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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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Cisco chooses Israel for investment and development of the digital future

Cisco chooses Israel for investment and development of the digital future

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Cisco chooses Israel for investment and development of the digital future

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers, envisions a digital future where “Internet of Things” is a big deal, and he has chosen Israel as his playground “This is where the real revolution is taking place, and we are supplying the architecture for it" (timesofIsrael). The “digital nation” experiment, as defined by John Chambers will kick off with the installation of Israel's FTTH infrastructure and network by ViaEuropa consortium, and will be based on Cisco technology. ViaEuropa has been chosen to build a super-fast Internet network across Israel that will compete with existing phone and cable companies (Ynet). For Chambers, what happens in Israel over the next five or so years as the network is installed and deployed is a “test case” for the rest of the world. “Some will make it in the digital age, and some won’t. We believe that Israel is a good place to start.” Chambers trusts Israel so much, he said, that he sees it as a great place to invest the $40 billion in cash that the company is sitting on. Cisco already has about 2,000 employees in Israel and has acquired several Israeli companies totaling over $1.5 billion over the past 15 years, excluding the $5 billion it paid for NDS. Cisco is also investing $15 million in “support integration of Israelis and Arabs and the development of innovative security technologies.” The money will be invested via venture capital funds, a Cisco representative said, with most of the money geared to cyber-security start-ups. During his visit to Israel last week, Chambers addressed Israel's place in his vision "If I were an Israeli start-up, this is where I would want to be.” Chambers continues to praise Israel “world-class countries and companies don’t lose focus, and I am sure we will all keep the momentum going. This is what we are about, and that is what Israel is about.” (timesofIsrael). Cisco is not the only tech company that sees opportunity in "Internet of things" as more people, systems and devices get connected. Everyone from system makers like IBM and Hewlett-Packard to chip vendors like Intel and ARM has talked about the Internet of Things, and are offering products designed to better enable it (eweek). For the full Times of Israel article click here. For the full eweek article click here. For the full Ynet article click here.    

Israel Trade & Economic Office, Embassy of Israel

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Google buys WAZE for an estimated $1.3 Billion

Google buys WAZE for an estimated $1.3 Billion

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Google buys WAZE for an estimated $1.3 Billion

Google has announced its aquisition of the popular Israeli navigation app WAZE.  At an  estimated $1.1-1.3 Billion, the deal is one of the top acquisitions of an Israeli company ever.  It was reported that WAZE's management made efforts to see to it that the Company's activities remain in Israel, at least for the coming years. Here's what Google VP Brian McClendon, had to say on the deal in Google's official blog: To help you outsmart traffic, today we’re excited to announce we’ve closed the acquisition of Waze. This fast-growing community of traffic-obsessed drivers is working together to find the best routes from home to work, every day. The Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now. We’re excited about the prospect of enhancing Google Maps with some of the traffic update features provided by Waze and enhancing Waze with Google’s search capabilities. Peter Cohan reflected in Forbes on the four main reasons that Google made the aquisition: (1) WAZE's user engagement - its 50 million users worldwide are great advocates, thanks in part to its "sharing" culture, (2) to thwart the competition by keeping WAZE out of the hands of Facebook and Apple (3) to add the WAZE features Google lacks, like reporting traffice accidents and (4) to use WAZE as an alternative to Google Maps. The deal was also covered by the New York Times, which noted that the acquisition highlights the increasing importance of location data in our on-the-go lives, whether it is in finding a place to eat or navigating an unfamiliar road. For the full Forbes article click here. For the full New York Times article click here. For the TechCrunch article on the acquisition 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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Israeli companies at TechCrunch Disrupt NY

Israeli companies at TechCrunch Disrupt NY

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Israeli companies at TechCrunch Disrupt NYIn the last few years, TechCrunch Disrupt has developed into one of the most anticipated hackathons-cum-tech-startup events in New York. Israel was the first country to set up a national pavilion at Disrupt, an...
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Buffett completes ownership of Iscar for $2 Billion

Buffett completes ownership of Iscar for $2 Billion

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Buffett completes ownership of Iscar for $2 Billion

In another major vote of confidence on the part of one of the world's most respected businessmen in the Israeli economy, Warren Buffett has completed his acquisition of Israeli tool-maker Iscar for $2 Billion. In 2006   Buffet purchased 80% of the company (his first acquisition outside the US) for $4 Billion. This last round will give Buffett's company Berkshire Hathaway complete ownership of the company. The Israeli media reported widely on the sale.  Buffet is widely regarded as one of the world's most successful and shrewdest businessmen, and his investment in Iscar is a large-scale vote of confidence in Israel's industry and economy.  Since his acquisition of 80% in 2006, the company's value has doubled to $10 Billion, proving once again Buffet's business acumen.  The deal is reported to bring in to the Israeli government an estimated half a billion dollars. Berkshire had high expectations for Iscar, and the company passed them, Buffett told TheMarker. Israel isn't a place to look for oil, but there isn't a better place to find talent, he stated, adding that Iscar's team is one of the best in the world when it comes to brains, energy and commitment. Globes interviewed Buffett following the announcement.  Buffett is quoted in the interview as saying:  "Iscar will be worth more money as the years go by, because the business will be built further. The management will never be satisfied with where they are, and I love that about it. I'm never satisfied. I feel OK, but still, I look forward to tomorrow, and they do too." For the full Wall Street Journal article click here. For the full Globes article click here. For the full Haaretz-The Marker article click here.

Israel Trade & Economic Office, Embassy of Israel

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