official diplomatic ties in 1992. The visit was seen as heralding a new era in India-Israel relations, though these relations were rumored to have taken a hit last month when the Indian Ministry of Defense reportedly canceled a $500 million deal to buy some 8,000 Spike missiles from defense technology company Rafael Advanced Systems.

A Hindustan Times report on Thursday poured some cold water on the rumors, stating that the deal is set to go ahead through the Indian military. Last week, the Indian Defense Ministry separately announced an agreement to buy 131 surface-to-surface Barak missiles from Rafael, whose representatives will be part of the Israeli delegation to India.

SEE ALSO: How Israeli Technologies Improve Water, Food Security In India

Netanyahu’s visit will include talks on a “whole range of issues which make up relations between Israel and India: water, agriculture, energy, culture, innovation, also defense,” said Gilad Cohen, the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s deputy director-general for Asia, according to AFP.

PM Narendra Modi with PM Benjamin Netanyahu in a mobile desalination unit in Israel in July 2017. Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO

Israel is a top supplier of weapons to India, with defense deals of over $2 billion in 2017. These include a deal announced in April that will see Israel supply medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and other products to India.

Bilateral trade between the two countries was valued at over $4 billion in 2016, according to a June report by the Israeli Ministry of Economy.

Trip highlights

Netanyahu’s delegation of 30 government officials and 100 businesspeople includes representatives of 25 Israeli startups, 18 of which were selected to participate in the Israel-India Global Innovation Challenge launched in July during Modi’s visit to Israel. These seven others are cleantech startups, whose reps are making the trip at the request of Netanyahu, according to Vered Mivtzari, the Country Relations Director for India at Start-Up Nation Central.

During the trip, Israel and India are set to sign a number of bilateral agreements and memorandums of understandings in a number of fields including energy, cybersecurity, agriculture, homeopathy, and film production.

The Indian press is reporting that Israel is set to invest more than $68 million over the next four years to boost Israel-India cooperation in areas like tourism and innovation. This follows the announcement this past July that Israel would launch the Israel India Innovation Fund (I4F), a $40 million fund initiative to foster tech innovation and R&D in industrial development, and build strategic partnerships in areas like water conservation, using wastewater for agriculture, and desalination.

Over the course of the trip, Netanyahu will attend a number of business-related events, including a conference on January 15, according to Mivtzari. The conference will focus on investment and innovation and how Israeli innovation can be used in the Indian market. The event will include a roundtable with Invest India, a government agency, that will discuss ways to facilitate and guide Israeli companies’ entry into the Indian market. In addition, a session of 30 Israeli and Indian CEOs, the Indo-Israeli CEO forum, plan to file recommendations to Netanyahu and Modi on avenues of cooperation. Netanyahu is to meet with members of the forum, which was launched in the summer when Modi visited Israel.

PM Netanyahu and Indian PM Narendra Modi speak with the Israeli-Indian CEOs forum, in Tel Aviv in July 2017. Photo by Kobi Gideon, GPO

On January 16, Netanyahu will visit the Taj Mahal, and attend the “Raisina Dialogue,” an annual India geo-political conference.

A day later, Netanyahu and Modi will visit the Indian PM’s home state of Gujarat to visit a number of “centers of excellence.” These include at least 18 centers set up across different states in India through the Indo-Israeli Agricultural Project (IIAP), a 10-year-old collaboration project between Indian and Israeli government agencies including MASHAV, Israel’s agency for international development cooperation. In an interview with Delhi-based business daily LiveMint, ahead of Netanyahu’s trip, the counsellor of science and agriculture at MASHAV in New Delhi, Dan Alluf says much of the focus of the centers are “on drip irrigation and how to design better farms by using canopy management and use of improved irrigation and fertigation technologies.” He added that the goal of the program “is to help the Indian farmer by exposing them to new technologies tailored to their local needs,” and that every year “between 10,000 and 20,000 farmers visit each of these centers, and we hope the technologies we are showcasing will echo, carried forward by state governments and the private sector.”

Can anyone guess why a team of @IsraelinIndia @IsraelMFA and @IsraelPMO headed by DCM @mayanetivot went yesterday on a field trip to the great State of #Gujarat and visited the #Vadrad #Vegetables @MASHAVisrael #CenterofExcellence? @GilHaskel @AmbYuvalFuchs pic.twitter.com/LtU2Nopn7t

— Daniel Carmon🇮🇱 (@danielocarmon) January 11, 2018

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Netanyahu is set to inaugurate a new center of excellence for date palms during the trip to Gujarat, as well as pay a visit to India’s iCreate, a center for budding entrepreneurs.

On January 18, Netanyahu will attend a memorial ceremony for the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008, during which more than a 160 people were killed. The attacks were carried out by groups of terrorists who laid a 60-hour siege on multiple targets, including the Chabad House in Mumbai, known as Nariman House, where they killed a Chabad emissary and his six-month pregnant wife and four others. The couple’s first child, a toddler at the time, survived the assault by hiding with his Indian nanny. The child and the nanny, both of whom live in Israel, are set to accompany Netanyahu on the visit.

Later that night, Netanyahu and members of the delegation are set to rub shoulders with stars and executives from Bollywood, India’s billion-dollar film industry at an event the Israeli embassy in New Delhi named “Shalom Bollywood.” Israeli officials hope the soirée will lead to business opportunities for Indian filmmakers in Israel.

Posters for Indian films. Photo via Pixabay

“You can imagine the effect that would have on tourism, on Israel’s exposure,” Cohen was quoted by AFP as saying.

A number of Bollywood stars were in Israel last October to film scenes for an action movie set to be released later this year.

India-Israel Innovation Challenge

Eighteen startups from each country were selected earlier this month for the India-Israel Innovation Challenge as part of the India-Israel Innovation Bridge announced last July and which called on Israeli and Indian entrepreneurs to partner for solutions in the spheres of agriculture, water technology, and digital health, areas where India faces unique challenges due to its size and demographics. Six companies per country were selected for each of the three categories.

The program is a joint initiative of the Israel Innovation Authority and the India Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion. Supporters of the project include Invest India, the Pears Program, which connects Israeli innovation with developing world challenges, iCreate and T-Hub, India’s largest incubator for startups, according to the Israeli Ministry of Economy.

In the Agtech category, the Israeli startups selected were Amaizz, which develops products that minimize produce losses caused by spoilage and mishandling; BotanoCap, with a technology to slow the spoilage of product during post-harvest storage and transportation; BioFeed, a company that specializes in spray-free solutions for fly control; Saillog, which uses artificial intelligence and computer vision algorithms to identify plant diseases and deficiencies; SupPlant, which provides monitoring and automated irrigation systems; and SeedTech, which uses light technology to increase yields.

