Six winning Israeli startups will take part in the “Israel-India Bridge to Innovation”

Six winning Israeli startups will take part in the “Israel-India Bridge to Innovation” program and will soon launch pilot programs in India. The program was initiated in meetings between the prime ministers of India and Israel.

Tel Aviv, June 27th, 2018 – Six Israeli startups with innovative technologies in the fields of healthcare, agriculture and water management have made it to the final stage of the Israel Innovation Authority’s “Israel-India Bridge to Innovation” program, launched over the past year during bilateral meetings between the prime ministers of both countries. The 18 companies that were initially selected to participate in this program presented their technologies to CEOs and investors from Israel and India in a Demo Day held last week at the Urban Place complex in Tel Aviv. Six companies were chosen to continue to the final stage where they will pilot their solutions in India.

Among the notable participants taking part at the Demo Day were representatives of India’s Invest India agency. The keynote speaker was Rohtash Mal, Chairman of EM3 Agriservices, renowned in India as the “Uber of farmers.” The company rents out equipment to farmers based on time or acres farmed, doing away with the need for farmers to purchase expensive equipment and giving them access to advanced technology at low costs.

The six winning companies selected to continue to the pilot stage of the program are:

In Agriculture:

Amaizz, a company that has developed a portable drying device enabling dry storage of agricultural produce – of immense significance in the Indian market, where it is difficult to ship fresh produce.

Biofeed, a company that has developed a device to combat fruit flies, a pest destructive to the India’s yield of mango and other fruit. India is one of the world’s key mango exporters.

In Healthcare:

Zebra Medical, a company developing medical imaging technologies.

MobileODT, a company that has developed devices to diagnose cervical cancer.

In Water Management:

Aquallence, a company that has developed a device to treat water with Ozone.

AMS Technologies, a company that has developed a system to filter industrial water.

The 18 companies initially selected were reviewed by a panel of judges from Israel and India who looked at over 150 applications. The companies took part in a six-month process that included training and workshops, including information regarding Indian markets, together with professional visits, networking events, mentoring and meetings with senior executives and officials, including investors, senior management and experts and entrepreneurs in the fields of water management, agriculture and healthcare.

The Demo Day judges included members of Indian and Israeli companies, including entrepreneur Ofir Shalvi; Adi Vagman, Managing Partner of the AgriNation venture capital fund; Sigalit Berenson, Sales and Service Manager of the Indian-owned Decco SafePack company; Deeksha Vats, Joint President of Sustainability at the Indian corporation, Aditya Birla Group; Rajit Mehta, CEO of the Max Healthcare Institute; and Avi Luvton, Executive Director of the Asia Pacific and Latin America desk at the Israel Innovation Authority.

Eli Cohen, Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry, said: “Following the government decision a year ago to invest 240 million shekels by the year 2020 to promote relations with India in the fields of innovation and technology, the “Israel-India Bridge to Innovation” program is a golden opportunity for Israeli companies in the fields of healthcare, water management and agritech to achieve prominence and to enter such a significant and developing global market – India.”

Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry and Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority, said: “The Israel-India Bridge to Innovation is a springboard for cooperation between Israeli innovators and Indian corporations. The collaboration between India, a massive economy with the largest growth rate in the world, and Israel, the “Startup Nation,” to develop technological solutions to various challenges, is synergistic and unique. There is a real mutual desire, backed by substantial investment, to pilot these cooperative ventures in India in order to solve pressing global challenges specifically in India but all over the world as well.”

Avi Luvton, Executive Director of the Asia Pacific Desk at the Israel Innovation Authority, emphasized that the “Bridge to Innovation” program comes at a peak in Israeli-Indian relations that began more than a year ago and which has been strengthened by bilateral visits by both prime ministers, reflecting an era in which many new opportunities are opening up within the Indian economy.

Chinese Pay $4.4 Billion for Israeli Company Playtika

A consortium of Chinese companies has announced that it is paying $4.4 billion for Playtika, the Israeli social games developer, which was owned by Caesars Interactive Entertainment. The group, led by an affiliate of Shanghai Giant Network Technology, one of China’s largest online games companies, said it has entered into a definitive agreement with Caesars to acquire the Herzliya-based Playtika in an all-cash deal.

According to reports, Caesars announced it would sell off the Slotomania developer in order to pay down debt. South Korea’s Netmarble reportedly made an offer for the Israeli gaming company but was outbid by the Chinese consortium.

