‘The Magnificent Nine’

Israel makes the cover of Time as 9  of its inventions feature on the Magazine’s  100 best inventions of 2019

By David E. Kaplan

Every year, TIME magazine highlights the Best Inventions that are making the world “better, smarter and even a bit more fun”. In choosing their 2019 list, TIME solicited nominations across a variety of categories from its editors and correspondents around the world, as well as through an online application process. Each contender on the list is evaluated based on key factors, including

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Cover Story. Nine Israeli inventions or innovations are among Time’s Top 100

– originality

– creativity

– influence

– ambition

– effectiveness

The result: 100 groundbreaking inventions that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what’s possible. Amongst the Top 100 that appears in print in TIME’s December 2 – December 9 are nine Israeli-made creations.

Here are the nine Israeli innovations that appear in Time’s top 100:

Seeing Is Believing

I was first exposed to this invention over a year ago when I walked into my uncle’s sitting room in Rehovot, south of Tel Aviv and saw him reading. Reading! He is virtually blind but there he was, wearing his glasses reading the morning paper. Then I saw he had a device and soon leaned it was a  MyEye 2.0 by OrCam.

It was great, we could argue over politics!

The MyEye 2 is a lightweight smart camera that attaches to virtually any frame of a pair of glasses. Using AI technology, it instantly and discreetly reads printed and digital text aloud from any surface, recognizes faces, products, money notes and more, all in real time. The intuitive device is operated by using simple hand gestures and has more than 20 voice-activated commands. It is designed for all ages, can be used with any level of vision loss and does not require an internet connection.

The portable, finger-sized device can be discreetly clipped to eyeglasses or sunglasses to read out texts from books, newspapers, product labels, and restaurant menus and can even scan barcodes, identify faces and currency, and tell time even without a watch.

“This is the world’s most advanced artificial vision device for people who are blind, partially sighted and have reading difficulties,” OrCam Director of Media and Communications Rafi Fischer told NoCamels last year. The device is gesture-motivated, so the user only has to point to the piece of text to activate the device or hold their hand out to stop the audio of the reading.

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A Word In One’s Ear. No more for those with failing sight need to miss out on enjoining their favourite literature.

“Fitting all this power into such a small device is like “putting an elephant into a small closet,” OrCam co-founder Amnon Shashua told TIME. Shashua is also famously the co-founder of Israel’s Mobileye, which develops vision-based driver-assistance systems. Intel acquired Mobileye for $15.3 billion in 2017.

 

Offering CONCRETE Solutions

Man’s love of the ocean and building on its coast is all very well for man – not always for the ocean! The problem lies in the detrimental impact of eco-unfriendly concrete.

Step in an Israeli company ECONcrete – an environmental tech company founded in 2012 by marine ecologists Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel and Dr. Ido Sella. Listed in the “design” category of TIME’s list of 100 Best Inventions of 2019, ECONcrete develops sustainable concrete for constructing ecologically active infrastructures in coastal and marine environments as well as in urban landscapes.

The company uses “a technique known as bio­mimicry, relying on the shapes, textures and size of natural systems to dictate how the company builds its products,” so they blend in with their surroundings and are less intrusive to marine ecosystems.

Earlier in 2019, ECONcrete was listed by Fast Company on its “World’s Most Innovative Companies” of 2019. The company was also featured in an episode of the popular web series Nas Daily.

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Below The Surface. ECOncrete is proving that development and sustainability don’t have to be at odds.

With nearly half of the human population living along coastlines, coastal development, and increasing coastal urbanization  are inevitable. Concrete is the main construction material globally, accounting for over 70% of Coastal and Marine Infrastructure (CMI).  Nonetheless, it is a poor substrate for biological recruitment, and is considered toxic to many marine organisms, mainly due to its unique surface chemistry which impairs the settlement of various marine larvae.

Now, ECOncrete, with a suite of innovative, science-based solutions, is proving that development and sustainability don’t have to be at odds.

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“Pitch To Rich”. ECOncrete was honored to be the winner of the event hosted by Virgin Atlantic and Calcalist. ECOncrete’s CEO and Co-Founder, Dr. Shimrit Perkol-Finkel (right) presented its innovation to Sir Richard Branson (3rd from right).

 

Bring To A Head

A world leading survey of health conditions across 195 countries found that, in every year from 1990 to 2016, migraine attacks remained the second-largest global contributor to years lived with disability. They come with a huge economic cost, too, causing an estimated 25 million sick days to be taken in the UK alone each year. But compared to their health and economic burden, migraines remain one of the world’s most under-funded diseases.

Step in an Israeli medical tech company Theranica that has developed a migraine-zapping wearable device Nerivio and featured in Time’s list in the “health care” category.

The device, worn on the upper arm, provides migraine treatment through neuromodulation therapy, altering nerve activity by way of targeted delivery of a stimulus. The treatment is like “a personalized pain-relief programme,” according to the Netanya-based company.

“We are honored to be recognized by TIME and thrilled to see Nerivio listed alongside inventions that are shaping the future,” said Alon Iron, CEO and co-founder of Theranica.

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Getting Ahead. Developed by med-tech firm Theranica, its device, “Nerivio” provides acute treatment of migraines. (Photo via Theranica’s website) Medical Devise Of The Year

“At Theranica, we believe that migraine solutions should be affordable and accessible. We are proud of the non-invasive, low side-effect and drug-free alternative that Nerivio offers and remain dedicated to bringing effective relief to individuals around the world living with migraine.”

 

Home Diagnosis

The “health care” category on the TIME list also featured the remote medical examination device TytoHome developed by Israeli tele-health company Tyto Care. A handheld examination device, TytoHome comes with attachments to examine the heart, lungs, skin, ears, throat and abdomen, as well as measure body temperature, to enable remote diagnosis of acute care situations like ear infections, sore throats, fever, cold and flu, allergies, and more.

The device allows users to perform these comprehensive medical exams and send the information to a primary care provider.

The device, at $299, was recently made available to purchase at over 300 Best Buy locations across the USA. It’s also available online.

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Easy Diagnosis At Home. An ear exam with a Tytocare TytoHome device.

“Tyto Care’s mission has always been to make high-quality healthcare accessible on-demand, from any location to as many people as possible,” Tyto Care CEO and co-founder Dedi Gilad, said in a statement. “We are honoured to be included on TIME’s Best Inventions list for 2019. This recognition signifies the ground-breaking impact TytoHome is having on people’s day-to-day lives and we are excited to continue to deliver the best virtual care experience to consumers across the globe.”

Gilad co-founded Tyto Care alongside Ofer Tzadik in 2012, after spending many days and nights in emergency care as a parent of young children.

As reported in NoCamels, “Dedi Gilad was a young father of two dealing with fevers, fussy eaters and his daughter’s chronic ear infections when he did what few exhausted parents of young children do – he launched a startup!”

Tytocare is a telehealth company bringing medical exams to the comfort of our homes. And like all good ideas, it was born out of necessity. Gilad was spending hours day and night at the emergency room with his daughter, getting exposed to germs in hospital waiting areas and losing countless hours of sleep, only to receive the same diagnosis every time.

 

Home Alone – no more!

Want a beer, ask Temi, an Israeli developed robot, billed as the world’s first intelligent, mobile, personal AI robot. Featured in Time’s list in the “home” category, the 3-foot-tall personal robot with a 10-inch touchscreen for a head is the creation of Israeli startup Robotemi.

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Mr. Robot. Temi Israel CEO Yossi Wolf with one of the company’s personal robots. (Photo: courtesy)

Retailing at for $1,999,Temi can answer questions, order groceries, play music and videos, make calls, control your smart home, follow you around your house (except up or down stairs), and call for medical assistance. Users can control Temi remotely from any location in the world via the app and command different actions.

Temi has won a number of prestigious awards over the past year, including 1st prize in the field of robots and drones at the Shanghai CES Asia 2019 Exhibition, a Gold Award in the Personal Robot category at the prestigious Edison 2019 Awards, and the best robot in CES Las Vegas according to Tom’s Guide and the International PC Magazine Award for Best of MWC 2018.

Founded in 2015, Robotemi is headquartered in New York City, has an R&D lab in Tel Aviv and a business and manufacturing location in Shenzen, China. Earlier this year, the company announced that world-renown Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard was joining as chief brand officer (CBO).

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Touchscreen Temi. A bedtime story with Temi. (Courtesy)

 

Out Of Thin Air

If Moses brought forth water for the People of Israel in the desert by striking a stone, today’s Israelites strike water from the air.

Instead of searching below for solutions, Watergen found it above – in our atmosphere – and devised a way to ‘tap’ into this unlimited resource.

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Tapping Into Air. Using the company’s GENius technology, the “Genny” is capable of producing between 25-30 liters (6.6-7.9 gallons) of water per day from thin air.

The Israeli company Watergen, which  hopes to improve the quality of life of billions who suffer from poor water sanitation or lack of accessibility to safe drinking water, developed a patented technology that makes drinking water “out of thin air”. It is its at-home appliance called the Genny that featured on the TIME magazine list in the “social good” category.