An illustrative photo of a tea plantation in Munnar, India. Photo by Jakub Michankow via Flickr

In water tech, the six Israeli companies chosen include Maagan Infiltration, a company that develops industrial water filters with automatic self-cleaning; AMS Technologies, which develops and markets chemically and thermally stable ultrafiltration (UF) and nanofiltration (NF) membranes; Aqua HD, which specializes in filtration systems; Lishtot, Hebrew for “to drink,” which makes lightweight, portable devices that test for water contamination, and recently won an award at a CES event in Las Vegas; SunDwater, a company that develops water scarcity solutions by “converting unsafe or salt water into potable water for human consumption or irrigation”; and Aquallence, a provider of disinfection and purification water technologies.

Lishtot’s TestDrop device tests for water contamination. Screenshot from Lishtot video

In the digital health sphere, the startups selected were Sight, which developed a device that provides lab-quality blood testing and results; Zebra Medical Vision, an Israeli company that uses artificial intelligence to read medical scans in order to automatically detect anomalies, and that made international headlines in 2017 for partnering with Google Cloud to provide its technology for $1 medical scans; MobileODT, which combines “biomedical optics with the power and connectivity of cellular technology”; Camereyes, a startup that “leverages cutting edge optics and advanced deep learning algorithms to provide low cost, fully automated solution for places where professional eye care specialists may be scarce or far away”; Medivizor, “a personalized, AI-powered, ‘GPS’ to navigate chronic illness”; and Votis, which developed a technology for early screening for diabetic foot syndrome and associated pathologies.

In addition to being part of Netanyahu’s delegation and attending the business summit with industry leaders, the 18 startups earn a cross-border three-month mentoring package with Indian industry experts “matchmaking” with companies and investors to explore partnerships for an Indian pilot, and funding opportunities for prototype development and pilot execution, according to a release by the Pears Program. The startups in the water category are granted additional cash prizes, sponsored by Livpure, of INR 10.00 – 25.00 Lakh ($15,000-40,000).

Global Development Director for the Pears Program Dr. Aliza Inbal tells NoCamels that the point of the program is to “connect Israeli companies to the Indian market and facilitate their entry into that market through serious partners.”

“One of the major challenges Israeli companies face is that it’s hard to make those initial contact to move toward a pilot [for their products or services.] A common request in India is to show that it would work there. They’ll say, ‘oh great, it works in Denmark, show us that it can work here,'” she says.

She adds that Israel has a lot of companies that have “established technology that is not necessarily adapted to the Indian market.” Another common issue, she says, is cost. Indian contacts will counter that the Israelis’ products are “too expensive and need to be adapted to the Indian context.”

An illustrative photo of a woman on a farm in India. Photo via Pixabay

The fastest-growing markets in the world are not in the West, says Dr.Inbal, and Israeli companies need to better target their needs. The Israeli government understand this clearly and is “leading the private sector on this need to diversify and target non-Western markets,” she says.

The Indian startups selected for the program can be found here and have “different path,” says Dr. Inbal. They are not necessarily looking to enter the Israeli market but see Israel “as a good gateway into global markets.”

“It’s more about building a community and buildings bridges and having reference points like how Israelis engage with Silicon Valley [where there are well-established channels],” she says.


OurCrowd Announces New $100M Fund For Early-Stage AI, Robotics Startups

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 10:27

January 11, 2018 | OurCrowd, a global leader in equity crowdfunding, announced on Thursday that it was launching a new, global $100 million fund for early-stage startups that specialize in artificial intelligence, robotics, IoT, and digital manufacturing. The fund, Cognitiv Ventures, will give investors access to roughly 20 companies, with initial investments in EquityX, an online venture funding platform, KolGene, which does genetic testing, and FreshKeep, an IoT start-up that designs food storage. Cognitiv General Partner Avi Reichental said in a press release: “AI powered transformation is poised to disrupt and automate every sector in business – from healthcare and financial services to agriculture and manufacturing and could create the largest transfer of wealth in recorded history.” OurCrowd Founder & CEO Jon Medved said the platform was thrilled to partner with Cognitiv to “launch a fund that is at the intersection of tech disruption and wealth creation.” Cognitiv is the third fund offering of OurCrowd First, a leading Israeli seed-stage fund. OurCrowd is set to host the 2018 OurCrowd Global Investor Summit on February 1 in Jerusalem, the “largest equity crowdfunding event in the world, and the largest investor event in the entire Middle East,” according to the company.

US-Israel Foundation To Invest Over $7M In 9 New Joint Projects

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 05:03

The Israel-US Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation announced this week that it was investing close to $8 million in nine new joint projects between Israeli and American companies in a number of fields including wastewater treatment, satellite imagery, and cancer evaluation.

The foundation, created in 1977 to foster collaboration between Israeli and American industries, said that the projects will also have access to private capital, bringing the total amount available to roughly $19 million.

SEE ALSO: Israel, Italy To Establish Joint Biorobotics Lab

The organization, which works with companies in both countries to identify strategic partners, said the nine joint projects, which are reviewed by evaluators tapped by the Israel Innovation Authority and the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), are as follows:

– Israeli environmental startup AgRobics will partner and the California-based agtech company Bennett & Bennett to develop an innovative anaerobic wastewater treatment for food processing plants.

– Tel Aviv-based Deep Learning startup Axon Vision and Miami mobile medical device company DermaSensor will develop a medical household device for skin cancer evaluation powered by artificial intelligence.

– Israeli agtech company Farm Dog Technologies and US manufacturer Deere & Co. will develop a variable rate pesticide application based on in-field observations.

– ImageSat, an Israel Aerospace Industry subsidiary, will team up with California’s geo-communication platform Balcony.io to develop a system that aggregates high-resolution satellite imagery with crowdsourced mobile user information.

– Motorola Solutions Israel and Boston-based artificial intelligence company Neurala will develop on-edge video analytics for public safety.

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– Artificial intelligence Tel Aviv company MyndYou and PA-based Genesis Rehab Services will develop AI-optimized care for a growing elderly population.

– Israeli communications startup NSLComm and San Diego’s Space Micro are teaming up to develop high bandwidth communications for nano-satellites.

– RunEL NGMT, based in Rishon Lezion, and San Diego’s Anokiwave, a fabless semiconductor company, will develop a 5G cellular communication platform.

– Tel Aviv’s Taranis, which combines agtech, predictive analytics, and Deep Learning, and Texas’s Advanced Microbial Solutions will develop crop abiotic stress detection and prevention.

