Archive For The “Israeli Tech” Category
Israel slipped to 6th place in the newest Bloomberg Innovation Index of 2020, dropping one spot from last year’s index where Israel ranked 5th. Prior to 2019, the country ranked 10th for two consecutive years.
Israel maintained its top spot for research and development intensity for the third year in a row in the 2020 index. But it dropped to second place for researcher concentration, where it held the top spot last year. Israel placed fifth for high-tech density and seventh for patent activity. The country ranked in the 15th spot for productivity and 31st for value-added manufacturing.
This article was originally posted by NoCamels.com. See Featured article: Artificial Intelligence.
The Bloomberg Innovation Index ranks the world’s 60 most innovative countries using seven criteria including research and development expenditure as a percentage of GDP, productivity, patent activity, concentration of researchers, including postgraduate PhD students, engaged in R&D per one million people, and concentration of high-tech companies.
While dropping to sixth place in the overall survey, Israel overtook Finland which was third in 2019. It was just one spot below Sweden, which was in seventh place last year and in fifth place this year. South Korea, the country that held the top spot in the index for the last six years, was ousted by Germany, who took first place. The US, which had fallen out of the top 10 in 2018, was in the ninth spot this year, dropping from eighth place in 2019.
Singapore came in third, up from 6th place last year, while Switzerland retained fourth place in the rankings.
Israel once again beat South Korea in the R&D intensity category as it did in 2019, which means it took first place in R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP. First place in researcher concentration — or professionals engaged in R&D per population — went to Denmark for the second year in a row. It also took the top spot in 2019.
While Israel made a significant jump in patent activity in 2019, surging from the 19th spot from the previous year, it slipped in its number of patent filings this year to seventh place. In high-tech density, the number of locally domiciled high-tech companies, Israel retained its fifth spot for the third consecutive year. Israel once again improved its tertiary education efficiency ranking, measuring the share of new science and engineering graduates in the labor force and those enrolled in a post-secondary education program. The country took 31st place this year, moving up from 36th in 2019 and 41st in 2018.
Meanwhile, in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2019-2020, published in October, Israel stood firm in 20th place out of 141 countries. It was also in 20th place in the 2018-2019 report, but dropped four places from 16th in the report from 2017-2018.
In that report, Israel also secured the top rank for entrepreneurship and the embrace of disruptive ideas as well as macroeconomic stability (the minimizing of a national economy’s vulnerability to the impact of external shocks, companies’ innovative growth, R&D expenditures, and multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Israel received an overall score of 76.7, while the average score for the 141 economies was 61 points.
The report, first published in 2004, ranks an economy’s competitiveness based on 12 pillars (categories) including innovation capability, business dynamism, market size, health, skills, macroeconomic stability, institutions, and infrastructure, and 103 indicators (subcategories.)
The latest index paints a “gloomy picture” a decade after the world financial crisis with a world economy “locked in a cycle of low or flat productivity growth.” The report’s survey of 13,000 business executives also highlights a “deep uncertainty and lower confidence.”
According to the report, Israel is an innovation hub, ranking 15th on the Innovation capability pillar thanks to a well-developed ecosystem, and up from last year’s 16th place.
For the second year in a row, Israel came in first of 141 countries in R&D expenditure as a percentage of GDP under the innovation capability pillar. It also ranked first in the multi-stakeholder collaboration sub-pillar, up from third last year.
“Israel spends the most of any country on R&D (4.3 percent of GDP) and is where entrepreneurial culture is the strongest, the acceptance for entrepreneurial failure the highest, where companies embrace change the most, and where innovative companies grow the fastest,” the WEF report read.
Israel ranked second in the venture capital availability subcategory and “ease of finding skilled employees” as it did last year, coming in only behind the United States in that sub-pillar. Both factors support a “flourishing and innovative private sector”, according to the WEF report.
In the WEF’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2019-2020, Singapore knocked the United States out of the top spot as the most competitive country in the world. The United States came in second and Hong Kong ranked third, surging four spots from last year’s report. The Netherlands came in fourth and Switzerland dropped one spot to round out the top five.
Israeli startups and high-tech companies raised a record-breaking $8.3 billion in 522 deals over the course of 2019, according to a new report by IVC Research Center and ZAG-S&W Zysman, Aharoni, Gayer & Co law firm published on Wednesday.
This marked a 30 percent increase compared to 2018 when Israeli companies raised $6.35 billion in 532 deals.
