Israeli innovators receive grants to aid developing world

The Grand Challenges Israel program aims to use technology to solve health, water and agricultural challenges in developing nations.

January 18, 2015 18:47
2 minute read.
Israel and India

Indian farmers in Pusa working with former Israeli agriculture minister Orit Noked in 2008. (photo credit: ISRAELI EMBASSY IN NEW DELHI)

Israel's Grand Challenges initiative on Sunday for the first time awarded ten Israeli innovators with grants of up to NIS 500,000 for projects that tackle tough issues in the developing world.

The Grand Challenges Israel program, which aims to promote technologies addressing health, water and agricultural challenges in developing nations, was launched last year with support from MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Prime Minister’s office, and the Office of the Chief Scientist in the Economy Ministry. It is based on Canada's program of the same name--specifically its Stars in Global Health program--and is part of a global initiative that the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation launched in 2003.

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“The friendship between Canada and Israel is the foundation for increasing dynamic partnerships, partnership in diplomacy and government but also a partnership in innovation, science, business and cultural ties," said Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, in Israel on an official visit.

"The Israeli initiatives give voice to Israelis' abilities in the field of innovation tenchology alongside Israel's entrepreneurial spirit, which is known in the world," said Avi Hasson, chief scientist at the Economy Ministry.

"The combination of doing good, contributing to global challenges while penetrating new markets and experience in initiatives that turn to audiences and needs unconventional for Israeli industry may lead them to extensive new business opportunities," he added.

Half of the winners were in the field of health care.

MobilOCT founds Ariel Beeri won the grant for their use of mobile phones in screening for cervical cancer.

Yossi Alder, of Respimometer, won for a tool that detects Pneumonia early on, as did Sagi Gliksman of Nanovation-GS. Biogal's Tomer Keren won for detection test kit for Leptospirosis, a neglected worldwide public health problem. Finally, Amir Galili of Westham Ltd. won for method of controlling African Malaria vectors.

The other half of the winners were in the fields of water, food security and agriculture.

Rom Kshuk, of Oplon Pure Science, developed a strip for making large amounts of water safe to drink within minutes, while Alan Bauer of Aquatest created a personal water safety device. Pablo Kaplan of Sharp Mentoring (formerly Wheelchairs of Hope) won for his project that increases access to mobility education and independence.

Hebrew University's Ram Reifen's proposal for using chickpeas in infant formula won a grant, and Tiran University's Haim Avioz won for developing biotechnology for all-male African River prawn aquaculture.

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