“The BIRD Foundation is one of the best vehicles for enabling both Israeli and US companies to work together and leverage their respective strengths in innovation, and be ahead of the changes, said Dr. Amiram Appelbaum, Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Economy and Industry, Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and co-Chairman of BIRD’s Board of Governors, in a press statement. “I call upon Israeli and US companies to continue taking advantage of the unique opportunities provided by the BIRD Foundation for bilateral collaboration.”

Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry Eli Cohen said the foundation was “a special manifestation of the strong relationship between Israel and the US, fostering collaboration based on Israel’s innovation and technology, to achieve competitive advantage, economic growth and social contribution, in both countries.”

SEE ALSO: Israeli, Australian Firms Launch Cannabis Joint Venture

The US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman also praised the foundation, saying that it continued “to be vital, vibrant, and at the heart of the strong US-Israeli relationship.”

“The BIRD model has proven itself time and again by helping to bring important and impactful technologies to market. It has earned admiration in the United States, Israel and around the world,” Friedman added.


17th MIXiii BioMed 2018 Conference Issues Call For Applications

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 02:06

January 11, 2018 | The 17th annual MIXii BioMed 2018 conference, taking place on May 15-17, 2018 in Tel Aviv as part of the 17th National Life Science & Technology Week, has invited companies to submit presentation abstracts in one of the nine tracks of the conference program this year. Tracks include brain health, digital health, gene editing, and cannabis therapy. This year’s MIXiii BioMed conference, an annual meetup for members of Israel’s healthcare industry and other healthcare professionals around the world, focuses on innovations in the future of healthcare. Abstracts submissions for company presentations are due April 9, 2018.

Israeli Startup Bisec Acquired By CyberProof, a UST Global Company

Thu, 01/11/2018 - 00:52

January 11, 2018 | Israeli startup Bisec has been acquired by CyberProof, a cybersecurity company under IT services and solutions provider UST Global for $5.8 million, according to a statement from both firms. Bisec’s technology will integrate into CyberProof’s platform and Yair Bar-Touv and Eran Alshech, co-founders and current CEOs of Bisec will join CyberProof as VP of Business Development and CTO. CyberProof’s R&D center is located in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Towers, after being established only a few months ago. The company provides services and cybersecurity solutions based on machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies. The Holon-based company Bisec has developed a platform to help security teams share, collaborate and automate tasks and incident response by using ChatOps Platforms. It was founded in early 2016.

 

SoluBest Signs Agreement With Pharmaceutical Company To Develop Medical Cannabis Products

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 23:07

January 11, 2018 | Israel-based pharma solutions company SoluBest has signed a Service Agreement with Pivot Pharmaceuticals’ medical cannabis products division Pivot Green Stream Health Solutions (PGS) to develop bio-cannabis products, according to a statement in Nasdaq GlobeNewswire. Two doctors from Thrudermic, a company that Pivot has announced through a letter of intent that it will acquire, lead the development of Pivot’s cannabis programs at SoluBest and use SoluBest’s cutting-edge lab facility, which is located near Weizmann Institute of Science south of Tel Aviv. According to Pivot Pharmaceuticals’ CEO Dr. Patrick Frankham, Pivot will be able to introduce several bio-cannabis products into the market in 2018, thanks to the opportunity of being able to use the SoluBest lab. Founded in 2001, SoluBest has developed a technological platform to solve the issue of drug insolubility in the pharma industry.


Israeli Medical Team First To Respond To Deadly Cholera Outbreak In Zambia

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 06:43

An Israeli medical team from the newly established Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response at Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer Hospital in central Israel is the first – and so far only – international team to respond this week to a deadly cholera outbreak in the Eastern African nation of Zambia.

The Israeli team, which includes water engineers, tropical medicine experts, epidemiologists and general physicians, led by Dr. Elhanan Bar-On, the director of the Israel Center at Sheba, arrived in Zambia one week ago, on a relief mission, according to Lee Gat, a spokesperson for the Sheba Medical Center. Among the members of the team was Prof. Eli Schwartz, director of the Travelers’ Clinic and the Institute for Geomedical and Tropical Diseases, who has  since returned to Israel.

“Sheba’s team is the first to arrive and there are no other teams from the world there yet,” Sheba Medical Center’s Director General Yitzhak Kreiss tells NoCamels.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Rescuers Search For Survivors In Mexico After Devastating Earthquake 

The infectious disease, which can kill within hours if not treated, has already claimed the lives of 62 people across Zambia since September 2017 with nearly 3,000 people affected nationwide, and over 80 new cases in the capital district of Lusaka alone, according to the Lusaka Times citing health ministry reports. The Zambian government has taken a number of emergency steps in response to the outbreak, including imposing a curfew on residents in a poor township of over 300,000 people in Lusaka to contain the spread.

Israeli doctors from Sheba Medical Center in Zambia following a cholera outbreak. Courtesy

The Israeli medical team in Zambia will treat patients at the Lusaka National Heroes Stadium, a venue for football matches that has been converted into a cholera treatment center.

Among the doctors who have already left for Zambia are Professor Arie Orgaren, director of pediatric screening, Orna Tzuria, a nurse in charge of pediatric screening, and Dr. Assaf Biber of the Infectious Diseases Unit. Gat also said the team includes an additional doctor and a lab technician dealing with laboratory management and supervision of experiments carried out in the lab. They are expected to stay in Zambia for two weeks.

A second team from the Sheba Medical Center will depart for Zambia on Wednesday night, Gat tells NoCamels.

Zambian officials initially linked the outbreak to contaminated water from wells, Reuters reported, but further investigation indicated that the source may have been contaminated food. Haen said that the Israeli team, worried about the roughly 500,000 residents of Lusaka who are exposed to potentially contaminated water wells near soil permeated with sewage, has asked local authorities to seal off the wells and begin distributing bottled water.

A presidential spokesperson for Zambian President Edgar Lungu told the Lusaka Times that the Israeli experts would provide immediate treatment as well as “technical advice and support that will help the government combat this problem,” in the long run.

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“The technical advice will also include interventions for medium- and long-term to address sanitation problems especially in high-density population areas, focusing on the areas where the epidemic is most serious,” he said.

The spokesperson added that the Israeli team would focus on providing expertise on water purification and treatment “with the overall objective being to deal with cholera in a comprehensive manner.”

Patients in Lusaka, Zambia waiting for treatment from Israeli doctor from Sheba Medical Center. Courtesy

Kreiss, a former Israel Defense Forces Surgeon-General, said in a press release that the hospital’s “innovative medical expertise and tactics employed by our experts are today being dedicated to helping the people of Zambia and saving as many lives as possible from the tragic cholera outbreak.”

“Sheba Medical Center’s goal, which echoes the ethos of Israel, is to save lives and make a positive global impact,” he added.

The Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response is a new establishment created in the summer of 2017 for Sheba’s 70th anniversary. Staff members are highly experienced specialists and experts dealing with preparation for and response to global humanitarian crises, and emergencies. Last month, the Jerusalem Post presented the Sheba Medical Center with the Humanitarian Contribution Award at its Diplomatic Conference. Dr. Bar-On was on hand to accept the award on behalf of the hospital.

This is Sheba’s first humanitarian mission to Zambia but it has a number of missions across the continent including in Nigeria and Tanzania, the hospital said.

A history of humanitarian aid 

Israel has routinely sent relief and humanitarian missions across the world and is often the first or among the first to respond to crises and natural disasters.

SEE ALSO: 5 Innovative Israeli Search-And-Rescue Technologies That Have Our Backs

Israeli teams, including Sheba doctors and other personnel from various organizations, were on the ground in recent years leading relief missions in a number of disaster-struck areas including Mexico in September 2017, following a massive earthquake that left over 300 people dead, Puerto Rico during the same period following a hurricane, Nepal in 2015 after a devastating quake killed over 9,000 people, the Philippines following a typhoon in 2013 that killed over 6,000, and Haiti in 2010 following a catastrophic earthquake that killed over 100,000 and as many as 300,000.

IDF rescue teams in Mexico following September 2017 earthquake


Israeli Team First To Respond To Deadly Cholera Outbreak In Zambia

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 01:46

January 10, 2018 | An Israeli team from the newly established Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response at Sheba Medical Center of Tel HaShomer hospital were the first to arrive to provide aid to the people of Zambia following a deadly cholera outbreak in the East African country. The Ramat Gan-based center has sent medical experts and state-of-the-art resources to help the impoverished Lusaka neighborhood as it deals with the growing epidemic, the NB Herald reports. The team was the first and only international medical team to arrive for the mission, the report says. While the Sheba team is comprised of global humanitarian crisis and emergency experts, this is their first assignment in Zambia. The team includes medical experts who “specialize in tropical and traveling medicine and water expert engineers.” The team immediately discovered the source of the outbreak, which has already claimed the lives of 54 people. According to the team, about 500,000 residents of Lusaka are exposed to contaminated water from water wells that are near soil permeated with sewage. The team has begun the distribution of bottled water and asked government officials to block the wells. A second team, which includes two physicians, two nurses, and a lab technician, has been deployed today to spend two weeks treating patients, the report says. Founded in 1948, the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer hospital in Ramat Gan is the largest hospital in Israel. The Israel Center for Disaster Medicine and Humanitarian Response was established in 2017.

 


Israeli Biotech Veterans Join Forces To Revolutionize Cancer Diagnosis With New Startup

Wed, 01/10/2018 - 01:04

Affecting over 90 million people worldwide, cancer is the second leading cause of death after heart disease, claiming the lives of nearly 9 million people in 2015, according to the World Health Organization.

Not only is a cure still nowhere in sight, but the number of cancer cases are going up. By 2030, new cancer cases are expected to rise to 22 million, marking a 70 percent increase from 14 million in 2012, according to research by the US-based National Cancer Institute.

With numbers like these, it’s no surprise the medical community is focusing on better, and earlier, diagnoses. A new Israeli startup, Collage Medical Imaging, appears to be on the right track.

SEE ALSO: Sniffing Out Cancer: Israeli Prof. Finds Diseases Like Cancer And Parkinson’s Can Be Detected On The Breath

Founded in 2014 by two serial biotech entrepreneurs, Dr. Gavriel Iddan and Dr. Roni Zvuloni, experts in the field of medical devices, the startup has developed a high-resolution imaging technology to detect early-stage cancerous tumors, without the need for potentially dangerous biopsies.

Why we need better diagnosis

Dr. Gabi Iddan. Courtesy

Today, when doctors want to check for the presence of cancerous tissue, they send patients for standard imaging technologies tests, such as ultrasound, CT or MRI. But these technologies, while providing a full picture of an area, all have relatively low resolution, which often makes them insufficient for observing the cell structure required to make an accurate cancer diagnosis.

Doctors may then need to follow up with a biopsy, where a small tissue sample is taken from the body for further examination. And while biopsies are a hundred times more efficient when it comes to analyzing cells, according to Dr. Zvuloni, they can still miss the presence of a tumor. Even if the biopsy is accurate, the sample may be blind to the surrounding, affected tissue just a mere millimeter away.

“The biopsy can easily lead to many false positives and false negatives,” Dr. Zvuloni tells NoCamels.



Because a tumor’s location and dimensions are often initially unknown, physicians sometimes remove large tissue masses or even entire organs to prevent the cancer from spreading.

How it works

Using a combination of Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) or 3D imaging modality, electromagnetic technology, and Collage-patented technology, Collage Medical Imaging may be the first company making it possible to obtain microscopic information of an entire organ in real-time.

According to Dr. Zvuloni, the information collected is two hundred to three hundred times more efficient than a regular biopsy.

“Instead of taking a biopsy, we use an optic needle to get high-resolution optic images of the entire potentially affected area and its location,” Dr. Zevuloni tells NoCamels. The optic needle snaps pictures of the entire area, creating a collage – hence the name, Collage Medical Imaging.

A series of successful ventures

Dr. Zvuloni, who serves as the startup’s CEO, and Dr. Iddan both have a number of other notable achievements under their belt.

Dr. Iddan holds over 100 patents and publications to his name and had a hand in developing some of Israel’s most successful medical technologies. He is the brains behind the world-renown gastric video capsule pill, also known as the PillCam, which he developed while working for the medical tech company he co-founded, Given Imaging, in 1998. The company was acquired in 2014 by Covidien-Medtronic for $1 billion.

Iddan also developed the Solo MicroPump, a small, disposable insulin pump that allows diabetes patients to deliver insulin without needles or tubing, for Israeli medical devices company Medingo, sold in 2010 to Roche Switzerland for $200 million. 3DV Systems, a 3D imaging solutions company also co-founded by Dr. Iddan in 1997, was sold in 2009 to Microsoft for $35 million. And, Sync-Rx, a company that develops X where he served as CTO was acquired in 2012 by US medical devices company Volcano (now Philips) for $17 million

Dr. Roni Zvoluni. Courtesy

Dr. Zvuloni, a Yale University graduate, holds an impressive entrepreneurial record as VP of Galil Medical, sold to Israeli biopharmaceutical services company BTG for $110 million in 2016.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Researchers Find Way To Spot Tumor Cells Invading The Brain At An Early Stage

Dr. Zvuloni tells NoCamels he and Dr. Iddan have known each other for years and that “Collage Medical Imaging was born coincidentally.”