The consortium includes Giant Investment (HK); Yunfeng Capital, a private equity firm founded by Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma; China Oceanwide Holdings Group; China Minsheng Trust; CDH China HF Holdings Company; and Hony Capital Fund.

“This transaction is a testament to Playtika’s unique culture and the innovative spirit of our employees who for the past six years have consistently designed, produced and operated some of the most compelling, immersive and creative social games in the world,” said Robert Antokol, Co-Founder and CEO of Playtika.

“We are incredibly excited by the commercial opportunities the Consortium will make available to us, particularly in its ability to provide us access to large and rapidly growing emerging markets. This is an amazing milestone for all Playtikans and we truly value how unique this opportunity is to continue executing our vision with such a strong partner.”

Playtika is credited as the pioneer of free-to-play games on social networks and mobile platforms. It is the creator of Slotomania, House of Fun and Bingo Blitz, which consistently rank among the top-grossing games on Apple’s App Store, Google Play and Facebook. Playtika’s games are played daily by more than six million people in 190 countries, in 12 languages and on more than 10 platforms.

“It has been a particularly rewarding experience growing Playtika from a 10-person start-up, when CIE acquired them in 2011, into a global leader,” said Caesars Interactive Entertainment Chairman and CEO, Mitch Garber.  “Playtika today is a highly profitable growth company with more than 1,300 employees, multiple top grossing titles and millions of daily users.  Robert is a true visionary and Israeli business leader who has created not only a great business, but also the most unique corporate culture I have seen in my career.”

Following the transaction Playtika, which was founded in 2010, will continue to run independently at its headquarters in Herzliya with its existing management team continuing to run day-to-day operations.

Playtika has additional studios and offices in Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Canada, Japan, Romania, Ukraine and the United States.

“Playtika’s growth has been exceptional, and highlights its outstanding team, excellent corporate culture, cutting-edge big data analytics, and its unique ability to transform and grow games,” said a representative of the consortium, Giant’s founder and Chairman Shi Yuzhu.  “We are looking forward to Playtika continuing to innovate and excel.”

The final transaction is subject to customary regulatory approvals and other closing conditions, and is expected to close in the third or fourth calendar quarter of 2016.

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Israeli Innovations for the Disabled Get Google Grants

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Technologies to improve accessibility include smartphone controlled by head movements, eye-controlled keyboard and Makeathon-in-a-box.

Two Israeli nonprofits are among 30 international winners of Impact Challenge grants from to promote technological innovations that will make the world more accessible for people with disabilities.

Beit Issie Shapiro in Ra’anana received two Impact Challenge grants.

It received $1,000,000 toward the joint development with Sesame Enable of a free solution that will allow people with limited mobility to operate smartphones with head movements. The beta product is now being distributed to individuals in Israel to test and gauge demand before a global rollout.

Beit Issie Shapiro also received $700,000 to develop Makeathon-in-a-box in conjunction with Tikkun Olam Makers (TOM), a project of the Tel Aviv-based Reut Group.

Makeathon-in-a-box is a template for community make-a-thons around the world that bring makers and people with disabilities together to build prototypes of new solutions for “orphan” accessibility challenges.

Prototypes that come from the make-a-thons will be open source, and featured solutions will be available for purchase on TOM’s website.

National health-support organization Ezer Mizion of Bnei Brak won a $400,000 grant from for its project with Israeli startup Click2speak to develop a keyboard controlled by eye tracking for people with limited mobility and high cognitive function.

In the United States alone, 7.5 million people have trouble using their voices, and many of them also have impaired motor skills, making effective communication a daily struggle. Click2Speak CTO Gal Sont knows this only too well, as he was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in 2009.

Using eye movements, Sont programmed a user-friendly, affordable and multilingual on-screen virtual keyboard controlled by eye tracking and an eye-operated communication system. The Ezer Mizion Augmentative and Alternative Communication Loan Center provides eligible clients with the beta version.

The Impact Challenge grant will allow Ezer Mizion and Click2Speak to pilot the product, gather user feedback and improve the core technology.

Life Is Better in Majuli Since An Israeli Came to Visit

She didn’t speak their language, but that didn’t stop Gili Navon from befriending and assisting the women of a remote island tribe in northeast India.

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Gili Navon didn’t intend to start a nonprofit organization when she traveled to Majuli, a remote island of about 200,000 in Assam, northeast India.

It was 2007, and she came with a photographer friend to explore arural culture she’d heard about from a yoga teacher during her yearlong backpacking trek through India after her army discharge in 2005.