In the aftermath of the raging fires that wiped out much of Paradise, California, a truck pulled up to a group of residents and rescue workers, parched after a day of cleanup. The driver came out, pointed to a machine in the back and said that the device could pull water out of thin air. He flipped a spout and out came clean, drinkable H20.

“They literally walked around the truck and they kept on trying to figure out where this water is coming from, what magic are you guys doing?” recalled Yehuda Kaploun, the president of Watergen USA.

The device, which looks like a water cooler, is a generator capable of producing between 25-30 liters (6.6-7.9 gallons) of water per day using the company’s heat-exchange GENius technology. The generator first collects water vapour in the air and then cools the air at its dew point, after which the water goes through physical, chemical and biological treatment followed by a mineralization process to maintain its cleanliness, tastiness and healthy quality.

The Genny retails at an estimated $1,500, according to TIME. Watergen’s generators have been used in countries like India, South Africa, Vietnam, Sierra Leone, China, Uzbekistan, and the US.

 

Come Fly With Alice

While “These are the largest windows in a commercial aircraft,” noted one observer, that is not what won it its listing in the Time magazine list in the “sustainability” category.

In June 2019, Israeli aerospace company Eviation Aircraft debuted “Alice” – a prototype of the first all-electric commuter aircraft. Alice is a battery-powered nine-seater which Eviation hopes will help transform urban aerial travel through a “flying taxi” concept. CEO Omer Bar-Yohay has called it “Uber meets Tesla in the sky,” with commuters of the future travelling at a fraction of the costs of conventional jetliners ushering in a new era “of flying that is quieter, cleaner, and cost-effective.”

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Flight Of Fancy. Eviation’s exquisite looking Alice.

Regional trips will be “cheaper than a train ticket” and far more considerate for the environment. The idea of curbing carbon emissions by half by 2050 – an eco-friendly pledge by the aviation industry – is another reason many of the major airlines are exploring electric options.

Alice is “capable of flying with nine passengers at 240 knots and a range of up to 650 miles [1046.07 km],” says Bar-Yohay.

“It’s basically a huge battery with some plane painted on it,” Bar-Yohay told reporters.

“This plane looks like this not because we wanted to build a cool plane, but because it’s electric,” he said, “You build a craft around your propulsion system. Electric means we can have lightweight motors; it allows us to open up the design space.”

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News Was Electrifying. Eviation’s electric aircraft on display at the opening of the 53rd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget Airport near Paris, France, June 16 2019. (REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol)

In 2018, the company was selected as the winner in the transportation category of Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Awards.

Alice is sure going places!

 

Hello, Meet ElliO

Making the “special mentions” category on the TIME’s list is ElliQ, is a robotic companion created by Israeli company Intuition Robotics.

Designed to help the elderly “stay engaged, independent and connected to family and friends,” the tabletop social robot mimics human movements and responds to voice, gaze, and touch. ElliQ offers tips and advice, responds to questions, engages throughout the day, makes appointments, reminds those in its care about medications and can suggest content to watch and set up chats with friends.

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Engaging Fellow. The small tabletop robot helps the elderly connect to the outside world and keep active and engaged. ElliQ can suggest content to watch, give reminders about appointments, and set up chats with friends, among other functions.

Useful for those who cannot easily operate a smartphone, ElliQ is meant to address the issues of isolation and loneliness among senior citizens by reading out messages, displaying photos, and answering video calls.

Founded in 2015 by Itai Mendelsohn, Dor Skuler, and Roy Amir, Intuition Robotics’ ElliQ was named the Best of Innovation Winner in the smart home category at CES 2018.

 

Giving Back

Also in TIME’s “special mentions” section was Israeli insurance tech company Lemonade with its “Giveback” charity component.

Lemonade’s concept was coming up with a fresh brand that through the use of technology rather than relying on brokers, it could break into the huge and rather staid insurance market.

Customers answer a set of simple questions through a chat with the company’s bot, “Maya,” and, in seconds, can get their home insured. It takes 90 seconds to get insured – says the company’s website  – and three minutes to get paid, if and when a claim is made.

Unlike traditional insurers, Lemonade takes a flat fee — one that would normally go to the insurance brokers — and sets aside the remaining funds for claims. In a good year, when there’s money left unclaimed, the company does not pocket the money but donates it to causes their customers choose.

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Dynamic Duo. The co-founders of Israeli insurance tech company Lemonade, Daniel Schreiber (left) and Shai Wininger. (Photo: Ben Kelmer)

Founded in 2015 by Israeli entrepreneurs Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger, the Lemonade Giveback’s mission is “to transform insurance from a necessary evil into a social good.” They have designed Lemonade to bring out the best in people, while giving society a push for the better.

When users sign up, they choose a charity or non-profit organization they care about, and once a year, Lemonade tallies up unclaimed money pooled from policyholders who chose that same cause and donates it to the organization.

Tens of thousands of members are supporting causes they care about, simply by getting a Lemonade insurance policy. As the Lemonade community grows, the social impact emerges stronger.

The philosophy of Lemonade’s  Schreiber may apply to all of Israel’s inventions for 2019. “Great digital brands,”  writes Schreiber, “transcend borders. Whether in Chicago, Paris, or Singapore, today’s consumers listen to music on Spotify, ride with Uber, and stay at Airbnb. Consumers are increasingly cosmopolitan, socially aware, and tech-native.”

Israeli inventors and entrepreneurs are in tune with this, hence their phenomenal global success.

We can look forward to a no less exciting 2020 for Israeli inventiveness!

Cooling Relations To Hot Realisations

By David E. Kaplan

When Israelis woke up to the day’s news earlier this month that “NASA is set to send a prototype of an Israeli-developed miniaturized solar-power generator to the International Space Station (ISS) in its first launch of 2020,” it hardly raised an eyebrow!

Nor would they have been astounded to read lower down the same article that “Future prototypes are being planned for private space initiatives as well as space agencies pursuing new missions that require high power for electric propulsion and for operation in deep space such as missions to Jupiter and Saturn.”

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Far Out. NASA to send Israeli solar-power generator to International Space Station. View of the full installation at which testing will be performed within the framework of NASA’s Materials International Space Station Experiment. (photo credit: BEN GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV)

Such news today in Israel maybe “news” but hardly surprising revelations!

Israel is in the vanguard of preparing for tomorrow and more and more countries and international companies and agencies are realising the value of partnering with Israel – collaborating on projects for the benefit of all mankind.

However, what did raise eyebrows as reported in the international media, was when earlier this month, Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of South Africa, expressed in public that South Africa can learn from Israel that was “leading by leaps and bounds” – notably in the hi-tech sector.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa makes his State of the Nation address in parliament, in Cape Town, South Africa, February 7, 2019. (Rodger Bosch, Pool via AP

And why the surprise?

Well, it was only a month earlier that South Africa confirmed its intention to downgrade its Tel Aviv embassy to a liaison office.

This was like a cart or carriage being pulled by horses hitched in the front and the back!

In which direction, if any, was South Africa’s foreign policy headed?

The diplomatic downgrade had been due to the nefarious influence of BDS on ANC policy at the ruling party’s December 2017 biannual conference. As warned at the time and shown over events since, the fateful short-sighted resolution was set neither to help the Palestinians nor to materially harm Israelis. In fact, the only harm inflicted was on  the majority of citizens of South Africa.

With Ramaphosa’s public address, are fresh winds of change blowing in South Africa?

Speaking at a Women in Business Conference in Johannesburg, the State President said that: “There is money: Come with plans and innovative ideas which we can fund, and then we can seed your business.”

In Israeli parlance, Ramaphosa was talking “tachlis”. In plain English – “Let’s get down to brass tacks.”

Ramaphosa was telling the conference and by extension the people of South Africa how the country could economically benefit from engagement with Israel.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the BWASA Presidential dialogue 2019, 29 October 2019 (Photo: Nigel Sibanda)

Right On Ramaphosa

It was the right time for the South African president to deliver this message as the conference was the launching pad of his country’s three-day investment drive led by the State President, where the country hoped to commit trillions of dollars to economic investments; even before the conference ended.

Most revealing was that Ramaposa recognised Israel’s “challenge funds” as a role model for South Africa to fuel enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship in its hi-tech sector.

If it works in Israel, why not South Africa?

Addressing the conference, Ramaphosa said:

The Israeli hi-tech sector funds enterprises in tech, in the technology space, and you call it a ‘Challenge Fund’. To me this is a very interesting nomenclature to say it is a ‘Challenge Fund’, because it challenges the private sector, but it can also challenge the entrepreneurs themselves, who come out of the woodwork. There is money: Come with plans and innovative ideas which we can fund, and then we can seed your business.”

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On a roll, the President continued:

“In many ways, that is what has gotten Israel to lead in the technology space. They are leading by leaps and bounds, and they are actually innovative in a number of sectors of the economy, in agriculture, in maritime and in a number of other areas. They have shown that they can lead. And we can learn a lot from what they do.”

This is a far cry from South Africa cutting off its nose to spite itself when in 2016, a Johannesburg conference dealing with the water crisis in South Africa was canceled due to the inclusion of Israel’s Ambassador to South Africa.

