Tech talk: Israeli start-up scene picks up speed

Local start-ups know how to focus on the long-term and mature quickly.

PARTICIPANTS IN the Israel Tech Challenge work during the 36-hour hackathon in Tel Aviv this week (photo credit: ISRAEL TECH CHALLENGE)
PARTICIPANTS IN the Israel Tech Challenge work during the 36-hour hackathon in Tel Aviv this week
Over the last few weeks, a number of Israeli start-ups have succeeded in raising a significant amount of funding, namely: • Appsflyer raised $20 million • Earlysense raised $20m.
• Taykey raised $15m.
• Visualead raised $5m. from Alibaba • Dropbox acquired Cloudon • Amazon acquired Annapurna for $375m.
• Hermes acquired Redband for $170m.
As you can see, it’s certainly been a busy week.
So what does this mean in terms of these companies’ operations in Israel? And what kind of impact will this have on the economy? It is quite clear that Israel has become Silicon Valley II, and many people believe that it has a number of advantages over other places around the globe. We have highly skilled workers that cost much less than they would in the US, motivation to work hard and succeed, the ability to create something from scratch in a short period of time and a supportive community that provides for the smooth transfer of knowledge, which enables timely progress. South Tel Aviv is teeming with start-ups that boost each other up.
One of the greatest advantages Israeli startups offer investors is their realistic market value, which makes investing in them more profitable and as a result increases the chances that they will succeed in securing the next round of funding.
Local start-ups know how to focus on the long-term and mature quickly. Outbrain and Taboola, for example, which provide solutions for the content-recommendation market, are both worth roughly $1 billion.
Israel attracts investors from around the world, and recently Chinese and Japanese investment funds have shown increased interest.
What should we expect for 2015? In a word – innovation
At the annual international innovation conference iNNOVEX2015, which took place on February 3 in Airport City, more than 1,000 engineers, industry professionals, academic researchers, senior executives and investors, most notably Dean Kamen, inventor of Segway; innovation guru Rowan Gibson, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Broadcom chairman Henry Samueli. Discussions were held to discuss ways to inspire innovation and encourage out-of-the-box thinking that will inspire the next generation of start-ups. At the event, participants sat around round tables and exchanged views and ideas.
The winner of the “most innovative Israeli start-up of 2015” award was Sol Chip, which develops cost-effective, compact solar battery technology. One of the greatest challenges for sensors in the Internet of Things is the amount of time they can work before they need to be charged or replaced. Sol Chip has created a solar or neon-powered battery that lasts up to 20 years before needing replacement.
“Say” is an Israeli start-up that has developed a pendant that allows young people (as well as the young at heart) to let others who also have a Say pendant know how they’re feeling or what they’re doing. This gadget joins a growing number of trendy wearable technology items that have recently become popular and that let you make a personal statement.
Emefcy, which was founded in 2008, has created advanced energy efficient wastewater treatment technologies. Its technology will significantly reduce the amount of energy needed to treat wastewater and produce green electricity as a byproduct.
Genome Compiler has created an intuitive design tool for researchers that provides them with direct connections to DNA synthesis providers and lab services.
They can access information that up until now was not available universally. Here is a link to a clip describing their technology: People are purchasing products over the Internet more and more these days, and the footwear industry in particular has been making great strides. One of the obstacles to successfully purchasing a pair of shoes online is that manufacturers all have their own sizing, which means that consumers end up returning shoes that don’t fit properly.
Fitfully’s virtual sizing app has people take a picture of their foot with their smartphone and this helps them order the correct size on their first purchase.
Orca Sonics has developed a mobile ultrasound technology that enables physicians to carry out accurate diagnostics on the spot, which save lives. Up until now, only large ultrasound equipment has been available in hospitals and large clinics.
Umoove is a mobile app designed to diagnose disease and improve people’s attention through fun eye-tracking exercises.
Augury has developed a diagnostics system for preventive maintenance of buildings and industrial appliances. It can “listen” to machines and tell if they are functioning properly and avoid future failures.
Watch out for Apple
Last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that in April the company would be releasing Apple Watch, its new smartwatch, its first new product category since the iPad came out in 2010. Its starting price will be $349, which is a relatively high price compared with similar products offered by other companies.
Even so, sales are expected to be extremely high.
At this stage, Apple’s smartwatch can make payments via Apple Pay, but only syncs with Apple smartphones. It has a 1.5-inch touchscreen on which you can see pictures and watch movies, but the battery life is not expected to be great – it will need to be charged once if not twice a day depending on usage.
The Apple smartwatch is expected to compete with sensor-filled adhesive strips that measure your pulse, count your steps and help us sleep better. Apple products are known to have quality finishing and striking designs and the new smartwatch indeed meets these high standards.
But why would someone even want a smartwatch since almost all of us – even the very young – already own smartphones? Do people just feel like they need to buy one because it’s an Apple product? In this era in which so many of us suffer from ADHD, is the new Apple smartwatch really going to improve our quality of life? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
If you run a young start-up, have developed an interesting app or have a question, please feel free to contact: [email protected]
Translated by Hannah Hochner.