Something about the place attracted her intensely. Though she did not speak Assamese or any local dialects, Navon bonded with the families – and particularly the women — of Majuli’s peaceful Mising tribe.

She accompanied them to the jungle to pick herbs and helped with household chores. She watched them spin raw silk and cotton into colorful garments. She saw the struggle for sustenance in this low-caste subsistence-farming society where tourists rarely venture and river erosion has caused mass relocation.

River erosion is a serious threat to the Mising tribe of Majuli. Photo by Mitu Khataniar
River erosion is a serious threat to the Mising tribe of Majuli. Photo by Mitu Khataniar


“We came to have a real relationship. Slowly I learned the language and visited many times. They knew I cared about them,” Navon tells ISRAEL21c.

That caring led her to do a four-month internship in Majuli during her studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Glocal  (“global” and “local”) Community Development Studies master’s degree program.

“Coming in with an Israeli education, where you continually search for ways to improve and innovate, together with my love and appreciation of the local culture and way of life, I felt I have something to contribute.”

Navon organized 24 tribal women into a weaving cooperative in 2011 to help them turn their cultural tradition into a more viable source of income from marketable items such as table runners, scarves, wallets and yoga bags.

One project led to another, one trip to another. In 2013, Navon and fellow Glocal student Shaked Avizedek partnered with local youth and women to establish Amar Majuli (“Our Majuli”), a grassroots not-for-profit organization. In Israel, Amar Majuli now functions within Tevel b’Tzedek, a nonprofit that runs long-term volunteer projects to enhance the livelihood and wellbeing of communities in developing countries.

The heart of Amar Majuli’s community work is the Rengam (United) Women Weavers Cooperative, whose goal is to provide members and their families with independent sustainable livelihoods from handloom work and eco-tourism while gaining leadership skills.

The weaving cooperative today includes about 100 women, ages 18 to 60, from 20 villages. The project’s headquarters doubles as a meeting place for educational lectures on topics such as women’s health, and has also become an informal hostel for unmarried women who otherwise have no place in society.

To enhance the mobility and independence of the members, Amar Majuli established two bicycle banks. Navon explains that Majuli’s villages are far from infrastructure such as markets and hospitals, necessitating many hours of walking. Since Majuli is flat, cycling provides an easy solution. An innovative system allows each woman gradually to buy her own bike by paying pennies per use.

Mising women can get around more easily due to the Amar Majuli bike bank. Photo by Aviv Naveh
Mising women can get around more easily due to the Amar Majuli bike bank. Photo by Aviv Naveh

In addition, Amar Majuli runs a sustainable agriculture program in cooperation with the Farm2Food Foundation. The program provides practical tools for poor farmers of both genders, aiming to increase sustainable agro-economic productivity in an environmentally friendly manner.

“The main part of our work evolved around the establishment and operation of five demonstration plots equipped with drip-irrigation systems donated by Netafim,” Navon says.

Mising farmers learning to use Israeli drip-irrigation methods. Photo courtesy of Gili Navon
Mising farmers learning to use Israeli drip-irrigation methods. Photo courtesy of Gili Navon

During the monsoon season, the island suffers from floods and Amar Majuli shifts into relief mode, organizing medical clinics and giving out water filters. “This is a very hard period of the year. Roads are blocked, there are sanitary problems and shortages of drinking water, and many people get sick without access to medical treatment,” says Navon, 32.

Since its inception, the organization has worked alongside the local community without a formal budget or paid staff, developing solutions for social and economic problems. This year, Navon is curtailing her visits in a conscious effort to turn the leadership reins over to the local three staff members and eight board members.

A volunteer advisory board in Israel provides professional assistance in areas such as fundraising, branding and strategic planning. “We are in search of partners who want to support us and help us further reach out and ensure the sustainability of our community work in Majuli,” Navon says.

Gili Navon became close with the women in Majuli. Photo by Aviv Naveh
Gili Navon became close with the women in Majuli. Photo by Aviv Naveh

“People sometimes wonder what is the motive for someone to do something for a community outside her own,” says Navon, who lives with photographer Aviv Naveh in the Jerusalem suburb of Nataf.

“In Majuli I met a completely different way of life and a kind of poverty we don’t see here. I saw a need and an opportunity for development. The people have a complete lack of financial security, especially women. If someone gets sick and they already sold their cow, there is no way to save that person’s life. They lack the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty because of discrimination, social exclusion and lack of access.”