The then Ambassador, Arthur Lenk, was to be part of a panel at the conference organised by the Mail and Guardian newspaper on “equitable and sustainable water management for poverty alleviation.” It is globally recognised that Israel is the world’s expert in water management.

After Ramaphosa’s recent conference address, Israel’s present Ambassador to South Africa, Lior Keinan, took to Twitter to welcome the State President’s statement:

“We are delighted to see #Israeli tech discussed by President @CyrilRamaphosa . Israel has become a world leader in #innovation and #entrepreneurship and will continue to encourage avenues of cooperation between Israel and South Africa.

???????????????? https://t.co/FeKq793XyC 

???????? Lior Keinan (@LiorKeinan) November 7, 2019

Has Ramaphosa pressed a reset button that common sense may prevail over ignorance? During the worst of the water crises in Cape Town in 2018; and with Israel offering help, typical of the WhatsApp messages was this one received by Darren Bergman, a Jewish member of parliament in South Africa which read:

 “There is NO water crisis! Day zero is a Zionist plot planned by the DA Zionists…. They have been using scaremongering and by laws [sic] to create a water ‘crisis.’ The ‘created’ drought is a Zionist plot to control Cape Town’s water supply and profit from it.”

Rise To The Challenge

Times may be A ‘Changin’ when Ramaphosa says of Israel:

 “We can learn a lot more of what they do with regard to Challenge Funds, and I would like to learn more.”

Most encouraging words from the State President, but part of the process of learning about “Challenge Funds” is also accepting the challenge of rejecting the attitudes of the likes of BDS whose vocabulary when it comes to Israel is less about finding  a solution but more in advocating the country’s dissolution.

South Africa is currently facing Challenging times. In rugby, the World Champions need no counsel but there are many areas that Israel can assist and wants to assist.

Ramaphosa’s recent words are a good beginning!

 

 

*Feature picture: ewn.co.za – President Cyril Ramaphosa addesses a dialogue, convened under the theme ‘The Economy is Woman’, which is organised by the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) on 29 October 2019. Picture: GCIS.

Far Out!

An Israeli Steak-Out In Space

By David E. Kaplan

You can actually say, “This steak is out of this world” and it would be true; both literally and figuratively.

How so?

Earlier in the year, Lay Of The Land published an article titled ‘Israel Leading A Slaughter-Free Revolution For A Healthier World’ revealing on how the world’s first laboratory-grown steak was served up in Israel by Aleph Farms (Aleph being the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet) by isolating cells from a cow and cultivating them into a 3-D structure.

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Animals Survive; Planet Thrives. Slaughter-free meat involves taking a sample of animal cells from a real cow and replicating them outside of the animal: without the antibiotics, environmental footprint, contamination and animal slaughter which comes with conventional meat production.

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, Alpha Farms is set to impact the nature and scope of the future of food by producing cell-grown meat that resembles a free range version.

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Alpha Steak. Healthier for all – animals, humans and the planet.

For meat lovers, that all too familiar alluring sizzling aroma that is  like a culinary aphrodisiac,  will still be there.

The only difference  is  that the genesis of your T-bone, fillet, rump, sirloin or entrecote hails from a laboratory rather than a field. Having unveiled in December 2018 to much fanfare, the first prototype of lab-grown steak in the world, the Israeli enterprising entrepreneurs decided to take its curiosity to another scientific level!

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A lab-grown steak in a laboratory at Aleph Farms in Rehovot, Israel. (courtesy: Jpost.com – photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

The Next Frontier

In typical Israeli out-of-the-box fashion,  Alpha Farms launched its idea into the stratosphere by conducting an experiment to manufacture its meat product on the International Space Station (ISS) some 248 miles (339 km) from earth.

The ISS is a low-orbit space station that serves as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory between five participating space agencies: NASA, Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada).

Aleph Farms explained that the project aims to demonstrate its mission of being able “to provide sustainable food security on earth and beyond by producing meat regardless of  the availability of land and local water resources.”

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Didier Toubia, CEO and co-founfer of Aleph Farms.

Says CEO Didier Toubia who co-founded Aleph Farms together with Prof. Shulamit Levenberg:

 “In space, we don’t have 10,000 or 15,000 liters (3962.58 gallons) of water available to produce one kilogram (2.205 pounds) of beef.”

The experiment, he said, “marks a significant first step toward achieving our vision to ensure food security for generations to come, while preserving our natural resources.”

To conduct the experiment in space, Aleph Farms teamed up with Russian company 3D Bioprinting Solutions, which develops implementations of 3D bioprinting technologies, and two American companies, Meal Source Technologies and Finless Foods, to carry out the process on September 26. As reported by Israel’s innovation news platform, No Camels cosponsored by the IDC Herzliya, “Aboard the Russian segment of the ISS, they used a unique technology of magnetic bio-fabrication, developed by 3D Bioprinting Solutions, to produce bovine, mummichog and rabbit myoblast/fibroblast constructs provided by Aleph Farms, Finless Foods, and Meal Source Technologies, respectively. All under microgravity conditions.”

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New Horizons. The RSC Energia spacecraft. (Photo via Rocosmos)

In a statement released on October 7, 3D Bioprinting Solutions said that the joint project “lays the groundwork for renewable protein sources for long term manned missions.”

3D Bioprinting Solutions and Meal Source Technologies’ co-founder Aleksandr Ostrovsky said, “We believe that bio-fabrication of cultured meat in space has several unique advantages such as sustainability, personalization, and biosafety. What is more, creating cultured meat products in space may grant invaluable scientific insights for implementation of this technology on Earth.”

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What’s Cooking? Cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko on board of the International Space Station during the first experiment with 3D bioprinter in December 2018. (Photo 3D Bioprinting Solutions)

Aiming High

Hailing the experiment in space as a “successful proof of concept,” Aleph Farms said the cutting-edge research “in some of the most extreme environments imaginable serves as an essential growth indicator of sustainable food production methods that don’t exacerbate land waste, water waste, and pollution.”

These new innovative culinary methodologies aim to feed a rapidly growing world population predicted to reach 10 billion by 2050.

Assured of it venturing in the right direction, Aleph Farms cited a UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report  – published in September – that argued that conventional animal farming methods contributed greatly to climate change, creating “a challenging situation worse and undermining food security.”

Said  The Kitchen’s CEO, Jonathan Berger:

“The mission of providing access to high-quality nutrition anytime, anywhere in a sustainable way is an increasing challenge for all humans.” Whether “On earth or up above,” he continued,  “we count on innovators like Aleph Farms to take the initiative to  provide solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, such as the climate crisis.”

This achievement, said Toubia, “follows Yuri Gagarin’s success of becoming the first man to journey into outer space, and Neil Armstrong’s 50th anniversary this year, celebrating the moment when the first man walked in space.”

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Mindful Menu. “Coming Up, one alpha steak with fresh vegetables and salad.”

While lab-grown steaks will likely not become commercially available for at least three to four years and the world waits, a video shows a group of people – among them Aleph Farm‘s vice president of research and development Neta Lavon – enjoying the steak-of-tomorrow alongside a tomato and zucchini pasta.

All these revelations have tongues not only wagging – but wanting to taste!

 

Israel – A land beyond conflict

By Rolene Marks

Israel is a tiny sliver of land in the Middle East, barely the size of the Kruger National Park in South Africa or New Jersey in the USA yet seems to enjoy a disproportionate amount of coverage in the media – often focused on the conflict with the country’s Palestinian neighbours.

A disproportionate amount of airtime and column inches are dedicated to coverage (and I use that term loosely because often fact and context are the first victim of headlines) and more often than not Israel is portrayed as the aggressive Goliath to the more passive Palestinian David. In the court of public opinion it could appear that Israel is nothing but a country perpetually mired in conflict.

There is so much more to Israel; a country which may be bantam in size but punches like a heavy weight.

Israel is a leader in so many fields. Let’s look at some of this tiny country’s greatest achievements:

A helping hand – Humanitarian assistance:

Wherever disaster strikes, be it natural or man-made, Israeli is one of the first to respond – even to countries with who there are no formal bilateral ties.

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Israeli commandos rescuing wounded men from Syrian warzone

Even though hostile relations exist between Syria and Israel, and between Israel and the Gaza strip, Israeli humanitarian aid continues to be dispensed. The IDF ( Israel Defense Force), at great risk to the soldiers, embarked on Operation Good neighbour during the height of the Syrian civil war and brought thousands of wounded Syrian adults and children into Israeli hospitals for medical treatment.

Every day, under the supervision of the IDF body called COGAT (Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories) thousands of tons of aid are sent into the Gaza strip from Israel.

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IDF sends tons of aid to Gaza daily

Recently, Israel sent assisstance to the hurricane struck Bahamas by sending portable water purifiers along with the other aid including Post Trauma counselling.

Israeli aid NGO, IsraAid, is ever ready to be deployed, along with the IDF to parts of the world where humanitarian assistance is most urgent.

Today, while Turkish forces engage in conflict with the Kurds,  Israel has not only dispatched humanitarian aid to displaced Kurdish refugees but has also provided medical care for Kurd refugee children in our hospitals.

