Joy Ventures Venturing into Neuro Wellness Field

A new investment firm, Joy Ventures, recently opened their offices in Herzliya Pituach, Israel. The company will be an incubator, nurturing the development of start-up companies and will also invest in research projects. Joy was launched by the Israeli-Japanese Corundum Open Innovation Fund with $50 million dedicated to the first phase of its operations.

Joy Ventures will work with startups, tech incubators for entrepreneurs, and grants for academic research in the new and exciting field of Neuro Wellness. Neuro Wellness is a field which will influence the development of new consumer products and technologies based on research in neuroscience.

Heading up the company is Avi Yaron, a serial entrepreneur. He is the founder of Visionsense and invented a cutting-edge tool for the complex brain surgery.

“Many years of being involved in the development of brain surgery technologies, made me realize the human need for joyful and relaxed moments and how critical they are for our health. Many neuro researches show that the modern life intensity contributes to prolonged hostile emotions of sadness, anger, anxiety, guilt and more. These emotions, in turn, generate stress and collect a heavy toll from our health. Originally developed to make things easier for human beings, technology actually intensifies the tension we live in. For this reason we decided to invest in neuro wellness by leveraging the large body of research and neuro developments in Israel. We plan to promote the development of scientifically-proven consumer products which are based on neuro science to alleviate stress, promote calmness and happiness and enhance people’s well-being in the long term,” said Yaron.

Four Israeli Tech Companies Receive Funding for Startups

After four successful fundraisers, the Israeli high-tech sector secured $114 million in support for two venture capital funds and two startups. Joy Ventures, a venture capital investment company received the bulk of the funding, $50 million. Co-founder Avi Yaron said Joy Ventures will use the seed money to invest in startups especially dedicated to developing consumer products offering relief from stress and mood alteration. Yaron called this new type of consumer product “neuro-wellness solutions.”

Another venture capital company, First Time, raised $40 million out of an expected $60 million for a fund which will invest in three startups. This is the second fund that co-founders Ilan Shiloah, Nir Tarlovsky and Jonathan Benartzi launched, and it will focus on startups connected to the internet, media, eCommerce and the Internet of Things. The First Time 2 fund will be seeding startups with between half a million and two million dollars each.

The two startups receiving funds are Chorus.ai, and Laminate Medical Technologies, receiving $16 million and $8 million in funding, respectively. Chorus.ai’s technology uses proprietary speech-recognition technology to transcribe, analyze and give real-time feedback on sales calls. The idea is to help sales representatives analyze their on-call performance to increase sales.

Laminate, founded in 2012, developed a device which supports blood vessels for people on dialysis. The money was raised from a European venture fund and a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

Israel Hosts Huge Cyber Technology Conference

When it comes to getting Israel positive publicity, the most recent 4th annual Cyber Security Conference could certainly add to the PR efforts.  So for individuals such as Daniel Taub – a past Israeli Ambassador to the UK – such news of the second largest conference and exhibition of worldwide cyber technologies would likely be welcome.

In attendance at the three-day event (held between January 30 and February 1) were representatives from the entrepreneurial world, executives from cyber firms, and investors who made up the audience to receive global speakers in cyber security and other industry-related matters. At the exhibition were more than 250 firms and 100 start-ups which presented cutting-edge problem-solving methods to potential threats faced by a large variety of industries.

The event hosted hundreds of individuals from outside of Israel.  This gave Israel exposure, attendees an opportunity to present their latest cyber technological innovations, and everyone the chance to benefit from the innovative conference and exhibition.

The event was opened by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who previously launched the country’s National Cyber Authority which is 100% committed to cyberwarfare. Other key speakers came from top firms including: Checkpoint, Cisco, HP, IBM and Matrix.

Israeli Technology Brings Reality to Super Bowl ‘Viewing’

It is one thing for US football fans to be able to watch the Super Bowl, but it would be quite another to actually participate in it.  With the latest technology built by Replay Technologies – an Israeli-based company – that is now possible.  Be the Player  is an immersive game experience based on the free-D feature that Replay Technologies developed (a firm that was purchased by Intel in March 2016).

