The Israel Brief – 15-18 April 2019

 

The Israel Brief – 15 April 2019 – Coalition building! Trump Peace Plan! Eli Cohen’s remains to return? Israel heads back to the moon!!

 

 

The Israel Brief – 16 April 2019 – Solidarity with Notre Dame. Bibi to form coalition. Abbas to meet Bibi?

 

 

The Israel Brief – 17 April 2019 – SpaceIL investigates Beresheet landing. Palestinian PM says US waging financial war. Hamas and Roger Waters aim to ruin Eurovision party.

 

 

 

The Israel Brief – 18 April 2019 – IDF “Readiness and Change”. Israeli official meets Lebanese FM. Netanyahu starts to form coalition.

“Action Stations – All aboard”

Israel’s Hi-Tech Sector Soaring Bringing Palestinians on Board

 

By David E. Kaplan

This may not be the much touted “deal of the century” but it is Israel’s deal of 2019 – “so far” – and its only March!

Based in Santa Clara California, Nvidia’s acquisition of Mellanox is the “second largest ever” in the Israeli high-tech industry after global behemoth Intel bought Mobileye – the vision-based advanced driver-assistance systems providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation – in 2017 for $15.3 billion.

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Success Story. Mellanox headquarters in Yokneam in the lower Galilee, Israel. Yokneam is known as Israel’s “Startup Village” because its high-tech hub is surrounded by forest and small communities.

This deal augers well for sustaining Israel’s hi-tech global branding.

Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia, said the company was “excited to unite Nvidia’s accelerated computing platform with Mellanox’s world-renowned accelerated networking platform under one roof to create next-generation datacenter-scale computing solutions.”

Huang said he was “particularly thrilled to work closely with the visionary leaders,” of Israel’s Mellanox “and their amazing people to invent the computers of tomorrow.”

Nvidia will continue investing in local Israeli “excellence and talent,” calling Israel “one of the world’s most important technology centers.”

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Eyeing The Future. A technician works in a Mellanox lab in Yokneam, Israel, March 4, 2019.\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

The acquisition will unite two of the world’s leading companies in high performance computing (HPC). Nvidia and Mellanox will together power over 250 of the world’s TOP500 supercomputers and have as customers every major cloud service provider and computer maker.

Nvidia, will pay $6.9 billion cash to acquire Mellanox (MLNX) -twelve years after the Israeli company’s IPO on Nasdaq.

Mellanox develops and sells high-speed communications equipment using InfiniBand and Ethernet technologies.

Billion Dollar Man

Founded in 1999 by its CEO Eyal Waldman, Mellanox surpassed in sales an impressive $1 billion in 2018.

This will be Waldman’s second exit in two decades. He sold the Israeli chip company Galileo Technology Ltd – which he co-founded – to Marvell in 2000 for $2.7 billion. Marvel Technology, like Nvidia, is also based in Santa Clara California.

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California Dreaming. ‘Sailing into the future’ is the design of Nvidia’s Santa Clara headquarters in California. (Courtesy).

A kite boarder and a scuba diver, Waldman, studied electrical engineering at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

Responding why Mellanox is important in this marketplace, Waldman explains:

“So, if you look at the world today, the most important asset or resource on the planet is DATA. A long time ago it was real estate; then it moved to energy and now its data. It is the most important asset people can gather and own; the more data you have, the more powerful you become.”

Eyal Waldman is living testimony!

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In The ‘Genes’. When in Israel, hi-tech visionary Eyal Waldman wears jeans to his Mellanox office in Yokneam.

The Times of Israel describes Waldman as a CEO that is “perpetually in a rush, tends to eat fast food, gets joy from his success but spends as much time as possible with his family.”

Asked to describe himself, “I’m just a normal guy.”

The name “Mellanox”, Waldman reveals, comes from combining the sound of “Xerox” with “Millennium” – because the firm was founded in 1999 – and “Ella”, the name of his wife at the time.

While Nvidia redefined modern computer graphics and sparked the growth of the PC gaming market, Mellanox’s solutions include adapters, switches, software and silicon that accelerate application runtime and maximize business results for a wide range of markets including high-performance computing, enterprise data centers, Web 2.0, cloud, storage, and financial services.

Waldman said the company shares the same vision for accelerated computing – a great fit given our common performance-driven cultures. This combination will foster the creation of powerful technology and fantastic opportunities for our people.”

By ‘people’, Waldman, includes Palestinians as Mellanox is one of several companies with Palestinian employees in the West Bank and Gaza, a source of pride for the firm.

I think a lot of employees became millionaires overnight, and I’m very proud of that. In Israel and in the Palestinian territories, we have employees in Gaza, Rawabi, Nablus, Hebron who also have Mellanox shares, and I think we will all benefit from this sale,” Waldman told Israel’s Channel 12.

The word is out: Working together is “a win-win for all”.

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Six Billion Dollar Smile. Mellanox CEO Eyal Waldman (left) is beaming as he shakes on the deal with Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of Nvidia.

Building Bridges

We need engineers for high-level programming and together with the Palestinians we can build a large Silicon Valley for the Middle East,” said David Slama, senior director for Palestinian Authority activities at Mellanox Technologies. “We’re missing talent that the Palestinians have on their side. Together we can build a bridge that develops great products for the whole world.”

Instead of outsourcing abroad for engineers, Slama says Israeli companies should look no further than the Palestinian Authority areas, noting that some 3,000 Palestinian information and communication technology graduates enter the market each year.

Setting an example, Mellanox and ASAL – a software and IT services outsourcing company based in Ramallah that employs some 250 technical experts around the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – began cooperating at the start of the decade. Mellanox was among the first Israeli companies to outsource to Palestinian software developers in the West Bank and Gaza. Today, more than 120 Palestinian engineers and software developers work for Mellanox.

Pulsating Palestine

Addressing the elephant in the room – namely the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – Tahboub says “it is not a social stigma” to work with Israeli companies. “On the contrary,” he asserts

“Political news is not only what the Palestinian people are all about. We want to have an export-oriented economy based on knowledge and innovation. This is our biggest vision. Innovation, technology and entrepreneurship is the way for the future,” he says. The latest Palestinian Mellanox employees are based out of the Rawabi Tech Hub, in Rawabi, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians in the West Bank, just 20 kilometers outside Jerusalem.

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Roaring Rawabi. Palestinian Mellanox employees are based out of the Rawabi Tech Hub, in Rawabi, the first planned city built for and by Palestinians in the West Bank. Over $1.4 billion has been invested in the city by developer and Palestinian businessman Bashar Masri.

Rawabi is in the middle between Tel Aviv and the Jordanian capital of Amman. “It could absolutely be a hub for innovation not just serving the Israeli and Palestinian markets, but serving the whole region,” asserts Tahboub.

Behind the high-tech “Rawabi City” – Palestine’s first planned city – is Palestinian entrepreneur, visionary, and property developer Bashar Masri who is also the founder and Chairman of the Board of Massar International.

Massar’ is an Arabic word meaning “path” and symbolizes the vision of its founder – to create a company that would successfully link the very best of local professionalism in Palestine with international standards.

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Men On The Move. Looking to plot Palestine trajectory into a prosperous future are CEO of Wataniya Palestine Mobile Telecommunication Public Shareholding Company, Dr. Durgham Maree ( left) and Bashar Al Masri (right) in the new city of Rawabi in the West Bank, June 2018. Courtesy

Says Al Masri:

 “We are relying on our historic enemy, Israel, to be our best friend in moving forward. Israel is riding high. Israel is a super-advanced country. If we piggyback on their economy, I hope they will benefit, and they will benefit, and we stand to benefit exponentially. It’s a win-win situation for all of us.”

 

 

“Fly Me To The Moon…Let me play among the stars”

The lyrics of the Frank Sinatra classic resonated throughout the Jewish world this February 2019 as Israel soared to the heavens –to the moon and amongst the stars at the Oscars

 

By David E. Kaplan

 

It was that kind of week in Israel.