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IsraAid, brings humanitarian assistance to victims of an earthquake in Italy. (Credit times of Israel)

Army of the people

Israel’s army  is so much more than a sophisticated defense machine. It is a citizen army, and is as widely inclusive as possible. While conscription is compulsory for Israel’s Jewish citizens who are able to serve, many Arab, Druze and Bedouin citizens in fact volunteer for service. In the last few years, these numbers have increased.  The army tries to be sensitive to the cultural boundaries of these communities.

But minority communities are not the only sectors of society that the IDF include.

The IDF has introduced a programme called Special in Uniform in conjunction with JNF-USA and Lend-a-Hand to a Special Child, which helps to integrate people with mental and physical disabilities into the army to enable them to make meaningful contributions to the country. Special in Uniform includes a three-month course on occupational skills to teach disabled young adults to function independently and contribute to society in a positive way.

Soldiers who have participated in these programmes have gone on to have bright and better futures. We salute them!

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The IDF: Most Humane Army in the World

 

Where the prophets walked

Home to the three Abrahamic religions, Israel is the place where Judaism, Christianity and Islam meet.

Where else but in Jerusalem can you hear the Imam calling the Muslim faithful to prayer while church bells peal and the melodic Hebrew incantations at the Kotel (Wailing Wall) sound out?

Even though Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, freedom of religion is enshrined in the Israeli Declaration of Independence. While it is sometimes a complex issue, the right to worship as you choose is protected. Israel is also home to the Bahá’í World Centre – the name given to the spiritual and administrative centre of the Bahá’í Faith. The World Centre consists of the Shrine of Bahá’u’lláh near Acre, Israel, the Shrine of the Báb and its gardens on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel, and various other buildings in the area including the Arc buildings.

Whether it is intoning ancient prayers or meditating in downward dog, all faiths are welcome. Perhaps this is why Israel is the Holy Land?

Innovation nation

Living in a neighbourhood where there is perpetual threat can turn one into the master of necessity.  As a result, Israelis have had to be fairly innovative. As Israel’s first Prime Minister, David ben Gurion once said, “In Israel, in order to be a realist, you must believe in miracles.”

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Israel’s first Prime Minister was a believer in miracles – today Israeli innovators are bringing them to fruition.

Israeli innovators do not only believe in miracles – they create them! Israeli innovation has become so attractive that it is attracting billions of dollars of investment and acquisition. From life-saving diagnostic tools, to the Re-Walk exoskeleton that helps paraplegics walk again, to hi-tech inventions like firewalls and communications technology and many,  many more including WAZE, low drip irrigation, Mobileye,  Israeli know how is changing and improving the world on a daily basis.

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Giving new hope to paraplegics. The Re walk Exoskeleton is making mobility possible (credit CNNMoney).

Make it Rain – Environmental leaders

Climate change is having very serious repercussions on global weather patterns. Many countries that in the past enjoyed high levels of rainfall are now severely drought-stricken. Today, water has become the most sought after commodity and wars have been started over access to sources.

Israel, being a desert country knows only too well the challenges that come with having no water.

Israeli start-up, WaterGen has developed a machine that can literally create water out of thin air! It has been so successful that it has been deployed to desperate communities around the world and even played a role in humanitarian efforts. In 2018, WaterGen machines were sent to northern California to provide clean drinking water for US police and firefighters battling major fires.

Water is not the only area in which Israel is helping to preserve the environment. The country is a leader in breeding programmes for endangered species such as rhinoceros, re-forestation, recycling of plastics, pursuit of natural gas,  high percentage of vegans and so much more.

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Israeli start-up WaterGen, creates water out of air and is helping to bring much needed relief to drought stricken areas across the globe.

Golda would kvell – Women’s rights leaders

Famous for her razor sharp wit, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, the formidable Golda Meir would be quite proud of Israel’s current record on the status of women – and that we continue to work for this to be improved.

In a neighbourhood where women’s rights are often eroded, Israel stands out. Apart from being one of the first countries in the world to have a female head of state, women in Israel are not only active in society but are leaders in their fields that include politics, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, minority communities, social welfare, education, the military, arts and culture, science, medicine and technology and so much more.

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A female combat soldier is put through her paces – Israel’s women are part of the fabric of society and are leaders in their fields, including the military. (Credit Public Radio International)

 

We can vote, drive, and own property and business. We can make decisions that govern our bodies and our communities and if we want to, raise a little hell.

The same cannot be said for many of the other women in our neighbourhood. Women in other parts of the Middle East are not as free as their Israeli sisters. In this part of the world, girls are often married off before they reach puberty or are killed because they have ‘dishonoured” their families. In this part of the world, women do not have the right to own property, vote, and receive and education or even drive. Gender Apartheid is rife.

Israeli women lobby and work hard to continue to elevate the status of women not just in our country; but in the region. Golda would kvell – I think she would raise her glass and toast L’Chaim to Israel’s women.

LGBTQ rights

In June the streets of Tel Aviv are decked with rainbow flags in celebration of Pride Week.  The city comes out in support of the civil rights of our fellow citizens and many across the country flock to Tel Aviv to march in solidarity.

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Israel is a haven for the Gay community in comparison to its neighbours.

While Israel may be a trailblazer in terms of tolerance for the LGBTQ community and is certainly the most accepting and progressive in the Middle East, there are still improvements to be made. Same-sex marriage is not performed in the country; however, Israel does accept and recognize common-law partnerships of same-sex couples that live together. There is always progress to be made, but Israel is certainly a leader of gay rights in the region.The IDF is LGBTQ supportive. The city of Tel Aviv is known to be one of the friendliest and most tolerant in the world and  Pride marches are also held across the country including in the capital, Jerusalem.

Israel is also a safe haven for many Palestinians escaping persecution for their sexual orientation.

Watch us on TV

I am not talking about the news – that is enough to raise anyone’s blood pressure.

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Israel’s hottest TV export, Fauda will have you hooked to its exciting, fast paced plot points. You can “Netflix and chill” while experiencing a taste of reality in the region.(Credit IMDB)

Did you know that some of your favourite TV shows are based on shows created in Israel? The award winning “Homeland” and “In Treatment” are just two of Israel’s stellar small screen offerings and have been followed by international hits like “Fauda”, “Shtisel”, “The Spy” and so many more.

Even our gal, Gal Gadot, has become a box office sensation! We always knew she was Wonder Woman; but now the world does as well.

 

People of the book

Israel has more books published per capita than any other country. And while we may be the people of the book, we are also the people of the book week. Israelis love reading – whether it is for pleasure or knowledge. Israel can boast one Nobel Laureate for Literature, Shmuel Yosef Agnon and award winning authors Amos Oz and David Grossman are just some of our writers who enjoy international support.

 

We are also now the people of the Facebook. Social media giant, Facebook has acquired several Israeli start-ups to increase their service and technology offering to users.

To the Moon – and beyond!

Israelis dream big. There is no such saying as the sky is the limit – we believe in pushing beyond that and reaching for the stars. And we did! In April 2019, Israeli NGO, SpaceIL, sent an unmanned spacecraft called the “Bereshit” (Hebrew for Genesis) to the moon.  On the 22nd of February, the Bereshit began its long anticipated journey and in April, entered lunar orbit and prepared for landing. If successful, Israel would be the 7th country, joining major powers like Russia, USA, Japan, China, India and the European Space Agency to have a presence on the moon.

 

The landing did not go as planned and while the Bereshit  crashed instead of descending gently, we still made it to the moon and this was a great achievement.   Morris Kahn, one of the sponsors behind the project, congratulated the team and spoke of a future second mission. Just days later, SpaceIL announced that they would not be attempting a second time but would rather set their target higher. We don’t know what they are planning; but we will definitely be along for the ride!

Israelis epitomize the tenet; if at first you don’t succeed, try to outdo what you did the first time. The universe, not the sky is our limit!

This is just a mere glimpse into the achievements that Israel has and continues to pursue. When the father of modern Zionism, Theodore Herzl, envisioned a Jewish State that would live up to the tenet of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and would be in a position to help others.  Looking at what this 71 year old State has achieved, I think he would be proud!

 

Israel Wings It

Israel Aerospace is flying high and is set to manufacture over 800 F35 wings by 2034.

By David E. Kaplan

Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) is Israel’s  major aerospace and aviation manufacturer, producing aerial and astronautic systems for both military and civilian usage.

Founded in 1953 under the initiative of the late State President and Nobel Peace Laurette, Shimon Peres – when Israel was under threat of annihilation by all its neighbours in the region –  IAI today, designs and builds civil aircraft, drones, fighter aircraft, missiles, avionics and space-based systems no longer exclusively for itself but also for export.

Renowned for its state-of-the-art electronics –  IAI’s products are in hot demand by foreign militaries.

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Dream Machine. The F-35 stealth fighter jet on the tarmac at Berlin Air Show. (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)

A case in point is the joint collaboration of  IAI and Lockheed Martin that this month marked the delivery of the 100th advanced combat aircraft  F-35 stealth fighter  wing delivered by IAI at a ceremony held at the company’s wing assembly line.