For Majuli, Navon adapted and modified the ABCD (Assets Based for Community Development) approach she learned in the Glocal master’s program. Rather than focusing on needs and problems, ABCD identifies and builds on the existing strengths and assets in a community. Navon writes and lectures on how ABCD can be adapted to various disadvantaged communities.

“Coming in with an Israeli education, where you continually search for ways to improve and innovate, together with my love and appreciation of the local culture and way of life, I felt I have something to contribute — and of course to learn, as well,”she says.

Navon was deeply influenced and inspired by the stories of her grandfather Moshe Nachshon (Lipson), who fought to bring Jewish refugees to Israel from Europe and was one of the founders of Flotilla Shayetet 13 navy seals unit.

“I grew up on those amazing, heroic stories, so finding a meaningful project was important to me,” she says. “I wanted to follow that example of dedicating myself to others.”

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7 Israeli Robots That Are Transforming Surgery

The rapidly emerging field of robot-assisted surgery promises to revolutionize how doctors operate. Israel is one of the world leaders in this field.

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Robotic or robot-assisted surgery can give doctors better vision, precision, flexibility and control when performing complex minimally invasive procedures. Someday, surgeons will even use robotic tools to operate through the Internet, bringing modern medical techniques to remote parts of the world.

Only a handful of surgical robots currently are approved for use, and Israelis developed three of them.

“This really puts us in the center of the field,” says Prof. Alon Wolf, founding director of the Biorobotics and Biomechanics Lab at Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and chair of the Robotics in Healthcare session at the upcoming 2016 IATI-BioMed conference in Tel Aviv, May 24-26.

Wolf was studying for his doctorate under robotics pioneer Moshe Shoham of the Technion when they started developing SpineAssist (see below) for minimally invasive spinal surgery. This revolutionary device later formed the basis for Shoham’s Mazor Robotics.

“Many countries are putting a lot of money into developing these technologies, yet they have not been as successful as we are,” Wolf tells ISRAEL21c. “Israel is very respected around the world in this area.”

The “snake” robot for search-and-rescue that Wolf presented to President Obama on his 2013 visit to Israel was the inspiration for the Flex Robotic System (see below).

Prof. Alon Wolf showing the snake robot to President Obama at the Technion in 2013. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO
Prof. Alon Wolf showing the snake robot to President Obama at the Technion in 2013. Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO

Wolf explains that surgical robotics began as a vision of the US army to deliver immediate treatment on the battlefield without exposing the surgeon to danger. A medic would put the robot into place and the surgeon would operate it remotely from a bunker.

“This vision is not completely realized yet, but we do have enabling technologies that allow you to do things in the operating room that you could not do before, and that’s crucial,” says Wolf. “In addition, improved remote capabilities allow a surgeon to log into cameras in other cities and control the view in real time via computer.”

Israel also used military experience as the basis of its robotics advances, says serial entrepreneur Ziv Tamir, the original distributor in Israel for Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci, the American product that broke the ground for robotic surgical systems in 1999. He went on to found a few Israeli companies in this space through ZDev Medical.

“The technologies from Israel are based on knowledge from the military. This is a critical difference because all the surgical robotics projects in other countries are coming from universities so the technology is not always needs-based,” Tamir tells ISRAEL21c.

At BioMed, Wolf will discuss how medical robotics involves innovation from many disciplines. “I’ll try to show how this puzzle of tools and Internet and users is coming together to create a new reality, and why high-tech companies like Google, IBM and Apple are investing in technologies out of the scope of their core technology, including robotics,” says Wolf.

“I believe the future is in robotics,” agrees Tamir. “All the big companies such as J&J have projects in robotic surgery.”

Here’s a look at seven significant Israeli surgical robotics companies.

1. Mazor Robotics of Caesarea is a global innovator in robotic spine and brain surgery products based on technology pioneered by Prof. Moshe Shoham of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s Kahn Medical Robotics Laboratory for Research and Instruction.

The first product, SpineAssist, was approved by the FDA in 2004. Mazor’s next-generation Renaissance Guidance System is now installed in about 100 medical centers around the world (more than half of them in the United States) for biopsies, reconstructive surgery, scoliosis correction, spinal fusion and other delicate operations.

The Renaissance 3D planning software helps surgeons map procedures for each patient and guides the tools according to the predetermined blueprint during the operation.

2. MedRobotics’ Flex Robotic System, based on Alon Wolf’s snake robot, can reach body cavities beyond the surgeon’s direct line of sight, especially head and neck structures.