Game players can actually experience for themselves first-downs and fumbles from the viewpoint of the play thanks to Intel’s 360 Replay, also developed in Israel. The way it worked at the 2017 Super Bowl was that 38 5K cameras (with a 5,000 pixel resolution) were installed at the Houston stadium which were able to give viewers who were “the Player” “immersive experiences.”  The added benefit was that the players were not impacted at all; there was no need for them to wear any devices.

As James Carwana, Sports Group General Manager at Intel pointed out:

“This technology is absolutely changing the game. Fans are going to be able to watch the game not just from the sidelines, but from the center of the field. It’s an incredible medium that creates amazing new sports experiences.”  He added that with the area digitized, the technology creates a ““three-dimensional voxel” – or cube – instead of a two-dimensional pixel.”

The sentiment was echoed by FOX Sports, when Senior VP of Field and Technical Operations, Michael Davies said that a virtual reality service is created that broadcasts the game, giving players a video game-like experience. He

added that “the cameras, backed up by a huge bank of Intel computing power, allow a moment to be recreated in 3D space, so that a ‘virtual camera’ can be placed at the player’s eye line – not unlike how limitless camera views can be created in video games.”

Prior to the game, player Tom Brady was featured in a commercial with the tagline “Intel 360 Replay makes anything look epic – literally anything,” with him adding “wait till you see it in the game.”  Much research and testing went into this, with three offline tests conducted by Intel and FOX Labs at the Santa Clara Levi’s Stadium.

This is not the first time Intel’s 360 Replay has been used for something revolutionary in the gaming industry.  Basketball fans who were at the 2016 All-Star game were able to access Replay Technologies’ free-D video format, equipping 3 stadiums with the technology with the positioning at the time of 28 HD cameras to capture video that can be compiled into one shot.  But this just takes it to the next level!

MarginProbe for the Elimination of Extra Surgery

Women with breast cancer go through a great deal. And the last thing that they want to do after they’ve already had the tumor removed during a surgery is to undergo followup surgery to remove residual cancer cells. Now, Dune Medical Devices is trying to revolutionize this process. The device they have created is already used by surgeons in more than 100 hospitals in the US and Israel.

What typically happens when a woman undergoes a lumpectomy is that the cancerous tissues are sent to a lab to make sure that the margins are clean. But if they aren’t clean, as happens about 25% of the time, then women have to return for a secondary surgery.

Now, as Gal Aharonowitz, the general manager in charge of Israeli operations for MarginProbe explains,

“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 tumor, identify cancerous tissue and decide on the spot if more tissue needs to be removed or not.”

They have found that MarginProbe reduces the need for re-excision by 51% if it is being used for the initial procedure. It has shown a drop of as much as 80% for a repeat surgery. The Wall Street Journal estimated recently that re-excisions for lumpectomy procedures cost from $9000-$16,000. This probe costs approximately $1000 in the US.

Learn more about this product and how Israeli technology is paving the way for a better way of life for so many.

Innovative Trachea Device from Israel

Israel is known around the world for the medical devices that it creates, and the latest one follows in this model. Guide In Medical has recently raised 2 million shekel ($529,000) for a life-saving trachea device. This non-invasive device is placed on the patient’s neck and it transmits light into the tissues to light the inside of the throat. The medical team can then locate the trachea much easier using a video laryngoscope and can more easily insert the tube during the intubation.

The device is for single use and they estimate that each one will cost about $35 per unit. As Ariel Shrem, the co-founder and CEO of Guide In Medical explained,

“The advantages of the device are in the simplicity of use and the ability to quickly and safely identify the trachea even in complicated situations. In the coming years, this device will be in use in every ambulance, operating room, and battalion aid station.”

At the moment, they are working on getting the EU approval, which they believe they will have by March 2017. They hope to have the approval of the US Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2017.

Interestingly, the technology was developed as part of Hebrew University’s bio-design entrepreneurship program, with the cooperation of the Hadassah Medical Center.

So far, since Guide In Medical started, they have received close to NIS 3 million from NGT3 and the office of the Chief Scientist at Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry.

Innovation Visa Being Introduced

In a fascinating move, the Israel Innovation Authority has announced the introduction of an Innovation Visa. The visa is open to applicants around the world so that they can access the support initiatives that have been, until now, only available to resident entrepreneurs.

The visa holders would have the following benefits, among others:

1. Successful founders will have a “support entity” to provide guidance and other values such as introductions to venture capitalists, industry players and more.