Established in November 2014, the wings manufacturing center of IAI’s aviation division has established a solid reputation in making wings for the F-16 and T-38. The centre is now expected to manufacture over 800 pairs of F35 wings by 2034 using state-of-the-art technology which includes a unique composite layer of materials called AFP (Automatic Fiber Placement). The 3mm. thick threads that eventually become one unit, give the wings the ability to evade radar detection.

On December 2018, IAI inaugurated an innovative line for production of F-35 wing skins, expanding the collaboration between the two companies.

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Israel Spreads Its Wings. The wing designed and manufactured by Israel Aircraft Industries in collaboration with Lockheed Martin for the advanced combat aircraft F-35 stealth fighter.

Out Of This World

Israel Country Executive of Lockheed Martin, Joshua Shani, said that the delivery of the 100th wing signals “a significant milestone” for the F-35 programme. “We take this opportunity to mark the broad cooperation Lockheed Martin holds with the local industries as a whole and IAI in particular, who play a major role in the global F-35 programme. The F-35 is the leading 5th Generation fighter jet in the world, manufactured by the highest standards along the supply chain. We look forward to deepening the fruitful, strong cooperation of today and in future programmes, with both the Ministry of Defense and Israeli defense industries.”

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Shaking On The Future. Joshua (Shiki) Shani (left), country executive of Lockheed Martin Israel and Nimrod Sheffer, IAI President and CEO (Photo: IAI)

Global leader

Nimrod Sheffer, the president and CEO of IAI, said that “IAI’s collaboration with Lockheed Martin has major business and strategic importance for us. We regard it as a vote of confidence on behalf of Lockheed Martin and the US administration in IAI’s capabilities as a global leader. We are excited to deliver the 100th wing and believe our collaboration will expand even more in the future.”

Having invested multiple resources in the most advanced systems and technologies, IAI has established a production line characterized by the utmost of precision.

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Delivery On Time. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) delivered its 100th F-35 stealth fighter’s wing to Lockheed Martin’s wing assembly line and has announced that it would manufacture over 800 units by the end of 2034.

The production line, which will last around 20 years, is expected to generate revenues of more than $2.5 billion during the next 10-15 years

At the launch in December 2018, IAI vice-president Shlomi Karako said that “the opening of the production line constitutes a significant milestone in the realization of the company’s strategy for building advanced capabilities in the field of composite materials manufacturing technology. Thanks to this move, IAI will belong to a ‘limited club’ of companies with these manufacturing capabilities.”

I am reminded when interviewing Shimon Peres for Haaretz when he became State President in 2007, and him saying:

 “When in the 1950s Israel was mostly an economy based on agriculture and I pushed for industry,  people said, “What; you’re crazy, the country can’t even build bicycles!” Look who’s crazy; where are those people today and where is Israel.”

From the days when Israel failed to “build bicycles”, Israel today is a world leader in converting ideas into reality.

 

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Two of three new F-35 fighter jets land on an airstrip in the Israeli Air Force’s Nevatim base in southern Israel on June 24, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israeli Devices Revolutionize Breast Cancer Surgery

By Rolene Marks

Tatas, boobies, knockers, bazooms, tits, the twins, breasticles or whatever you like to call them, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. A whole month has been dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer but this is something that we should be aware of everyday. Did you know that one in eight women will develop this and it is the most common type of non-skin cancer?

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One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Israeli scientists hope to improve the odds. (Photo by http://www.shutterstock.com)

Men are not immune to breast cancer either and reports of diagnoses are not uncommon. Early detection is imperative and the good news is that if diagnosed early enough it can be beaten!

Gents, you should also be doing the routine checks for lumps as well!

Although breast cancer seems to be more prevalent in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Northern Europe, Israel has taken a leading role in researching causes, diagnostics, and treatments – with groundbreaking results!

Let’s explore some of the ways that Israel is leading in this field.

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True Colours. Israeli Society of Plastic & Aesthetic Surgery wear pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. (photo credit: ISRAEL HADARI)

MarginProbe

Israel’s Dune Medical Devices has developed an instrument to help women with breast cancer avoid undergoing dreaded follow-up surgery to remove residual cancer cells after a tumour is removed. It can be quite a long (and stressful) process waiting for results. This device is already being used by surgeons on patients in more than 100 hospitals in the US and in Israeli medical centers.

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Dune Medical’s MarginProbe reduces amount of follow-up breast cancer surgery (Courtesy)

The MarginProbe device consists of a hand-held gadget that looks like a large pen or ultrasound instrument and a console. After the tumour is removed and while the patient is still on the operating table, the surgeon uses the probe to check the margins of the just-removed tissue. Sensors on the probe send signals to the tissue, and a further signal – both visual and acoustic – is then reflected back, indicating either positive, i.e. there are still cancerous cells on the margins, or negative, giving the all-clear to close up the patient.

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With MarginProbe, surgeons can assess the tissue in the operating room to give them greater confidence that they successfully removed all the cancer in the first lumpectomy surgery.

We have developed the only technology in the world that has a commercial product that allows surgeons in operating rooms, in real time, to check the margins of the tumour, identify cancerous tissue and decide on the spot if more tissue needs to be removed or not,” General Manager of Israeli Operations, Gal Aharonowitz, told The Times of Israel.

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Chief Operation Officer and General Manager Israel, Gal Aharonowitz, leads R&D, manufacturing and worldwide logistic activities of Dune Medical Devices. An industry veteran with more than 18 years of experience in leading product development and engineering teams, Gal earned a BSc degree in mechanical engineering from Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

IceSense 3

The IceSense is a medical device that is used to freeze tumours. Made by IceCure, the device is already being used by US doctors to destroy benign lumps.

The cryoablation process takes five or ten minutes under local anesthesia in a doctor’s office, clinic or breast center. No recovery period or post-care is necessary and there is no scarring!

Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers embarked on a research project aimed at trying to block a cancer cell’s ability to change shape and move. In their research, they delivered microRNAs (small RNA molecules) to primary tumours in mice to halt the spread of cancer. Cancer cells spread by altering their structure in order to squeeze past other cells, enter blood vessels and travel to organs like lungs, the brain or others.

The researchers explored the mutations in a tumour to identify precisely which ones to target. The scientists then procured an RNA-based drug to control cell movement and created a safe nano-vehicle with which to deliver the microRNA to the tumour site.

U.S. Embassy Illuminated in Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness
Global Issue. US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman and his wife Tammy (right) stand before the USA Embassy building in Tel Aviv illuminated in pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Of Mice And Men

Two weeks after initiating cancer in the breasts of their rodent “patients”, the researchers injected a hydrogel into primary tumor sites that contained naturally occurring RNAs to target the movement of cancer cells from primary to secondary sites. Two days after this treatment, the primary breast tumours were destroyed.

The mice were evaluated three weeks later using CT imaging, fluorescent labeling, biopsies and pathology. The researchers discovered that the mice that had been treated with two different microRNAs had very few or no metastatic sites, whereas the control group — injected with randomly scrambled RNAs — exhibited a fatal proliferation of metastatic sites.

If it could be successful in mice, imagine how it could be adapted to humans!

These are just a snapshot of the many ways that Israel is contributing in the fight against Breast Cancer.

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Code Pink. Israeli jet fighter painted pink to bring attention to the ‘battle’ against breast cancer.

So, wear your pink ribbon with pride this month and make sure that whatever you decide to call them, you check your breasts regularly.

 

 

South Africa Israel Academic Outreach

The SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship

By Benji Shulman and Terri Levin

South African campuses face an organised campaign of boycotts. It is time to push back by showing the beneficial aspects of education and knowledge sharing between two world-renowned universities. It is about building bridges through engagement and academic collaboration.

Two UCT science students have been offered by the Weizmann Institute of Science, the phenomenal opportunity to attend an invaluable 3-month research scholarship at their esteemed institution in Israel. This once in a lifetime scholarship will enrich the research capacity of the next generation of UCT scientists.

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Enriching Next Generation. University Of Cape Town, South Africa where two students have been offered a 3-month research scholarship at the Weizmann Institute of Science.

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multi-disciplinary basic research institutions in the natural and exact sciences and over the years, its researchers have been the recipients 6 Nobel Prizes, as well as 3 Turing Awards.

The Weizmann Institute also enjoys an enriching history with South Africa and UCT starting with Israel’s first state President Chaim Weizmann, of whom the Weizmann Institute is named after. Weizmann made an important visit to South Africa in the 1932, where he met with the leadership of the various Jewish communities across the country.

Israel’s finest diplomat, Abba Eban – the esteemed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Education Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Ambassador to the UN and Vice President of the UN General Assembly  and who was President of the Weizmann Institute of Science  from 1959 to1966, was born in Cape Town on the 2 February 1915 to Lithuanian parents.

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Creative Campus. Searching for answers on a campus parading exquisite beauty.

More recently and exemplifying an enriching academic nexus between UCT and the Weizmann Institute of Science, Johannesburg born Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz but who obtained his BSc. in Electrical Engineering from UCT, was awarded in 2016 the Israel Prize for ‘Chemistry and Physics’ with Prof. Meir Lahav.  Israel’s most prestigious award was awarded to Prof. Leiserowitz for his work in the field of ‘Crystallization” that tries to answer questions like:

How and why do artery-blocking chunks of cholesterol form?”

