Israeli female students win prize for innovative ventilator tech

The four winners were Or Halevi, Yael Shoham, Hadas Vardi and Karin Friedkin. 

 Or Halevi, Yael Shoham, Hadas Vardi and Karin Friedkin. (photo credit: ANTON SVERDLOV)
Or Halevi, Yael Shoham, Hadas Vardi and Karin Friedkin.
(photo credit: ANTON SVERDLOV)

Four women students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba have won first prize for their Clarity project involving a decision-support model for medical teams that predicts the chances of success for patients to be weaned from the ventilator.

The 360 Entrepreneurship Center, the National Digital Agency and Google recently announced the end of the 9th round of the Students Leading Innovation in the Public Sector competition.

Students Leading Innovation in the Public Sector is a prestigious program for the consolidation and creation of technological ventures for improving service in the Israeli public sector and an innovative incubator for the development of ideas through information technologies and innovative thinking. The final event ended with the announcement of the winners and the attendance of senior officials in digital and innovation systems in the Health, Tourism and Interior ministries.

The Clarity model will help doctors predict which of their patients have a real potential to succeed in the rehabilitation process and then decide how to divide the hospital’s resources among patients. The four winners were Or Halevi, Yael Shoham, Hadas Vardi and Karin Friedkin.

The female entrepreneurs won a scholarship in the amount of annual tuition that was awarded by Google, which also provides guidance on behalf of the Google for Startups program.

Dr. Alona Matveychuk from the Shoham Medical Center, the rehabilitation hospital in Pardes Hanna-Karkur that initiated the challenge, accompanied the winning team and came up with the algorithm on which the prediction model is based. “As a doctor who faced the difficulty of making these kinds of decisions every day and now as part of the hospital’s management staff, I know that the solution is very vital and will help doctors return patients to their normal lives.”

Manshema ventilator (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Manshema ventilator (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

The other two projects that reached the finals are the Passter model, which meets the challenge of the Interior Ministry’s Population and Immigration Authority to develop a tool that would detect the presence of illegal migrants. The model is an automatic forecasting model based on past data and machine learning that knows how to predict whether a visitor wants to enter the country only as a tourist or aims to settle in the country illegally.

Other projects in the finals

Another project that reached the finals is the TripTip digital app that met the challenge of the Tourism Ministry to bring together all content relevant to a tourist experience in Israel. The app was adapted to the young population in the Israeli tourism market according to principles from the field of user experience and human-computer interaction.Keren Katsir Stiebel, director of the Sustainable Business Development and Corporate Responsibility Department at the National Digital Agency, welcomed the end of the 9th cycle and said: “It was clear to us that there is something in the fresh and entrepreneurial spirit of the students in that they can take difficult and fascinating challenges from the desks of the government ministries and put innovative solutions in short periods and improve the service to citizens. We are grateful for the cooperation with Entrepreneurship 360 from BGU and our partner at Google, and together, by connecting the various sectors, we have arrived at a project that changes and adapts itself with the times and challenges in the world.”

The Students Leading Innovation in the Public Sector program is the product of a fruitful collaboration among the National Digital Organization, Google and the 360 Entrepreneurship Center at BGU, alongside various government ministries. As part of the program, which lasts about a year, students from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev – under the management of Sheila Cahanim and Shir Levy and under the academic leadership of Prof. Arnon Sturm from the university’s Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering – develop technological projects and applications according to the needs and challenges of various government ministries.

Omri Ben Horin, Google’s director of government relations and public policy, concluded that “cooperation among the government, industry and academia proves itself once again. It is exciting every time to see what creative and high-quality solutions students know how to develop. We are proud of the long-standing partnership that allows each party to bring its relative advantages in order to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts and to respond to the challenges facing government ministries.”