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From 2010-2019, Israeli tech companies raised a total of $39.1 billion, according to the report. Since 2010, capital raising by Israeli tech companies has grown by a whopping 400 percent and the number of deals by 64 percent, the report said. In 2010, Israeli high-tech firms raised $2.1 billion in 319 deals.
VC-backed deals accounted for $6.4 billion in 2019 compared to $4.75 billion in 2018 and $1.13 billion in 2010, which marked “a decade of extensive growth,” according to the report.
“2019 marked a record year, capping a decade of successive increases in capital invested in the Israeli high-tech industry. The final quarter of 2019, and the entire year of 2019, symbolize the clear and consistent trend of the Israeli high-tech industry: tremendous growth and frequent record breaking,” Shmulik Zysman, managing partner and tech industry leader at Zysman, Aharoni, Gayer & Co. (ZAG-S&W), said in a statement.
Zysman said this growth is partly due to the growing foreign capital invested in the Israeli high-tech industry, as well as investments in a wide range of fields, from software and the internet through life sciences to semiconductors.
Still, the phenomenon of “venture capital with less risk” has gone from warning sign to “real, alarming trend” as more and more VCs declined to invest in early-stage companies in favor of late-stage firms, according to Zysman.
In 2019, seed funding rounds for early-stage companies decreased to $148 million, dropping from $169 million in 2018.
Despite the drop, Zysman remains positive. “It’s easy to remain optimistic, however, when in the last year the total capital raised by the Israeli high-tech industry was more than 30 percent higher than in 2018. Another reason for optimism is that we have recently noticed many investors dedicated to investment in early-stage companies. These are positive signs that we hope to see in the coming quarters.”
Later rounds continued to attract large amounts of capital in 2019, accounting for $2.87 billion compared to $1.91 billion in 2018.
Mega rounds, where companies raised more than $50 million, peaked in 2019 with 41 deals that captured 50 percent of the annual capital inflow. There were 20 “mega” deals in 2019. All companies that raised more than $100 million each were in growth stages, and mostly in the software sector, the report said.
Mid-size deals of $10 million to $50 million stood out, according to the report, but the number of smaller deals of up to $1 million decreased to 17 percent. These deals made up 24 percent of the total amount of deals in 2010.
“More Israeli companies in the growth stage aim to become their market’s leader. The continual increase in the amounts invested in mature start-ups is due to new investors, such as Israeli and foreign private equity funds,”
said Guy Holzman, IVC CEO. “Furthermore, IVC noticed a decline in the number of newly established companies. We believe that both trends will continue in 2020.”
The software sector led the pack in 2019 with $4.4 billion raised in 26 deals that were each over $50 million, making up 58 percent of the total amount raised in the sector.
Interest in AI-based companies and cybersecurity firms skyrocketed, according to the report, with AI firms raising $3.7 billion in 199 deals in 2019 and cybersecurity companies raising $1.88 billion. Eighteen deals over $50 million accounted for 55 percent of the total amount of capital raised by AI-based firms.
Fintech companies raised $1.7 billion in 2019, up from $880 million in 2018.
And life sciences companies raised $1.37 billion in 121 deals in 2019, up from $1.18 billion in 102 deals the previous year.
The authors of the report also made predictions for 2020, noting that “barring any dramatic changes,” the Israeli private market will “continue to attract investors” and “allocated capital for large and more established companies will continue to grow.”
The number of first investments is expected to continue to slow down, the report said, and this trend, which was first recognized in 2018 and expanded in 2019, will not change course in the coming year.
AI and cybersecurity companies will also continue to be the most attractive for investors.
The pre-IPO round figures suggest that more companies will explore the IPO option in 2020.
An AI-based patient safety solution developed by Israeli medical tech startup MedAware identified over 10,000 potential medical errors and adverse drug events, with an accuracy rate of over 90 percent, according to a new study co-authored by Harvard researchers.
The study, published last month by the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, analyzed MedAware’s machine learning-enabled clinical decision support platform, designed to prevent medication-related errors, at the outpatient clinics of Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals. The system flagged 10,668 potential errors and adverse drug events in retrospect on 373,992 patients.
The study found that 92 percent of warnings generated by MedAware were accurate based on the data available, and 72.7 percent of those warnings were considered “clinically valid.” In addition, 68.2 percent of the warnings would not have been flagged by existing decision support systems, according to the findings.
MedAware said that the implementation of the technology at those hospitals translated to savings of some $1.3 million during the study’s duration. If one takes into account the average number of outpatient visits in the US annually, this translates to a potential cost savings of $800 million and prevention of over 13 million medication errors, MedAware argued.
