International Investor Flock to Israel for Startup Festival

Investors from all over the world came to Tel Aviv to take part in the premier event in Israel to showcase the best startups the country has to offer. Known as the Geektime Techfest, it self-describes as the conference whose aim it is to fertilize “the tech ecosystem in the start-up nation.”

Now in its ninth year, the conference was launched by the on-line magazine Geektime in partnership with Leumi-Tech, a subsidiary of Bank Leumi which focuses on the world of hi-tech.
CEO of Geektime, Moran Bar explained that “The conference serves as a springboard for start-ups to be noticed by venture capital funds, ‘angel investors’ and big companies looking for the next thing. We have start-ups in cybertech, virtual reality, advertising tech, smart agriculture, medical tech, every sector really.”

Tel Aviv’s David Intercontinental Hotel was the venue for the gathering, which covers every aspect of both local and global technology, hi-tech and start-ups. The start-ups with the greatest potential for success take part, and are introduced to a large number of investors, both international and local.

The opening ceremony was led by the keynote speaker, Tzameret Fuerst, co-founder and former CEO of Circ MedTech, the company which developed PrePex, a divice to reduce and prevent the spread of HIV in sub-Saharan Africa.

After the keynote address Fuerst invited participants to choose one of three stages for their focus.

• The Future Tech Stage: This is where Israel’s hottest trends for the future were showcased, such as autonomous cars and smart cities.
• The Growth Stage: Leading experts in products and marketing presented their experiences getting their startups off the ground and running.
• The Start-up Stage: This is where the new companies with the most potential were introduced.

On the Start-up Stage ten Israeli start-ups which were hand-picked by Geektime, participate in a friendly competition. The founder of one of the 10 startups chosen this year by Geektime, Karin Kloosterman, founder of Flux, explained:

“The Geektime event is very much like the TechCrunch Disrupt conference, where 10 companies are brought to the stage to ‘battle it out.’ However, in Israel it’s not about the competitiveness, but cooperation between us, since Geektime always picks companies from different fields.”

The 10 featured start-ups were selected from a field of 300 applications.

“We cherry-picked each of the start-ups we’re showcasing according to various criteria, including the level of exposure they have,” said Geektime’s Bar.

“We are looking for companies that already have a product that shows promise, but are still relatively unknown, so as to provide that initial exposure to more than 1,500 industry guests this year.”

CES Innovation Award

The CES Innovation Award in the category of fitness, sports and biotech product just went to 2Breathe Technologies, the sleep inducer smart device and mobile app designed by Israelis. Developed to assist users fall asleep (while tracking their sleeping patterns), the patented technology emerged out of RESPeRATE, the company’s very first product which still today remains the only FDA-approved device. It is also the only device recommended by the American Heart Association that can bring down blood pressure just by breathing. Today, over 250,000 people around the world use the device that Dr. Benny Gavish invented.

Users found that RESPeRATE helped enhance sleep so Gavish – together with his son Erez who is now company CEO – used the same technology to help those who have sleep issues. On receiving the award Erez said:

“It’s a huge honor to win this award and validates the importance of health and sleep for the tech industry. At the conference, the response to 2breathe was overwhelming. When the folks setting up the exhibit and waiters are asking you to save them a sample before the show begins, you know you’re on to something big.”

The CES Innovation Awards each year recognize “outstanding design and engineering” in new consumer technology products. It is the largest trade show in the world, for consumer technology. It is also America’s largest annual trade show.

The way the 2Breathe app works – that retails at $180 – is by strapping a small sensor around the body with an elastic band and then pressure is detected on the sensor as one inhales and exhales. That data is then relayed to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone. Given that around 164 million Americans struggle with sleep issues at least once a week, there is clearly a huge market for such a device.

Israel Partners at Agro-Tech 2016

Twelve countries are to be featuring their technology and agricultural innovations at Agro Tech 2016, the 22nd CII’s biennial agro-technology and business fair. Israel is the partner country and included in the list of 12 is the UK – where Daniel Taub was born and raised before he made Israel his home in 1989. The other 11 countries participating in the 4-day event are: America, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany Israel, Italy, South Africa, Spain, The Netherlands and Turkey.

At the event (that will take place December 3rd to 11th), countries worldwide will be displaying their latest products, services and technologies. There will also be presentations of new launches and innovations relating to the industry. One example of this is the UK’s Luis Mulet, an Agri-Tech specialist. He is offering collaborative and partnership opportunities in the Animal Science, Plant Science and Precision Agriculture industries. Some of the key speakers from Israel include: Richard Klapholz, CEO, Rivulis Irrigation, Shani Keysar, Founder & CEO, SolChip, Israel; Ilay Engelhard, Founder & CEO, ATP Labs, Israel; and Eyal Cohen, Managing Partner, Copia Agro & Food, Israel.

In Israel, agriculture is a very well-developed industry, given that the country is a major exporter of fresh produce and global leader in agricultural technologies. This is even more impressive since Israel’s geography is not known as being agriculturally conducive. But at the event, experts from around the world will see Israel’s strength in the area, with a special emphasis on its drip irrigation systems, wastewater-to-agriculture reuse, and aquaponics.

How Trips to Israel Really Make a Difference

Programs like Birthright have received a lot of attention. Do they really work? Does it make a difference if you bring young adults to Israel to see the country first hand? Apparently it does. The Jewish News found that 54% of first-time visitors from England to Israel had an improved impression of the country after being there. The survey was a combined initiative by the newspaper and EasyJet.

As easyJet explained, “Our research, in conjunction with the Jewish News, has helped us better understand why passengers choose Tel Aviv. The most striking finding was the destination’s growing popularity with young travelers who viewed it as a relaxing, beach destination. One of the reasons for launching new flights from Gatwick is because Tel Aviv’s appeal has been growing.”

Daniel Taub, in an Op-Ed that accompanied the survey, said that the results confirm “the troubling fact that widely-held perceptions of Israel are disconnected from, and far more negative, than the reality. The fact is that the majority of people will never visit Israel and their inaccurate preconceptions are unlikely to be corrected.”

He said that the survey raised two important questions. Daniel Taub’s questions were: “If more than half of visitors to Israel are so pleasantly surprised by what they see with their own eyes, can the media truly be fulfilling its responsibility to present that reality accurately?” and “If the reality is truly Israel’s greatest ally, what more can we do to enable people to experience the reality of Israel?”