It began with the news headline:

ISRAELI SPACECRAFT LAUNCHES, BERESHEET HEADS INTO ORBIT TOWARDS THE MOON

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Countdown. The Falcon 9 before the launch. (Photo courtesy)

“All I can say is farewell Beresheet,” said an emotional South African-born Morris Kahn, chairman of SpaceIL, who donated more than $40 million to the project. “Our hopes are with you, make us proud.”

Kahn, who hails from Benoni in South Africa where he had been a member of the socialist Zionist youth movement Habonim, made Aliyah (immigration to Israel) in 1956 to kibbutz Tzora.

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‘Hand’ It To The Israelis. Israeli philanthropist, visionary and major sponsor Morris Kahn (centre) with Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Space Division general manager Opher Doron (first right) during a news conference to announce the launch of a spacecraft to the moon. Kahn is a former South African who immigrated to Israel in 1956 and began manufacturing bicycles with kibbutz Tzora.

From starting out manufacturing bicycles at a factory in Beit Shemesh in partnership with kibbutz Tzora, Kahn’s trajectory soared establishing companies that grew into commercial behemoths such as Golden Pages IsraelAmdocs, the Aurec Group and Coral World  and  is now reaching out to the heavens.

A former underwater diver whose Coral World International, established aquariums around the world from his first in 1978 in Eilat, Israel to Maui, Hawaii; Perth, Australia; St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; Coral Island Nassau, The Bahamas; Oceanworld in Manly, Australia and elsewhere.

Transitioning his GPS, Kahn recalibrated his sights from below to above – from the deep depths of the earth’s sea to outer space.

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We have liftoff! Israel makes history with Moon launch

Over The Moon

Israelis of all ages were wound-up at the countdown as the country’s non-profit organisation SpaceIL launched its spacecraft from Florida’s Cape Canaveral on board a Falcon 9 rocket, in a bid to become only the fourth country to make a soft landing on the moon.

Weighing in at 1,300 pounds and standing approximately five feet tall, the unmanned craft, began an approximate seven-week journey to the moon, from where it will send back images of the rocky surface and conduct experiments on the lunar magnetic field.

All of Israel stands animatedly behind this project and was involved even in choosing the name of the spacecraft.

A public vote was conducted on the SpaceIL’s facebook page, and ‘Beresheet’ – a reference to the first words of the Bible in Hebrew: “In the beginning” – won the most votes.

Apart from the technical support from Israel Space Agency, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael Systems and Elbit Systems, SpaceIL was also supported by some of Israel’s top universities, including the Technion, Tel Aviv University (TAU), Weizmann Institute of Science and Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU). Most of the multitude of people associated with SpaceIL are volunteers  – including 250,000 students at schools across the country.

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Flaging The Future. PM Benjamin Netanyahu with his wife Sara and philanthropist Morris Kahn (2nd left) watch the launch of the Beresheet spacecraft from the Yehud command center, Feb. 22, 2019. (SpaceIL) An upbeat Prime Minster exclaimed: “There is great inspiration and daring here, and as of now great success as well. We look at the clock, another 60 days or so. We will meet on April 11.”

Moonstruck

For decades, the moon was the exclusive domain of the superpowers. The Soviet Union landed Luna 2 on the Earth’s nearest neighbour in 1959. Three years later, the United States landed Ranger 4 on the moon and it would take nearly another 50 years for a third country to execute a soft moon landing, when China’s Chang’e 3 did so in 2013.

Joining the elite and exclusive club of Russia, USA and China, Israel is by far the smallest country. It would also become the first private enterprise to make a controlled landing on the moon, with the smallest spacecraft to do it, and by far the least expensive. The total cost of the programme, raised from private donations amounted to $100 million, a small fraction of the billions of dollars invested in the US space program.

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From Holon To The Moon. SpaceIL founders (left-right) Yonatan Winetraub, Kfir Damari and Yariv Bash recreating the experience from a decade earlier in a Holon pub when they conceived the idea of creating an Israeli spacecraft to land on the moon. (Photo: courtesy)

SpaceIL signed with another former South African, Pretoria-born Elon Musk, whose SpaceX launched the Israeli craft on board a Falcon 9 rocket. Beresheet will travel approximately four million miles on its journey, circling the earth multiple times to gain speed before it slingshots toward the moon. It is scheduled to land on April 11.

One “bicycle man” can feel truly proud!

This mission that we were talking about was really a ‘mission impossible’,” Kahn told local media.

“The only thing is, I didn’t think it was impossible, and the three engineers that started this project didn’t think it was impossible, and the way Israel thinks, nothing is impossible.”

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Monumental Moment. SpaceIL holds a press conference in Florida, immediately before the launch. (left-right) Philanthropist Sylvan Adams, a Canadian immigrant who brought the Grand Start of the 2018 Giro d’Italia to Israel and is contributing to Israel’s’ mission to the moon; SpaceIL cofounder Yonatan Winetraub; Spacecraft Project Head, Yigal Harel; GM and Executive VP of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Systems, Missiles & Space Group, Boaz Levy, and SpaceIL cofounder, Kfir Damari. (Photo courtesy)

L’Chaim (“cheers”)

The three engineers Kahn refers to are Yariv Bash, a former electronics and computer engineer in the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) and currently Co-founder and CEO of Flytrex, Kfir Darmari, a computer Networking lecturer and entrepreneur, and Jonathan Winetraub, formally a satellite system engineer at Israel Aerospace Industries and currently a biophysics PhD candidate at Stanford.

It may come as a surprise but Israel’s journey to the moon was hatched in a pub. Some ten years ago, a younger Bash, Damari and Winetraub were at the only bar in Holon, a small town just south of Tel Aviv.

As the night wore on, the future space engineer, cyber security expert and drone maker, came up with a daring plan to build a spacecraft that could land on the moon. “As the alcohol level in our blood rose, we got more and more determined to do this,” Winetraub recalled during an interview with local media. “And it never faded away.”

Nearly a decade later, their alcohol-infused idea is making history.

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Far Out. Opher Doron, general manager of Israel Aerospace Industries’ space division, addresses the press beside the SpaceIL lunar module at the facility near Tel Aviv in July 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Ilan Ben Zion)

From Holy Land to Hollywood

While it is the ‘dream’ of every film producer, director, actor, screenplay and musical score writer, costume and set designer to win an Oscar, this year the sense was that Israel was literally ‘out of the picture’. That was until the following morning after the 91st Academy Award ceremony, I saw on my Facebook:

And the Oscar goes to … WIZO!”

What on “earth” – getting now away from the “moon” – did this mean?

First of all, WIZO – for those who do not know – stands for Women’s International Zionist Organization, which was founded in 1920 in direct response to the needs of women and children in what was still then Palestine. With branches all over the world, including South Africa where my mother was an active volunteer, begged the question:

What did WIZO have to do with the Oscars?

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Night At The Oscars. Israel filmmaker Guy Nattiv and his wife , actress and producer Jaime Ray Newman, celebrate their win at the 91st Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Reading further, it turned out that  Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, who won the Academy Award in Los Angeles for his short film “Skin” – a bio-drama set in the United States about a neo-Nazi skinhead and his son – is a proud graduate of the WIZO Tzarfat (France) Arts School in Tel Aviv, an iconic high school sponsored by WIZO France . Graduates of the school include world famous artist Nir Hod, Israeli actress Dafna Rechter, South African fashion designer, Chantal Abro  and  Chairperson of WIZO in the United Kingdom, Ronit Ribak Madari.

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Wonderful WIZO. Spanning five continents and four generations as one of the largest women’s networks in the world, WIZO, established in 1920, is supported by over 250,000 volunteers in 50 federations worldwide with tens of thousands of volunteers in Israel.

Nattiv, who grew up in Israel and now lives in Los Angeles, co-wrote “Skin” with fellow Israeli Sharon Maymon and produced it with his wife Jaime Ray Newman. The film deals with a hate crime and its ramifications from the point of view of two children, one white and the other black.

“I moved here five years ago from Israel,” Nattiv began his acceptance speech before adding in Hebrew, “Good Night, Israel.”