“This study shows that MedAware’s system performed well in identifying important medication-related errors in the ambulatory setting, and that implementing it could result in substantial cost savings,” said Dr. David Bates, a study co-author, Professor at Harvard Medical School, and Director of the Center for Patient Safety Research & Practice at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
“MedAware’s application enables systems to catch errors they didn’t know they had and which would not have been caught using existing systems—these can be very serious and have major consequences,” said Dr. Bates.
Indeed, medical errors are very dangerous. In a widely circulated study published in 2016 by the Maryland-based John Hopkins School of Medicine, researchers argued that medical error was the third-leading cause of death in the United States (after heart disease and cancer). According to the study, more than 250,000 deaths per year in the US are due to medical mistakes. The findings have been disputed and a different study published in 2019 found that the number of deaths per annum due to adverse effects of medical treatment (AEMT) including adverse drug events, medication-related errors, and medical misadventures (accidental treatment or dosage, for example) may be up to 80 times lower.
These errors are also very costly and can amount to over $20 billion per year in wasteful spending in the United States, says Dr. Gidi Stein, a practicing physician who is also CEO and co-founder of MedAware.
Dr. Stein founded MedAware in 2012 with Tuvik Beker, to detect and minimize catatrosphic medication errors and transform patient safety standards through sophisticated tech.
“When you consider that this study took place in two of the safest, most advanced outpatient clinics in the US, and there was still a positive ROI due to errors prevented, you can understand how implementing MedAware’s technology across the healthcare system has the potential to save the healthcare system hundreds of millions of dollars in outpatient settings alone,” Dr. Stein tells NoCamels.
Dr. Ronen Rozenblum, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and director of business development for the Center for Patient Safety Research & Practice at Brigham and Women’s Hospital was the lead author of the study. He said that MedAware “offers both measurable improvement in patient safety and significant potential cost savings to hospitals at a time when healthcare systems must find every opportunity to drive efficiencies from a financial perspective.”
“Because it is not rule-based, MedAware represents a paradigm shift in medication-related risk mitigation and an innovative approach to improving patient safety,” added Dr. Bates.
Prescriptions deviating greatly from the spectrum of standard treatment patterns are flagged as potential errors, with high specificity and low alert fatigue. Alerts are displayed at the point of prescribing but also asynchronously, following a change in the patient’s status that might render one of the active medications dangerous to the patient.
Israeli IoT security firm Armis confirmed late Monday that it agreed to be acquired by NY-based Insight Partners at a company valuation of $1.1 billion.
Under the terms of the agreement, Insight will acquire the company for cash with participation from CapitalG, formerly Google Capital, for $100 million and rollover from certain existing stockholders subject to customary conditions and approvals, Armis said.
Insight Partners had participated in a Series C funding round of $65 million for Armis last April, bringing the total capital raised by the company to over $110 million. That round was led by Sequoia Capital. Google is also a previous investor in Armis.
The deal represents the first billion-dollar exit for an Israeli company in 2020.
Following the acquisition, Armis will continue to operate independently and will be fully managed by its two co-founders, Yevgeny Dibrov, CEO, and Nadir Izrael, CTO, and the executive team, the company indicated.
Armis was founded in 2015 by Izrael, Dibrov and Tomer Schwartz (no longer with the company), and is headquartered in Palo Alto, California and Tel Aviv. Armis says its solution eliminates IoT security blind spots, letting enterprises embrace IoT as part of their digital transformation and develop full visibility and control over the IoT devices that operate within their networks. Armis’ security solution analyzes and classifies these devices in order to identify risks or potential cyber attacks. The company’s customers have included Mondelēz, Sysco Foods, Allergan and Samsung Research America.
“Insight is one of the most sophisticated software investors in the sector, and it is due to the depth of their domain expertise that they really understand the enterprise IoT device challenge we are looking to solve, and the size of the market opportunity,” said Dibrov in a company statement.
“We considered growth rounds and strategic offers, but by partnering with Insight we have the best of both worlds – operational support and independence, both of which were important in our decision to take on a scaleup partner this early in our company journey,” he added.
“Armis is one of the most ground-breaking enterprise data-centric security solutions that is actively protecting modern businesses today,” said Jeff Horing, Managing Director at Insight. “We see the huge problem they are solving. Armis has established themselves as the leader in the enterprise IoT security space, and we believe this team and their technology will continue to transform the way unmanaged devices are secured.”