“One day, we met and started talking. He knew optics, and I knew 3D imaging. We connected the two technologies together and realized they complete one another,” Dr. Zvuloni tells NoCamels.

After having been part of selling off six successful companies between them, the two have embarked on a journey to save lives by helping to detect cancerous tumors before it’s too late.

“The next step from here is to find long-term strategic investors,” Dr. Zvuloni tells NoCamels.

The company is in a pre-Series A investment round and Dr.Zvuloni estimates that the technology will be available in hospitals in roughly two years’ time, pending regulatory approvals.

Throwing Shade: Tel Aviv Competition Awards Teams For Innovative Shaded Structures

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 09:08

Residents of Tel Aviv and visitors to the White City may soon find respite from the blazing Israeli sun under floating, high-tech clouds.

An Israeli group of architects, building designers, and a product designer have won a Tel Aviv-Jaffa competition asking teams to find ways to keep pedestrians and cyclists comfortable by creating shaded structures that would be built across the city to reduce “urban heat”, the idea that an urban area is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas because of human activity.

SEE ALSO: Tel Aviv Joins C40 Climate Leadership Group — But How Green Is The City?

As part of an urban initiative launched in September 2017 to increase and improve shaded public areas throughout Tel Aviv, the Tel Aviv municipality, in cooperation with the Green Building Council and the Environmental Protection Authority, invited architects and designers to offer shade solutions at selected intersections throughout the city for prizes that range from NIS 3,000 to NIS 8,000 ($870 – $2,320.) The winners of the competition, called “Tzel Aviv-Jaffa”, a play on words with the word “Tzel” meaning “Shade” and “Tel” of Tel Aviv, were announced on January 9, 2018.

First place went to ANANA, a collaborative effort featuring Perry Davidowitz Architects with product designer Bar Davidovich, and the DMR Planning & Development building design company. The team won 8,000NIS ($2,320) for their fun and “floaty” cloud-shaped solution.

Contestants had until October 31, 2017, to submit their proposals and were required to choose from three types of intersections in the city to design their shade including small, medium, and large-scale junctions in areas like the medium-sized Arlozorov-HaYarkon junction and the larger-sized Yigal Alon-Yitzhak Sade junctions in Tel Aviv.

Six hundred colorful umbrellas once decorated Rothschild Boulevard in a temporary exhibit to announce the “Wi-Fi cloud” in 2013. Photo via YouTube.

Twenty-six proposals were submitted to the competition, 11 of which advanced to the finals. According to the municipality, proposals were considered based on a number of criteria including safety, cohesiveness, non-obstruction of traffic, simplicity, maintenance, appearance, and volume. The 11 finalists went up before a panel that included the city’s head engineer, head architect, and the director of the Environmental Protect Authority.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said in a statement: “We strive to produce more and more shaded spaces throughout the city that will allow us to use them and also encourage people to enjoy public space throughout the year.” He added that special attention and investment into the city’s public areas and its transformation into an inviting space is of top priority for the municipality. “We are required, among other things, to cope with the challenge of the Israeli climate with the burning sun most of the year in the land of the eternal sun,” he said

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The selected proposals will be examined by the municipality for future implementation.

Here’s more about the winners of the “Shade Aviv-Jaffa” competition:

1st Place: Anana

The ANANA cloud structures were awarded 1st place for originality and an element of lightness. Courtesy

ANANA won the competition because of its unique and high-tech cloud-shaped element which hangs suspended in the air and melds seamlessly into the city of Tel Aviv- Jaffa, according to a municipality statement. The structure is based on a modular system of inflatable elements filled with helium gas that literally appears to be floating in mid-air. Still, the construct itself is anchored to the ground at a number of points, and adjacent to other elements in its space without interference. According to Anana’s proposal, it will be possible to project video art and other elements on to the objects or illuminate them. The municipality said it chose this innovation because of its originality and applicability, but also its element of lightness and air and the fact that it is easy to carry, easy to implement and even easy to put away during winter.

According to the ANANA proposal, it will be possible to project video art and other elements on to the objects. Courtesy.

2nd Place: BreezAviv

Winning the 5,000 NIS ($1450) prize is the BreezAviv team of architects Eyal Gvirtzman, Noa Ronen, and Dalit Itkin with help from Yossi Kamir, a technology consultant specializing in primary models.

The BreezAviv structure has the ability to shoot water out of its vents.

The team won 2nd place for its original and out-of-the-box proposal which offers the ability to cool people at various intersections with an onslaught of water that shoots out from the same structure that propels air out of a fan, the city said. This shade solution is versatile and has an option for additional solar panels as well as an option to add LED lighting at night, according to the city.

3rd Place (Tie!): Carota + Back To The Roots 2.0

Third place went to two teams, with each winning NIS 2,000 ($580) with their designs. The first is Carota, a team made up of Dr. Yael Halfman-Cohen, CEO of the Israeli Biomimicry Organization, Dr. Saadia Sternberg, an origami artist, a mechanical engineer and product development specialist named Eliran, architect Melanie Samson, industrial designer Omri Kaiser, and architectural students from the Technion.

Their structure included solar panels and was hailed by the municipality for its ability to convey two different ideas, simplicity and originality, in one design.

The Carota structure has an origami element. Dr. Saadia Sternbeg, an origami artist, was part of the team. Courtesy

The second 3rd place winner was called Back To The Roots 2.0 by architect Roi Tamir, which the municipality said proved to be very “serious” work.

The Back To The Roots 2.0 structure was created by architect Roi Tamir. Courtesy

In September 2017, the municipality approved a policy document that would require city builders, planners, and entrepreneurs to add more shade in open spaces. According to the document, sidewalks need to shaded by 80 percent, keeping out direct sunlight on at least one side of the pavement. Paved squares were required to have 40 percent shade, and 50 percent shade was required in schoolyards and school playgrounds. Children’s playgrounds need to be completely covered, according to the plan, and parks and open spaces need to be 20 percent covered.


Israeli Water Tech Startup Nabs 1st Place At CES Event

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 06:51

January 9, 2018 | Israeli water tech company Lishtot, Hebrew for “drink,” won first place at the CES Startup Night competition in Las Vegas on Monday night, on the eve of the CES 2018 annual conference, the largest tech and innovation tradeshow of its kind. The Jerusalem-based startup that develops and builds products to detect for drinking water contamination, was up against 15 other companies. Each had 60 seconds to showcase the technology, which Lishtot CEO Netanel Raisch did by testing two cups filled with water with the company’s TestDrop Pro. The handheld device detects for “contaminants such as E. coli, lead, arsenic and chemicals,” and is being showcased it at the convention. Lishtot says it also developing more products such as the TeStraw, “which can distinguish between different contaminants and concentration levels,” and the TestPipe, a device that attaches to faucets for “real-time advanced water monitoring.” Lishtot was founded in 2015.

