Google Launches Startup Incubator in Tel Aviv

11 12 2012

pm-netanyahu-campus-tlvYesterday, Google officially inaugurated its start-up incubator located in Tel Aviv, Israel. Located in Tel Aviv’s Electra Tower, Campus Tel Aviv as it’s being called is part of Google’s efforts to support early-stage internet and mobile startups. At Campus Tel Aviv, entrepreneurs get full access to smartphones and tablets to help them design and test apps and other programs.

After ceremoniously cutting the red ribbon (via touch screen), Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the entire team at Google Israel saying  “We are committed to promoting and supporting entrepreneurship, which is not only important economically, but also socioeconomically, especially in the reality in which we live. Nonetheless, we must invest more. Although entrepreneurship and technology have boosted us to the top of the pyramid, we have a problem with the achievements of Israeli pupils in international tests, and we are dealing with matter and investing billions in this area.”

Google Israel R&D Center managing director Yossi Matias said, “The Campus Tel Aviv joins Campus London. It is Google’s step to provide support for Israeli technological innovation, both because of the importance of encouraging entrepreneurship and the centrality of Israel in fostering these values. Israel’s leadership in initiating innovation is part of its DNA.”

Coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Channukah, Prime Minister Netanyahu took the time to make a Google-doodle of his own

Coinciding with the Jewish holiday of Channukah, Prime Minister Netanyahu took the time to make a Google-doodle of his own

Thank you Isrealli for the story.

The World’s First Cardboard Bicycle

19 10 2012

The world’s first cardboard bicycle

The world’s first cardboard bicycle, invented by Izhar Gafni – an Israeli expert in designing automated mass-production lines, is just months away from mass production lines. Gafni and his business partner Nimrod Elmish say the environmentally friendly bikes will likely sell for a mere $20.

In addition to offering a green product, the Israeli team says it has created a business model that could allow for bicycles to be given away for free in poor countries. They say their plan does not allow for financial benefits in cheap labor markets.”

This is a real game-changer. It changes the way products are manufactured and shipped, it causes factories to be built everywhere instead of moving production to cheaper labor markets, everything that we have known in the production world can change,” said Elmish

Elmish explained that those who make the bikes would bring in financial rewards from advertisements and government grants. “We are copying a business model from the high-tech world where software is distributed free because it includes embedded advertising.”

Initial production of three bicycle models is set to begin on Moshav Ahituv in Israel in the coming months and they will be available to purchase within a year.

Planning for the first production lines for an urban bike (with an electric motor), a youth bike and a balance bike will be completed within the next six months.

The Israeli team was also requested to make a cardboard wheelchair – based on the same principles used for the bike prototype – for a non-profit organization working in Africa.

For further reading please click here

The Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Bees

13 09 2012

In honor of the Jewish New Year, here are the top honeybee innovations from the land of milk and honey.

Honey and Rosh Hashanah — the Jewish New Year – are inseparable because of the tradition of eating honey-drizzled apples to herald a sweet year. In the month of holidays beginning with Rosh Hashanah (this year, Sunday night September 16), Israelis will be consuming 1,600 tons of the sweet stuff produced by 100,000 beehives.

Not merely a yummy treat, honey possesses healthful anti-inflammatory and antibiotic substances. Israeli researchers are at the forefront of learning how to raise the most vigorous bees and use their honey (and pollinating powers) for the good of humankind.

Who needs cough syrup when you’ve got pure honey from nature? A recent Israeli study proved that a spoonful of honey can improve childhood symptoms of the common cold in a much safer way than over-the-counter medications.

The study from the Pediatric Community Ambulatory Care Clinic at Clalit Health Services in Petah Tikvah, published in Pediatrics, was based on a trial where coughing children were given a single dose of either eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, labiatae honey or a date syrup before going to sleep. Parents who gave their children honey reported significant improvement in cough frequency, severity and sleep quality.

2. Israeli honey strengthens cancer patients

LifeMel honey is produced by bees fed on a special nectar from 40 therapeutic herbs.
LifeMel honey is produced by bees fed on a special nectar from 40 therapeutic herbs.

