ISRAEL, THE INNOVATION NATION, HOPES TO LAUNCH A SPACECRAFT TO THE MOON IN 2019

Israeli Moon-Bound Craft to Carry Holocaust Survivor Story, and Best of Humanity: Times of Israel, Dec. 17, 2018— Israel’s Declaration of Independence and national anthem.

How Silicon Makes Israel’s Desert Bloom: Economist, Jan. 12, 2019— Pink bollworms are the scourge of cotton farmers.

Why This New Innovation Hub In Israel Decided To Welcome Startups And Enterprises: Jennifer Kite-Powell, Forbes, Dec. 18, 2019— Israel’s position as a startup nation has been on the rise since 2009.

How Israel is Turning its High-Tech into Global Political Power: David Rosenberg, Fathom, Nov. 2018— Israelis are justifiably proud of their country’s high technology industry.

On Topic Links

NASA Reveals First-Ever Image From Inside Sun’s Atmosphere Snapped With Israeli Tech: NoCamels, Dec. 19, 2018

Swords to Plowshares: Israel Makes a Farm Out of a Minefield: Matan Tzuri, Ynet, Jan. 10, 2019

New Israeli Technology Could Revolutionize Surveillance: Media Line, Dec. 7, 2018

Wisdom From 70 of Israel’s Tech Wizards: Inbal Arieli, Times of Israel, Apr. 19, 2018

 

ISRAELI MOON-BOUND CRAFT TO CARRY HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR STORY, AND BEST OF HUMANITY

Times of Israel, Dec. 17, 2018

Israel’s Declaration of Independence and national anthem. The Bible. The memories of a Holocaust survivor. Children’s drawings of space and the moon; art, science, literature and technology; the Traveler’s Prayer and a note from former president Shimon Peres containing a verse from the Book of Genesis. All of these — three discs containing hundreds of digital files — were inserted Monday in a time capsule scheduled to head to the moon sometime next year, when Israel hopes to launch and land its first ever spacecraft to the moon.

If all goes well, the unmanned spacecraft worked on by the Israeli nonprofit SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will give Israel entry into the exclusive club of just three nations that have so far achieved a controlled landing on the moon’s surface. The capsule was the last component to go into the vehicle, before it is shipped to Florida to be launched from Cape Canaveral in the coming months.

The pictures, along with art, science and history books, “we will be taking with us to the moon,” said Yonatan Winetraub, one of three engineers who founded SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization set up in 2011 with the aim of landing the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. “It is quite symbolic that the people of the book are going to take this library and put it on the surface of the moon,” he said, speaking at IAI’s Space Division in Yehud, some 40 minutes from Tel Aviv, at an event as the capsule was loaded onto the spacecraft. The craft was scheduled to originally launch this month and land on the moon in February 2019, but was delayed.

“Today, we are putting all those dreams in the spaceship, like you would take an note and put it in the Western Wall, wishing for a bright future,” Winetraub added. The cracks between the stones of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, considered the holiest site Jews can pray at, are filled with notes conveying the requests of its visitors.

In early 2019, the spacecraft, recently named Beresheet — the Hebrew word for Genesis — will launch alongside other satellites as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The precise launch date remains undetermined, as SpaceIL awaits final confirmation from the launch company, said SpaceIL CEO Ido Anteby at the event. “The Israeli public chose the name Beresheet,” said Anteby. “It expresses the hope of the start of a new stage of Israel’s space industry.”

After the launch, the craft is expected to first orbit the earth and then the moon, where it is expected to land four to five months after the launch. Winetraub said that the team that built the spacecraft, which, if successful will be the first ever commercial landing on the moon, was inspired by Ilan Ramon, a 48-year old Israeli fighter pilot and the first Israeli astronaut for NASA, who died in 2003 on the Columbia space mission in a re-entry accident.

“He went where no Israeli had gone before. Therefore, the first picture that we are going to take of the Earth will be dedicated to Ilan, a true Israeli pioneer venturing into the unknown,” said Winetraub. “This is a very emotional moment,” he added. “We do not know how long the spacecraft and the time capsule will remain on the moon. It is very possible that future generations will find this information and want to learn more about this historic moment.”

SpaceIL is a nonprofit organization established in 2011 aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon. It was founded by three young Israeli engineers, Yariv Bash, Kfir Damari and Yonatan Winetraub, competing for the international Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge to build, launch and land an unmanned lunar spacecraft. The project has been conducted together with IAI.

SpaceIL’s vehicle is two meters (6.5 feet) in diameter and 1.5 meters tall standing on four legs. It weighs 600 kilograms, which would make it the smallest craft to touch down on the moon. Carrying the Israeli flag, the spacecraft will conduct a Weizmann Institute of Science experiment to measure the moon’s magnetic field, finishing its mission within two days.