Teddie Wardi, Managing Director at Insight, said: “The strength of Israeli security software is unquestionable, and we are thrilled to be the scaleup partner Armis has selected to continue their explosive growth journey. In a world of unmanaged devices, Armis’ technology is a game-changer,” he said.
Gili Raanan, chairman of Armis and general partner at Sequoia Israel and Cyberstarts said, “Armis is the largest Israeli cybersecurity acquisition of a private company ever and this is an important milestone in the Armis journey, building a substantial stand-alone cybersecurity power-house.
Raanan, Horing, and Wardi will serve on the Armis Board of Directors as part of the acquisition deal.
In 2017, Armis alerted tech giants Google and Amazon of potential cyber breaches in their smart speaker products with vulnerabilities set to affect over 20 million users at the time. Armis researchers had uncovered an exploit over Bluetooth that would allow hackers to take over devices and spread malware. Both companies released security updates for their respective Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa devices.
Cool tech is at the top of gift-giving guides this holiday season.
From TIME Magazine to Mashable, Town and Country to Apple, trendy gadgets and must-have apps are topping pretty much every December gift list. And some of the most popular recommendations are Made in Israel. NoCamels scanned the never-ending gift guides and found that global tech critics and reviewers are hyping blue-and-white robots, wellness gadgets, selfie improvement apps, and even something for Fido for Channukah and Christmas gift ideas.
Here are 9 must-have Israeli gadgets and apps getting love on international gift lists:
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And TIME magazine recently published a list featuring the “100 Best Inventions” of 2019 that are making the world “better, smarter, and even a little more fun.”
The Temi robot, a 3-foot-tall personal rolling robot with a 10-inch touchscreen for a head, is one of four of the world’s best inventions in the “home” category on the magazine’s list.
Temi takes multi-tasking to a new level. The Alexa-enabled device can answer questions, order groceries, play music and videos, make calls, control your smart home, follow you around your house (except up or down stairs), and call for medical assistance. It can also serve you drinks.
ElliQ, a tabletop robot companion created by Israeli company Intuition Robotics, can be found on lists dedicated to seniors. Age is not a barrier to enjoying new trendy tech – but finding the right gadget is still important. ElliQ was designed to keep loneliness at bay. It reads out messages, displays photos, and answers video calls. The robot can also make appointments and remind users about their medication regime.
Intuition Robotics was founded in 2015 by Itai Mendelsohn, Dor Skuler, and Roy Amir. In 2017, it raised $20 million, including $14 million from Toyota AI Ventures, the investment arm of the Japanese auto giant. It was named the Best of Innovation Winner in the smart home category at CES 2018. Earlier this month, it was given a special mention in TIME magazine’s Best Innovations of 2019.
Every December, Apple publishes its Best of the Year app lists. Gift-givers seeking to keep their family and friends in the loop, can look at the Top Paid Apps of 2019 for gift ideas.
Topping the Paid Apps of 2019 list is FaceTune, the trendy photo editing app for enhancing and retouching photos. FaceTune is created by Jerusalem-based Lightricks, among the first app developers to prove to App Store users that consumers would pay for and subscribe to apps that offered them incentives. Lightricks is known to help amateur photographers and videographers master professional-style photo editing via its apps.
Dr. Maria Blekher has always had one leg in academia and the other in industry. As the director of the Master’s program in Digital Media and Marketing at Yeshiva University’s Katz School of Science and Health, the academic side is obvious.
The marketing professor, who grew up in Beersheba, is quick to note that much of her academic success also stems from a PhD at Beersheba’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the completion of a postdoc at New York University, prior to the move to Yeshiva University (YU).
Academic and industry intertwined when Blekher created a course for Yeshiva University called “Business in The Israeli Environment,” teaching students at YU about Israel’s vast high-tech ecosystem and tying in a US-Israeli market connection based on her own experience. Besides studying pro-social and consumer behavior in both Israel and America, she’s worked at Bank Hapoalim and Numonyx, a semiconductor company founded as a joint venture between Intel Corporation, STMicroelectronics NV, and Francisco Partners to develop flash memory products. The company, which had 1, 200 employees in its Kiryat Gat facility in February 2010 was also acquired that month by US chipmaker Micron. In New York, Blekher created an online platform selling Israeli products to the American market as part of a fellowship through an American-Jewish organization called Cojeco (Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations.)