Thirty years of research went into developing LifeMel Honey, which is produced by bees fed on a special nectar derived from 40 therapeutic herbs including Siberian ginseng, Echinacea, uncaria tomentosa, and natural sources of iron, protein and vitamins. This Israeli honey from Zuf Globus Laboratories has been shown in one small clinical trial to be effective in decreasing the incidence of anemia in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

According to the study published in the Journal of Medical Oncology, two teaspoons a day of LifeMel also lowered the incidence of potentially fatal thrombocytopenia (low blood platelets). The product is sold also in North America, the United Kingdom and online.

3. Spread some honey on that cut

Honey is a traditional remedy for the treatment of infected wounds. Israeli medical researchers, including Dr. Jacob Golan, head of plastic surgery at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, have investigated that piece of folk medicine scientifically. In the early 1980s, experimenters inflicted small skin wounds on two groups of mice. They treated one group’s wounds with conventional products, and the other with ordinary honey. The honey-treated mice healed much more quickly than the other group.

What makes it work? Honey has low levels of hydrogen peroxide, and some strains have an additional phytochemical antibacterial ingredient. Also, honey tends to absorb the moisture that bacteria need to grow and spread.

Research suggests that honey can also help infected wounds. Photo by
Research suggests that honey can also help infected wounds. Photo by

4. Remebee

Several viruses are devastating bees around the world in the past few years, including a strain that causes colony collapse disorder (CCD). Fewer bees greatly affects honey production as well as all food production that requires pollination – from fruits and nuts to the dairy and beef cows that feed on alfalfa.
Beeologics was founded in 2007 in Israel to address the problem with nontoxic products developed by virologists and microbiologists. With offices and labs in Miami and in Rehovot, Israel, the company was acquired by Monsanto in 2011. The lead product, Remebee, is an anti-viral treatment under research for honeybees affected with Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV). Remebee is currently in regulatory trials with beekeepers across the United States. Meanwhile, the next generation of Remebee, still in the lab, could potentially protect honeybees from up to seven different viruses.

The Israeli company CartaSense found a novel solution for monitoring bee colonies to protect them from theft and CCD: chip-based sensors placed below the hive in a thin platform to track the hive’s weight gain as it gets inhabited by bees and their honey.

Using BeeConnect can help beekeepers detect any changes in normal hive growth. Photo by
Using BeeConnect can help beekeepers detect any changes in normal hive growth. Photo by

The Bee Connect product immediately detects any deviations from normal hive growth, alerting beekeepers via a daily report. It also tracks bee movement inside the hive, as well as temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels, and provides a way to track a stolen hive.

6. Tree from Down Under helps Israel’s honeybees

Australian eucalyptus trees blossom all year round.
Australian eucalyptus trees blossom all year round.

Most of Israel’s trees and shrubs flower in the spring, leaving beekeepers scrambling to keep their honeybees fed during the other three seasons. About 12 years ago, Israeli researchers began introducing Australian eucalyptus trees, which produce nectar- and pollen-filled blooms from April to September. Two years of extensive testing pinpointed just the right species that Israeli bees find tasty, and that are drought-resistant.

Since then, one million eucalyptus seedlings have been raised in Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund nurseries for Israel’s beekeepers. The variety of bee-friendly trees was later expanded to include some indigenous species such as a carob that produces many flowers attractive to bees. Jordanian beekeepers also benefited from the project.

7. Beehave

Since 1994, researchers at the Hebrew University have been studying bee behavior in the humorously named Beehave lab — a glassed-in hall associated with the Center for the Study of Rationality. Beehave allows ecologists to study the decision-making processes of bees, particularly with regard to foraging for food.

Beehave bees flit around artificial flowers that are actually computerized devices to record bee visits and control feeding times and amounts. Observation of decision-making by bees may provide a basis for studying how other animals and people – and even computers — make optimal and consistent decisions. Beehave also enables the scientists to test whether bees can sharpen their flight dynamics and arithmetic skills.

8. More effective bees

Triwaks scientists have found ways to increase effective bee pollination. Photo by
Triwaks scientists have found ways to increase effective bee pollination. Photo by

The Hebrew University’s Triwaks Bee Research Center in Rehovot collaborates with researchers from other institutions in Israel and abroad to study honeybee decision-making processes and use that information toward smart solutions for agricultural problems such as low-yielding crops. This is of great significance around the world, because crop and flower pollination by bees sustains about one-third of the human diet.