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Joy & Jubilation. From left to right: Sharon Maymon, Jaime Ray Newman, Guy Nattiv and Andrew Carlberg accept the Best Live Action Short Film award for ‘Skin’ onstage during the 91st Annual Academy Awards. (Photo: Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Excited and emotional he stood with his wife and continued:

My grandparents are Holocaust survivors. The bigotry that they experienced in the Holocaust, we see that everywhere today—in America and in Europe. This film is about education; it’s about teaching your kids a better way.”

Adding, Newman said that she and her husband “dedicate this to our five-month-old baby who’s sitting at home with my parents watching this. We hope that you grow up in a world where these things don’t happen, because people learn to love and accept each other.”

Congratulations came in from Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin who told Nattiv, “…the film is a gift for our children and grandchildren, and for the future that we want for them so they can fulfill their dreams. Proud to be lsraeli. Mazel Tov!”

And how fitting being a graduate of a WIZO school in Tel Aviv, for World WIZO Chairperson Prof. Rivka Lazovsky adding to the long list of congratulations from Israel with:

Mazal Tov, Guy! This is yet another shining example of WIZO pride. You, and thousands of WIZO graduates over the years taken what you have learned at WIZO and used it to create a better world.”

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Emphasis On Education. Presiding over World WIZO – a network of 800 projects serving hundreds of thousands of children, youth and women across Israel – chairperson Rivka Lazovsky visits a WIZO day-care centre on the first day of school. (photo credit: KFIR SIVAN)

February 2019, recognises not only Israel’s ‘dreams’ for a “better world” but its pursuit thereof, whether to land a spacecraft on the moon or an Oscar for a movie that fights racism and proclaims love and acceptance.

For those who watched the launch of Beresheet and heard the words, “We have a lift off…” it was a portent of Israel’s destiny.

Contemplating a future Jewish state over 120 years ago Theodore Herzl said, “If you will it, it is no dream…”.

From his iconic concerned look on the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel, Switzerland, 1897, Herzl can look down today from his ‘celestial’ perch at his ‘state’ about to become the fourth nation to land on the moon, and smile.

 

 

Cool It

“What, harnessing the blazing sun for cooling instead of heating?” Leave it to the Israelis!

By David E. Kaplan

An Israeli company, SolCold has developed a new paint that convert sun’s rays into cool air-conditioning. The double-layered nanotech coating is a potentially game-changing electricity-free solution for cooling buildings or equipment in intensely sunny climates. This makes it ideal for Central and South America, the entire Middle East and all of Africa – from Cairo to Cape Town.

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Coating materials that protect against fire, water or extreme temperatures are nothing new. But an Israeli high-tech paint doesn’t just protect surfaces from the sun. SolCold actually uses the sun’s power to activate a cooling mechanism, effectively providing air conditioning without electricity.

How does it work?

SolCold’s unique paint – “no thicker than a business card” – is applied to a surface of an object, where the sun’s radiation triggers a reaction in the material. This reaction then converts the heat accumulated on the object it is applied to – into radiation. This radiation is then emitted in a process called ‘anti-Stokes fluorescence’ – invented by electrical engineer Yaron Shenhav, the co-founder and CEO of SolCold – thus providing the cooling effect.

SolCold’s material functions as if it were a thin layer of ice that gets thicker and cooler as the sun gets stronger,” explains Shenhav. “We are focusing first on homes and shopping malls, but it can be applied on the roofs of cars and this can help save gasoline.”

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Cool It With Paint. A special paint will make houses cooler without electricity. (Photo: Chanchai Boonma / Shutterstock)

Energy Saver

“When applied to the rooftops of buildings, the material can help save up to 60% in energy costs,” says Shenhev, “which translates into annual cost savings of +$10,000 per building.” There’s also a major positive impact on the environment – saving on these energy costs means a considerable reduction in CO2 emissions. “We are not just saving costs, but also helping protect our environment at the same time.”

SolCold’s product is generating interest for coating anything from chicken coops to cargo ships, malls to stadiums, cars to planes, satellites to hothouses, military equipment to apartment houses.

How did such an early-stage company receive so much attention already?

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THE SUN ITSELF COULD SOON BECOME A LOW-COST AIR CONDITIONER…

Cool Heads

SolCold first made the news in June 2016, when it was one of six Israeli companies handpicked by the US State Department and the White House to participate in the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in California.

And then, in October 2017, SolCold was a finalist in the deep tech competition at the Hello Tomorrow Summit in Paris.

Addressing the summit to an excited audience, Shenhav began:

“Yes, we are in Paris, the City of Lights, and above all these lights that we admire, there is the greatest, strongest light – the SUN. And while the sun is our greatest source of light, it is also our greatest source of heat on this planet. And whether here in Paris or in Tel Aviv, my home town, or LA, Beijing and practically everywhere on this planet, when the sun shines it emits radiation, which is absorbed by everything around us from buildings to cars, and in return it creates heat. So, this is the equation we know today – the stronger the sun, the hotter it gets. But we at SolCold have an alternative equation. We have a material that actually harnesses the suns energy into active cooling; meaning for us the equation is: the stronger the sun, the cooler it actually gets.”

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Sunny Side Up

Potential imitators do not concern SolCold’s super cool team because the technology is so complicated.  “We gathered a unique combination of knowledge in the worlds of thermodynamics, nanotechnology and quantum physics,” says cofounder Gadi Grottas, “and have been working on it for the past four years. We have also registered a PCT patent, which is pending before being published.”

Grottas expects the product to be affordable and to offer a quick return on investment.

He reveals that the materials used in the coating:

–  all exist in the market

–  are 100% “green”

–  free of carbon emissions

– are activated by free energy from the sun.

When tested in a lab using a sun simulator, SolCold’s double-layered coating cooled an object by 1.2 degrees Celsius (2.2 degrees Fahrenheit) using the equivalent of only 1% of the sun’s energy.

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Cool Heads. The SolCold management team, (left – right): Cofounder Yaron Shenhav, technical leader Prof. Guy Ron and Gadi Grottas. Photo: courtesy

“The paint could decrease electricity consumption by up to 60% and is expected to last for 10 to 15 years before needing a new coat,” says Grottas. 

This is no “sugar coating” it – this coating is for real and is transformative.

In hot weather, electricity grids become strained as people use their air conditioning day and night. In Israel, the national electric company frequently issue warnings during summer — when temperatures soar over 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) — to use air-conditioners more sparingly, lest the grids shut down. Inevitably, electricity bills skyrocket.

The idea came to Shenhav sitting in his Tel Aviv apartment one sweltering summer over fours ago. “My air-conditioner was barely functioning – it was struggling to cope and came up with an idea which initially involved optic cables.”  This he later abandoned in favour of harnessing the sun’s radiation for cooling.

Cool Idea

“Now imagine what would happen for example,” says Shenhav, “if all the buildings in Tel Aviv have this coating on the roof. The entire city would consume 60 percent less energy in the hottest days of summer, and when that happens, our power plants would need to produce 60 percent less electricity – meaning much less CO2 (carbon dioxide) would be released into the air by the power plants.”

This is an enormous environmental benefit, asserts Shenhav.

The big question then is what happens in winter with less sun? While “the cooling effect would be reduced by 50% due to more rainy days when clouds hide the sun,” cooling will nevertheless still occur. At present, SolCold is targeting warmer climates such as the sun belt in the US, Central and South America, southern Europe, the Middle East, parts of China, Oceania and Africa.

Playing It Cool

Grottas has visited South Africa as part of promotion where there was interest among egg farms “because hot weather stresses laying hens and greatly reduces their productivity.”

It would also be extremely beneficial in rural South Africa for schools and hospitals.

 

Vision for Africa.  This could be a game-changer in rural South Africa.

 

But Shenhav envisions entire cities in hot climates using SolCold to coat residential and commercial buildings, which would consume less energy and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

“Our technology can cool anything under the sun,” he says.

With the material able to be applied to most surfaces, SolCold’s potential is infinite.

The Herzliya-based startup is currently raising funds and has begun trials. Commercial and residential buildings in Israel and Cyprus are waiting to get the trial SolCold treatment.