The US-Israeli market connection is what prompted her to establish the Yeshiva University Innovation Lab, a “launchpad” for Israeli startups looking to enter the US market.
The Innovation Lab, which first launched in May 2019, just kicked off its second cohort this September. It features a group of 11 Israeli startups in a variety of sectors, including medical devices and AI-powered sensor technology. The three-month program, which connects those startups with YU students and ends in December with a final project, also partners with Gvahim, the Israeli NGO that helps new immigrants to Israel with business and career goals, Cactus Capital, the first student-run university venture capital firm in Israel, and Yazamut 360°, the Entrepreneurship Center of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).
NoCamels sat down with Dr. Blekher recently in Tel Aviv to talk about why Yeshiva University’s Katz School of Science and Health as well as its new Innovation Lab, aims to be an important initiative in the US-Israeli business connection. Her answers have been lightly edited for clarity.
NoCamels: How did you come to found the YU Innovation Lab?
Maria Blekher: I joined Yeshiva University before the Innovation Lab when I got the chance to develop a course called “Business In The Israeli Environment,” which is my expertise.
After landing at NYU — it was a postdoc, which means strictly research — I was looking for more things to do. I love being busy and I need several projects, and as much as I love academia, I love to see impact. Academia is very impactful, but sometimes it takes years to get something published. After a year, I got the chance to start teaching at Yeshiva University and although I started as an adjunct, it felt like home because it has an Israeli flag on campus and they play Hatikvah [Israel’s national anthem] at every single official event. The sense of community and belonging — it just felt like home. For me, it feels like Israel.
In 2014, I started to teach my first course as an adjunct, and then after one semester, they offered me the chance to teach more courses, because again, I was teaching back in Israel during my PhD, so I had teaching experience and also principles of marketing [skills]. One thing led to another and a couple of years later, we launched the Master’s in Marketing program and they offered me the opportunity to lead it. I stepped up into the leadership position. I am still doing this position now, though I’m hiring someone soon because my main focus now is the Innovation Lab.
NC: It sounds like you were thriving as a director of YU’s Marketing program. Why the shift towards the Innovation Lab?
MB: I love marketing. I think I bring my marketing expertise into the Innovation Lab. I didn’t ditch [the marketing program,] but I think that putting this expertise to work in the context of early-stage Israeli startups or startups in general, has more impact on an outcome. The combination of understanding the Israeli business environment and the Israeli tech scene and my marketing background is kind of a unique edge that brings value to startups who want to enter the US market.
There are plenty of marketing experts in New York. But there are fewer people who can use their marketing skills to bring startups to NY. I love being in places where I bring the highest value. I want to be there where I can help others. If my impact can be broader, working with students and startups because of my diverse background, that’s where I want to be.
NC: What are you looking to achieve as the director?
MB: It’s an interesting story. A couple of years ago, and it was before my time, the state of New York provided the university a grant to renovate a space on campus to attract Israeli startups. This was around 2017, before I was involved in the lab.
I think that [former NY] Governor Cuomo visited Israel, was impressed with the Startup Nation and at Yeshiva University, we have this institutional connection, so the background story was, “You’re Yeshiva University, bring some Israeli startups.” For the university, it was a great opportunity to bring some startups and let them work with students.
When I heard about [the grant] and I was told I should help to find Israeli startups because of my background, my first question was, “Hold on, does the school have an innovation lab?” I was told no, but somehow we got this grant and we needed to renovate this space. So I said, “Ok, this is the kind of project I want to be involved in because this is my expertise.”
I was on top of the project from day one. I literally chose the color of the paint on the walls. I [ told the school] we should build up a program that will connect our students with Israeli startups and provide added value. In order to do this, we need to see the challenges that Israeli startups are dealing with and figure out what kind of things we want our students to get from the program. I said, “If we’re building something, let’s build an institution that will connect our students with the startups and provide added value.” And that’s how we started.
Then I was appointed founding director but when we started working on the project, it was just an idea. When we had the official launch in May, it was very exciting because you see something on paper, you see an idea and then you see it come to life. Now we have 11 startups, over 90 students working with us, and that’s amazing.
NC: As someone who knows the Israeli business world, what are some of the challenges Israeli startups face?
MB: I think that’s the main question. The way I see it and based on my knowledge and based on multiple conversations — I spoke to Israeli startups and other colleagues and accelerators, really trying to nail the main challenges — the challenges that I identified and the ones that we really want to tackle are these three: knowledge, culture, and connections.