What happens at the very first stage of the transition from water to ice?”

What can be done to prevent the formation of gallstones or the crystals in the joints that cause pain in gout?”

Finding solutions to problems is what science is about, and these are the challenges of our universities and future generations of students.

There is much that can be gained by strengthening the academic relationship with South Africa’s premier university UCT and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science which is constantly in the vanguard of scientific breakthroughs that have resulted in a wide range of patented technologies that make the world a better, safer, and healthier place.

More specifically with South Africa that needs to confront the challenges in both water management, entrepreneurship, health and improved methods of agriculture for a large rural population, the Weizmann Institute is well positioned to serve South Africa’s specific needs.

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Confronting The Future. The Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, is one of the world’s top-ranking multi-disciplinary research institutions. Noted for its wide-ranging exploration of the natural and exact sciences, the Institute’s research efforts include searching for new ways of fighting disease and hunger, examining leading questions in mathematics and computer science, probing the physics of matter and the universe, creating novel materials and developing new strategies for protecting the environment.

Established in 1934, 14 years before the establishment of the State of Israel, the Weizmann Institute has been in the forefront of research to optimise its land mass, most of which is dry and much of it desert. The role it has played in increasing crop yields with the latest in scientific methods and of contributing to the greening of its desert is exemplary.

South Africa can benefit from its experience and expertise.

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Walk In The Park. Away from the lecture halls and laboratories, the Weizmann Institute’s parkland offers areas to appreciate as well as contemplate the challenges of nature.

Education, dialogue and the strengthening of ties between Israel and South Africa are at the epicentre of the South Africa Friends of Israel (SAFI) mandate, which gels perfectly in facilitating the partnership between these two outstanding universities. A flagship initiative of the South African Zionist Federation (SAZF), SAFI engages with other faiths, cultural and ethnic groups in the interests of building a broader grass roots support base for Israel in South Africa.

So important is this initiative being valued that the Weizmann Institute has pledged to match our contribution, if we raise the required amount of funds. So, we are appealing to YOU, for support, which will enable and empower these two deserving students, thereby helping UCT and South Africa in the field of science research.

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Under The Dome. Brilliant sunlight combined with brilliant ideas prevail in this EcoSphere in the Clore Garden of Science at the Weizmann Institute which is designed to raise the ecological consciousness of the public. The dome contains land and water plants, fish and algae and the energy for all the natural processes comes from the sunlight streaming through the panes of the dome.

By pledging R50 or more, you are supporting the SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship. DONATE HERE and you can save Academic Freedom

Please include as a reference: “your name” and “SAVEUCT” 

The SA-Israel Science Student Scholarship is an independent initiative that aims to support academic collaboration in Israel and South Africa. The convening committee has academics from both countries and members of the community. All monies collected are to be spent directly on the beneficiaries.

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Man With A Mission. Visionary Dr. Chaim Weizmann, an organic chemist, founder and president of the Weizmann Institute, later became the first President of the State of Israel.

As Dr. Chaim Weizmann so astutely noted:

Miracles sometimes occur, but one has to work terribly hard for them.”

Let us all work “harder” to bring this exciting collaborative project to fruition for Israel and South Africa.

 

 

 

 

headshot1 (1).jpgBenji Shulman, Executive Director  South Africa Israel Forum, is from Johannesburg, South Africa. He has a master’s degree in Geography and has worked in a range of fields in the Jewish community including education, advocacy, environment and outreach. He loves radio and has a hosted numerous shows on 101.9 ChaiFm in the last decade.

 

Terri Levin

Terri Levin, Media Liaison Officer of the South African Zionist Federation

 

 

Cow’working to Co-working

Digital Generation makes its MOO’ve to kibbutz

By David. E. Kaplan

I can just hear my late father reverting to Yiddish with “Voz iz dos?” on hearing about “co-working”. As a steel industrialist he knew all about a factory floor.

The actual use of the word “co-working” in relation to a shared office environment was first coined by Brad Neuberg in 2005. He was an intrepid entrepreneur with big dreams who created the first co-working space in San Francisco.

It was called the “San Francisco Co-working Space” and was open only two days a week – Mondays and Tuesdays – but sat empty for the first month as nobody had ever heard of a “co-working space” before.

Today, “Co-working Spaces” are the new normal with some 2.2 million people sharing office spaces worldwide.  Co-working spaces have grown at an astounding rate of 200% over the past five years, with the number of co-working members estimated to rise to over 5 million by 2022 thanks to the huge increase in jobs offering remote working.

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Bring To The Table. A far cry from downtown New York, London, Sydney or Johannesburg but the work at this rustic table is no less – if not more – productive. Courtesy of Gather

 

Freelancers, contractors and younger companies are choosing co-working spaces over home offices and coffee shops for a range of reasons, including the productive atmosphere, affordable rates, excellent software and good networking opportunities.

Israelis love it and it’s available – especially in the greater metropolitan Tel Aviv – all across the city.

Joining this trend but with the added gain  of bringing VALUES  to “a generation of instant gratification” is one of the founding enterprising institutions of the state  – the KIBBUTZ.

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Point Of View. Situated on a beautiful mountaintop in the Western Galilee and boasting breathtaking views, Kibbutz Tuval was established in 1981 by ideological groups of young people from South Africa, Britain and Israel.

Field Of Dreams

It should come as little surprise.  Ideologically and conceptually there are similarities between the kibbutz – a co-operative Israeli farming community – and co-working in so far as shared working space in a collective and congenial atmosphere.

Both aspire to the common goal of increased productivity.

The Kibbutz was traditionally based on agriculture and although many of them have in recent years privatized and branched out to include industrial and high-tech enterprises, they still maintain an enviable community atmosphere hardly found elsewhere.

It is little wonder that Israel’s city dwellers flock to kibbutzim guest houses for weekend retreats and increasingly, young families from urban environments are taking advantage of kibbutzim that have opened up their land for private dwellings. These young couples with kids are opting to live in the countryside and take advantage of the kibbutz’s excellent communal services.

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Office Break. Gather participants can spend their lunch hour enjoying the natural surroundings of a kibbutz. Photo by Almog Gurevich

Come Gather ’round

Enter Gather – a new entrepreneurial project that aims to attract “remote workers” to Israel’s kibbutz communities.

A remote worker is someone who works outside of a traditional office. A company might have a team that is a mix both those that work on and off site.

In an interview with NoCamels.com,  a news website focusing on Israeli innovation in technology, 30-year-old entrepreneur Omer Har-Shai, co-founder of Gather explains that while “the world has changed,” there’s a trend today “to be part of a community, to belong, and to find meaning,” and that “the idea behind the kibbutz is all the more relevant again.”

Har-Shai came up with the idea to tap into the unique potential of Israel’s kibbutz structure– with its onsite accommodation, mess hall, lush surroundings, community atmosphere, and WiFi – and create a connection with today’s digital generation.

Gather has put out a call for professionals from across the globe to come and stay, work remotely, and experience kibbutz life for a one-month period.

“Over 100 people – graphic designers, writers, freelancers, programmers, designers, bloggers, entrepreneurs and even full-time employees – have written to us so far,” says Har-Shai. “They are from all over the world: Canada, the US, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, different European countries.”

As a former South African, whose first enriching experience of Israel in the early 1970s was volunteering on a kibbutz – inspired by the ideology of the labour Zionist youth movement  ‘Habonim’ –  I look with keen interests if  professionals in South Africans will  be attracted to the project.

While once kibbutz communities across Israel attracted tens of thousands of volunteers from abroad, today only a trickle of 20-somethings still come to volunteer and experience the uniquely Israeli communal living style.

Har-Shai says he hopes Gather will revive that legendary kibbutz experience of the 1970s with the adaptations catering to the digital millennial generation.

While still enticed to the uniquely communal agricultural experience of a kibbutz, Har-Shai hopes that Gather will attract new participants “toting laptops and drones instead of shovels and hoes.”

Back To Basics

“The kibbutz experience is still a brand name,” says Har-Shai. “Kibbutzim have gone through economic and social transformations during the past four decades, but the unique atmosphere, scenic surroundings, and communal facilities still exist today. So, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel, just make the most out of these wonderful communities that already exist.”

There are just over 270 kibbutzim peppered around Israel. In December 2019, Gather will launch its first cohort of up to 25 international professionals in a month-long programme on Kibbutz Kfar Blum, in the Upper Galilee’s Hula Valley.

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Dream Office. Gather participants could work at Bluma Café on the grounds of Kibbutz Kfar Blum. Photo by Almog Gurevich

This will be followed a month later when a second group of some 25 participants will move into guesthouse accommodations at Kibbutz Tuval, in the Galilee on a mountaintop overlooking the town of Karmiel.

That these two kibbutzim were selected resonates with the writer as both attracted over the years, members of the Habonim youth movement from South Africa. They were a hardy and ideologically passionate lot like the late Rona Baram (née Moss-Morris from Durban) who arrived in Palestine from South Africa in the mid-1940s as a law student and trained nurse. Rona had been a member of Habonim in Durban, and “by the time I was 15,” she told the writer in 2005 on the 75th anniversary of Habonim South Africa celebrated on Kibbutz Yizreel, “I was determined to make Aliyah and bear a child in the Land of Israel whose mother tongue would be Hebrew.”