Meanwhile, says Grottas, the company has received hundreds of inquiries regarding orders and distribution rights — which he estimates to be worth around $100 million — from places including Africa, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, China, France, India, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Mexico, Philippines, Turkey and the United States.

Out Of This World

SolCold also has its sights on cargo, automotive, space and military markets, estimated at a total of almost $100 billion.

Satellite and space applications especially could prove a huge market for us,” says Shenhav.

“In space, there is the problem to cool down equipment where there is no air to conduct heat and so expensive internal systems are used to isolate and ventilate,” he explains.

Therefore, “opportunities arise in space for our cooling coating that emits the heat via radiation.”

The same cooling principle may have huge potential for the military, in its application on specific hardware. There may also be an added advantage that the paint could in theory “also serve as a camouflage against infrared detection.”

No ‘camouflage’ can hide the sheer genius of Israel’s coolest new invention. Wherever its hot in the world, leave it to the Israelis to cool things down!

 

Flush with Success

When Nature Calls – Israel’s P-Pass will tell you where to go ‘under pressure’!

By David E. Kaplan

When you gotta go; you gotta go!”

We’ve all been in this ‘pressing’ situation when nature calls in a town or city in which you are unacquainted with its lavatorial layout.

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Under Pressure. The awkward trail to finding a loo quickly – an all too familiar experience.

Israel, the Startup Nation that is globally recognized as quick to recognise problems in the world and offer solutions have done so again.

Whether you are in New York, London, Tokyo or Johannesburg what could be more important that knowing – when that familiar pressure builds up – where to take a leak.

The country that gave the world WAZE – the Israeli  GPS navigation software app that informs drivers of motor vehicles on smartphones and tablet computers on best travel times and route details, have now come up with P-pass  – a toilet service developed by Israeli students that tells you –  ‘where to go, when you gotta go.’

This will come as a great ‘relief’ for those whose bladders are bursting.

It’s all evolving in Tel Aviv with its enviable reputation as  “The city that never sleeps” – and therefore has to provide urinals that need to be on active service 24-hours a day.

In a current trial period, tourists and locals in Tel Aviv are using P-Pass where by just a click of a button, finding where to pee is so much easier.

The P-pass bathroom-finding service also informs users which businesses and eateries are open to those who suddenly need to relieve their bladder.p

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Calling Card. “Thank G-d for my P-Pass,” says this relieved Tel Avivian.

Innovation is about solving real problems and we found not knowing where to pee to be a major issue,” 31 year-old Tal Elharar, a female and one of the student-entrepreneurs behind the P-pass service told NoCamels.com – a leading news website covering breakthrough innovation from Israel based at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya.

Everyone has to go,” says Elharar. “When you’re a tourist, you don’t always want to go into a restaurant or business and ask to use the bathroom. Or, you feel you need to buy something that you don’t really want just so that you can go to the bathroom.”

Partnering Elharar are her fellow MA students in Design, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the College of Management Academic Studies in Rishon Lezion – Ariel Rozenberg, Tal Leibushor-Dahan and Shlomit Joy-Goren.

The P-pass mission, says Elharar, “is to provide quick and easy toilet access to users and potential profit to retailers, transforming it from a usually awkward activity to social responsibility.”

In the same way as consumers in shops usually end up buying more than they planned, toilet uses passing through a shop or restaurant may well broaden their original horizon.

Going to “do my business” may translate into actual “business”!

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No Kidding. If children need to go, parents need to find a place and quickly.

I’Loo’minating The Way

The P-Pass gives new meaning to the term “peebrain”. These Smart students hit on the “pee patrol” concept as tourists in Europe. “Finding a place to visit the lady’s room in a foreign city became a time-consuming mission when there was no reason it needed to be,” said Elharar.

In January 2019, the P-pass entrepreneurs ran their first pilot of the service in the Carmel Market and Jaffa Flea Market areas of Tel Aviv.

Tourists paid $1 for the four-day trial that afforded them a “reward card to pee wherever they wanted” at any of the participating 30 businesses that collaborated with P-pass, Elharar told NoCamels. “We proved that there is a real need to know where to go when you gotta go and that people are even willing to pay for that convenience.”

Gearing up to launch a second pilot in March, the innovative foursome want to be ready for the 64th Eurovision Song Contest which will be held in Tel Aviv in May, when the lines to toilets could could be at bursting point. After all, some 20,000 visitors are expected to crowd Tel Aviv for this year’s international song competition.

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Gladder Bladders

Elharar says where better to initiate the service than in Tel Aviv. “We aim to make the world a better place in answering the call everyone needs answered.”

The Fab Four are graduating soon and “we’re meeting with investors. Tel Aviv is just the beginning; we’re planning on expanding our service and App to all major European cities starting with London, Amsterdam, and Budapest,” she says.

If all goes as planned, the app will eventually offer premium services that will inform folk on the prowl with pressing needs, where the cleanest toilets are and where to find three-ply softness.

As always, Israel “aims” to please!

 

 

Seinfeld – Magnificent facilities

Salvation Road

If Israeli AI Startup Waycare is significantly reducing car crashes in Las Vegas,  it can help save thousands of lives on South Africa’s deadly roads

By David E. Kaplan

Christmas should be a time of rejoicing not mourning. Not so this last Christmas in SA, where it was more about roads to hell than stairways to heaven!

There were almost 800 dead on South African roads in just 18 days in December 2018.

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Head-On Collision. The frequency of road accidents in South Africa is nothing short of terrifying.

According to transport minister, Blade Nzimande in his mid-festive season road-safety report, KwaZulu-Natal had the most deaths (162) followed by Gauteng (125); Limpopo and Eastern Cape had 89 fatalities each, while Mpumalanga had 82, the Western Cape 81, the Free State 78, the North West 57 and the Northern Cape 24.

The minister noted that although the Northern Cape had the fewest road deaths, the province had the highest percentage increase of 71%, followed by Free State with 53% and KwaZulu-Natal with 46%.

I have been extremely concerned about the high number of public and freight transport vehicles involved in fatal crashes so far in the festive season. When these vehicles get involved in crashes, the number of fatalities increases phenomenally,” said Nzimande.

While Nzimande has in the past advocated severing links between the University of Johannesburg and Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) – where Nelson Mandela had accepted an honorary doctorate – he should have a serious rethink.

As Mandela acknowledged BGU’s groundbreaking work in uplifting Africa in combating desertification and in finding solutions for agriculture under harsh conditions, the Minister of Transport should display similar foresight and take Las Vegas’ lead and win for South Africa – not at gambling tables but on its roads.

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Reducing Risk. Israeli Startup WayCare, takes charge of Las Vegas Roads

The Lottery of Life

An Israeli startup leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Analytics has helped the city of Las Vegas dramatically improve road safety and reduce vehicle crashes by some 17% on a stretch of one of its busiest and most dangerous stretch of highway.

According to a recent report  in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a year-long pilot programme between Israeli-founded company Waycare, which developed an AI-driven mobility platform for traffic data management, the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP), has yielded impressive results for traffic management and reduction of car accidents along a stretch of northbound Interstate 15 in the city, near the Las Vegas Strip.

 

Waycare is shaping the future of city mobility, enabling cities to take full control of their roads by harnessing in-vehicle information and municipal traffic data for predictive insights and proactive traffic management optimisation.

Waycare’s platform enables municipalities to capitalize on the immense amount of data coming from various transportation modes, including connected and autonomous vehicles, to improve traffic safety and proactively manage the city’s roads.

Responding To Surprises

As misfortune would have it, visitors to the giant CES consumer tech conference and exhibition in Las Vegas in February 2018 arrived just as the city had its first rainstorm after a record 116-day dry spell. The torrent brought grease to the surface of the streets, causing skidding and numerous accidents.

For the Israeli startup WayCare it was an especially challenging day, and came out tops.

That’s because WayCare’s traffic monitoring sees and reacts to everything relevant happening on Las Vegas’ roads and providing real-time solutions.