The Most Cutting-Edge Israeli Tech Making Waves At CES 2018

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 05:44

Thousands of tech companies from across the world have made their way to the annual CES (International Consumer Electronics Show) conference in Las Vegas this week to showcase groundbreaking new technology and form new cooperations, including at least two dozen Israeli startups. Some of the startups have already nabbed awards.

Sixteen of the Israeli companies are part of an official delegation, spearheaded by Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry and the Israel Export Institute, to the convention, taking place January 9-12. A number of other Israeli startups, specializing in a variety of fields including VR and AR, robotics, autonomous driving and smart homes, are also taking part in the conference, whether individually or in partnership with American ventures, including several that will be unveiling new products.

The CES convention has for the past 50 years routinely served as “the proving ground for innovators and breakthrough technologies,” and is considered “the global stage where next-generation innovations are introduced to the marketplace,” according to CES. This year, over 180,000 people are expected to attend the show which will feature more than 4,000 exhibiting companies.

SEE ALSO: Nine Israeli ‘Superhero’ Startups That Made The World A Better Place In 2017

The 16 companies that make up the Israeli delegation at this year’s CES show are:

2sens, a Tel Aviv-based company that developed computer vision tech for capturing 3D video and 3D graphics with smartphones

Beyond Verbal, which offers emotion analytics based on vocal intonations using artificial intelligence and claims to even detect heart disease

Arbe Robotics, whose patented imaging radar is the first radar to provide automotive with high-resolution real-time full 4D mapping

Byond, which developed a virtual reality publishing platform aimed at allowing “brands, media companies and businesses to create their own interactive experiences”

Clinch, which specializes in “dynamic creative Video,” using tech and data to automate and optimize video ad campaigns

CMOO, a company based in northern Israel that develops and sells products for smart home automation

Fuse.it, which developed an augmented reality (AR), customizable video app for creating content and was recently in teh headlines for allowing users to dance with an animated version of US President Donald Trump.

ICI Vision, which developed a wearable device designed to help people with visual impairment; the device works by “projecting an optimized image directly onto a person’s retina.”

Imagery, an Israeli company in the auto tech field that is developing AI-based tech for a “cameras-only level 4/5 self-driving platform” that aims to be more cost-effective than other solutions

Lishtot, Hebrew for “drink”, a Jerusalem-based startup that develops and builds products to detect for drinking water contamination; the company is rolling out a handheld device called TestDrop, which detects for “contaminants such as E. coli, lead, arsenic and chemicals,” and is showcasing it at the convention. Lishtot says it also developing more products such as the TeStraw, “which can distinguish between different contaminants and concentration levels,” and the TestPipe, a device that attaches to faucets for “real-time advanced water monitoring.” The company also has a “Global Water Map,” an app that tracks water quality around the world, and won first place at the CES Startup Night 2018 competition on January 8.

MySize, which developed a patent-pending technology that provides high-accuracy measurements using smartphone readings. The company’s flagship product, MySizeID, is transforming online shopping by allowing consumers “to measure themselves, and match their measurements with a retailer’s size chart.” MySize also has TrueSize, a customizable widget that matches client’s true measurements with a given retailers’ offerings, and BoxSizeID, a parcel measurement app.

Nanoscent, a Haifa-based company that specializes in scent recognition technology, developing a sensor-chip and AI platform

Noveto Systems, which developed a patented technology it calls “Sowlo,” which creates “the sensation of headphones without headphones,” and allows for “an individual, personalized sound experience with added features such as 3D sound, voice command, and gesture control, without any hardware.”

Qlone, a startup that has developed an app, based on five patented technologies, that allows users to scan real objects, using a smartphone camera, “modify them in app and seamlessly export the result” to a number of platforms “for 3D printing, 3D sharing, 3D selling or to use as a 3D asset in your game or app.” The startup has already partnered with LEGO and number of other companies for product launches.

Superb Reality, a Tel Aviv-based company that “provides computer vision solutions for virtual reality and augmented reality experiences.”

Syte ai, also a Tel Aviv-based startup that “combines object recognition, artificial intelligence and machine learning” to make images and videos become instantly shoppable

Other Israeli companies, some of them well-known, presenting or exhibiting at CES this year include:

OrCam Technologies, the Jerusalem-based company taking the power of artificial vision and incorporating the advanced technology into a wearable device that aims to revolutionize the lives of the blind and visually impaired. It was founded by entrepreneurs Prof. Amon Shashua and Ziv Aviram who brought us Mobileye, the hugely successful startup developing cutting-edge autonomous driving technologies, which was acquired by Intel last year for over $15 billion, the largest acquisition deal in Israel’s history. After launching MyEye in 2011, OrCam is rolling out MyEye 2.0 – a small, battery-operated device that attaches to eyeglasses and has a number of capabilities, including recognizing simple hand gestures, and reading out printed or digital text. The company was named a CES Innovation Awards Honoree for Accessible Tech and featured by NoCamels as one of nine “superhero startups” of 2017. Last year, OrCam closed a $41 million financing round that valued the company at $600 million, according to Shashua.

Innoviz Technologies, also among NoCamels’ “superhero startups,” the automotive tech company that developed a 3D remote sensor based on LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) to generate a precise and constantly updating 3D map of a car’s surroundings. In 2017, Innoviz raised $73 million in Series B funding including from Delphi Automotive and Magna International, two of the world’s largest automotive suppliers, as its products moved into mass production. At CES, the company will demo its newest product, the InnovizOne High-Resolution 3D LiDAR. In November, the company announced that it was named an CES 2018 Innovation Awards Honoree for its InnovizPro High Definition Solid State LiDAR.

Intuition Robotics, which made headlines in 2017 for its ElliQ social companion, an AI-powered small tabletop robot meant to improve the lives of the aging population. ElliQ can suggest content to watch, give reminders about appointments, and set up chats with friends, among other functions. The startup was named the Best of Innovation Winner in the smart home category at CES 2018 and in 2017 raised over $20 million, including $14 million from Toyota AI Ventures, the investment arm of the Japanese auto giant. The company too was named as one of NoCamels’ “superhero startups” of 2017.

Vayyar Imaging, the Israeli startup that developed a revolutionary technology that can “see” through objects, even liquids, to deliver 3D images, with a host of applications. The tech is being used across industry sectors including automotive, construction, agriculture, smart homes, robotics and medical care. At CES, the company unveiled its latest wave of sensors for the connected home. Last month, Vayyar raised $45 million in Series C funding and was named among Business Insider’s 50 startups expected “to boom” in 2018, as well as NoCamels’ “superhero startups” of 2017.