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Muddy Waters. The mud on Kibbutz Kfar Blum which Habonim member Rona Moss-Morris from Durban, South Africa describes on arriving in 1946.

Making her way to Kibbutz Kfar Blum that had been established in 1943  by her Habonim comrades, Rona recalled how “we rode in the back of a lorry carrying rocks for the approach road. I was lucky I came with my gumboots because the place was underwater, and the mud came to our knees. There were only a few buildings on the kibbutz and two families had to share a room.”

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Take The Plunge. Sweating at your computer, feel free to dive in at the pool at Kfar Blum.

Asking how she felt about living in these conditions, Rona answered with a shrug:

We came to build a country. No one promised us anything. We shared everything. Material things just didn’t mean anything to us then.”

Today it’s a different world where “material things” are paramount but nevertheless, the atmospherics of that bygone lifestyle and its concomitant values still have appeal and are at the core of today’s kibbutz revival.

“People want to travel, see new cultures, but they don’t necessarily want to quit their jobs and leave everything behind,” says Har-Shai. “Today, it is very easy to keep your job and see other places. There are digital nomads, freelancers, and remote workers who have the flexibility to work from anywhere. Even people who don’t usually work remotely can ask for a month to try working from another place.”

While the Gather project is geared to the 25-35 age group, “interest has also come from GAP year college-age students and people in their 50s,” says Har-Shai. “It’s not about age or being from a specific country. We’re looking for people who are open-minded and curious, people who are looking for this kind of experience.”

Here’s The Deal

It’s the vibe but without the socialism. While foreigners used to volunteer in return for accommodation and board, with Gather, participants pay a fee that covers accommodation and shared office space; daily lunch in the kibbutz Hadar Ochel (Dining room); access to kibbutz facilities, often including a swimming pool or tennis courts. Organised activities may include hiking, yoga, lectures and weekend trips to places including Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Har-Shai reminds that participants in Gather’s kibbutz experience are not on vacation but to pursue their work with increased vigor in a highly motivated milieu. “They can sublet their apartments and come live in this community for a month. I think people will be more productive on the kibbutz. There is no traffic, no errands, you live on-site and walk three minutes to the office.”

In support of the  assertion of “being more productive”, studies out of North America and Europe have revealed that remote work improves productivity.

Over and above impressive levels of productivity of people who work from home, a recent two-year study by Stanford University concluded that people who worked remotely were less likely to leave the company for other employment. The study found there was an overall 50% decrease in attrition among home-based workers.

Remote.co – a resource for companies – reports that the number of companies with a remote workforce is growing all the time. In 2019, according to Remote.co, 66% of companies allow remote work and 16% are fully remote.

Har-Shai himself, is proudly, “office-less”.

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Rush Hour. Your office is a 3 minute scenic walk away on Kibbutz Tuval.

 Digital Nomads

So, how did this idea dawn upon Har-Shai?

Usually working out of a café in Tel Aviv, it was after working in Nitzana, a remote desert community  and youth educational village  in southern Israel near the Egyptian border, that “I decided to create a company that would help others work remotely and enjoy a truly Israeli experience at the same time.”

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Shared Space. Co-working offices in Tel Aviv.

He found the combination of doing physical work on the settlement in the morning “and then on my laptop in the afternoon proved incredibly inspirational and productive.”

He believes that this environment increases productivity because participants will be living “a more balanced life, perhaps starting their day by working in the fields a few hours and eating breakfast in the main mess hall,” before pursuing their professional work.

Searching for the right kibbutzim to meet the needs of remote workers’ needs and finetuning it to a truly revived kibbutz experience for foreign professionals took two years.

Har-shai, who has experience in marketing, sales and business development, shopped around his proposal to 40 kibbutzim across Israel.

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Living The Dream. Gather co-founder Omer Har-shai on Kibbutz Tuval. Photo by Almog Gurevich

Almost all were open to the idea, however, “the two we’ve partnered with to start are both green and beautiful, but different from one another. Kibbutz Tuval is remote and quiet, while Kibbutz Kfar Blum is more traditional with a supermarket and a pub.”

Kfar Blum’s location near the Jordan River at the foot of Mount Hermon has made it a center for outdoor recreational activities including walkinghikingkayakingrafting and bird watching.

As well as the amazing natural landscape that surrounds kibbutz Tuval, heaving with hiking trails, wildlife, and unlimited outdoor pursuits, it is well located for exploring the Western and Upper Galilee regions, within 40 minutes’ drive of Akko, Safed, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias, as well as countless historic and religious sites.

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Stay Cool. Part of the activities for Gather participants is kayaking on the Jordan River.

“We’ll help each person find the kibbutz that is right for them,” says Har-Shai.

A third Gather location is planned in the Arava, the northeast strip of the Negev desert in the south of the country.

Har-Shai says, “We’re a private startup with no political agenda. I think that when people are living here for a month, they will see the real Israel. A diverse country, with different people; a beautiful country. It’s an interesting country. We’re offering a new approach for the age of Wi-Fi and remote work – living and volunteering on a kibbutz while keeping your day job.”

And while that “day job” feeds our addiction of our beloved technical appliances of computer and cellphone, seeing a tractor routinely pass by on the way to the fields is an enrichening reminder on the core earthy values of life.

 

 

*​Should you want to spend a month with a group of inspiring professionals from around the world, as you live and work remotely on a beautiful Kibbutz in Israel visit https://www.gatheround.co/ to learn more.

 

Israel Is Over The Moon

about and above Africa

By David E. Kaplan

Cape Canaveral  is synonymous with “We have a liftoff” but the “liftoff” of Israel’s Amos-17 satellite by Ramat Gan-based company Spacecom on the 6 August at Cape Canaveral, Florida was also a “lift off” for Africa too.

AMOS-17’s goal is to beam free internet across sub-Saharan Africa as part of a project with Facebook.

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“We Have A Lift Off”. SpaceX launches Amos-17 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, August 6, 2019 (Screen grab)

To address the ‘digital divide’, back in 2015, the tech giant launched Internet.org – a non-profit initiative – that would bring together technology leaders, nonprofit organizations and local communities to provide Internet access to the most remote regions of the world.

 

The Now Generation

It is so easy to take services today for granted that were once thought a luxury. One prime example is the INTERNET that is essential to growing the knowledge we have and sharing it with others.

In almost everything we do today, we use the Internet from ordering a pizza, buying a computer or printer, sharing a precious moment with a friend or sending a photograph over instant messaging. Before the Internet, if you wanted to keep up with the news, you had to walk down to the newsstand in the morning and buy a newspaper reporting what had happened the previous day.

Now everything is instant – emphasis on the – NOW!

While  for many of us it’s a huge part of our everyday lives, in much of the world, many still do not have internet access. Internet.org’s goal  is bringing internet access and the benefits of connectivity to regions in the world that doesn‘t have them – notably AFRICA.

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Imagine the difference an accurate weather report could make for an African farmer planting crops, or the power of an encyclopedia for a child in a remote village without textbooks.

However no less important is what millions across the African continent could contribute when the world can hear their voices.

The more we connect, the better our world.

One is reminded of the  Lionel Richie/Michael Jackson lyrics of the 1985 charity single classic for Africa “We Are The World”:

 “There comes a time
When we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
Oh, and it’s time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all
…”

 

 

It’s time the ‘Now Generation’ includes the continent of Africa and Israel is responding in addressing the Digital Divide.

Band Together

Built by Boeing,  AMOZ-17 will be located at 17° East where it will reach across the African continent, providing satellite communication services including broadband and high-speed data services to Africa as well as the Middle East and Europe.

It will be the most technologically advanced satellite over Africa, “providing extensive C-Band HTS capabilities, Ka-Band and Ku-Band to a range of markets and combining broad regional beams and high throughput spot beams to maximize throughput and spectral efficiency,” says Spacecom.

It will change the face of the continent which suffers from snail-pace internet speeds and inadequate infrastructure. According to a 2018 joint report by the World Wide Web Foundation, the Alliance for Affordable Internet, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women known as UN Women, internet penetration across the African continent stands at 22 percent.

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Got You Covered. The Amos-17 satellite’s coverage map. Image via Spacecom’s website

Sunny Days Ahead

To get connectivity in Africa via Amos-17, all that will be required said the director of business and technology ventures at Spacecom Eran Shapiro, speaking last month at a conference, is “a simple solar-powered terminal.”

With no shortage of sun, all of Africa will be ‘connected’.

Quoted in the Times of Israel, Shapiro said “Africa is a huge continent with the fastest growing population in the world, forecast to reach 2.5 billion in 2050. It also has the highest percentage of young people, with about half of its current population under 18. The continent has a growing demand for content, with the number of households using digital TV growing some 20% year over year to 2022.”

However, the continent suffers from a lack of internet access infrastructure with vast areas either underserved or completely not connected to any communication infrastructure.