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Traffic-Monitoring Tech Making Cities Smarter & Safer. A municipal traffic-control center monitoring data on the roads. (Photo courtesy of Waycare)

It does this by taking data from an elaborate network of sensors on stoplights and security and traffic cameras and combining it with information on the weather and data from navigation apps such as the Israeli GPS navigation software app Waze (bought by Google) and GreenRoad (also Israeli technology). It even uses ticket sales from TicketMaster to forecast crowd sizes at sports events and concerts.

How’s that for up to the second real-time information?

Not only knowing what is happening everywhere, WayCare can use the continuously incoming data to predict the likelihood of a traffic jam and what areas are at risk for accidents and to respond:

    – by changing the timing on traffic lights

    – opening and closing roads

    – altering messages on road signs

    – sending out instructions to police officers.

Before the use of WayCare, it was controllers who would view images from over 700 cameras across the city and make decisons based on what they were seeing, assess the risk of traffic building up or an accident occurring. Now it is done automatically, including an assessment of the risk.

“When a controller receives an accident warning through our system,” says the CEO and a Co-Founder of Waycare Technologies Noam Maital, “he creates a report that includes a video, clicks on the report and sends it automatically to the relevant party. A traffic cop who is linked into the system, now knows exactly where he needs to go, including what lane and how the accident looks. Even before he arrives, he can decide whether he needs more police or to call an ambulance or firefighters.”

Way To Go

Using Waycare, enables cities to take control of their roads by harnessing in-vehicle information and municipal traffic data for predictive insights and proactive traffic management optimisation. Its technology collects historical and real-time data from both

In Las Vegas, for example, Waycare identified areas of high-risk along the stretch where the programme was implemented, and alerted transport agencies where and when to take preventatives measures. A report revealed that “91% of drivers traveling at over 65 MPH, reduced their speed to below 65 MPH in the area where preventative measures were deployed.”

Nevada Regional Transportation Commission (RTC) general manager Tina Quigley is most upbeat. “Groundbreaking partnerships like this,” she says, “enable Southern Nevada to continue to lead the way in leveraging advanced technologies to dramatically improve traffic safety and efficiency.”

“The latest statistics coupled with the fact that we are identifying accidents up to 12 minutes faster with the Waycare platform helps translate what public and private partnerships can do and that AI is working to modernize and create a better transportation system for all,” she added.

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Road Visionaries. WayCare’s CTO Idan Han, CEO Noam Maital and CIO Shai Suzan. (OFIR ABE)

Streetsmart

The results of the Nevada pilot programme proved “a clear signal that AI and deep learning, when deployed in collaboration with traffic management and enforcement agencies, can have a dramatic impact on improving the safety of even our busiest and most at-risk freeways,” asserts Waycare CEO Noam Maital.

“Traditionally, law enforcement relied on anecdotal evidence to determine where to deploy resources to respond to traffic related issues,” said Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Solow from the Nevada Highway Patrol in a statement. “Now, with the technology that Waycare has brought to Southern Nevada, the Highway Patrol can proactively deploy units into an area when the system identifies a high likelihood of something happening and prevent crashes before they even happen. This translates into significantly faster treatment for those injured in crashes, quicker clearance and restoration of normal traffic flow, and a saving of untold millions of dollars in commerce related delays that are prevented.”

Nevada state officials said they plan to use the programme in other areas of the Las Vegas Valley. Waycare CIO Shai Suzan confirms that the company has signed multi-year programmes across the state.

Waycare is also running a pilot program in Tampa, Florida where there is “cross-collaboration among the city’s traffic management department as well as police, fire and dispatch agencies, all of which are focused on improving safety and gaining efficiencies,” according to a Government Technology report.

A city official confirms that the Israeli company’s pilot programme’s success is “mainly because Waycare relies on so many different types of feeds that it gets information fast, and it can verify that information better than most other agencies that require a little bit more manual interaction.”

The Road Ahead

On the 21st December 2018, shortly before Christmas, a headline in a South African newspaper read:

It’s a bloodbath as South African road fatalities soar

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Bad News. South Africa, where road accidents are everyday news

The article quoted transport minister Blade Nzimande saying that

“what stands out quite glaringly is that many vehicles involved in fatal crashes had a high number of occupants…”

It is a pity that what does not stand out glaringly to the transport minister is how Israeli Smart Mobility technology could have prevented many of those fatalities and can help save South African lives in the future.

Its not too late to take the proverbial ‘turn” and take the high road to a safer future.

 

Israel Leading A Slaughter-Free Revolution For A Healthier World

The world’s first lab-grown steak is served up in Israel

By David E. Kaplan

For lovers of meat, the alluring sizzling aroma is all too familiar. It peaks as you enter a steakhouse; frequently even before entry -like a culinary aphrodisiac titillating the taste buds as you decide – T-bone, fillet, rump or sirloin.

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Steak Out. World’s first lab-grown steak is made from beef but slaughter-free

What a salivating choice!

What if that choice included a steak that hailed from a laboratory rather than a field?

Believing that meat is one of life’s pleasures to be celebrated and enjoyed without the downsides to health and the environment, Aleph Farms in Israel, aims to offer “superior, healthier, slaughter-free meat,” providing a new customer experience.

Aleph Farms was founded in 2017 by Israeli food-tech incubator The Kitchen, part of Israel’s food processing company Strauss Group Ltd., in collaboration with the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

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LEADING THE SLAUGHTER-FREE MEAT REVOLUTION FOR A HEALTHIER WORLD

Made from cells that were isolated from a cow and grown into a 3-D structure, the first lab-grown steak was served up in Israel. The steak’s “chef” – Aleph Farms – says “it represents a benchmark in cellular meat production,” that could quite literally shape the future of food by producing cell-grown meat that resembles free range meat.

However, will it “meat” the expectations of steak lovers?

The image of a waiter walking towards your table about to serve a ‘laboratory concoction’ rather than a ‘kitchen creation’, might not titillate the taste buds at first, but then that can change.

It may well be that the ‘lab’ steak is no less “sumptuous”!

The proof will be in the proverbial ‘pudding’ – or steak!

In a world where meat production is increasingly under scrutiny from consumers and citizens who feel that certain practices are unethical and insensitive to farm-animal welfare, the announcement of slaughter-free meat has been welcomed. While there are other companies in the race to produce lab-grown meat, they are mostly burger patties, sausages and nuggets. Aleph Farms, on the other hand are going for a carnivore’s ‘gold’ –   STEAK.

This revelation has tongues not only wagging, but wanting to taste.

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Can You Spot The Difference? Aleph Farms’ Technology Will Change Cultured Meat.

Not Yet On The Menu

The steak will likely not become commercially available for at least three to four years, and while this writer has not tucked into one of Aleph’s steaks, a video shows a group of people – among them Aleph’s vice president of research and development, Neta Lavon, enjoying the steak alongside a tomato and zucchini pasta.

And to the obvious question of price – as volume increases, it should be on par with traditional meat within a few short years.

Most of the companies working to produce lab-cultured meat have focused on ground meat and nuggets. “Making a patty or a sausage from cells cultured outside the animal is challenging enough, imagine how difficult it is to create a whole-muscle steak,” said Didier Toubia, co-founder and CEO of Aleph Farms.

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Appetite For Creating A Better World. Didier Toubia, founder of the start-up Aleph Farms in Ashdod, Israel, aims to have its first products on the market in three years.

Toubia conceded that Aleph’s steaks are still “relatively thin” – only 5 mm thick.

However, the steak is said to have the same texture as conventional meat, and it gives off that familiar beef smell when cooking.

Easy Eater

It will ease many a consumer knowing their favourite food on their plate did not come from an abattoir.

Toubia believes that products like Aleph Meats’ steak can help bridge the divide between people who are unwilling to give up meat entirely and the need to reduce global meat consumption in the fight against climate change. “Today, over 90 percent of consumers do eat meat,” says Toubia, “and we think the percentage of vegetarians will not grow significantly despite many launches of plant-based products.”

Lab-grown meats are a welcome alternative to animal-sourced meats.