Triwaks scientists have found ways to increase effective bee pollination and orchard yields by 50-100%, and have devised supplementary nutrition formulas for honeybee colonies that are used throughout Israel. In addition, they discovered a way to use bees as delivery vehicles for bio-control agents in strawberry fields; and are exploring possibilities for using “gene silencing” to improve bee health.

9. Almonds and honeybees 4-ever

Why does the nectar of almond trees contain an extraordinary substance that is harmless and very attractive to honeybees, but is poisonous to other creatures? Whatever the reason, almond trees cannot produce fruit without honeybees. In fact, California almond growers import truckloads of honeybees during the almond’s flowering season, so as to ensure pollination.

Trying to understand this phenomenon, two years ago University of Haifa environmental and evolutionary biology researchers exposed honeybees to plates of nectar that had varying concentrations of the toxin and a plate of nectar without the toxin. The bees always preferred the almond-derived nectar with the toxin, leading the researchers to speculate that this unusual substance keeps away ineffective pollinators in favor of the “expert” honeybees.

The nectar of almond trees contain a substance that is harmless to honeybees but poisonous to other creatures. Photo by
The nectar of almond trees contain a substance that is harmless to honeybees but poisonous to other creatures. Photo by

10. Prehistoric Israeli honey

The honey mentioned 22 times in Hebrew Scriptures, most famously to describe Israel as “a land flowing with milk and honey,” has always been assumed to refer to date honey – still a popular Israeli product – rather than honey produced by bees.

However, five years ago, Hebrew University archeologists discovered a 3,000-year-old apiary in the Iron Age ruins of Tel Rehov in the Jordan Valley. The million or more bees kept in 100 to 200 clay cylinders at this oldest known commercial apiary in the world were most likely imported from Turkey, suggesting a surprisingly sophisticated business setup for its time.

Honey, it seems, was one of the very first products of the “startup nation” long before the advent of technology.

Thank you israel21c for the story.

Make Way for a Hand-Drying Revolution

30 08 2012

Move over paper towels and jet dryers. Israeli-manufactured UltraClean is coming to transform the way we dry our hands in public restrooms.

The UltraClean machine won a prestigious design innovation award. 

Here’s a multiple-choice question: What is the most hygienic and ecologically responsible way to dry your hands in a public restroom?

(a) paper towel

(b) forced air dryer

(c) fabric towel on a continuous loop

(d) an Israeli invention soon to hit the market

The answer is (d), says Avi Kafzan, a Technion-trained mechanical engineer and owner of Manal-Israel Clean Towels, the largest hygiene company in Israel.

The volume of paper manufactured and thrown away is wasteful, and hauling it to and from customers eats up energy and causes pollution. Less obvious is the drawback to jet dryers, which are popular in high-usage sites such as airport restrooms.

“These units collect the germs from the air and spray them onto your hands,” Kafzan claims. “The amount of germs that stays is three times more than before you washed your hands. It’s the mechanical work of rubbing your hands that removes the germs. With paper and towel, you can remove 95 percent of the germs.”

A recent study conducted by the University of Westminster also pointed out that because jet dryers are noisy and take 15 or 20 seconds, people prefer to leave the bathroom with wet or damp hands, which become magnets for bacteria on door handles.

About eight years ago, Kafzan founded UltraClean, a company dedicated to designing a “green” hand-drying system effective against the spread of germs while convenient for the consumer and the servicer.

UltraClean is a patented, non-touch linen towel dispenser with a self-laundering system inside. The gadget won the top 2008 Innovation Award at the ISSA/Interclean international conference in Amsterdam, which is the Academy Awards of the hygiene world.

Wave a hand in front of the machine’s sensor, and a laundered section of towel appears. After you dry your hands, that segment disappears inside, where it’s soaped up to await a pre-programmed hot-wash-and-dry cycle that will kick in at the end of the workday. Using heated tap water and internal brushes and detergent cartridges, the system can be customized for each site’s needs, including the length of the towel, what time to start laundering and how heavy-duty the cleaning and sanitizing must be. Kafzan is finally ready to say that UltraClean will be released on the market at the beginning of 2013.