Culture – Culture is huge because as an Israeli, when you grow up in Israel, sometimes you feel like the 51st [US] state, you watch Netflix, and you even shop on Amazon and you grew up watching Sex and the City and you grew up in New York — if you speak to an Israeli startup, they’ll say, “Ok, I get American culture.” That’s not true! The first thing I thought of, “You think you know? You don’t!” There are so many differences and you need to know these cultural differences and you can talk to any Israeli and they’ll tell you 10,000 situations of misunderstandings. But when you are in the business of business and the business of startups, these are your investors and these are your customers, so you really need to be careful and you really need to be aware of these differences.
Connections – In Israel, everybody knows everybody. If you need to recruit a marketing person, you’ll find it in your network, if you need to recruit a developer, you’ll find it. In the US, with all due respect, you are just another person, especially in New York where the most talented people from around the world are gathering, and you don’t have the network.
Navin Systems, the Israeli pedestrian guidance and navigation app developer, has mapped out locations of bomb shelters and protected spaces in Tel Aviv and throughout the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, the company reminded Israelis on Tuesday, amid escalating security concerns surrounding the barrage of rockets launched from Gaza into Israel earlier in the day.
While allowing users to navigate all space without the need for GPS, the Tel Aviv company’s patented peer-to-peer crowd mapping technology also automatically creates detailed maps of indoor spaces, which are often difficult to navigate with GPS due to weak signals.
The company says “security mapping” is necessary as visitors to buildings typically remember the locations of stores in the mall or university classrooms, but most do not know where the protected spaces of the building are located or remember the routes that lead to them.
This isn’t the first time Navin’s “security mapping” of southern Israel has been reported, due to mounting security concerns.
The mapping in Beersheba includes several major buildings in the city, including the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Negev Mall, and the Grand Canyon Mall, along with shelters across the city. The project is being expanded to additional locations throughout the country, the company said.
Using artificial intelligence and complex algorithms that are part of its cutting-edge technology, the Navin app can immediately identify the location of a user inside a building, including the exact floor. The app enables navigation for users in stores, hospital departments, university facilities, and bathrooms.
Users will be able to access detailed walking routes, including escalators or regular stairs. The app is constantly updated with crowd-sourced info.
“We invite users to add shelters to the app in the buildings that they visit,” says Shai Ronen, co-founder and CEO.
Navin was co-founded in 2012 by Ronen, a former Israeli Air Force F-16 pilot and an expert in navigation systems, along with Lior Ronen and Gidi Barak. The company has already mapped out Tel Aviv spaces like Dizengoff Center, TLV Fashion Mall, Sarona Market, Ichilov Hospital, the Tel Aviv Museum, and Azrieli Towers.
Building upon its current success in Israel, the company has expanded to the US, creating maps for museums and stores in San Francisco and Palo Alto, California. They have mapped out escalators, elevators, specific departments, and transitions between floors in stores like Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, IKEA, and more.
Ronen has said that future goals include mapping out major cities in Europe and the Far East, which the CEO believes are particularly challenging in terms of the complexity of the buildings.
The AstroRad, an Israeli antiradiation vest for outer space developed by the US-Israeli startup StemRad, is set to be launched onto the International Space Station (ISS) along with an assortment of science-related supplies this weekend.
The Tel Aviv-based company in collaboration with the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) at the Ministry of Science and Technology said that a prototype of the vest would be launched on Saturday, November 2nd at 9:59 am EST time (3:59 am Israeli time.)The International Space Station photographed in 2010 by an STS-132 crew member on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation.
This article was originally posted by NoCamels.com.
See Featured article: Artificial Intelligence.
The International Space Station photographed in 2010 by an STS-132 crew member on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. The AstroRad vest, a suit designed to help protect astronauts from radiation and mitigate its damaging effects, is made out of high-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic polymer, which is thicker around the more sensitive organs.
Three American astronauts will wear the suit during routine activities and under the space station’s gravity conditions for varying periods of time. The vest will be used to gather feedback from astronauts on ergonomics, range of motion, experience, and overall comfort level in the environment.
The vest protects the bone marrow, lungs, chest, stomach, colon, and the ovaries among women, organs that are particularly sensitive to the formation of malignant tumors as a result of exposure to radiation.
This will be the first time in history that the Israeli flag, mounted on the AstroRad vest, will be displayed at the International Space Station, a low-orbit space station that serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory between five participating space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).