“You lock it into location and operate through the snake, introducing portfolio tools we developed,” says Wolf. “It’s a single-port surgery because the system is flexible, enabling surgeons to do things they couldn’t do before.”

The Flex Robotic System was approved for medical robotics assistive surgery in Europe in 2014 and in the United States in July 2015. Wolf cofounded MedRobotics 10 years ago with colleagues he worked with at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It’s headquartered in Massachusetts.

3. MST (Medical Surgery Technologies) of Yokneam makes AutoLap, an image-guided laparoscope positioning system to orient the surgeon and stabilize the surgeon’s motions — without a human assistant – in minimally invasive surgery.

The surgeon wears a wireless ring-like device that interfaces with the AutoLap system. The proprietary software captures and interprets visual data from the laparoscope and maneuvers it in coordination with the surgeon’s actions in real time, according to CEO Motti Frimer.

“We compare it to Xbox in the clinical domain, where the system understands individual gestures,” he says.

Last June, MST received $12.5 million in an investment round led by Haisco Pharmaceutical Group of China, earmarked for expanding marketing and sales of AutoLap in the United States, Europe and China. The system is already used in a dozen medical centers in Europe and at the first US site.

“We are addressing a real need in computer-assisted robotic surgery, because most robotics must be commanded by joysticks or other devices while the MST image-analysis platform responds to the surgeon’s actions. We aim to be the gold standard for all laparoscopic surgery, and also hope to expand MST’s image-based artificial intelligence technology into additional medical robot and computer-assisted surgical domains.”

MST’s AutoLap image-guided laparoscopic positioning system. Photo: courtesy
MST’s AutoLap image-guided laparoscopic positioning system. Photo: courtesy

4. Human Extensions in Netanya is awaiting FDA (US) and CE (Europe) approvals for its ergonomic, bionic surgical glove designed as a robotized brain to enable smooth and precise movements.

Founder and CEO Tami Frenkel explains that Human Extensions’ disruptive technology is modular for use in a wide variety of complex minimally invasive operations and can be tailored to a surgeon’s skill level and specific task.

“This novel solution will allow surgeons — for the first time — to access a patient’s anatomy in a manner resembling open surgery,” Frenkel tells ISRAEL21c. “It’s as if their hands are inside the patient’s body.”

She says the Human Extensions platform represents a big step forward as “the only smart multifunctional handheld system on the horizon for minimally invasive surgery of all kinds.”

The Human Extensions tool. Photo: courtesy
The Human Extensions tool. Photo: courtesy

5. Microbot Medical was cofounded in 2010 by Moshe Shoham with Yossi Bornstein and Harel Gadot, leveraging two technologies from Shoham’s mechanical engineering lab: ViRob and TipCAT. Advanced prototypes are in development.

ViRob is a revolutionary autonomous crawling micro-robot that acts as a “submarine” allowing surgeons to send a camera, medication or shunts to narrow, twisting parts of the body (such as blood vessels and digestive and respiratory organs) and to do minimally invasive operations on those areas guided by MRI and CT scanners. Prof. Nir Shvalb, now head of the Kinematics & Computational Geometry Multidisciplinary Laboratory at Ariel University, worked on ViRob as Shoham’s PhD student.

TipCAT is a proprietary flexible, self-propelled endoscope for use in the colon, blood vessels and urinary tract. A series of balloons sequentially inflate and deflate to create safe, fast and gentle locomotion inside body structures. Like ViRob, TipCAT supports functional tools.

Prototype of the tiny ViRob from Microbot, which will allow surgeons to send a camera, medication or shunts into narrow, twisting parts of the body.Photo courtesy of Technion
Prototype of the tiny ViRob from Microbot, which will allow surgeons to send a camera, medication or shunts into narrow, twisting parts of the body.Photo courtesy of Technion

6. XACT Robotics is developing a novel platform robotic technology for accurately inserting and steering the needle in minimally invasive CT-guided procedures such as lung biopsies.

It consists of a robot, a control unit connected to the CT and to the robot, and a workstation where the interventional radiologist can plan and observe the procedure. Any deviation from the planned pathway can be detected and corrected immediately without reinserting the needle or repositioning the patient.

The company hasraised $5 million in a round led by MEDX Ventures Group, which founded the firm based on technology from the Technion. The American National Health Institute will conduct joint trials with XACT on animals and later on humans.The CEO of the company, based in Shoham, is Chen Levine.