The landing mission will be “very challenging,” complicated and risky, said SpaceIL’s Anteby at the event. To save costs and energy, the craft will not fly directly to the moon, but take a circuitous way. Once launched, the spacecraft will disengage from the SpaceX launch rocket when it reaches 60,000 kilometers from Earth’s surface and begin orbiting the Earth in elliptical orbits. It will circle the Earth, widening its circumference each time, while saving fuel by only starting its engines at the end of each cycle. Then, at the right time, it will leave Earth’s gravity and enter the gravity of the moon…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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HOW SILICON MAKES ISRAEL’S DESERT BLOOM                                                                Economist, Jan. 12, 2019

Pink bollworms are the scourge of cotton farmers. The insect is less than an inch long, but it has a voracious appetite for the plant’s seeds. As a child living on Kibbutz Ginosar, in Israel’s north, Ofir Schlam would wake up at dawn to inspect leaves for the pest. “They were really hard to find,” he recalls.

Spotting the enemy has become much easier. Four years ago, Mr Schlam co-founded Taranis, a company that uses high-resolution imagery from drones, planes and satellites to diagnose problems in the field—among them bollworms, diseases, dryness and nutrient deficiencies. Investors are joining the effort: in November, Taranis raised $20m.

Faced with unfriendly neighbours and an arid climate, Israel has had to innovate to survive. Taranis is the poster child of its stunning rise in agritech. Over 500 companies operate in the field, nearly twice as many as in the better-known cyber-security sector. A third of them did not exist five years ago. Israeli agritech firms attracted $171m in equity investment in 2017, according to Start-Up Nation Central, a non-profit organisation, considerably more than those in bigger farming countries, such as Australia and Brazil.

Other countries have bet big on agritech, but Israel is ahead of all but America, say investors. Large countries with big appetites are taking notice. When Wang Qishan, China’s vice-president, visited Israel in October, he toured agritech exhibits. “Agricultural parks” using Israeli technology have mushroomed across China. Indian and African officials have also made recent trips to Israel seeking inspiration.

Because it trades little with its neighbours, Israel long relied on the kibbutzim and other collective farms to grow food for its rising population. That heritage is providing rich pickings today: 54% of Israel’s agritech ventures are managed by someone who grew up in a kibbutz. Conditions forced them to be creative. The southern part of the country often receives less rainfall in a year than England gets in a day. That led to an early breakthrough in water management. In the 1950s Simcha Blass and his son, Yeshayahu, greatly reduced water use by applying it directly to the roots of plants. They helped form Netafim, the world’s leading maker of drip-irrigation systems, worth nearly $1.9bn.

Newer companies are exploiting technological advances in areas such as plant biology and artificial intelligence. Startups founded in Israel last year include Sufresca, which is developing edible coatings that extend the shelf life of fruits and vegetables; Beewise, which uses artificial intelligence to automate beehive maintenance; and Armenta, which is working on new therapies to treat sick dairy cows. Other firms are targeting trendy sectors like pharmaceutical crops and alternative proteins.

The new firms benefit from an oversupply of produce worldwide, which has led to lower margins for farmers and greater demand for tools that increase productivity and boost profits. After an unprecedented round of mergers in 2016, farming giants have been looking to cut costs. Shareholders are also looking for new ways of doing things (six out of the ten biggest food companies have replaced their CEOs in the past three years). Many firms see external innovation as faster and cheaper than in-house research and development (R&D).

Israel’s overall civilian R&D spending, measured as a share of GDP, is more than that of any European country. Agritech gets a chunk of this cash. The government supports universities and labs; it has also invested in venture-capital funds and directly in startups. The country is good at turning ideas into profits. The Israel Institute of Technology (known as Technion) earns over half as much licensing patents as MIT in America, despite spending much less on research. Next year, for the first time, the government plans to sponsor pilot projects that connect startups with farmers, so that technology can be tried and tested locally before being introduced to international markets.

The state also helps in other ways. Military service is mandatory in Israel, where bright young conscripts spend years developing equipment or software that does well in unpredictable environments. Such skills have direct applications in agritech. Nadav Liebermann, the chief technology officer of CropX, a company that uses wireless sensors to measure soil moisture, served in a unit that created hardware for special forces, including devices placed underground in enemy territory to gather intelligence. His software chief, who learned to code in the army, ran a team of 50 developers at the age of 23. Two branches are particularly good at churning out tech entrepreneurs: Unit 8200, the army’s signals-intelligence arm, and Unit 9900, which specialises in gleaning intelligence from geospatial imagery.

Small is not always beautiful

The next challenge for Israel’s agritech firms will be scaling up. Limited farmland means they must look for partners abroad early on. So does the need to understand distant export markets with a different climate, like Brazil or the American Midwest. Founders of startups are often quick to sell up, rather than building their ventures into big global companies. Many reinvest their riches in new startups and buyers often continue to use Israel as their base for R&D. The danger is that, without bigger home-grown firms, many less-skilled Israelis—including kibbutzniks—will be cut off from the booming tech industry.