NASA joined forces with ISA in April 2018 to tap into StemRad’s cutting-edge technology. The ISA, along with the company that developed the wearable radiation protection solution, announced in July 2018 that the vest was ready for launch.
At the time, the ISA, which was sponsoring StemRad’s space activity, signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin to launch the vest for advanced ergonomic studies in microgravity.
Dr. Oren Milstein, CEO of StemRad, said in a statement that the success of the AstroRad trial is “a critical contribution by the State of Israel to NASA’s most ambitious research program since landing on the moon.”
“The Israeli Space Agency and StemRad are proud to work with NASA, Lockheed Martin, and our other partners in developing critical safety equipment to protect space astronauts’ lives, thus advancing a new era of deep space research,” said Avi Blasberger, director of the Israeli Space Agency, in the statement.
The vest is part of some 4,600 pounds (2086kg) worth of equipment to be delivered to the station aboard a Cygnus Northrop Grumman (Cygnus NG-12) spacecraft. The Cygnus NG-12 is the 13th planned flight of the robotic resupply spacecraft and its 12th flight to the ISS under the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA. It will be launched from the NASA flight facility on Wallops Island, Virginia.
Other experiments that will be on the spacecraft include space mice, robotic avatars, and recycling polymers for 3D printers. Analog-1, a study led by the European Space Agency that will head to the space station with this launch, will explore how humans can best operate and communicate with robots in space. Also, Zero-G Oven will be used by astronauts to bake cookies in space for the first time.
Israel may be the Startup Nation, with the highest number of startups per capita in the world, first among 141 economies in entrepreneurial risk, companies’ innovative growth and R&D expenditure, but the red tape in this country is notoriously convoluted. From trying to get simple things done, like changing your address at the bank, to opening a business, Israeli bureaucracy can be a trip down a rabbit hole.
But a new World Bank report ranking 190 economies on how they have tackled burdensome regulation showed that Israel has markedly improved since last year, jumping 14 spots from 49th to 35th in the “Ease of Doing Business” ranking as part of the latest “Doing Business 2020” report. Israel’s ranking rests below Azerbaijan but above Switzerland.
The annual report looks at regulation in 12 areas of business activity including the processes for incorporating a business, getting a building permit, obtaining an electricity connection, transferring property, getting access to credit, protecting minority investors, paying taxes, engaging in international trade, enforcing contracts, resolving insolvency, employing workers, and contracting with the government.
According to the report, Israel improved in four key areas: starting a business, access to credit, paying taxes, and easing export requirements. Israel made starting a business easier “by allowing joint registration of corporate tax and value-added tax, reads the report”; it “improved access to credit information by reporting both positive and negative data on individual borrowers”; it made paying taxes easier by “implementing an electronic system for filing and paying value-added tax and social security contributions” and less costly by “reducing the corporate income tax rate”; and it made exporting easier by “eliminating the certificate of origin requirement, thereby decreasing the time and cost of export documentary compliance.”
This summer, Netanyahu presented his cabinet with an internal report detailing ministry-wide efforts to lower Israel’s regulatory burden. The report is an annual update on the Israeli government’s five-year regulation reduction initiative and detailed 58 different plans enacted by various government ministries to reduce procedures in the market and that have saved the economy approximately NIS 1.5 billion (approximately $42 million) since last year, the Prime Minister said in a July statement.
The report included plans formulated by 12 government ministries and three authorities (the Tax Authority, the Consumer Protection Authority and the Competitiveness Authority) to cancel or reduce over 50 requirements that would prohibit employment and work, such as the cancellation of the demand for a license and test to become a real estate broker, the cancellation of the requirement for a minimum number of vehicles to receive a license to operate a vehicle leasing company, and the cancellation of structural requirements for small pastry bakeries. The plan also detailed over 50 government processes that have been digitized (such as the transition to online licensing examinations, tax payment receipts, etc.)
Netanyahu said the improvement was seen in the latest OECD Product Market Regulation index, published every five years, which saw Israel jump 16 spots from the next-to-last place between Turkey and Mexico in the 2013 index to 18th place in the 2018 index.
The 2013 index essentially prompted Netanyahu to establish a ministerial committee to cut regulation and bureaucracy. “Five years have passed and the OECD issued a new report …. We were almost last and now we have jumped 16 places. This is unheard of,” he said.
But, he went on, “I want another jump forward. I want to be above the average; in the middle is not a good place. I want to be one of the least bureaucratic countries, least regulated countries, in the world, because this means money in consumers’ pockets.”