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Bon Appétit. The steak was made using a variety of cells extracted from a cow

While this development is unlikely to convert die-hard vegans as these products include starter cells derived from animals, they may recognise the positive benefits. Even Louise Davies of the UK’s Vegan Society noted “the potential that lab-grown meat can have in reducing animal suffering and the environmental impact of animal agriculture.”

So, even if it still “isn’t vegan”, Lab-grown meat may prove a sustainable alternative requiring significantly less land, water, and feed than traditional beef farming.

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Worth Waiting. This thinly-sliced steak prototype took between two and three weeks to produce.

It remains to be seen what impact lab-grown steaks can have on the world. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping an eye on what’s ‘sizzling’ over at Israel’s Aleph Farms.

 

 

Turning Non-Arable Lands Into Fruitful Fields

With Israel in the vanguard of making deserts bloom, read latest report from Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry how it has literally planted the seeds of its AgTech success.  This may well be of Interest to South African farmers as the Israel Trade Office will  be hosting an AgriTech RoadShow from March 25-28 in Pretoria, Limpopo and Stellenbosch. Charles Abelsohn contributed to this report by the Ministry of  Economy & Industry.

 

 

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Field Of Dreams. Technology in Israel Spans Multiple Sectors.

 

Even prior to statehood, Israel’s pioneers set out to cultivate the land, tackling the challenges posed by limited natural resources by setting up agricultural communities such as kibbutzim and other farming cooperatives to ensure that any future state would flourish. The country also took it upon itself to fulfill the dream of its first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, by making the desert bloom, developing agricultural techniques for arid regions which would turn non-arable lands into fruitful fields.

Over 70 years later, Israel is now tackling some of the 21st century’s biggest global challenges – including feeding a planet with an ever-growing population – with a thriving AgTech sector that is carrying on the country’s longstanding tradition of integrating ingenuity and innovation with cutting-edge agricultural techniques.

What helps explain Israel’s global renown as an AgTech powerhouse? Israel’s strong tech ecosystem, coupled with its deep historical focus on agricultural resourcefulness, has provided the perfect setting for the AgTech sector to flourish. Underscoring the Israeli government’s commitment to supporting AgTech innovation, the Israel Innovation Authority offers R&D support for promising AgTech companies, granting between 20%t to 50% of approved R&D budgets to aid the development of new products and technologies.

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Fertile Ground

One of Israel’s greatest success stories in the field is Netafim, a company founded in the Negev Desert in 1965. The company rocketed to international prominence with the introduction of the world’s first commercial drip irrigation system. Now the world’s foremost irrigation company, Netafim remains a global leader in sustainable farming and crop management solutions, operating in 110 countries with 4,300 employees, 29 subsidiaries, and 17 manufacturing plants. Netafim’s innovative solutions played a pivotal role in putting Israeli AgTech on the map, setting the stage for a slew of new companies in the field, including 750 active startups and other firms in the food tech and AgTech sectors, with $189 millionin food tech and AgTech investments in 2017. With a focus on biotech, crop protection and irrigation methods, AgTech investors see the Startup Nation as fertile ground for some of the most inventive technologies and solutions in the sector.

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Simcha Blass

Simcha Blass is more than deserving of the title “Father of Modern Drip Irrigation”. Simcha Blass (November 27, 1897 – July 18, 1982) was a Polish-Israeli engineer and inventor who developed the modern drip irrigation system with his son Yeshayahu. Instead of releasing water through tiny holes easily blocked by tiny particles, water was released through larger and longer passageways by using velocity to slow water inside a plastic emitter. The first experimental system of this type was established in 1959 by Blass who partnered later (1964) with Kibbutz Hatzerim to create an irrigation company called Netafim. Together they developed and patented the first practical surface drip irrigation emitter.

Modern drip irrigation has arguably become the world’s most valued innovation in agriculture since the invention in the 1930s of the impact sprinkler, which offered the first practical alternative to surface irrigation.

Today, Netafim manufactures and distributes crop management technologies, including monitoring and control systems, worldwide. To put things into perspective, Netafim controls over 30% of the global drip irrigation market in the world and the company’s recorded revenues were over $822 million in 2015.

Says South African farmer Bruce Nicholson, “I’m new to Netafim Drip system; I’m actually got a passion for it now. Where before my average yield was 87 tons per hectare, now, the same sugar cane fields are yielding  over 110 tons per hectare – this is a huge inspiration for anyone.” Furthermore,  using special probes with the system “it tells you when your profile is full, so that if you go over the profile you are wasting energy. With this system our energy savings is pretty on-the-nail.”

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Among the country’s hundreds of cutting-edge companies:

  • Taranis is a leading AI-powered precision agriculture intelligence platform that uses sophisticated computer vision, data science and deep learning algorithms to identify crop threats on a granular level, enabling farmers to effectively monitor fields. The system allows farmers to increase crop yields and create a more sustainable farming ecosystem through intelligent insights and oversees millions of acres in Argentina, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, and the United States.
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The Young And The Smart. Going places is Israeli precision farming company Taranis.

Evogene is a biotechnology company aimed at improving crop performance using a unique computational predictive biology platform. The company’s platform leverages big data analytics to generate deep insights to help improve crop yields, combat diseases, and protect against pests. Clients include Syngenta, DuPont, Monsanto, and Bayer.
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ADAMA Agricultural Solutions is a global crop protection company, with an innovative fungicide mixture for soybean rust. The company is the first global crop protection company to be publicly traded on the Chinese stock market.

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The Middle And Far East Connection. The new R&D Center complements ADAMA’s operational hub in China, which includes its new formulation facility in Huai’An and Sanonda facilities in Jingzhou. Together with ADAMA’s advanced operational hub in Israel, the new Center is a cornerstone for positioning ADAMA as the world’s leading Global-China crop protection company. ADAMA’s customers will benefit from the best of Chinese and Israeli R&D, formulation and manufacturing, which will allow the Company to bring differentiated products to farmers around the world quickly and efficiently.

While Israel’s AgTech success has played a key role in supporting the country’s growth and development, its benefits are borne out around the world: from Africa, where farmers are harnessing Israeli drip irrigation technology, to China, which inked a $300 million trade agreement that will boost exports of Israeli energy and agricultural technologies, and beyond. China isn’t the only country looking toward Israel to make great leaps forward in agricultural solutions: Israel has also built partnerships with developing countries including India and Vietnam, leveraging the country’s deep expertise in the sector to integrate AgTech solutions and train local farmers in efficient, sustainable methods of crop production and irrigation. In Africa, the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, in cooperation with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, recently launched an initiative, Tikkun Olam Ventures, that will link local communities to Israeli AgTech solutions, with an eye toward aiding 5,000 farmers over the next five years.

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Sustainable Sudan. Mashav, Israel’s international development agency is helping to provide African nations with sustainable agriculture.

With a robust innovation ecosystem and a storied history of creative agricultural solutions, there’s no telling what new Israeli AgTech solutions will take root in the years to come.

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Drip Irrigation. Helping to grow food in parched globe.

 

The Trade Office will be hosting an AgriTech RoadShow from March 25-28 in Pretoria, Limpopo and Stellenbosch. For more information, please email Johannesburg@israeltrade.gov.il

 

Southern Comfort. Israel’s Netafim Drip system explained by South African farmer Bruce Nicholson and revealing his experience with the system. “Even our fertilizer is put through the drip system.”

 

Easy On The Eye

Israeli doctors develop revolutionary eye drops that could replace eyeglasses

By David E. Kaplan

More than 6 in 10 people in the world wear glasses or contact lenses. Amongst the elder, it is extremely rare not to use glasses or contact lenses.

However, in the foreSEEable future, advanced eye drops may allow you to chuck out your glasses or contact lenses.

It’s a no-brainer:

If the choice to see well would be: glasses, contact lenses, laser    surgery or drops in your eyes, the last option would probably be your first.

This is now a real possibility as new scientific advances in Israel make corrective eye drops possible.

In Israel, two startups are in the clinical stages of testing their corrective eye drops that can radically alter the way people improve the convenience of their vision.

 Soon you may read this without glasses!

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A Sight For Sore Eyes. Presbyopia is the inability to focus on near objects. It occurs after the age of 40 and affects more than 1.8 billion people worldwide.

