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The Chief Scientist’s Office has chosen three Israeli start-ups as the best incubator graduates of 2013

The Chief Scientist’s Office has chosen three Israeli start-ups as the best incubator graduates of 2013

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The Chief Scientist’s Office has chosen three Israeli start-ups as the best incubator graduates of 2013

The awards were given last week for the quality of each company’s offerings and their commercial potential, as well as for the manner in which they progressed from early stage start-up to becoming ready for

Israel Trade & Economic Office, Embassy of Israel

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Presidential conference in Jerusalem peers into the future of medicine

Presidential conference in Jerusalem peers into the future of medicine

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Presidential conference in Jerusalem peers into the future of medicine

The Fifth Presidential Conference took place recently in Jerusalem, and brought experts from around the world together to discuss the future of medicine, with a focus on brain technology research. According to the Jerusalem Post, with the theme of Shimon Peres’s recent Presidential Conference being “Facing Tomorrow,” it was only natural that the future of science and medicine was a major topic, and thousands of people listened in rapt attention to a variety of lectures. Brain science received special focus during the convention as a number of universities, hospitals and technology manufacturers held an exhibition on brain science in a large hall not far from the deliberations. The exhibits represented universities throughout Israel – the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba; the University of Haifa, Tel Aviv University and Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan. Among the hospitals represented was Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center. The brain research panel was moderated by Hebrew University Prof. Eilon Vaadia, director of the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences and The Jack H. Skirball Chair and Research Fund in Brain Research (ELSC) at HU. Vaadia called for the evolution of medicine from disease treatment to disease prevention. “This thing we all have on our heads was involved in what was thought to be intriguing and a mission impossible,” he said. “But now our challenge is realistic. We believe we will be able to understand completely how the brain works,” said Vaadia, who the day before helped inaugurated the new building for ELSC on the university’s campus. “We intend to discuss this wondrous voyage into ourselves.” The second major scientific forum at the conference was dedicated to the future of medicine. The session was moderated by Rambam Medical Center director-general Prof. Rafael Beyar, a senior interventional cardiologist, expert in biomedical engineering and former dean of the Technion’s Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. “Israel is part of the the effort of bringing medicine forward,” he said. “We lead the world in patents per capita and have 700 companies involved in hi-tech medicine fields, including cardiac mapping, swallowed cameras, surgical roots, focused ultrasound, and bioinformatics” Beyar said. Prof. Dina Ben-Yehuda is head of the hematology department at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem. A leading researcher in the molecular biology of blood cancers, epidemiology and gene therapy, she recently designed a protein connected to cell death that is now being developed to fight cancer. “We have to learn to demystify disease,” suggested Dr. Leroy Hood, president and founder of the Institute for Systems Biology and one of the world’s leading scientists in molecular biotechnology and genomics. A key participant in the Human Genome Project, he advocated a “systems approach to medicine.” “If you want to understand how a radio works, you naturally take it apart. But that isn’t enough. You have to study the electronic circuits. That’s what systems biology is about – components and interactions and dynamics of behavior. Disease is caused by digital information of the genome and environment. Some people respond to drugs, and some don’t. So if you know who is sensitive before taking drugs, you can reduce complications and the costs of medication. This could lead to the democratization of healthcare. Data will be dirt cheap. All parts of the healthcare industry will have to rethink their business plan, and some will become dinosaurs that can’t cope.” For the full Jerusalem Post article click here.

Israel Trade & Economic Office, Embassy of Israel

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Israel’s Orcam helps the blind to “read”

Israel’s Orcam helps the blind to “read”

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Israel’s Orcam helps the blind to “read”

There are a number of Israeli companies doing breakthrough research in Artificial Intelligence, research that brings almost futuristic benefits to real people.  The New York Times just covered one such company - Orcam.  Here are excerpts of what John Markoff at the New York Times had to say about it: Liat Negrin, an Israeli who has been visually impaired since childhood, walked into a grocery store here recently, picked up a can of vegetables and easily read its label using a simple and unobtrusive camera attached to her glasses. Ms. Negrin, who has coloboma, a birth defect that perforates a structure of the eye and afflicts about 1 in 10,000 people, is an employee at OrCam, an Israeli start-up that has developed a camera-based system intended to give the visually impaired the ability to both “read” easily and move freely. Until now reading aids for the visually impaired and the blind have been cumbersome devices that recognize text in restricted environments, or, more recently, have been software applications on smartphones that have limited capabilities. In contrast, the OrCam device is a small camera worn in the style of Google Glass, connected by a thin cable to a portable computer designed to fit in the wearer’s pocket. The system clips on to the wearer’s glasses with a small magnet and uses a bone-conduction speaker to offer clear speech as it reads aloud the words or object pointed to by the user. The system is designed to both recognize and speak “text in the wild,” a term used to describe newspaper articles as well as bus numbers, and objects as diverse as landmarks, traffic lights and the faces of friends. It currently recognizes English-language text and beginning this week will be sold through the company’s Web site for $2,500, about the cost of a midrange hearing aid. It is the only product, so far, of the privately held company, which is part of the high-tech boom in Israel. OrCam was founded several years ago by Amnon Shashua, a well-known researcher who is a computer science professor at Hebrew University here. It is based on computer vision algorithms that he has pioneered with another faculty member, Shai Shalev-Shwartz, and one of his former graduate students, Yonatan Wexler. “What is remarkable is that the device learns from the user to recognize a new product,” said Tomaso Poggio, a computer scientist at M.I.T. who is a computer vision expert and with whom Dr. Shashua studied as a graduate student. “This is more complex than it appears, and, as an expert, I find it really impressive.” The advance is the result of both rapidly improving computing processing power that can now be carried comfortably in a wearer’s pocket and the computer vision algorithm developed by the scientists. On a broader technology level, the OrCam system is representative of a wide range of rapid improvements being made in the field of artificial intelligence, in particular with vision systems for manufacturing as well as fields like autonomous motor vehicles. (Dr. Shashua previously founded Mobileye, a corporation that supplies camera technology to the automobile industry that can recognize objects like pedestrians and bicyclists and can keep a car in a lane on a freeway.) Check out this demo of how Orcam's product works: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykDDxWbt5Nw[/youtube] For the full New York Times article click here.

Israel Trade & Economic Office, Embassy of Israel

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