7. MemicInnovative Surgery “is dedicated to developing and delivering innovative robotic surgical solutions that enable surgical procedures currently considered infeasible,” says CEO Dvir Cohen, who has mechanical engineering degrees from the Technion and an MBA from Tel Aviv University.

“Memic’s surgical robotic system is based on a unique design that enables a novel and intuitive surgical approach for laparoscopic procedures,” says company cofounder Nir Shvalb.

Based in Kfar Saba, Memic is now moving forward with clinical trials and regulatory clearances.


NAMPO 2016 – Israeli Agro-Technologies Solving South African Farmer Woes

Israel is no stranger to drought, famine, and other issues that come from living in a desert climate with little room for improvement. As such, Israeli agribusiness are constantly developing better and more advanced technologies to help mitigate the topographical and meteorological hurdles that are central to the region, making Israel the ideal partner to help African countries that are struggling with these same serious problems. The Embassy of Israel in South Africa is one of the many prosperous partnerships that is helping bring Israeli technologies to African farmers and seeing outstanding success.

This year, the Embassy will be featuring some of the most up-to-date agro-technology companies at the NAMPO Harvest Day convention, and African businesses and citizens are invited to sit and discuss some exciting innovations for future development.

NAMPO 2016

The NAMPO Harvest Day show is an agricultural trade show that brings representatives from across the agricultural sector together. This year, several prominent Israeli agro-technologies are being introduced into the mix.

Israeli Agro-Technologies on Site

Here are a few innovative ideas in-the-making with the potential to aid African farmers in new and incredible ways.

  • Haifa Group (Haifa Chemicals Ltd.) is an industry leader, providing water-soluble fertilizers and plant nutrition supplements to enhance crop productivity in the open field. Currently, Haifa SA is working in the greenhouse sectors with control-released fertilizers across Africa including Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, and RSA. With the help of these plant nutritional solutions, Haifa Group is helping South African farmers increase their crop output in both quality and quantity, significantly decreasing the widespread famine that is a deep-seated issue in the region.
  • Metzerplas Agriplas is a manufacturer of irrigation equipment, so in essence, they are the conduit that lets farmers utilize the technologies that Israeli companies are bringing over. In addition to delivering these technologies, Agriplas has set up offices in Africa itself, providing over 100 job opportunities for the locals. Other irrigation systems that will be represented at the convention include NaandanJain and Netafim Ltd.
  • Mottes Tensiometers is a company that has developed and is currently utilizing tension lysimeters to measure the amount of nutrients in the roots of plants, really getting to the root of the agricultural problems.
  • Schneor Seeds CC is a developer that has germinated high-resilience fruit and vegetable seeds that are resistant to disease and infestation. These seeds can be a real breakthrough for global agriculture as they will eliminate one of the most troublesome barriers against solving world hunger.

The convention is being held in Bothaville, South Africa this year on May 17-20, and African businesses and citizens are invited to come witness some of the greatest agricultural technologies that are changing the world today.

Israeli Non-Profit is Saving Lives by the Millions

We all want to make a difference in the world, and Sivan Borowich Ya’ari is no different. That’s why when, on a business trip to the denim district of Africa, she saw an opportunity to help the suffering people in the African community, she knew what she had to do.

From that initial desire to help, Innovation: Africa was born, and they have been making this world a better place ever since. Who is Innovation: Africa? What do they do? And why are they making such a difference to the world? Find out this and more as we explore this humanitarian aid group that seems to know exactly how to get the job done.

How Innovation: Africa is Changing the World

Innovation: Africa has only been around since 2008, but they’ve managed to do a whole lot of good in that short time. They have launched over 100 individual projects across Africa and helped close to 1 million African citizens with their relief efforts.

Various projects have been launched to promote better living conditions for those suffering from poverty, hunger, poor medical treatments, and rampant diseases caused by unsanitary water supplies. The initiatives have brought clean water, solar energy, food supplies, and much needed medical care to those in need. One meaningful project that was launched involved bringing light to schools and orphanages that were living in the dark until then.

Innovation: Africa’s reach has covered the continent, spanning countries including Ethiopia, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, and Uganda.


Sharing the Wealth

As an Israeli-launched and run firm, Innovation: Africa knows the dramatic breakthroughs that Israelis have made in the fields of technology and agriculture. This non-profit organization is responsible for bringing popular Israeli agricultural technologies that have successfully transformed a dried out desert wasteland into a flourishing center for produce, vegetation, and of course technology.