Argus Cyber Security, the Israeli auto tech startup acquired last year by Germany’s Continental AG for over $400 million, and which specializes in automotive cyber security, providing end-to-end security solutions that protect connected cars from hackers and malicious software. This week, it announced the integration of two of its solution suites with Renesas Electronics Corporation, which will be on display at CES.

Cognata, an Israeli company also in the automotive industry that “provides a fast lane to autonomous driving with its testing and evaluation solution for self-driving vehicles—a realistic automotive simulation platform where virtual cars can drive millions of miles while traveling on virtual roads in virtual cities in remarkably true-to-life conditions.” Cognata is an exhibitor at CES.

Corephotonics, the Israeli startup developing dual camera technologies for smartphones, is partnering with China’s Hisense Group and its subsidiary Hisense TransTech to unveil TransportEye, “an automotive stereo 3D camera system,” at CES, according to Hisense. Corephotonics raised more than $50 million since its founding in 2012 by Prof. David Mendlovic and Dr. Gal Shabtay.

SEE ALSO: The Coolest Israeli Technologies Wowing The Crowds at CES 2017

– Israeli-founded IoT company Essence, which will be showcasing at CES its range of end-to-end hardware and software solutions for connected living. The company’s WeR@Home tech, one of two platforms for home safety, security and management, is being integrated with the Google Assistant, Essence said in a press release, and will be on display at the convention.

Lumus, an Israeli company that makes AR headsets, and which has partnered separately with LA-based AR platform developer Daqri, and Quanta Computer, to make smartglass lenses. The company has raised close to $60 million since its founding in 2000 and its investors: include the Alibaba Group, Jerusalem Global Ventures, and Motorola Solutions Venture Capital.

Lumus AR eyeglasses. Courtesy Lumus

Two Israeli Companies Selected For Canada-Israel Collaboration Program

Tue, 01/09/2018 - 01:06

January 9, 2018 | Two Israeli companies have been selected for the Ontario-based Canada-Israel Collaboration Program, a joint partnership program by the Center for Aging and Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) and the Israel Innovation Authority (IIA), according to a report from Nasdaq Globenewsire. This program provides Israeli companies looking to test their aging and brain health solutions at Ontario senior healthcare facilities with $250,000 CAD ($200,973 USD) from CABHU and added funding from IIA. The two companies are HeartBeat Technologies, an Israeli-founded firm that has developed an algorithm enabling doctors, nurses, and patients to monitor heart-related parameters and provide care management and Brainsway, a Jerusalem-based company with patented technology for brain disorder treatment. In 2016, the Ontario government signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Israeli organizations in order to establish collaboration and partnerships in innovation.

 


Bank of Israel Says Virtual Currency Is A Financial Asset, Not A Currency

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 07:35

January 8, 2018 | The Bank of Israel announced today that it would not recognize virtual currency, such as bitcoin, as actual local or foreign currency, according to a statement from the central bank. In the statement, Deputy Governor Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg made it clear that “no official bodies such as central banks or governments stand behind them.” The Bank of Israel’s position was that virtual currency should be viewed as a financial asset. In her remarks, Baudot-Trajtenberg defined the country’s official currency and foreign currency and then noted that “bitcoin and similar currencies do not fit the legal definition of currency or foreign currency”, under the Bank of Israel law. Virtual currency is unregulated, digital money usually controlled by its developers and used by members of a virtual community. Bitcoin is a virtual currency that does not work with a central bank or administrator. The value of bitcoin has surged in the last month, according to Reuters.


Israeli Farmers Develop What May Be The World’s Tiniest Tomato

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 06:00

Israeli farmers say they have developed a tiny tomato the size of a blueberry, said to be the smallest tomato in Israel and perhaps the world.

Three Israeli farmers from the agriculture tech company Kedma in Moshav Idan, in the southern Arava desert, unveiled this week the “Tipa Tomato,” or “drop tomato,” which will be presented in a three-day international agricultural fair in Israel later this month, according to the Associated Press.

The tomato comes in red and yellow varieties and is smaller than a one shekel coin.

Ariel Kitron, one of the developers of the drop tomato who established Kedma in 2015 with farmers Dubi Degai and David Mizrachi, tells NoCamels that the produce came about after farmers all over the country suffered a “few bad years in agriculture.” The three, he said, decided to travel the world trying “to find something new for the Israeli market,” discovering a seed company in Holland from which they bought a sample.

SEE ALSO: Scientists Use Beet Pigments To Create Violet Potatoes And Tomatoes, Increase Nutritional Value

They then brought it back to Israel, partnering with researchers at the Central and Northern Arava Research and Development Center, to be modified to match the dry conditions of the southern part of the country. “It’s much hotter here,” Kitron said, “The sun is very strong and the irrigation is good,” he says.

The drop tomato is smaller than a one shekel coin. Courtesy.

Kitron says that Kedma’s work would continue with R&D partners to develop new products so they “can survive here.”

He also says the tomato was intended for the Israeli market, so it’s surprising to him that it has received so much attention worldwide, with headlines in major publications across the globe.

Locally, the Tipa Tomato caught the eye of popular Israeli chef Shaul Ben Aderet, who owns three Israeli restaurants including Tel Aviv’s Blue Rooster. He told the AP that the new strand is packed with flavor and will conjure up lots of new recipes for chefs who come across it. He told the AP it could be sizzled in a pan or baked into focaccia bread.

Israeli chef Shaul Ben Aderet calls the tiny tomato “a candy” because of its sweet flavor. Photo via Itzuvit, Wikimedia Commons

He also said it would make a great snack. “It’s very simple, it’s clean, it’s nice, it’s sexy,” he said, “they would say the tomato is a candy, that’s for sure.”

Promising tomato innovation

In a country that leads in agricultural innovation and tech, fruits and vegetables have become a source of pride for Israel as many types were invented on the land and exported to countries around the world.

Several strands of cherry tomato were invented in Israel.

While the cherry tomato was not invented in Israel, contrary to popular claims, several strands of cherry tomatoes were developed in the country, including the Tomaccio tomato, a sweet cherry tomato bred for the sun-dried tomato market and developed in several laboratories in Israel with the main ones being led by Professor Nahum Keidar and Professor Chaim Rabinovitch from the Agriculture Faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Rehovot campus.

SEE ALSO: Quest For The Perfect Veggie: Israelis Create Enhanced Strains of Fruits And Vegetables 

The Kedma farmers say they have also developed a second tomato, which they lovingly call the “Bon Bon” because of its very sweet taste, higher than anything known in the market.

