In the 1st Feb 2015 edition of Israel’s good news, the highlights include:
· Israeli researchers have identified pro-cancer and anti-cancer white blood cells.
· Israel has provided extra funds to train Israeli-Arabs in hi-tech.
· Israeli surgeons have been repairing the cleft pallets of children in Vietnam.
· An Israeli company is embarking on a huge micro-irrigation project in India.
· Overseas firms spent almost $1 billion on Israeli startups in just one week.
There are good and bad white blood cells. Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have discovered that neutrophils (a form of white blood cell) contain many different subtypes. Some of these prevent cancer and others promote it. It opens avenues for therapies that increase anti-tumor neutrophils and limit pro-tumor ones.
Graft-vs-Host disease treatment gets boost. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has granted Israeli biotech Enlivex “orphan” status for its ApoCell treatment to prevent Graft-vs-Host Disease. It will speed up development of the Israeli innovation that stops rejection of transplanted cells and bone marrow.
Researching Autism with Japan. A team of Israeli and Japanese researchers has embarked on a project to discover how autistic spectrum disorder develops in the brain. It follows the conference “Advances in Brain Sciences”, jointly hosted by the Weizmann Institute of Science and Japan’s RIKEN Brain Science Institute.
Norwegian charity prize for Israeli cancer expert. (Thanks to Israel21c) Norway’s largest charitable organization, the Olav Thon Foundation has chosen Tel Aviv University cancer geneticist Professor Yosef Shiloh as one of the two recipients of its very first international medical research award.
350, 000 people to benefit from new medicines. Israel’s Health Council has added an additional 73 medicines and technologies into the Government’s subsidized “Health Basket”. The changes will benefit 350, 000 Israelis at a cost of NIS 324 million.
Mapping the brains of the blind. Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are studying brain activity of blind people in order to shed new light on how our brains can adapt to the rapid cultural and technological changes of the 21st Century. Already they have found that reading Braille utilizes “visual” areas of the brain.
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
Send video messages from your wristwatch. Israeli start-up Glide has developed video texting that is so fast, you be watching the video the other side of the world before your friend has finished recording it! And now, Glide is putting that technology onto smart watches. Remember Dick Tracey’s watch? It’s been superceded.
Ecological makeover for Tel Aviv bus station. The Onya Collective is turning Tel Aviv’s massive concrete bus station into a blossoming center for urban ecology. This includes hydroponics, growing plants without soil, under special LED lights. Gardens grow lettuce and strawberries using drip irrigation from the air-con system.
China-Israel innovation cooperation. (Thanks to Michelle) Beijing hosted the first meeting of the China-Israel government innovative cooperation joint committee. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both sent their congratulations.
Micro-irrigation for India. Israeli water company Netafim has been selected to partake in a $60 million micro-irrigation project in the Indian state of Karnataka. The project will span 12, 000 hectares, help 6, 700 farmers in 22 villages, increase crop production and save 50 percent of their water consumption.
You won’t need this in Israel. Israeli Shalom Koresh has invented a new invisible kippa (skull cap) made from artificial hair called “Magic Kippa.” It is for Orthodox Jews in Europe where recent terrorist attacks against the Jewish communities have left many afraid to go out in public wearing a kippa.
ECONOMY & BUSINESS
Government deficit far lower than expected. The Israeli Government’s 2014 deficit was NIS 29.9 billion (2.8% of GDP) compared to its budget of NIS 31.1 billion. This is despite an unplanned NIS 7 billion cost of fighting Operation Protective Edge.
Over $900 million for Israeli startups in one week. Acquisitions and investment into Israeli startups in a seven-day period in January amounted to over $900 million. Amazon bought Israel’s Annapurna Labs for $370 million. Harman paid $200 million for Red Bend Software. Dropbox bought CloudOn and Microsoft, Equivo. And take a look at The Economist’s infograph showing Tel Aviv as the world’s no. 2 startup ecosystem.
17-year-old head of Israeli startup. (Thanks to Israel21c) 17-year-old Iddo Gino heads RapidPay, a year-old company providing a mobile payment platform for customers without a credit card. Iddo studies at the Hebrew Reali School in Haifa and hopes to obtain a degree in computer science at the Open University next year.
Direct flights to China. China’s largest private airline, Hainan, is to commence flights between Tel Aviv and Beijing. Hainan will operate three return flights a week, on the days that El Al does not fly to Beijing. The new service reflects increased business ties between China and Israel and a 76% rise in Chinese tourists since 2012.
Chinese set up second $100 million investment fund. The founders of Chinese holdings giant Tencent and social network Renren are putting up cash for a new $102 million fund – the second to invest in Israeli startups. The new fund will cover financial technology, the Internet of Things, mobile development, and robotics.
Canada strengthens cooperation with Israel (thanks to www.sizedoesntmatter.com) The Foreign Ministers of Israel and Canada have signed a Joint Declaration of Solidarity and Friendship that they said would increase collaboration on diplomacy and trade development.
Water desalination for Texas. Israel’s IDE Technologies is expanding throughout the USA by opening a new office in the State of Texas. Regular newsletter readers may recall IDE’s desalination facility in San Diego.
Dropbox opens Middle East hub in Israel. Dropbox has acquired Israel’s CloudOn, a startup that offers a service for creating and editing documents on mobile devices. Dropbox will use CloudOn’s Herzliya office as a new hub in the Middle East.