Using solar-powered water pumps, drip irrigation, and other innovations, Ya’ari has increased agricultural productivity in the region, created more jobs for farmers, and provided an ecosystem for stronger, healthier economic growth. This solar pump technology that the Israelis are sharing with Africa takes advantage of the vast supply of water hidden under the ground. There is as much as 5,000 gallons of water sitting below the earth’s surface, and these pumps are collecting the water for use in the fields via the latest drip irrigation systems that have been installed.

Promoting Better Health Standards

Another powerful initiative launched by Innovation: Africa brought more vaccinations to the children of Africa. Currently, more than 300,000 African children have received vaccines from life-threatening diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, and tetanus. Innovation: Africa used to be called the Jewish Heart for Africa, and while the name has changed, clearly the message remains the same.

App Uses Adapted Israeli Airforce Imaging Tech to Detect Skin Cancer

Every child gets a vision and hearing check in school on a regular basis. Dr. Moshe Fried, an Israeli plastic surgeon, believes an annual skin check is necessary as well, starting in the teens.

This is why he agreed to be the medical consultant for Emerald Medical Applications’ DermaCompare, a free smartphone app that uses image processing and predictive analytics to detect changes in marks and moles over time. The app alerts the user to changes that ought to be screened for cancer.

“The skin is the biggest organ in the body,” says Fried. “The need for this comparative system came from the concept that as dermatologists and plastic surgeons we have to check everyone throughout life to look for changes in moles – the medical term is ‘nevi’ — for signs of skin cancer. This is quite difficult to do. We think that together with this application we can accomplish this goal.”

The public company, founded in Petah Tikva in 2013, has distribution agreements in Israel, Sweden, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Brazil, New Zealand and Australia (in Australia, one out of seven people get skin cancer). In April, the Brazil Chamber of Commerce selected DermaCompare as the Israeli technology “most likely to succeed in Brazil.”

A Spanish version of the app was recently launched for Puerto Rico, Mexico and Argentina, with more South American locations to come.

“There is no other product like ours,” Emerald founder and CEO Lior Wayn tells ISRAEL21c. “Our competitors use manual diagnostics and don’t use algorithms to compare images.

“This is a proprietary technology that we adapted from the Israeli Air Force, using aerial photos to track enemy moves. Our enemy is moles and we know how to track them.”

Last year, Wayn gave a TEDx Talk in Berlin about how he decided to adapt Israeli military technology into a lifesaving medical solution after his own father was diagnosed with melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.


To use the free iOS or Android app, you strip down to your underwear and have someone take smartphone or digital camera photos of your moles and lesions according to instructions explained by a friendly avatar.

DermaCompare’s algorithm then analyzes the photos. If any suspicious moles or changes are found, the app recommends contacting a doctor for evaluation, and can automatically link you to a dermatologist near your location.

“The system knows how to distinguish between benign and malignant and tells us if there is a change that could be malignant,” says Fried. “The aim is to find melanoma in the earliest stages. This offers great advantages in terms of saving money and treatment time.”

Approximately 420 million people worldwide have a high risk of getting melanoma, particularly those with fair skin. Annual treatment expenditures for melanoma in the US alone total $8 billion.

The DermaCompare system identifies and classifies moles and lesions. Image courtesy of Emerald Medical Applications
The DermaCompare system identifies and classifies moles and lesions. Image courtesy of Emerald Medical Applications

Fried says that thousands of pictures of volunteers taken for the development of the DermaCompare app demonstrated that changes in moles could clearly be detected over the course of the three-year trial period.

He envisions everyone, starting in their teens, using the app at regular intervals to build a cloud-based medical file providing physicians with real-time data on skin history and changes. If a user is concerned about a particular spot, a photo can be transmitted directly to his or her dermatologist.

DermaCompare can also be used as a follow-up at home to professional total body photography, which more and more people are using for early detection of skin cancer.

The app harnesses the power of the crowd, Wayn explains. As users upload photos of their skin to the cloud, they are building a database toward more accurate identification and comparison of moles and lesions.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence can use this crowdsourced data to predict which kinds of moles are most likely to become cancerous, “and by using that we can prevent melanoma in advance,” says Wayn.

Emerald Medical, a 16-employee company that has raised about $2 million and now seeks another $2.5 million in a Series B round, intends DermaCompare as a tool to document changes in many skin conditions beyond moles and cancer.

“This is a screening device for anything on the body that you can track with images, such as acne, bedsores and psoriasis,” says Wayn.

The business model is a fee charged to the participating physician based on the particular country’s insurance scheme.