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WHY THIS NEW INNOVATION HUB IN ISRAEL

DECIDED TO WELCOME STARTUPS AND ENTERPRISES

Jennifer Kite-Powell

Forbes, Dec. 18, 2019

Israel’s position as a startup nation has been on the rise since 2009. In 2017, in addition to more than 350 multi-national research and development centers, there were also more than 6,000 startups, more than 70 VC funds and more than 200 startup accelerators. OurCrowd Founder and CEO Jon Medved says Israel’s startup ecosystem is set to achieve new records this year, with an estimated $6.5B invested in Israeli startups in 2018.

“Over 80% of this capital comes from overseas, and Israeli venture funds are performing well, even in comparison with Silicon Valley,” said Medved. “The venture market here has grown considerably in size and in quality, with Israel regularly producing market-leading companies emerging in a variety of exciting investment sectors. These companies are not just growing fast, and have tons of promise, but are actually out ahead of their competitors worldwide.”

On October 9, 2018, Amazon Web Services (AWS) opened a new office in Tel Aviv, Israel which encompasses the teams working across Alexa Shopping, AWS, Prime Air, and Annapurna Labs. It also happens to be the location of Floor 28, a unique co-working space designed to help both enterprise companies and early-stage startups accelerate the process of building a minimum viable product that is ready for scale and enable venture-backed companies to achieve their next technological milestone or launch a new product.

Harel Ifhar, Head, AWS Israel said that when AWS launched in 2006, Israeli technology companies were among the first to adopt the services and leverage the AWS cloud to support their inventions, accelerate growth, and reach global markets. “After rapidly acquiring customers in the early days, in 2014 we opened the first office in Israel to support the growing customer base of start-ups and enterprises. Some of the ‘early adopters’ of AWS in Israel operate in a variety of areas, such as AdTech, web applications, analytics and business intelligence, and include LivePerson, My6Sense, Sisense, Viber and Wix,” said Ifhar.

Ifhar emphasizes he believes that AWS cloud has opened up new opportunities for Israeli companies of all sizes pointing out the global success of Amdocs and startup IronSource, a monetization platform with $105 million in funding. Ifhar notes that the new office also has a research and development side. “In this space, our engineers are working on cameras for mobile devices, technologies for Amazon PrimeAir working how to safely get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less, and the Alexa Shopping group which is working on technology that is core to the Alexa Shopping experience, solving problems in areas of natural language and high-precision search,” said Ifhar.

But Ifhar always circles back to startups and the strength of the Israeli startup scene. “In 2009, in Israel, Information and communication technology (ICT) sector amounted to $19 billion, contributing 17.3% of the business sector GDP and the demand for high bandwidth was rising [..] which drove the introduction of new mobile, social, and internet applications, such as instant messaging, VoIP, video conferencing, IPTV, and content apps,” said Ifhar. “Ten years later, leading the high tech sector are two main areas, cybersecurity, in which Israeli companies have shown a wealth of services and applications, and Artificial Intelligence (AI), [..] with more than 950 active startups in Israel utilizing or developing AI technologies.”

On the healthcare front, Israeli startup MobileODT has raised $9.9 million in funding to create a small, intelligent smartphone-enhanced medical diagnostic tool that enables point-of-care (POCT) diagnosis of cervical cancer which the company believes will simplify the diagnostic process. According to Ariel Beery, CEO, MobileODT, cervical cancer screening involves typically a visit to the gynaecologist for a Pap or HPV test to detect abnormal cells, and if pre-cancerous changes are detected, a more thorough examination of the cervix is performed, using a unique optical system.

“Early detection leads to easy and inexpensive treatment, hence the importance of enabling access to screening tests and treatment options in the precancerous stages of the disease to women everywhere,” said Beery. “Using MobileODT’s solution allows any health professional, anywhere in the world, to perform an initial cervical cancer screening via a mobile device, and immediately determine the need for biopsy, saving precious time for patients. Beery says that AWS makes it possible for them to deploy their solution in more than 29 countries around the world.

On the agricultural front, startup ConsumerPhysics, which has $19.7 million in funding, makes one of the smallest spectrometers which enables the agriculture and food industries to collect and act upon real-time data in dairy farms, coffee fields, and in factories. Netafim, founded in 1965 and acquired by Mexichem in 2018, uses AWS Internet of Things (IoT) technology to create a precision irrigation and fertigation management system. The irrigation system provides farmers with real-time recommendations through all stages of the lifecycle of the crop and helps to improve profitability by increasing yield while saving water, fertilizers, and other inputs.

