Israel has ‘unique competitive edge’ in personalized medicine era

Israel could be in prime position to take advantage of the lucrative opportunity provided by the personalized medicine era.

By
January 20, 2019 16:01
2 minute read.
Uri Gabai

Israel Innovation Authority Chief Strategy Officer Uri Gabai addresses the "From Startup Nation to Smartup Nation" conference, January 20, 2019. (photo credit: ISRAEL INNOVATION AUTHORITY)

 
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For decades now, the ambitious objective of the global biopharma industry has been to deliver the exact dose of the precise drug to the correct individual at the right time.

This long-anticipated era of personal medicine, whose arrival has been catalyzed by increasing investment in medical technology, is approaching a tipping point, and innovation leaders believe that Israel is in prime position to take advantage of the lucrative opportunity.

“The era of personalized medicine could potentially present a breakthrough for Israel’s biopharma industry, based on a number of assets that give it a unique competitive edge,” the Israel Innovation Authority said in its annual report presented on Sunday at its “From Start-up Nation to Smartup Nation” conference.

The combination of Israel’s longstanding scientific excellence, rich electronic health records since the 1980s that cover approximately 98% of the population, as well as the variety of groups within a small geographical territory grant Israel a competitive edge in the drug development process, the authority believes.

“What might connect all of these dots is leadership in information technology,” Innovation Authority Chief Strategy Officer Uri Gabai told conference attendees.

“The challenge is to take all the pieces of the puzzle and combine them into a leading ecosystem, coexisting with ICT ecosystems,” he said.

According to some estimates, the global personalized medicine market is expected to be worth $194.4 billion by 2024, more than double its $92.4 billion value in 2017.

In March 2018, the government approved a NIS 1 billion ($300 million) five-year national digital health plan which includes technological development, international cooperation, concentrated academic and industrial efforts and regulatory changes to encourage data research.

At the forefront of Israel’s charge towards leading the personalized medicine era is a combination of over 200 start-ups and a group of health technology incubators.

Haifa-based MindUP is one organization that aspires to be the leading hub of Israeli digital health innovation. Established in 2016, the incubator is a joint venture of Medtronic, IBM, Pitango Venture Capital, Impact First Investments and Rambam Medical Center in collaboration with the Innovation Authority.

“Today, there is a unique opportunity due to the evolution of digital technology and computing power,” MindUP CEO Dan Shwarzman told The Jerusalem Post.

“There is greater openness among the traditionally conservative healthcare community to accept new technologies and innovation, due to a growing realization that there is so much room and potential for improving healthcare with digital technology.”

The incubator’s current portfolio features Israeli start-ups advancing technologies in a range of medical fields including personalized medicine, patient monitoring, chronic disease management and clinical decision support.

“We are looking for innovative solutions that will make medicine and healthcare more preventative, proactive, personalized and predictive,” said Shwarzman. “We are focusing on solutions making healthcare better, cheaper and more accessible.”

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