Orasis Pharmaceuticals of Herzliya are on the warpath against reading glasses. Sure, reading glasses are effective but they are also inconvenient and easily misplaced.

How many of you have at some time lost them and had to replace?

Orasis recently raised $13 million to continue developing pharmaceutical-grade eye drops intended to improve near vision so people won’t need their reading glasses.

Its CEO, Elad Kedar, says presbyoia (the inability to focus on close objects) affects most folk over age 45, giving the company a potential market of nearly 2 billion people around the globe; 120 million in United States.

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“Like any other organ, the lenses in our eyes age and gradually lose the flexibility to change shape to focus on near objects,” explains Kedar. “The reduction in flexibility makes it difficult to focus on near objects and eventually you need reading glasses.”

While it has been a long journey to find alternative solutions such as contact lenses or inlays, they have all come with problems of efficacy, safety or convenience of use.

We developed a pharmacological solution,” says Kedar, “using a combination of existing molecules already used in the eye for other indications. You just put a drop in each eye, and you can potentially see well for several hours. It can be very safe and convenient.”

More than five years of R&D have gone into Orasis’ CSF-1 patented formula. Following studies in humans in a few centers in Israel and Europe, the results are soon to be published. The next step is a Phase 2b study in the United States.

Advances in Treatment of Presbyopia with Elad Kedar Orasis Pharmaceuticals

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Look Familiar? Presbyopia cannot be prevented or reversed, and it continues to progress gradually.

Bringing into Focus

Another ‘eye-catching’ innovation is NANO-DROPS that means -“No more blurry vision.”

Israeli ophthalmologists at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem and Bar-Ilan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) revealed last month that they have successfully developed eyedrops that repair the corneas, improving near-sighted and far-sighted vision. These “nanodrops” were successfully tested on pigs’ corneas and are expected to be tested on humans in clinical trials later this year.

If proven successful on humans, the groundbreaking discovery could remove the need for eyeglasses.

The nanodrops are made up of a synthetic nanoparticle solution, which helps correct cornea-related vision problems.

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Seeing Is Believing. Eyedrops instead of glasses or contact lenses.

Dr. David Smadja, a research associate at BINA and the Head of the Ophthalmology Research Unit at Shaare Zedek who led the team of ophthalmologists, made the announcement at Shaare Zedek’s second annual research conference last month. He said the nanodrops could “revolutionize ophthalmological and optometry treatments of patients with myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness) and other refractory conditions.

Even more ‘far out’, Smadja believes that the drops could eventually replace multifocal lenses and allow people to see objects from different distances.

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Setting Their “Sights” High. From left, Nano-Drops developers Dr. David Smadja, Prof. Zeev Zalevsky and Prof. Jean-Paul Moshe Lellouche. (Photo courtesy of Bar-Ilan University)

The inspiration for the eye drops says Smadja, “was personal.” Suffering for years with headaches from working at his computer for long periods of time, “I knew I needed a small visual correction, but my choices were limited. My correction was so small that I was not eligible for any laser operation,” and hence “My options at the time were either wearing glasses or contact lenses.”

Smadja recognised that the standard solutions for visual correction failed to cure dry eyes, a symptom common among screen users, and decided to create a better alternative:

I thought, why not make eye drops that could correct my vision with a refractive index?”

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Eye-catching. CSF-1 is designed to improve near visual acuity by pupil modulation, resulting in a “pinhole effect” and an increase in the depth of field, thus increasing the ability to focus on near objects.

The Future Is Ours To See

The researchers are currently working with investors on a biotech startup and plan to place their Nano-Drops product on the market by the summer of 2020.

Smadja says the aim is to sell the drops at a competitive price, “somewhere between the price of eyeglasses and the price of contacts.”

In addition to the nanodrops, the researchers are developing a small, smartphone-compatible laser device that will allow patients to easily apply the drops at home using a mobile application.

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Application of the Nano-Drops onto the cornea of a pig’s eye with a calibrated pipette (Bar-Ilan University)

“Once you have your prescription, you enter this number into a computation software that we developed, and we match specific patterns to your number. The laser painlessly marks a tiny spot and etches a pattern on the corner of the cornea,” explains Smadja who adds that the laser “is not like the laser used for complicated optical procedures.” He assures that the application process, “while seemingly complicated, is simple and non-invasive.”

As they say, Israel is a country of ‘VISIONaries”!

The Call of the Wild

A Call to Doctors in Israel – are you ‘game’ to enjoy the best of South Africa’s superlative nature while volunteering your medical expertise?

By David E. Kaplan

They say, ‘South Africans may leave South Africa, but it never leaves them’. This was so for Neil Tabatznik originally from Johannesburg and today living in Toronto who has “returned” with a difference, offering doctors across the world an experience of a lifetime.

Welcome to Tshemba!

“Imagine a luxurious five-star lodge where you can braai (barbeque) under a star-filled sky and watch game having a drink while relaxing in the pool after your day at the hospital or a clinic,” said Alan Epstein of Tel Aviv and head of Tshemba PR in Israel.

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New Horizons. Unique volunteer programme for doctors combines hard work and luxury

You don’t have to imagine!

“Whether you are a GP, a gynecologist, pediatrician, cardiologist, endocrinologist, orthopod, optician or dentist – you name it – whether in practice or retired, you can take up this offer of a lifetime of enjoying in luxury the incomparable beauty of the Limpopo region, what used to be known as the Eastern Transvaal, a stone throw from the Kruger National Park and close to Blyde River Canyon.”

For a minimum of two weeks or six months or more, this is available to doctors by volunteering their expertise at a nearby hospital or local clinics. “And of course, this includes doctors bringing their spouses or partners.”

It all began when Alan’s lifelong friend, Neil Tabatznik, on a trip some years ago to South Africa from Canada, visited a game lodge in the Hoedspruit area.

It introduced an awakening that transformed his life from successful businessman to inspired philanthropist and fulfilling the ancient aspiration in Judaism of Tikun Olam (“Correcting the world”).

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Natural Contours. The area close to Tshemba Lodge is replete with some of South Africa’s finest natural beauty.

Out On The Range

While sitting up front in a Range Rover and mesmerised by the beauty of the terrain and wildlife, Neil was also struck that beneath the veneer of this beauty there were also serious challenges in this exquisite region. As if reading his thoughts, the game ranger enquired whether Neil would consider building a school for young children.

He explained the community had built a room and found a headmaster but was far from adequate,” reveals Neil.

Following the school being built and flourishing with young pupils, Neil felt the need to do more and sat down with the local tribal chief and asked:

How else can I help?”

We need drastically to improve our health services in the area,” replied the chief. “To say it’s inadequate would be an understatement and because we are far from the major urban areas, my people are suffering from being denied access to specialised medical treatment.”

Visiting a local dental clinic, the chief’s word struck home. “The clinic was a fine facility but there were no dentists!”

This was a microcosm of the problem – while there were sufficient structures there were too few qualified medical practitioners to staff them.

So the idea was conceived not to build unnecessary structures but to recruit qualified personnel.

What Neil witnessed in his extensive touring of the region “was so tragic”, the more so because much of the tragedy was preventable – “its man made and can be man corrected.”

Failing to provide access to adequate medical services “meant that people’s health was always at risk and getting sick or injured could so easily lead to tragic consequences – a result that would not happen in a city,” lamented Neil.

This he was determined to change!

And so, the Tshemba Foundation was established on the premise that if a patient could not get to a health service in a faraway urban area the health service will come to the patient.

Make Believe

Tshemba, which means “believe” in local parlance, recruits doctors and healthcare professionals from all across the world to provide lifesaving medical care to the local community and training to local healthcare providers. A key component of the volunteer experience “is to ensure skill transfer to these local medical providers to provide long-term sustainability,” says Neil. “In this way, every volunteer practitioner creates a lasting legacy – a legacy of saving lives.”