For more information, click here.

(Originally Published on by Abigail Klein Leichman)

Tel Aviv Startup Empowering South African Women

Even in our all-accepting and gender-equivalent society, woman are still struggling to show doubters that they have every bit as much to offer the world – in particular, the scientific world – as their male counterparts. Fortunately, Start-Up Tel Aviv has got these ladies’ backs because their tremendous international competition is focusing its attention on promising South African women in high-tech this year.

israel in south africa

Start-Up Tel Aviv Invites Women to Compete

The competition has broad parameters, allowing any woman in senior or founding positions within a South African high-tech startup to apply. While this is always the case for the exciting competition, this year has a particular focus on the women of the industry, and it promises to reward individuals who show innovation and unique leadership qualities.

Judging Fairly

The respected judges will choose between the many applicants to find the women with some of the most unique and innovative technologies that can be both scalable and sustainable for the future. Among the judges themselves are several prominent women including Noluthando Gosa, Hillary Joffe, and Tanya Kovarsky. Gosa is known as being a significant and active voice in various projects including the Institute of Directors of South Africa, the Black Business Council, and the Business Women’s Association of South Africa. Joffe is a major player in the financial journalism field in South Africa, and Kovarsky is currently the PR and Communications Lead of Core Group. Other judges include Toby Shapshack, Stuff Magazine publisher, and Arthur Goldstuck, World Wide Worx founder and acclaimed writer.

Competition: Rules & Requirements

Start-Up Tel Aviv is currently running its third competition. The contest works in two stages. First startups from all over the world compete to be one of the finalists. The cream of the crop are chosen from the various startups spanning 21 different countries. From there, these companies will compete for the coveted prize.

What is the competition prize? Winners are awarded with an all-expenses paid trip to Tel Aviv, where they will spend almost a week in the vastly knowledgeable startup communities within this tech hub. Tech startups are eager to win because they know how much they can learn from this experience-rich atmosphere. Winners will also be introduced to several prominent members in various fields including investors, scientists, and cultural leaders, all individuals who could potentially change the course of development for these startups.

The only requirements are that the contestants must be a part of a tech company that is currently in the seed stage of development. Oh, and they had better be coming in with some major innovations because the competition is fierce.

Kaiima – AgriTech’s Pick for Solving World Hunger

World hunger is a serious problem, and one that scientists, farmers, politicians, and world leaders are constantly struggling to overcome. This is why when Israeli company Kaiima turned out a bumper crop of experimental produce, the entire world stopped to listen. And they had some pretty fascinating things to say.

The Kaiima Method

Kaiima is a successful agro-biotech that is tackling the world’s hunger problem by making crop production a more efficient and productive process. The science behind their methods is known as Clean Genome Multiplication (CGM) technology and it effectively enhances the crop’s production levels, by dramatically encouraging the vegetation to increase the chromosome production in the plants.

This is actually a natural process that is already occurring in the plants, so the CGM is simply giving it a boost in order to do its job better. The Kaiima method is a further development of this process that they’ve termed EP (Enhanced Ploidy) for the greater ploidy genomes that are produced without damaging quality.

According to Doron Gal, CEO of Kaiima, “In agriculture, this is considered a game-changing technology…Kaiima is the first since the green revolution that has an interesting yield-enhancement technology.” And that technology is really making waves in the agricultural communities across the world.

Seeing Resounding Results

So is the Kaima method as good as they say it is? Their 2014 numbers for corn, soy, wheat, and rice closed near $30 billion, a real bumper crop if ever there was one! These specific crops are in tremendous demand globally, with a 90% increase over the last 30 years. Overall, Kaiima has been able to increase crop production by 10-50%, a development that hasn’t been seen since the beginning of the “green revolution”.

With production levels like this, when the seeds go to market in a few weeks, everyone is hopeful that the rising global hunger problems will be significantly reduced.

Kaiima’s Global Aid

Kaiima has gained global recognition over the past few years for its tremendous strides made in struggling countries across the world. In 2013, the bio-agritech company teamed up with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in India in an attempt to breed new types of rice that would have greater biomass and grain yield, effectively feeding more people with less. Their efforts in Africa to establish stronger vegetation were equally successful.

Investors such as Horizon, The World Bank Group, the International Financial Corporation, and Infinity Group are all backing this noble project. Currently Kaiima has subsidiaries in North America and Israel, and the company plans to expand their operations for further research and development. Kaiima means sustainable, and that is certainly something that they are helping to achieve!