June 25, 2019

Israeli technological innovation, driven by the country’s necessity to solve its own existential problems, is now helping many other people around the world to solve theirs.  Although this has been true for some time, it is often informative to look at some current examples that demonstrate Israel’s continued leadership in global innovation.

Artificial Intelligence Creativity Demonstrated in China

Members of Israel’s business community recently took part in a large conference in Zhongguancun, China (near Beijing) heralding advances in artificial intelligence and underscoring Israel’s growing strength as a hub for the field.

The opening of the Zhongguancun AI Industry Application and Development Forum, backed by Beijing’s local government, featured everything from dancing robots grooving to Chinese pop music to representatives of firms on the cutting edge of advances in machine learning.

Two Israeli firms had booths at the confab: Gauzy, a materials science firm which develops smart glass, and Rehovot-based Stratasys, which has pioneered developments in 3-D printing.  A March study by NGO Start-up Nation Central found that AI is increasingly becoming a major part of Israel’s tech scene, with 17% of all startups being involved in so-called “deep tech” fields at the end of 2018.

Chinese investors, some of whom have been locked out of the US by trade tensions and other issues, have shown interest in Israel’s activity in the field.  In July, Boyu Capital, one of China’s largest investment firms, led a $125 million funding round for Israel’s Trax Image Recognition, which uses computer vision technology to help retailers and others keep shelves stocked.

6 Israeli Startups Recognized by London’s Transformational Business Awards

Six Israeli startups were chosen out of 270 global firms for awards in a number of categories in this year’s Transformational Business Awards, an impact-driven award set up by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), an arm of the World Bank Group, and The Financial Times (FT) newspaper.

This is the largest number of Israeli wins in the 13-year history of the awards initiative.  The awards pinpoint the crucial role of private sector initiatives and capital in efforts to attain the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — a blueprint set out by the organization to achieve a more sustainable future and address climate change.

Of the 35 shortlisted applications for this year’s awards, 10 were Israeli.  Specifically, Tel Aviv based MobileODT won first place in the mobile technology category.  The firm seeks to save lives by enabling the early detection of cancer.  Its EVA System mobile colposcope is used in countries globally and in US health centers to help detect cervical cancer.

Israel’s Tipa Corp., founded in 2019, won first place in the Transformational Solution in Food, Water & Land category.  The startup produces fully compostable flexible packaging — with the durability, functionality, transparency and sealability of conventional plastic.  The firm, which uses a mix of resin, multi-layer film structures, and laminates to create bio-degradable polymers, says the solution works for dry, baked and frozen goods, including fruit and vegetables.

Jerusalem-based TuneFork won second place in the Innovation for Disability category.  The startup, founded in 2016, has developed software audio personalization technology that aims to optimize mobile sound systems.  The software guides users through a hearing test to set out their needs, and then tailors a precise audio filter for every user, matching their hearing to their sound system — whether for phone calls, rings and alerts, or music and videos.  

“Israel’s innovation ecosystem has some 1,900 companies whose solutions fit the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” said Eugene Kandel, the CEO of Start-Up Nation Central.

Intel Announces New Open-Innovation Startup Accelerator   

To position themselves better to take advantage of the technology being developed in Israel and be “on site” as innovation happens, large tech companies are also setting up their own frameworks to encourage further creativity.

On such example of many, is Intel Corp. which earlier this month, announced it was setting up an open-innovation startup accelerator program that will help grow early-stage startup companies in Israel in key industries, including artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and other data-centric technologies.

Based in Tel Aviv, the program, called Ignite, will tap into Intel’s global market access, business and technology expertise to provide the selected startups with guidance and mentorships for them to grow.

Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Intel CEO Bob Swan said this new program will be “very important” to advance open innovation in Israel and accelerate early-stage Israeli startup companies that are exploring technologies in a variety of key industries in which Intel operates.

The US tech giant is in the midst of a transforming itself from a maker of chips for PCs to a company centered around data, offering a much wider range of products and services to customers, including semiconductors, sensors for driverless cars, drones, and cloud-based technologies and sees Israeli technology as contributing significantly to this effort.

After a selection process, the program will host 10-15 startups in a 20-week program where they will receive hands-on mentorship from Intel and other industry experts in a variety of product, business, management and technical areas.  The program will begin operations in Israel later this year, with plans to expand to additional countries over time. Startups that are diverse — with a diversified social mix — will be a key consideration in the selection of the startups, the company said.

 “The Israeli operation has been integral to Intel’s success for 45 years now and it was a natural choice for our Ignite program given its unique position as a global catalyst for innovation,” said Swan. Some of Intel’s “most important products,” like its most recently announced 10th generation core processors, have been developed in Israel, he said.

Former President of Israel, Shimon Peres, once said: “In Israel, a land lacking in natural resources, we learned to appreciate our greatest national advantage: our minds.  Through creativity and innovation, we transformed barren deserts into flourishing fields and pioneered new frontiers in science and technology.”  It is evident that Israel continues to advance and impact the world in innovative ways.