Eurovision star Barzilai kicks off WeWork's awards for Israeli start-ups

All companies received prizes in multiples of 18 – a spiritual number in Judaism which symbolizes “chai,” or “life.”

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June 21, 2018 17:54
2 minute read.
2018 Eurovision winner, Israeli Neta Barzilai, performed for the WeWork Creator Awards ceremony in J

2018 Eurovision winner, Israeli Neta Barzilai, performed for the WeWork Creator Awards ceremony in Jerusalem on Wednesday. . (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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When the winner of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, Netta Barzilai, performs for your company, you know you’ve made it big.

On Wednesday, WeWork – the Israeli-founded communal workspace giant that has grown into a multi-billion-dollar real estate phenomenon – gave away more than $770,000 to eight Israeli start-ups and non-profits in a Jerusalem awards ceremony.

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All companies received prizes in multiples of 18 – a spiritual number in Judaism which symbolizes chai, or “life.”

Jerusalem-based start-up MonitHer – which is developing a handheld ultrasound device for women to use at home to monitor for the early detection of breast cancer – garnered first-place prize, taking home $360,000.

Its founder, Yehudit Abrams, came up with the idea as she was working for NASA, looking into using ultrasound to monitor astronauts headed on long, space-bound journeys.

MonitHer’s software has already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, according to WeWork, and the start-up is now working on its hardware prototype.

Runner-up to MonitHer was SensPD, a company that seeks to detect autism at an early developmental stage.



In third-place came TETHYS, a start-up which builds low-cost and modular desalination water-treatment plants powered by solar energy. That could allow municipalities to decentralize their operations and create redundancy – helpful in an age of climate change when one storm or hurricane can wipe out a city’s main water treatment facility and wreak havoc.

WeWork also awarded prizes to non-profits, with the NGO Kaima, which hosts drop-out youth in outdoor settings, winning $72,000. Two other NGOs, Hand-in-Hand – which runs bilingual Jewish-Arab schools – and Yotsrot – which helps women leave prostitution by offering vocational training – each won $18,000.

Another non-profit, Nahshonim – which pairs hi-tech executives with entrepreneurs in the country’s periphery and within the Arab sector – took home $36,000.

And an independent band of six musicians, Angelcy, won $18,000 for its innovative breakout onto the world stage.

WeWork selected the companies based on their potential for social impact, ability to scale and commercial potential. The awards spanned three groups: business ventures, non-profits and performing arts.

The company has long since grown far and wide from its kibbutznik roots, as co-founder and CEO Adam Neumann has helped launch the company into 72 cities with 250,000 members worldwide.

With Neumann in attendance, his sister and former supermodel, Adi Neumann, hosted the awards ceremony. Luminaries in the crowd included Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and 1990s rock star Aviv Geffen.

Today  – only eight years after its founding – WeWork is valued by the markets as being worth $20 billion.

The company has hosted 11 Creator Awards across the globe, including in Mexico City, Shanghai and San Francisco. The winners of the regional semi-final events will be eligible to participate in the Global Finals in January 2019.

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