Ran Maidan, CEO and President, Netafim says that the system uses an intelligent decision support algorithm which processes real-time data from multiple sources (plant, soil, weather conditions and more) that help farmers optimize their irrigation and fertigation planning. “We are using Amazon Redshift data warehouse and the AWS IoT system that collects data from devices deployed in the field, and analyzes it in the cloud to develop our state of the art Digital Farming system,” said Maidan. “By the end of 2018, we hope to have deployed our new system in farms in Israel, USA, India, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Australia, Italy, Spain, South Africa, and China.”…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

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HOW ISRAEL IS TURNING ITS HIGH-TECH

INTO GLOBAL POLITICAL POWER

David Rosenberg 

Fathom, Nov. 2018

Israelis are justifiably proud of their country’s high technology industry. It is a testament to their entrepreneurial abilities and a source of well-paid employment. It has attracted tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment and is environmentally friendly. It’s the industry of the future in which Israel is not only globally competitive but, in terms of pure innovative prowess, one of the world’s leading countries. ‘Start-Up Nation,’ as the sector has come to be called, is the envy of much of the world.

What most Israelis don’t appreciate is that technology is also a source of global political power in a way that was unimaginable a decade or two ago. That is most obviously manifested in Israel’s growing relationships with the world’s up-and-coming powers, including China and more recently India. In addition, Israel’s research and development capabilities, and the presence of some 300 multinational companies in Israel, has put the country in a central position in the global technology supply chain that makes the efforts of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement all but hopeless. Israel’s powerful technology assets are also expressing themselves in military terms – a role will only grow as cyber-warfare becomes a bigger and bigger component of a country’s offensive and defensive capabilities – and intelligence gathering.

Technology and Power

Technology has played a role in power relationships since the dawn of civilisation. David’s slaying of Goliath aside, the Philistines were able to prevail over the Israelite tribes because they had access to iron weapons. With the onset of the Industrial Revolution, the (mostly European) countries that had the ability to mass produce were able to dominate and even conquer more traditional societies still reliant on agriculture and handicrafts. It wasn’t just the ability of industrialised countries to deploy more effective weaponry but to create a material culture, infrastructure and level of wealth that overwhelmed rivals.

By the second half of the 19th century, the role of technology – or more precisely industry, as it was seen in those days – was well understood by world leaders. Understanding its dangerous weakness vis-à-vis the Western world, Meiji Japan undertook a massive industrialisation drive starting in 1868. The Ottoman Empire in its waning days sought to do the same by importing Western experts, weaponry, and machinery – alas only with the idea of strengthening its armed forces rather than to foster an industrial or technological revolution. In more recent times, a major element of the Cold War was the race for a technological edge – a process that in the US led to the space programme, the internet and, via government contracts, the first Silicon Valley companies.

In the 21st century, technology has become even more important and is changing more rapidly than ever before, leaving countries perpetually at risk of falling behind. It has penetrated all aspects of economic life and in an interconnected world has become increasingly unavoidable. One small though critical example is the automobile industry, which was focused on technologies whose core was the internal combustion engine, a late 19th-century technology. Digital technology was marginal to the workings of an automobile. Now, however, between the demand for electric vehicles and the advent of autonomous cars, digital technology is becoming a key focus of automotive development. Veteran car makers don’t have that expertise and so they have turned to the high-tech industry to fill the gap in the form of partnerships and mergers and acquisitions. The revolution in auto-making is so deep that Israel, a country with no automotive industry but powerful innovative capabilities, has drawn vast interest from the world’s automakers…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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On Topic Links

NASA Reveals First-Ever Image From Inside Sun’s Atmosphere Snapped With Israeli Tech: NoCamels, Dec. 19, 2018—NASA has released the first image from inside the sun’s atmosphere and it is ground-breaking. The photo was taken by the Parker Solar Probe, which is fitted with Israeli-engineered sensors that are helping capture these first-ever high-resolution images.

Swords to Plowshares: Israel Makes a Farm Out of a Minefield: Matan Tzuri, Ynet, Jan. 10, 2019—Israeli farmers from communites bordering Gaza will have some 16,000 dunams of agricultural land allocated to them once the IDF clears landmines from an area, dubbed “firezone,” from landmines and unexploded bombs. Swathes of Israeli farmland has been scorched by incendiary airborne devices launched into Israel by the militants in Gaza.

New Israeli Technology Could Revolutionize Surveillance: Media Line, Dec. 7, 2018—Imagine jumping out of a helicopter, seeing what an outfit looks like before trying it on, or becoming a leading character in a favorite video game. The latest technology from high-tech companies Photuro and Mantis Vision is bringing consumers one step closer to realizing these visions

Wisdom From 70 of Israel’s Tech Wizards: Inbal Arieli, Times of Israel, Apr. 19, 2018—In recent years, we keep celebrating and admiring the success of the Israeli tech entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem, and its position as a global leader.