Israel's Good News Newsletter to 17th Mar 19



·         Israeli breakthrough in the search for a universal leukemia treatment.
·         Israeli scientists have discovered a vital medical reason for sleep.
·         IKEA and McDonald’s launched Israeli initiatives to help those with disabilities.
·         A new Israeli solution to the global desert crisis.
·         Nvidia has bought Israel’s Mellanox for $6.9 billion.
·         Time Out readers chose Tel Aviv as the best city in the Middle East.
·         The Israeli President’s wife breathes easily thanks to a donated lung.

·         Click here to see the 10th March newsletter on IsraelSeen, Ruthfully Yours, IsraPundit, and Janglo,
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ISRAEL’S MEDICAL ACHIEVEMENTS

No escape from new leukemia biosensor. Tel Aviv University scientists have devised a novel biosensor that can isolate and target all leukemic stem cells - the most malignant of leukemic cells. Previous therapies missed many types of these stem cells, allowing them to evade destruction and subsequently multiply.

European approval for lung collapse warning. I’ve reported previously (see here) on Zebra Medical Vision and its technology that helps radiologists spot acute conditions in scans and X-rays. Zebra has just received European CE certification for detecting pneumothorax - a sign of imminent lung collapse.

Square-fiber endoscope is outside the box.  The miniature endoscope from Israel’s Zsquare is made from layers of square fiber. The unique technology provides 3D high resolution, hyper-spectral imaging.  Then after use, just throw it away so no chance of cross-infections. Zsquare has just raised $10 million of funds.

Israeli doctors bring expertise to Africa.  Several Israeli doctors have spent decades changing the nature of healthcare in Africa. Ori and Britta Shwarzman established a mobile clinic in Ghana; Professor Zvi Bentwich has been eradicating diseases in Ethiopia and Dr Morris Hartstein treats hundreds at his eye clinics in Ethiopia.

Why you need to sleep.  Researchers from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University have shown that individual neurons in the brain need sleep to give the chromosomal repair system a chance to clear out daily debris accumulated during wake time. At night, neuronal traffic is light and damage caused by activity or environment can be fixed.

Boosting the gut’s immune response. I reported previously (Feb 2013) on the research of scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute into the gut’s immune cell training system. They now have discovered that gut bacteria slow the immune response. Increasing the level of antigens boosts the response, also enabling oral vaccines.


ISRAEL IS INCLUSIVE AND GLOBAL

Recycling pallets for environment and society. (TY UWI & ILTV) Israeli NGO Molet turns trashed wooden pallets into everyday furniture.  Molet also offers companies “away days” where employees help make furniture which is then donated to institutions in need. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FB_Jeo0S4c

Improving accessibility at McDonald’s. (TY Hazel) McDonald’s Israel has installed sensors from Israel’s RightHear (see here) near entrances, restrooms, elevators and stairs in nearly all its 180 Israeli branches. It is the world’s first restaurant chain to offer full access to customers with orientation challenges.

New IKEA accessibility products. (TY Jacques) IKEA Israel has partnered with Israeli nonprofits Access Israel and Milbat to produce 13 furniture accessibility add-on products (e.g. mega switch, easy handle, gripper) for people with disabilities. Their “ThisAbles Initiative” helps Israelis with disabilities live more independently.

Ride-sharing app to help Arab women. Arab women often have difficulty travelling to work from their outlying towns. So, Israel’s Technion Institute has partnered with non-profit Kayan to launch Safarcon (“your travels” in Arabic). The app offers a ride-sharing service aimed at Israeli Arabs, particularly Arab women.

Jerusalem hosts female film festival. Female filmmakers and activists from Egypt, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Canada and the US came to Jerusalem for two days of screenings, meetings and conversations. The 49% Festival is named for the percentage of women in the global population.

Black police support Israel. The US National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) has endorsed the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE). GILEE organizes exchanges between US and Israeli law enforcement officers. NOBLE says it has benefited from the exchange for decades.

Liberian President’s soccer link. Liberian President George Manna Weah, came to Israel with a large delegation of ministers and aides. President Weah is a former soccer star, considered to be among the best of Africa’s players. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he watched him play for Chelsea in 2000.

Brazilian President to arrive 31st Mar. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro is to visit Israel from March 31 to April 4. Mr Bolsonaro has repeatedly promised to relocate the Brazilian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “The decision is taken; it’s only a matter of when it will be implemented” he said on TV in Feb.

Israeli tours of alternative Paris. Robert Sarner describes interesting street tours of Paris by two Israelis. They highlight the street art and graffiti, now widely seen as part of a city’s visual identity and cultural expression.

Israeli tech reunites Korean sisters. In 1972, a Korean toddler and her baby sister were abandoned by their parents. Taken to separate orphanages, they were adopted by different families in the US and Belgium. 47 years later, they were reunited, thanks to a DNA test they both independently took with Israeli company MyHeritage.


SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Keep watching the skies. On 20th March, Israel’s SpaceIL plans to initiate the next maneuver of its Beresheet spacecraft, advancing it from its current 270,00 km maximum orbit into a 400,000 km maximum orbit. It will then attempt to achieve Lunar Capture on 4 April.  Watch this space! 

Pushing back the desert. Scientists at Ben-Gurion University have devised simple interventions at desert borders to reverse the process threatening to turn vast areas of the US, Spain and China into desert. Such activities include introducing new plant species or periodic clear cutting to reduce the competition for water.

A shared network in the cloud. Israel’s DriveNets offers CSP customers (Communications Service Providers) fast, scalable network capacity at low cost. Its Network Cloud software-based solution offers an alternative to traditional network infrastructures. DriveNets has just raised $110 million of funds.

Extending food’s shelf life. (TY Janglo and Israel21c) Another Israeli packaging is keeping food fresh for longer.  Israel;s Active Pak uses a hybrid polymer nano-compound with natural antimicrobial essential oils to extend the shelf life of food and other perishables. It also has potential for post-harvesting and irrigation.

Using the microbiome to increase crop yield.  Israel’s Evogene has set up a new agricultural biology subsidiary - LaVie Bio. It will focus on the fields of food quality and agricultural sustainability and productivity, through the introduction of microbiome-based ag-biological products.

GrowBots - robots to imitate plants. Tel Aviv University Professor Yasmin Meroz is leading the Israeli team in a European-funded consortium to develop robots that can negotiate uneven environments. Instead of legs or wheels, these robots will climb like ivy. Uses include collapsed buildings, archaeological digs or even on Mars.

Another bullet-proof backpack. I reported previously (25th Sep) on the school backpack from Israel’s Masada-Armour that transforms into a bulletproof vest in under two seconds. Here is an alternative – the backpack from Israel’s ArmorMe comes with bulletproof kevlar panels on one or two sides.

PHIL – innovation hub for pet health. Israel’s OurCrowd is partnering Australian pet store operator PETstock to set up Israel’s first innovation hub focused on health technologies for pets.  Pet Health Innovation Labs (PHIL) is for startups using AI to develop treatments, and apps for nutrition and exercise regimens.

Artificially Intelligent marketing. Israel’s Mintigo develops an online predictive analytics platform designed to identify the items a specific customer is most likely to buy. It scours the web for over 20,000 insights and buying signals. Mintigo has just raised $7 million to add to the $44 million already raised.

Whatever happened to Genie? I reported previously (May 2015) the 3D meal-printing ovens from Israel’s Genie were a year away from production. Genie now has two production lines in Israel and a third in Chicago, able to produce 30 million meal capsules a year. Genie is now begun marketing in the U.S. and Australia.

Iron dome tech can predict natural disasters. Israel’s mPrest developed the command-and-control software inside Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system. Its Major Event Management Application (MEMA) forecasts the extent, location and progress of damage from natural disasters via a similar network of sensors and systems.


ECONOMY & BUSINESS


New flights from France to Israel. EasyJet is launching a new, thrice-weekly direct flight route from Tel Aviv to Nantes, the sixth largest city in France, starting in April. Meanwhile Ryanair will be offering three flights a week between Tel Aviv and the southern French city of Marseille. The route will be taking off in October.

New routes to Germany and Greece. Ryanair is to start daily direct flights between Tel Aviv and Berlin in October. It already flies from Israel to Baden-Baden and Memmingen. Ryanair has also announced the launch of new three weekly flights between Tel Aviv and Athens and Thessaloniki.

European investors come to Israel. Israel will host representatives of top German, Swiss and Austrian tech accelerators and companies on 19th March, for the fifth installment of the Europe Days conference. Over €300 million ($335 million) in funding opportunities will be on the table for some 200 Israeli entrepreneurs.

OurCrowd summit is about doing good. Some 18,000 guests from over 180 countries attended OurCrowd’s annual summit. Its focus was on startups with a world-changing social impact and solving global challenges in fields such as healthcare, public safety, environment, mobility, cybersecurity, food, and agriculture.

From cafes to offices. (TY Sharon) For years, Jerusalem’s budding entrepreneurs held meetings in cafes. But now there are many shared workspaces that they can afford to rent e.g. PICO, Temech and WeWork. Now Urban Place on the 4th floor of the Central Bus Station provides 91 offices of various sizes and styles and more.

Six Israeli startups are most innovative. Fast Company magazine’s list of the world’s 50 most innovative companies for 2019 includes six Israeli companies previously featured in this newsletter - Vayyar Imaging (see here), Innoviz (here), SpacePharma (here), ECOncrete (here), Sight Diagnostics (here) and Waze (here).

Six Israeli AI startups are most promising. (TY Nevet) CB Insights’ 2019 list of the 100 Most Innovative Artificial Intelligence Startups includes six Israeli companies previously featured in this newsletter – Habana Labs (see here), BioCatch (here), Nexar (here), Taranis (here), Anodot (here) and LawGeex (here).