This is set to soon change and it will be as easy as
“a simple solar-powered terminal.”

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Snail Pace. With greater connectivity soon, the next image for Africa should be the cheetah on the keyboard!

The Israeli satellite will be the first over Africa that will provide “high-throughput satellite services (HTS) as well as C-band frequencies, which allow high availability of service,” said Shapiro. It will be suited to the African climate and send a single beam per country, as opposed to numerous narrow beams provided by other common HTS satellites. “Its digital payload will provide higher service availability and easier customer adaptation and expansion,” the company said, and will be able to adapt to existing C-Band terminals on the ground, so there will be no need to upgrade equipment.

The Israel Connection

The $250 million Amos-17 is expected to operate for at least 20 years. Spacecom CEO David Pollack told reporters last week that the company hopes to recover that cost  “in about six or seven years. And then, because it’s 20 years, we have hopefully a long life to make profit,” according to a CBS News report.

Spacecom has a number of already signed agreements with various African broadcasters, notably  Nigeria-based IDS Africa. IDS Africa will use the satellite to broadcast Channels TV news programming throughout Nigeria as well as to the Nigerian diaspora in Europe.

Founded 23 years ago in Israel, Spacecom is traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. The $250 million Amos-17 weighs 6.5 tons and will be the length of three buses.

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Israel In Space. The Spacecom team. Photo via Spacecom’s Twitter page

Evolution On A Treadmill

From the onset of the agrarian revolution many thousands of years BC, “it took took 6,000 years to double the world’s GDP,” writes Jean Philbert Nsengimana in Forbes. With the Industrial Revolution kicking in around 1760, it took less than 100 years and with the computing revolution in the latter half of the 20th century, the time was reduced to less than 15 years.

The Fourth  Industrial Revolution, continues  Nsengimana, “digitally smart factories, cities and entire economies connected to the Internet – has demonstrated that the rate of change will only accelerate.”

While Nsengimana laments that while much of Africa may have missed the opportunities of the earlier revolutions, the  continent that is home to 16.3% of humanity but also home to only about 4% of  global GDP, “cannot afford – nor does it have to – miss out on the possibilities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

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Hungry For Change. Young people at an internet café in Africa. More than 4 billion people, mostly in developing countries, still don’t have access to the internet. This means that over half of the world’s population is missing out on the life-changing benefits of connectivity, from financial services to health and education, being brought about by the increasing pace of innovation known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution,

“We Are The World”

With a unity of purpose, if the African continent connects everyone and empowers the young generation, experts believe it could bridge the development gap with the rest of the world in around a decade.

By 2030, Africa will have the largest potential workforce. What if every one of them was connected, digitally skilled and an empowered digital consumer and or producer?

With Amos-17 in the sky above, Israel has its eye on Africa and ready to extend its hand.

 

 

 

Meeting Of Minds

Aiming on future cooperation following SA academics visiting Israel.

By Benji Shulman

An enlightening tour took place in July where academicians from universities across South Africa visited Israel. Organised by the South African Friends of Hebrew University, the participants came from the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg, University of Cape Town, University of Venda, University of the Free State, University of Stellenbosch, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria as well as government research agencies, and were closely exposed to Israel’s unique business culture.

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Oasis Of Excellence. Hebrew University campus in Jerusalem.

With South Africa’s economy shrinking by a worrying 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019, experiencing sky-high unemployment and attracting little investment, it was important for the SA participants to learn how such a small nation like Israel, with few natural resources, engineered an economic miracle earning the enviable moniker of the “Start-Up Nation’.

The tour began at Hebrew University’s Jerusalem Business School of Administration where they heard a lecture on Israel’s “DNA” – a mixture of knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship. In other words – the success mode of Israel innovation technology.

From theory to practice, the group’s next stop was the University’s Technology Transfer company known as Yissum.

Founded in 1964 to market ideas and innovation of university researchers and employees, Yissum’s mission is to benefit society by converting amazing Israeli innovations into commercial solutions that address the world’s most urgent global challenges. It was important for our South African academics to hear how Hebrew University’s top researchers at Yissum were successfully “bridging breakthrough academic research with scientific and commercial applications.”

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Get Real. Yissum impacting on society by transforming excellent ideas into reality.

Such successes included working with Jerusalem-based Mobileye that was bought out for $15 billion by Intel. Mobileye safety technology is increasingly integrated into new car models from the world’s major automakers providing warnings for collision prevention and mitigation.

Hearing about Israel’s understanding of ‘entrepreneurship’ and how to grow businesses was high on the group’s agenda and HUJI Innovate provided the perfect vehicle to learn all about it.

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Glowing Global. Illuminating the path ahead, HUJI Innovate, the Hebrew University’s innovation platform, encourages students, faculty and alumni to develop new solutions for real-world problems while fostering a vibrant ecosystem that helps accelerate the creation of new ventures.

HUJI-Innovate

The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center is the Hebrew University’s platform to encourage and assist students, faculty and alumni to develop their Innovation and Entrepreneurship capabilities.

To meet the increasing challenges of an ever-changing workplace, our South African group heard how HUJI supports its students and faculty in the development of new solutions for real-world problems and in this way,  create new and exciting ventures. This is something South African universities would do well to emulate.

Students of the 21st Century need to navigate a more challenging workplace than their predecessors and for the South African academics to  learn how to  boost a student’s perception of innovation and entrepreneurship with the aim to help them maximize their potential was most instructive.

And what could be more inspiring than the chance to view the personal papers of the 20th century physicist Albert Einstein at the University’s treasured Albert Einstein Archives.

As an aside, we learned that Einstein was a member of the university’s first board of governors and in 1925, the original 46-page manuscript of “the general theory of relativity” ended up at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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Einstein Stands In Jerusalem. Although much later being offered the post of President of Israel, Einstein was satisfied in helping establish the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and served on its founding Board of Governors. It is now the home to his official archives where a statue of the physicist greets visitors.

‘Innovation’ was what this visit to Israel was all about and no less ‘innovative’ was the event organised by the South African Friends of Hebrew University in partnership with Wits’ Israel Alumni Association. Hosted at the World Mizrachi Hall and supported by Telfed (the communal support organisation for the Southern African community in Israel), the main speaker for the evening was Sivan Ya’ari whose Innovation: Africa organisation has been bringing Israeli water technology into Africa and effectively changing lives.

The event was attended by many ex-pat South Africans living in Israel, as well as Israelis interested in environmental challenges on the African continent. Other special guests included former Ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, editor of the Jerusalem Report, Steve Linde, veteran radio broadcaster, Walter Bigham, and several Holocaust survivors. Our university professionals found the talk most insightful and spoke about water-related challenges in South Africa.

Not all work and no play

The group had the opportunity to tour the Old City of Jerusalem as well as one of the world’s oldest port, vibrant Jaffa; meet with members of Israel’s ethnic minorities, sample Israel’s famous night life and of course eat lots and lots of local delicious cuisine!

The group was most impressed of the visit to the Peres Centre for Peace and Innovation in Tel Aviv. Founded in 1996 by the late President of Israel, Shimon Peres, the group heard how the Centre develops and implements programmes with a focus not only on promoting a prosperous Israel but of paving the way for a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours.

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Living Legacy. The Peres Center for Peace & Innovation shows how technology and innovation can be put to the service of peace and act as a hub for innovation and peace. (credit Efrat Sa’ar)

Celebrity weatherman and science communications expert, Simon Gear, who accompanied the group said that “as South Africans, engaging Israel is crucial both from a perspective of the incredible technology there and from a view of supporting peace initiatives for Israelis and Palestinians.”

The guests were able to see a side of Israel that many do not, and this included various engagements with Israeli government departments; meeting with NGO’s who are working in innovation and development and mingling with other members of the academic community. There was a broad consensus that both countries had much to learn from one another, and that finding ways to broaden the conversation in different sectors was a key to making collaboration a success. Already by the end of the tour, there was interest in specific projects.

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Working For A Better Tomorrow. Africa and Israel share similarities in its past and can join hands in facing the future – together

 

This tour was made possible with the support of the South African Friends of Hebrew University. Yes, it was a journey from South Africa to Israel, but as we learned at Hebrew University, the journeys ahead are really those from:

Ideas to Ventures

 

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Focus On Africa. The South African group of 11 senior lecturers & researchers attended an event on the 8th July in Jerusalem where they heard Sivan Ya’ari CEO Innovation speak on the nature and scope of her work and how it can help meet the challenges of Africa. Steve Linde, Editor of the Jewish Report moderated the discussion . Seen here at the event are (l-r): Steve Linde, Jonny Lipczer from World Mizrachi, Dr Les Glessman, Chairman of Wits Israel Alumni, Benji Shulman, Director of South Africa Israel Forum, Roy Scher Telfed Jerusalem Chairman, Carmel Krawitz Executive Director S.A. Friends Hebrew University and Sivan Ya’ari CEO Innovation Africa July 8th World Mizrachi King George Jerusalem

 

 

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Benji Shulman Benji Shulman is a board member of the South African Friends of Hebrew University, newly appointed Head of Public Policy as the SAZF and organises educational group visits to Israel.