Over the 65 years that the modern State of Israel has been in existence, the sharp minds of its scientists, doctors and entrepreneurs have been responsible for developing thousands of cutting-edge innovations that are still making a huge impact on our lives. They include the solar water heater, amniocentesis testing, drip irrigation, desalination, Intel computer chips, instant messaging, the flash memory drive and a whole lot more. Latest news shows that this creativity continues.
The first three recent medical items are intended to reduce surgical cutting to a minimum. The area of medicine known as cell therapy has already begun to regenerate organs and repair diseases without traditional surgical methods. There are 18 Israeli companies developing or marketing cell-based treatment products - and they all attended this week’s Israstem Conference in Ramat Gan. Next, Israeli start-up Lev-El Diagnostics has teamed up with Sheba Medical Center researchers to create a mathematical algorithm that could save lives. Normally patients with heart disease have to wear heart monitors for 24 - 48 hours before the results can be analyzed. The algorithm can diagnose problems in just one hour. Finally, Israeli start-up Oxitone has developed a blood-oxygen monitor that can be worn on the wrist by those “at risk” to warn of any sudden deterioration in their condition.
When there is no option other than to perform major surgical operations, Israeli help is of course available. Doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital were extremely grateful to the Israelis that helped set-up their disaster team two years ago. Following another terrorist incident, Asael Lubotzsky knew exactly what he was cut out to do. When he finally recovered from the horrendous injuries caused by a Hezbollah rocket attack in 2006, he became an Israeli doctor.
Most of the beneficial results of medical science come at the end of years of cutting-edge research and development. Israel’s BiolineRX announced positive results from the Phase IIa clinical trial of BL-7040, an oral treatment for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease affect as many as 1.4 million individuals in the US alone. Sometimes a sudden breakthrough occurs, as happened when researchers at Tel Aviv University gave high-frequency “bursts” of electrical stimulation to rats and produced the same destructive plaques as found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
The Israelis working at the cutting-edge of Israeli medical science are the product of the Jewish State’s top Universities and scientific institutions. 46 per cent of Israel’s population has a college degree - only Canada has more. So it was gratifying to read a rare positive article in the New York Times about Israel’s Technion Institute. It also featured one of the 20 percent of students at the Technion who represent Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority. Students at nearby Haifa University are busy promoting the State. A Muslim Bedouin girl, several Druze, a Pole and 26 Israeli Jews are training to represent Israel as unofficial ambassadors. Muslim Ayat Rahal said, “I want to show a true picture of Israel. It’s not all protests.” And dozens of Haifa’s 800 overseas students from 40 countries wanted to let the world know that they share the desires and ambitions of local Israelis.
Dozens of multinational companies have established cutting-edge research and development (R&D) centers here in the Jewish State. Israel’s high-tech industry - in the form of the Israel Advanced Technologies Industry group brought together representatives of 17 R&D labs of multinational companies, including Intel, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Yahoo, HP, Oracle, Philips and GE, who talked about the innovations and contributions they make to their parent companies. And when Israel builds an industrial park you know it is going to be something special. Such as the new industrial park in Nazareth, built to promote economic cooperation between the region’s diverse Jewish, Christian and Muslim citizens. It is modeled on nearby Tefen Industrial Park, designed to bring together industrial, educational and cultural facilities all in one space to foster innovation, growth and peace.
Eight Israeli companies received the 2013 Red Herring's Top 100 Europe Award, given to Europe's leading private companies in recognition of their cutting-edge innovations and technologies. Next year’s awards are likely to include the emergency response system from Israeli start-up NowForce, that cuts response times down to under 3 minutes at the fraction of the cost of traditional call center systems. And the smartphone application Everything.me, which dynamically displays almost everything you may need at the push of a button.
Finally, thanks to all these innovations, Israel’s $91 billion annual exports make Israel the 38th largest exporter in the world, although it has only the 97th largest population in the world. And these exports are likely to improve further following the new Free Trade Agreement between Israel and India. This will expand the market for Israel’s cutting-edge healthcare, agriculture, irrigation, renewable energy, aviation, IT and water management products.
Israel’s innovations continue to keep us at the edge of our seats.
Keep tuned for another slice of the action.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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