2. The visa holders will also be able to apply to the early stage startup Tnufa program.

3. They can also extend out their visa in the event that they want to stay more permanently in Israel after the visa has elapsed.

As Anya Eldan, the Head of the Startup Division described to Geektime, the program will be a way for startups to “develop their businesses with the advice of some of the countries best innovators while also giving foreign entrepreneurs the chance to give back to the enterprises accommodating them.”

Record-Breaking Numbers in Israel Tourism Industry

As those who are intimately involved in Israeli politics and life like Daniel Taub will be thrilled to hear, Israel’s tourism industry is experiencing record-breaking numbers. November 2016 saw almost as much income from tourists in that one month as the annual Israel tourism marketing budget. During the first 11 months of 2016, 2,651,400 tourists came to Israel. This was an increase of 2% over the previous year.

Now, Israel is setting its sights on bringing in tourists from China and India. In August, the Ministry of tourism actually launched their first, ever, television advertising campaign in India. Their slogan was, “On most vacations, you take a trip. But in Israel, you take a journey.”

They have also focused on China because Chinese tourists spend the most money when they come to visit, with approximately $1,900 spent per tourist per visit. This is compared to $1600 on average. As Tourism Minister Yariv Levin explained,

“Our goal is to continue focusing our campaigns so as to meet the challenge of creating an ongoing increase in incoming tourism. This is proof of the tourist industry’s incredible potential and the fact that the innovative ideas that we are putting into practice have led to an immediate significant contribution to the Israeli economy.”

Aharon Aharon Running Israel’s Innovation Authority

Aharon Aharon was hired by Apple in the Israeli tech scene in 2011. He was hired to open a semiconductor development center in Israel. Now, he will be leaving Apple in the coming months to run Israel’s “Innovation Authority” which was previously the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Economy Ministry. They are in charge of the nation’s innovation policies and they work to promote the country’s technological ecosystem.

Aharon holds two degrees from the Technion and he started his career at IBM and then moved into the private sector. He was previously at Zoran Corporation and Seabridge. He also helped to establish two startups that were sold in exit deals. And, of course, he was instrumental in starting Apple’s Israel activities.

As Avi Hasson, Israel’s Chief Scientist and chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority said,

“Israel sees innovation as a valuable resource.” He explained that Aharon’s appointment is “testimony to the importance Israel gives the issue,” by appointing someone with “such great experience and ability, who can take innovation a step further.”

Aharon said in a statement,

“I give great importance to empowering the partnership of the government with the industry and aim to put the organization that I will lead at the service of the industry.”

Israel Pleased with Boris Johnson’s Appointment as UK Foreign Secretary

As a result of Brexit, whose impact on the world economy is still a big question mark, two new politicians have risen to power who are distinctly friendly to Israel.

The passing of the referendum to take Britain out of the European Union, known as Brexit, resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron. Theresa May replaced Cameron, and she recently appointed the former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, to fill the role of foreign secretary. May’s ascension to power and her choice of Johnson are both welcome developments for the state of Israel.

Former Israeli ambassador to England, Daniel Taub, explained Israeli’s satisfaction with the developments.

“He is a very enthusiastic supporter, and his relationship with Israel goes back a long way,” said Taub about Johnson. He added that Johnson’s enthusiasm for Israel was “infectious.”

Taub also said that Israel was happy with May as prime minister.

“She was Home Secretary, and I had the opportunity to work closely with her,” Taub commented. “She was always receptive to the concerns of the Jewish community, and the areas where we cooperated closely were in homeland security and confronting extremist violence.”

As Home Secretary, May ran MI5, the British intelligence agency, whose security and intelligence cooperation with Israel during her tenure had never before been as “deep and transparent.”

Johnson has also made a positive impression in Israel during a November 2015 visit there. He clearly stated his opposition to boycotting Israel when he said “I cannot think of anything more foolish” as a boycott. He also praised Israel’s role as a beacon of freedom saying that, Israel is a “country that when all is said and done is the only democracy in the region, the only place that has in my view a pluralist open society.”

He also won favor in Israel with a criticism of the BDS movement and its British supporters, describing them as “corduroy-jacketed, snaggle-toothed, lefty academics.”