“There are so many South Africans in the medical field in Israel – many also that have retired – who I am sure would relish this opportunity of enriching South Africa and in the process, enrich themselves,” says Alan Epstein, who emigrated from South Africa to Israel in 1978 and who owns and operates Anglo-Saxon real estate in Savyon. Alan is the oldest franchise holder of the Israeli company that was established in 1964 by another South African, the late Dave Blumberg.

“South African doctors have made an enormous contribution to medicine in Israel and I feel many of them would enjoy giving back to South Africa while at the same time enjoying the experience with the 5-star luxury on offer.”

He invites all interested to be in touch with him.

Tshemba needs doctors, both general practitioners and specialists, as well as professionals with healthcare experience and expertise.

All medical volunteers must be fully licensed to practice in South Africa but those who are not, “we will do our best to obtain all necessary permits and licenses on your behalf,” explains Barbara McGorian, the CEO of Tshemba Foundation. “If we receive all the right documentation, the process usually takes only about three weeks.”

“Tshemba will place you where you are most needed,” says Barbara, “whether at the Tintswalo Hospital, a 20-minute drive away, or in one of the many clinics spread throughout the community.” Tintswalo is a 423-bedded acute hospital providing maternity, psychiatric, orthopedic, surgical and general medical care to the community. The hospital is also responsible for providing medical staff to several community clinics in the area.

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Making A Difference. Tintswalo Hospital where volunteers will work in nearby Acornhoek.

Tshemba also funded the Hlokomela Women’s Centre a pioneering healthcare project which provides breast and cervical cancer screening as well as treatment to local farm workers and their families. It is the first of its kind in the region.

Leaving a Legacy

In order to maintain the appropriate level of care once the volunteer experience is over, it is imperative that skills and expertise are transferred to the local healthcare providers.

In pursuit of this aim, says Barbara, “Be prepared to teach and to train the local personnel you work with, encourage training, motivate them to actively continue their skill acquisitions and wherever possible, stay in touch with the doctors or nurses left behind after your departure.”

A visit to the Tshemba website, acquaints one with one of Muhammad Ali’s most famous quotes:

Service to others is the rent you pay for your room on earth.”

Well, for voluntary service at Tshemba, the “room” one receives is the ultimate in luxurious accommodation at a scenic hideaway surrounded by the lowveld bush filled with an array of game, bird species, fauna and flora.

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Tshemba Lodge dining room

The five-star lodge boasts nine stand-alone en-suite chalets that can accommodate up to 18 volunteers in total. Each chalet has a private deck with a breathtaking view of the bush, a tea and coffee nook and a small lounge area. All the rooms are self-catering, although there is also a communal area for dining and socializing featuring two comfortable lounge areas with a fireplace, a fully-equipped, state-of-the-art kitchen and scullery and a spacious dining room, a TV room and a gym.

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The new face of volunteerism

“Best of all,” says Epstein who was there recently with his wife, “you can relax outside by the wooden deck and infinity pool and enjoy the superb views of the Klein Drakensberg Mountains and a watering hole that draws the animals of Moditlo Private Game Reserve.”

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Cool It. Tshemba Lodge pool.

Also on offer are:

  • Self-drive game viewing in the Kruger National Park
  • Guided expeditions on private game reserves
  • Wildlife photography tours
  • The Moholoholo Animal Rehabilitation Centre
  • The Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre & Cheetah Project
  • The Khamai Reptile Park
  • Hiking, driving, boat or air Blyde Canyon tours
  • Golf
  • Mountain biking
  • Abseiling
  • White river rafting
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Handcraft curio shops
  • Spas
  • Scrumptious eateries

Best Of Both Worlds

“What motivates doctors to volunteer?” I ask.

“It’s an amalgam of love of medicine, a love of South Africa and the yearning to give back to society,” says the CEO.

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Time For A ‘Jobbymoon’. Doctors who volunteer for the Tshemba Foundation’s programme will treat patients at the Tintswalo Hospital and surrounding clinics

The general response from volunteers, many of whom choose to return, is “we get the best of both worlds. We are able to enjoy a beautiful game reserve while at the same time make a difference with our skills and expertise as doctors to a community in need.”

Says Dr. Kate Meyer from the UK, “I loved every moment of it. It was a privilege to have participated in the project, which I think is an incredible gift to the community.”

Volunteers are essentially providing ‘first world’ care to a ‘third world’ area.

“It was a wonderful experience both socially and professionally,” expressed Dr. Paul Deveux from South Africa who worked at the hospital and was also thankful for his hours at the Hlokomela Women’s Centre, “which is an extremely well organized.” Praising the local staff, “I felt I made my best contribution there because I was able to see psychiatric patients with longstanding anxiety disorders, some which could be managed and others who needed further intense assessments.”

For nurse Maureen Dunnett, specialising in Midwifery who traveled with the hardworking Hlokomela Clinic staff to farms and other clinics said, “Every day was a different experience for me. The time spent around HIV-testing and treating was illuminating.”

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In The Blood. Since she can remember volunteer Sister Maureen Dunnett wanted to care for people in need.

I would not change it for anything and would definitely come back,” said Dr. Tienie Theunissen, also from within South Africa.

“All the volunteers find it rewarding,” says Barbara. “We recently had a German couple; she was a gynecologist and he a banker. So while she worked at the hospital, he volunteered teaching math at a local school and found the experience as rewarding as his wife.”

The hospital can deliver anywhere between 13 to 20 babies a day; we brought in thirteen babies on Christmas day.”

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Dedicated to Promoting Women’s Health. The Tshemba Foundation’s Sonja Botha attends to a patient at the Hlokomela Women’s Clinic.

Going on ‘Jobbymoon’

Located in what many would describe as one of the most beautiful areas in South Africa, it’s understandable how the sobriquet “JOBBYMOON” has caught on.

If newlyweds go on honeymoons and parents-to-be take babymoons -– so why not a ‘Jobbymoon’ for couples desiring that totally out-of-the-ordinary working holiday in the most idyllic location.

The Tshemba lodge is located midway between the world-famous Kruger National Park and the world’s largest green canyon, the Blyde River Canyon. “Thus, if you or your partner want to go exploring during your downtime, we assure you you’ll find something spectacular to do,” says Barbara. The ‘jobbymooners’ are free to explore Hoedspruit and surroundings, to re-energise before returning home “with a fresh mindset, ready to tackle new challenges, focused and refreshed.”

Says Dr. Hennie Nortje a Diabetologist, “Although the staff is completely overwhelmed by the amount of work, they are hungry for knowledge and incredibly friendly. Even the patients are humble, friendly and unbelievably grateful. The whole experience left me in awe. I’m excited to see how the new diabetic educators are doing and my wife enjoyed teaching at the preschool at Hlokomela.”

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Jobbymooners. Diabetologist, Dr. Hennie Nortje and wife who volunteered at the preschool at Hlokomela.”

Dentist, Maria Pestana felt blessed by the Tshemba experience. “When I saw an article on this unique project, I knew Tshemba might offer a very different experience  – to help people in rural areas while at the same time enjoying the bush. It’s a balance between the beauty of nature and the reality of life.”

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Time Out. It was a privilege says dentist Dr. Maria Pestana, “to help people in rural areas and enjoy a little bit of the bush. It’s a balance between the beauty of nature and the reality of life.”

For former South Africans now living in Australia, Gerrit Burger, a physician volunteered and his wife Diana, a General Practitioner, felt” humbled by the sense that we received so much more blessing from this experience than those we sought to help.”

Gerrit feels convinced that “Tintswalo hospital and district can be developed into a model of healthcare with far-reaching effects, well beyond South Africa itself. Without fear of exaggeration, we see a time when Tshemba and Tintswalo will be ‘ideas’ rather than ‘names’.”

“Amazing things” are happening every day at Tshemba.

Tshemba’s Project Specialist, Lexi Cohen says: “I interact with most of the volunteers and each one has found the experience to be rewarding and very fulfilling whether in patient care, skills transfer or general contact with staff.”

Should you wish to volunteer and be part of this “amazing” project, contact either Barbara at barbara@tshembafoundation.org or in Israel, Alan Epstein at alanmichael.epstein@gmail.com or 052-3990090 or visit www.tshembafoundation.org.