Intel kicked off the launch of its new accelerator program in Israel on Tuesday for early-stage startups, announcing the nine data-centric companies that will be participating in the 16-week initiative.
The program, called “Ignite,” was first announced in June. Its aim is to “leverage Intel’s global market access, business, and technology leadership to provide early-stage startups [with a] unique advantage on their path to disrupt the future,” the tech giant said at the time.
“Intel has always worked in concert with open ecosystems to scale new technologies so they can be transformational for our customers, business and society,” said Intel CEO Bob Swan in June during a trip to Israel for the announcement. “Israel has the deep skill base in AI, autonomous systems and the underlying technologies critical to these inflections that make it a natural choice to launch our Ignite program,” Swan said.
- Cloudwize – a startup that enables organizations to maximize the value of their cloud architecture.
- Addionics – an Israeli startup with offices in the UK founded in 2017 that accelerates smart electrification by redesigning battery architecture.
- GleanLabs – a Tel Aviv-based startup founded in 2017 that offers an automatic employee competency mapping and management platform for large R&D organizations.
- Deci AI – a startup that provides acceleration of deep learning models, substantially reducing latency and cost-to-serve.
- Hi Auto – a startup that helps OEMs reinvent how customers spend their time in the car by offering a whitelabel voice platform that converses naturally with customers and works under any noise conditions.
- Granulate – a startup that developed software to reduce compute costs by up to 60 percent while maximizing performance.
- Mine – a startup that developed a platform to empower individuals and businesses to discover their digital footprint in order to reduce redundant risk.
- HourOne – a company with offices in NYC and Vancouver that developed a synthetic video creation platform powered by artificial intelligence.
- NOVOS – an Israeli startup founded in 2017 that developed a training platform for gamers who want to improve their skills.
The program has recruited leading mentors in various fields to deliver workshops and training focused on technology and entrepreneurship, including Gil Hirsch, founder of Face.com, Roni Zahavi CEO and co-founder of Hibob, and Ron Yekutiel, founder and chairman of Kaltura, Intel said. The participating companies will also receive financial advice from Deloitte, legal guidance from Pearl Cohen, and IT services from Intel.
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“Ignite will supply these selected startups with the tools for success,” said Tzahi (Zack) Weisfeld, head of Ignite, in a statement.
Weisfeld, a former global head of Microsoft for Startups added: “Intel is responsible for much of the world’s technological infrastructure and aims to be twenty steps ahead of the game. The participants have the opportunity to take part in our vision, and can have an enormous impact on their fields through leading innovation globally.”
“For the startups to succeed is for Intel to succeed — it goes both ways,” Weisfeld said.
He tells NoCamels in a phone interview that Ignite is not just another accelerator. “It’s a high-intensity program that’s very thorough with a dedicated team and strong mentorship backing,” he explains.
Weisfeld says the startups will benefit from four types of mentors: industry mentors where they’ll be “matched” with committed, serial entrepreneurs in a managed process; Intel tech mentors where startups will be partnered with experts who will help drive the technical aspects; industry experts based on the needs of the individual startups; and workshop leaders who will help with the development of processes like product development and go-to-market strategies.
“These connections that they build can be invaluable and can last a lifetime,” Weisfeld says.
Intel will take no equity from the startups but the program will demand their time and energy. Weisfeld himself will meet weekly with each startup to assess progress and help guide them through any challenges, he says.
“This program’s KPIs [key performance indicators] are the business success of startups, their traction, and any follow-up funding,” Weisfeld explains.
Like the program, the selection process was also rigorous, he says. The startups were evaluated by two teams of between six to seven judges made up of industry experts and Intel executives. “We wanted to see a tech-based big idea that seeks to provide a solution to something, a good team, a good CEO, good energy, and coachability,” Weisfeld says, describing the whole process “more like a VC than an accelerator.”
“As Israel’s largest high tech company, we want to support the major technological changes emerging across our startup community,” Yaniv Garty, general manager of Intel Israel, said back in June.
“Ignite is an important step in this direction, focused on our efforts to transform the world through working on innovations in AI, autonomous, cyber and next-generation computing. With our advances in these areas, Intel is positioned to help companies charge forward. I’m confident that Intel’s unique expertise in hardware, software, and manufacturing will help the startups grow and succeed,” he added.
Intel employs about 11,000 people in Israel and another 1,000 from the Jerusalem-based autonomous systems company Mobileye which it acquired in 2017 for $15.3 billion. It is considered the largest employer in the high-tech sector.