“We missed the sweet taste that tomatoes once had, the taste of our childhood,” Degai told the Israeli news agency Tazpit. He says the customer buying this tomato knows exactly what kind of taste and high quality to expect, compared with the more regular-sized cherry tomato.

“We have achieved a sweet and unique taste with a different aroma than the standard [cherry] tomato, using the world’s leading technology…It has achieved a sweetness that is 30 percent higher than any other tomato in the market,” he said.

Israel’s Intuition Robotics Wins Top Award at CES2018

Mon, 01/08/2018 - 00:38

January 8, 2018 | Israeli startup Intuition Robotics, which made headlines in 2017 for its ElliQ social companion, an AI-powered robot companion meant to improve the lives of the aging population, has been named the Best of Innovation Winner in the smart home category at the annual CES conference in Las Vegas. The small tabletop robot helps the elderly connect to the outside world and keep active and engaged. ElliQ can suggest content to watch, give reminders about appointments, and set up chats with friends, among other functions. CEO and co-founder of Intuition Robotics, Dor Skuler, said in a statement: “We are honored to see the industry recognize the collaborative work we have done with older adults in awarding our product, ElliQ, the CES Best of Innovation Honoree award in the highly competitive Smart Home category.” Founded in 2015 by Skuler, Itai Mendelsohn, and Roy Amir, the company raised over $20 million in 2017, including $14 million from Toyota AI Ventures, the investment arm of the Japanese auto giant. Last summer, the Ramat Gan-based company opened an office in San Francisco as it looked to recruit staff and ramp up testing of its product. Intuition Robotics is one of 16 startups that make up the Israeli delegation to CES2018.

Israeli Patient Is World’s First To Receive Lab-Grown Bone Implant From Own Fat Cells

Sun, 01/07/2018 - 04:41

The human body cannot regenerate entire bones, but doctors in northern Israel are using innovative tissue-engineering technology to grow new bones, in a lab.

In what is said to be the first procedure of its kind in the world, doctors at Afula’s Emek Medical Center have injected a patient with lab-grown bone tissue made of the patient’s own fat cells, to replace a missing section of his shinbone that was lost in a car accident.

SEE ALSO: Israeli Company Grows New Bones From Patients’ Fat

The mind-blowing procedure was possible thanks to a revolutionary technology called BonoFill,  developed by the Haifa-based biotechnology company Bonus BioGroup. Through their groundbreaking tech, a 3D high-density bone graft can be developed from the patient’s own fat cells and regenerated in a lab, in the span of two weeks.

The patient had been missing 2 inches (5 centimeters) of his tibia due to his injuries. Dr. Nimrod Rozen, Head of Orthopedics at Emek, led the surgery in late December.

CEO Dr. Shai Meretzki tells NoCamels that Bonus BioGroup grows live human bone through an in-vitro process, in a controlled environment. The patient, who arrived with a missing area in his shinbone, which never healed, even eight months after the accident, is said to be the first person in the world to undergo this cutting-edge procedure, according to a report in Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.

During the process, human fat tissue is extracted from the patient. Bonus BioGroup then separates the various types of cells and isolates the stem cells. The stem cells are removed and stimulated in a bioreactor, a special device that simulates the body’s environment and provides suitable conditions for bone generation. The fat cells are then grown in a lab until the tissue becomes solid, following which the hardened bone tissue is injected back into the patient’s body.

A diagram of the BonoFill bone graft transplantation. Courtesy

Meretzki said it will take another two months to know if the missing bone fragment was fully regenerated through the procedure.

Game changer in the field 

The experimental procedure “changes the entire game in orthopedics,” Rozen told Yedioth Ahronoth when the surgery was first carried out in December. The bone transplant is part of a clinical trial that examines the safety and effectiveness of bone implantation using Bonus BioGroup’s product for the regeneration of a missing bone fragment. While the clinical trial was already in its early stages back in August 2017, it is set to continue with up to 40 patients in similar circumstances over the next three years.

“This is a better solution for the body than plastic or metal pieces,” Meretzki told NoCamels back in February 2014, when the company had first received approval to transplant in-vitro developed bone implant into humans. The first bone transplant was performed a little over two months later, in April, according to a report from NoCamels at the time. These bones are “active live bones that can grow, remodel, and change as your body does,” Meretzki said.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that at least one million bone graft procedures are performed every year in the US alone, but current techniques usually require a patient to undergo two costly and painful operations to physically replace the bone with someone else’s or  with a bone taken from another part of the patient’s own body.  These procedures often result in problems like improper healing, further pain or complication in the area, or the body’s rejection of the bone.

 

Dr. Meretzki holds a bone sample grown from regenerated cells in a lab.

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A number of researchers around the world are currently developing techniques for regrowing bone using stems cells, like Bonus BioGroup, but The Telegraph has reported that in the past, most “have used a different kind of stem cell and injected them [directly] into the patient rather than growing them into bones outside the body for transplant.”

The bone graft substitute market is gaining strength, according to the Bone Graft Substitute Market Research Report by business market research report publisher Market Research Future, which says the global market of bone graft substitute is expected to reach over $5 million by the end of 2027.

Before the shin, there was the jaw 

Bonus BioGroup’s clinical trial made headlines in August when a 40-year old woman had her own regenerated fat cells injected into her arm after suffering bone loss. The procedure was also led by Rozen, who has co-founded the Institute for Bone Repair at Rambam Health Care Campus and also heads the department of orthopedics and trauma at Zvulun Medical Center in Haifa. Before the procedure, the patient had previously undergone several surgeries which had proven unsuccessful.

Prior to this clinical trial, Bonus BioGroup had undertaken another clinical trial based on 11 patients where bone tissue grown from stem cells were injected into each patient’s jaw to repair missing bone. In this study, the bones successfully merged with existing bones after hardening, the company reported.

SEE ALSO: Jaw Dropping: Lab-Grown Bones Successfully Transplanted Into 11 Jaws

“I’m very pleased,” Naomi Rubin, a patient that underwent jaw implantation, said. “I can chew where the new bone is, I can smile, and I’m not restricted.”

Bonus BioGroup ups its market value 

While Bonus BioGroup’s breakthrough technology will not hit the market for at least three years, the cutting-edge procedure has pushed the company’s market cap up at least 15 percent to 400 million shekels (about $116 million), Globes reported last month.

“It sounds like science fiction,” Meretzki said, echoing the words of Dr. Rozen, “Nobody believes you can do it. But it’s not science fiction, it’s just good science.”

While the biotech firm still has no revenue, Globes notes that its potential market is very large.

According to the report, the company was founded in 2008 said it is planning a NASDAQ offering.