The Right Connections

According to Avishai Abrahami, founder of website builder Wix, Israeli start-ups have a surprising secret weapon - helpful connections with established companies, even competitors!  Israeli entrepreneurs regularly help newcomers, because these entrepreneurs originally received help themselves.  Nothing exists in isolation in the Jewish State and the theme of “connections” links all of the following recent news articles.

Israel has built links with top hospitals and medical institutions around the world.  Experts from Boston Medical Center trained Israeli surgeons at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa to use surgical robots to perform advanced pediatric surgery.  For the first time, they used Rambam’s da Vinci robot to correct congenital defects on Israeli children.

Israel’s Dr. Nizam Razack also connected with US surgeons and robots when he performed the world’s first robotic brain surgery.  At Celebration Health Hospital in Orlando, Florida. Dr Razack used the Renaissance robotic guidance system from Israel’s Mazor Robotics to perform successful deep brain stimulation (DBS) on a Parkinson’s sufferer.  In another US medical collaboration, researchers at Tel Aviv University and Chicago’s Northwestern University worked together to discover that a mutation in skin cell molecules disrupts the immune response and triggers allergic reactions.
Dr. Ayelet Erez used her connections from studying and working at the Technion, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Aviv University, Baylor College Texas and the Weizmann Institute to uncover the link between the enzyme ASL and Nitrous Oxide, which is essential for regulating blood pressure.  Meanwhile, Ariel Munitz of Tel Aviv University has discovered a link between cancer and white blood cells called macrophages.  A particular stimulus will make them heal cancer and fibrosis. But a different stimulus actually makes the condition worse.  But potentially Israel’s most important medical connections are contained in Israel’s "National Network of Excellence" (NNE) in Neuroscience.  Established by Israel’s Teva, NNE has just granted funds to 46 scientists at seven Israeli universities and teaching hospitals to boost therapeutic developments for Alzheimer’s, MS, dementia and other brain diseases.
Israelis are also very good at breaking unhelpful connections.  Why, for instance, do aerosols need to contain dangerous compressed gases and be stored in expensive, metallic, cylindrical containers?  Israeli startup GreenSpense has developed an eco-friendly system for dispensing liquid products. A thin elastic sleeve inside the product generates high pressure, which is released at a touch of a button.  Another connectivity problem is solved by Israeli start-up Pressy.  Sometimes you have to perform many laborious connected functions on your smartphone before you can take a photo, or order a pizza etc.  Pressy provides “one button to rule them all”, which you attach to the headphone socket of your android device.


Some important international connections were enhanced recently:
-         Chinese investment in Israeli biotech NasVax will boost development of treatments for fatty liver disease and Alzheimer’s. 
-         Israel Chemicals announced it is to mine phosphates in Vietnam.
-         Israel’s Ormat Industries completed a 100mW geothermal power plant in New Zealand.
-         The World Bank is investing in Israel’s Kaiima, developing resilient and high yield grain.
-         The world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia, is to use Israeli technology to build roads.
Staying with the international connection, but on a lighter note, hundreds of Hungarians at the Israeli festival in Budapest satisfied their hunger on the largest bowl of Hummus that Hungary has ever seen.  And international sporting links included the signing by Scottish soccer champions Celtic of Israeli midfielder Nir Biton from FC Ashdod.  The 21-year-old will now connect up with fellow countryman, Beram Kayal who already plays for Celtic. 
It is inspiring that there is an Israeli connection at the top of so many International companies.  According to Bloomberg Rankings, graduates of Israel’s Technion Institute make up the seventh highest number of chief executives of the top technical companies in the USA.
To conclude, here are two news items that connect the modern Jewish State with its historical origins.  Firstly, it may have been the phenomenal number of recent ancient Biblical discoveries that persuaded Bar Ilan University archaeologists to purchase a $70,000 handheld X-Ray Florescent Spectrometer to go with the Fourier spectrometer already being used.  The two devices now provide Bar-Ilan with the best molecular analysis capabilities in the world.  And finally, can you imagine Miriam Siebenberg’s surprise when she uncovered connections going back 2,000 years in the form of an ancient Jewish residence underneath her Jerusalem home. As Miriam says of the Siebenberg House Museum, “Both my roots and the roots of our people are right underneath this house.”  It’s living history.
Stay connected for the next inspiring installment.
Michael Ordman writes a free weekly newsletter containing Good News stories about Israel.
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