Israeli startups shine in cybersecurity market. The US is still top, but in 2018 Israel overtook China and the UK for venture capital invested in cybersecurity. https://scvgroup.net/global-cybersecurity-investing-trends/

Mellanox exits for $6.9 billion. American technology giant Nvidia is to acquire Israeli chipmaker Mellanox in a deal worth $6.9 billion. Mellanox has offices in Yokne’am, Tel Aviv, Beersheba, Ra’anana and Tel Hai. Mellanox’s solutions accelerate some of the largest supercomputers in the world (see here).

Attunity exits for $560 million.  (TY Nevet) Israeli data integration specialist Attunity has been acquired by US based data analytics company Qlik for just over half a billion dollars. Attunity has over 2000 customers including half of the Fortune 100 companies. (I hadn’t even reported on Attunity before)

Spotinst partners AWS. I reported previously (25th Sep) on Israel’s Spotinst which helps businesses manage mission-critical systems across cloud providers. Spotinst has just announced its partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) which will offer Spotinst’s software through AWS’ Partner Network global startups program.

Travel tech companies merge.  Israeli travel tech companies Fornova and HotelsBI are to merge.  Fornova will integrate HotelsBI’s hotel performance analytics software into its suite of products aimed at the hospitality industry.  https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3757631,00.html

New entrepreneurs pitch in the South. The Entrepreneur Boot Camp for newcomers to Israel is run by Aliya organization Nefesh b’Nefesh. The latest six-week course in Southern Israel culminated in a Pitch Night. 15 contestants each had 90 seconds to present their ideas before a panel of five judges for prizes up to $3,300.

Chocolates with an Israeli twist. Israel’s Ika Cohen’s makes chocolates with flavors that include olive oil, Dead Sea salt, basil, and the Middle East herb zaatar. From her little Tel Aviv shop, she is now targeting the Japanese market. At the annual Salon du Chocolat fair in Tokyo she sold over $1,000 of chocolates per hour.


CULTURE, ENTERTAINMENT & SPORT

Preserving Ethiopian-Israeli culture. In the Israeli city of Kiryat Gat, Beta Israel Village performs two functions. Firstly, to help the older generation of Ethiopian Israelis find their way in a new country. Secondly, to connect the younger generation to their heritage and to make them proud of their roots.

Purim in Israel. This website gives the latest information on events happening in Israel to celebrate the Jewish festival of Purim.  Kids shows, carnivals, games, workshops etc. Purim officially begins on the evening of Weds 20th March, but the fun begins two weeks earlier at the beginning of the Hebrew Month of Adar.

Tel Aviv is Time Out’s top Middle East city.  Time Out Magazine surveyed 34,000 city-dwellers and ranked Tel Aviv as the best city in the Middle East and the 21st best in the world. City gradings included food, drink, culture, nightlife, community, neighborhoods, overall happiness, beauty, affordability and convenience.

Eurovision comes Home.  (TY INN) Kobi Marimi will sing the ballad “Home” in the Eurovision Song Contest finals in Tel Aviv on 18th May. 2,000 tickets for the show sold out online in 10 minutes. Volunteers are being trained to welcome 10,000 expected visitors. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsA-1gPV8nY

Amare Stoudemire becomes an Israeli citizen. On receiving his official Israel identity card in a ceremony at Israel’s Interior Ministry, former NBA star Amare Stoudemire said, “It’s a very exciting moment for me … my love for Israel has been with me for many years and being part of Israel is something very special”.


THE JEWISH STATE

Paramedics hold the baby. When a Kiryat Malachi mom cut her finger badly, EMTs from United Hatzalah bandaged it and then told her husband to take her to the ER at the local hospital. Who’s left holding the baby?  The paramedics of course - only in Israel!  Also, Friends of United Hatzalah raised $5 million in Los Angeles.

Teenager’s lung saves Israeli President’s wife. Israel’s First Lady, Nechama Rivlin, has had a single lung transplant at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah. Mrs. Rivlin has suffered from pulmonary fibrosis for several years. The lung was donated by the family of Yair Halbali, 19 (z”l), who recently drowned in Eilat.

Restoring Torah scrolls for the IDF. I reported previously (Feb 2014) that the International Young Israel Movement repairs Torah scrolls and donates them to IDF bases. Oz Ve’Hadar also does this valuable work. some scrolls originated in communities destroyed in the Shoah. And many have modern day stories to tell.

The joy at being able to save a life. Thousands of Israeli Jews on Ezer Mizion’s database cannot believe their good fortune to find they are a match for someone needing a stem cell transplant.  Although they are not allowed to know who the patient is, they often write their good wishes anonymously to the stem cell recipient.

Mike Huckabee walks the Pilgrims’ Road.  Ex-Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee gets a personal guided tour of the City of David in Jerusalem. He describes it as validation that the Jewish people have their capital here and is their ancestral homeland.  It is not just stories – it’s things that are physical, that you can point to.

Changing the conversation. Please watch this great response to a BDS supporter. “We (Israel) built an amazing and remarkable country. You won’t be able to wake up in the morning because the chip is built in Intel in Israel. And on the way to work you will get lost because of Waze…. What’s your invention?”