He hired consultants in engineering, design and software, and engaged a lab to develop and test the product, which uses 10 to 12 liters of water and environmentally friendly detergent.

Kafzan explains that distributors would get a week of training to install and service the machines they buy, replacing towel, cartridges and cleaning brushes yearly.

“One and a half years after the first investment, the distributor will save more than 50 percent of costs,” predicts Kafzan. “If you buy 300 units, you can charge $40 per month per machine, so at the end you’d see an income of $12,000 per unit, with only one person needed to operate that system.”

Manufacturing is expected to be mainly in China, with some parts and assembly done in Israel.

For further reading please click here

Israel 6th Healthiest Country in the World

20 08 2012

A typical Israeli breakfast

Israeli breakfasts – eggs, salad, cheeses, juice – are known for their freshness and nutrition. According to a new report, it would seem that by starting the day on a healthy kick, Israelis tend to veer toward a strong lifestyle.

 To identify the healthiest countries in the world, Bloomberg Rankings created health scores and health-risk scores for countries with populations of at least one million.

 Israel ranked sixth with a health grade of 85.97 percent; a total health score of 91.97% and a health risk penalty of 6.00%.

 Compare that to the US, which scored 33rd overall with a health grade of 66.84%; a total health score of 72.96% and a health risk penalty of 6.12%.

 The world’s healthiest country, according to the report, is Singapore followed by Italy, Australia, Switzerland, Japan and then Israel.

 To calculate the rankings, Bloomberg subtracted the risk score from the health score to determine the country’s rank.


Israeli DNA Technology Promises To Revolutionize Forensics

2 08 2012

Police investigators hunting criminals tend to search for the perpetrator’s DNA sample at the crime scene, or for an eyewitness to help piece together a composite portrait.

But breakthrough research presently underway at the Tel-Hai Academic College is meant to spur a revolution in the field by combining the two methods: within a year or so, researchers say that genetic samples will be able to indicate the offender’s facial and body structures.

A fingerprint, hair, drop of saliva or blood, and even scrap of clothing that rubbed against the skin of a suspect – those items make up just a portion of the types of evidence that will help create a new type of suspect description: the DNA composite portrait.

“Police take DNA samples today as well, but if [the samples] don’t appear in the databases, there’s almost nothing that can be done with them. If someone isn’t in the database, like most people aren’t, then there’s no lead,” explains Dani Bercovich, who is heading the research.

“The new development will provide tons of leads. We’ll know the sex of the offender and be able to estimate his height, age range, color and type of hair, eye color and ethnic background — even whether he is right or left-handed.” Bercovich says that the test will even indicate a propensity for balding in the case of men, and a chest-size estimate for women.

“The world continues to research connections between genetic characteristics and external human traits. We’ll be able to update the technology with this new information and expand the database of parameters and details that can be deciphered with DNA samples.”

For further reading please go here

Alert System Texts You When Your Dog Feels Threatened

13 06 2012

Dog may be man’s best friends, but while most people would not leave their children home alone, dogs are often left unattended.

For owners worried about their dog’s safety, a new system developed in Israel is able to recognize when a dog feels threatened or is stressed and then send a text message to the pet owner’s mobile phone.

According to Bio-Sense, the company behind the technology, “to a human being, all barks sound the same; science tells us they are not.” Bio-Sense says its system can tell one bark from another with a patent-protected technology that translates dog barks into digital signals.

The system, named Telidog, is operated by a sensor that is attached to the dog’s collar. The transmitter analyzes barks of the dog and if it senses stress or danger, it contacts the owner.

According to the company, barks are lower in pitch and longer in duration when a dog is distressed or threatened. Research has shown that different types of barks serve different, specific functions that are universally understood by all dogs.

The system also allows dog owners to monitor their dogs’ activity. For example, Bio-Sense mentions, if a dog ran away from home, the company notifies the owner via SMS or if a dog left a certain perimeter that was pre-defined, based on GPS technology.

Bio-Sense says its technology has already been purchased by the Israeli Defense Forces, Israeli Air Force, Israel’s Prison Authority as well as some private businesses.

Founded in 2003 and based in Petah Tikva, Israel, Bio-Sense has 15 employees, including engineers, process signal experts and animal behavior experts.

For further reading click here