Israel’s brain accelerator graduates first class

"I see great resemblance between hacking computers and hacking the brain," says leading technical officer.

By
February 7, 2016 02:03
2 minute read.
INNOVATORS WHO completed the Brainnovations program smile at the Google Campus in Tel Aviv on Wednes

INNOVATORS WHO completed the Brainnovations program smile at the Google Campus in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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No, it’s not a sci-fi gadget created by the Riddler or Dr. Evil to take over the world.

Brainnovations, Israel’s first accelerator for start-ups focusing on the brain, graduated its first class on Wednesday, with a demo day at the Google Campus in Tel Aviv.

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The accelerator is part of Israel Brain Technologies, a nonprofit focused on developing commercialization Israel’s brain-related innovation.

The markets for such innovations reach deep into the medical field, and search for solutions to problems as varied as strokes and severe depression.

Debby Elnatan, the CEO of TMST, developed the “Targeted Modulated Sound Therapy” of the company’s name to help treat her son Rotem’s cerebral palsy. She discovered that therapy involving sound frequencies worked better on easing his spasticity than a slew of medications.

“I was shocked to discover that all of my son’s joints and muscles were moving freely without resistance,” she said.

The company is developing an app, delivery system and protocol for making the therapy available and monitoring its efficacy for a target market of 37 million people who have spasticity as a result of diseases such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, stroke or spine injury.

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Saheylu – named from a word in the 2009 film Avatar meaning “neural bond” – has developed a product that can detect people’s thoughts and translate them into simple actions.

Daniel Furman, the company’s CEO, told the audience to raise and lower their right hands. He then asked them to simply think about raising their right hand. The product aims to detect the latter thought, and translate it to robotic movement.

“If you were wearing our device, you’d know exactly when you imagined raising your arm and bringing it down,” he said. A small trial has focused on simple finger movements.

“We’re the only ones in the world who can do this,” he said.

Until that product is fully developed, the company (which has a penchant for catchy marketing names) is focusing on a feature called “Liberty Bell,” which will help people with limited movement call for attention or help, simply by thinking a code while wearing the device.

Another company, Recovr.io, focuses on using virtual reality to help those with acquired brain injuries such as strokes work on their rehabilitation.

The product combines virtual reality with real objects in the room that can be used for therapy.

“I see great resemblance between hacking computers and hacking the brain,” chief technical officer Ethan Kay said.

MyndYou founder and CEO Ruth Poliakine Baruchi created an app that would turn mobile devices into passive monitors for Alzheimer’s patients. Integrating data from voice, motion and location, it is designed to help family members assess the severity of the disease’s onset, help make decisions on when driving is no longer safe, and even send alerts during difficult episodes.

Another company in the class, CerebraMed, is researching medications to reduce the plaque build-up in the brain Alzheimer’s causes.

Other companies in the mix included SensoMedical, led by Maroun Farah, for developing brain electrodes; ALS Mobile Analyzer, by Hagit Alon, who created a mobile app for collecting uniform data on ALS patients; and Taliaz for using DNA sequencing to help prescribe more effective antidepressant drugs.

The accelerator, which provided mentoring, workspace and development tools to the companies, said applications were open for its next round.

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