Have an invention? Meet an investor in Israel


Israelis love to invent things. Last year, the number of patents granted to Israeli companies in medical instrumentation put it first globally in relation to population size and fourth in terms of number of patents. In relation to its population, Israel consistently ranks tops in the world for bio-pharma and life sciences patents.

So it made sense to inventor Israel Solodoch to put together an Israeli Patents Exhibition, the first of its kind, to take place in September at the Tel Aviv Exhibition Grounds.

Solodoch has the ambitious goal of getting some 10,000 Israeli and foreign inventors, investors, patent attorneys, mechanical engineers and computer programmers in the same room to help get a whole lot of good ideas turned into actual products.

Solodoch, managing director of Nufar Natural Products, a Galilee-based company that creates alternative health products, said that the idea for the exhibition just struck him one day.

“It’s very important for inventors to meet investment people and not have to pursue them, because it’s very difficult to do that,” he said. “The purpose of this exhibition is to solve this difficulty through direct face-to-face contact with investors. They will be there together on equal footing.”

The Jewish Agency is a sponsor of the exhibition, and organizers are also inviting representatives of Israeli startup companies. “Perhaps with your new invention you can do business with a startup,” Solodoch suggested. “Sometimes startups already have investment money but get stuck developing their idea into a product, so they are looking for new ideas to get their product going.”

Inventor Israel Solodoch

From Drawing Board to Market

Solodoch will be displaying his own patent-pending water-saving tap, which can cut water consumption by up to 80 percent. He claims customers can expect to recoup the purchase price within a month.

This product is meant for a broader market than just drought-prone Israel. “The problem of water is global, because even if you have enough water, it takes a lot of energy to bring it to your home, and after it goes down the drain it causes environmental problems,” he pointed out.

Solodoch, 61, launched a Web site last year as a free publicity forum for inventors from Israel and other countries. In addition to the exposure, he hopes the site will lead to stronger commercial contacts between Israel and other countries.

Among the inventions featured on the site and expected to exhibit at the September event are TransBiodiesel’s method for producing natural fuel from crude oil and cooking oil; a product to prevent car tires from cracking or bursting; a 360-degree camera on top of a car to help drivers gain greater visibility; an Israeli iPhone app that helps users find a parking place in the city; and a hygienic, hands-free gadget for disposing of dog droppings.

Israel Patent Statistics

In 2009, when the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization recognized Israel as an international center for the search and testing of patents, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved more patents to Israeli inventors than to any other nation of the G-7 countries.

Since 2006, the Israeli Patent Office has handled an average 7,500 patent applications each year. In 2011, 57 percent of the applications were for mechanical inventions, 29 percent in chemistry and pharmaceuticals, and 14 percent in biotechnology.

Some 80 percent of these applications are typically filed by foreign entities, including hundreds by corporate giants Qualcomm and Hoffman-La Roche. The Weizmann Institute of Science accounts for the most applications per year of the Israeli filers, through its transfer tech company Yeda.

The bulk of Israeli inventors choose to file in other countries, especially the United States, Japan and Europe because of their huge customer market. Israelis filed 7,082 international patents from 2002 through 2007, or one annual patent for every 5,295 people.

What is patentable? According to the Israel Patent Office, “An invention, whether a product or a process in any field of technology, which is new and useful, can be used industrially and involves an inventive step, is a patentable invention.” Discoveries of natural substances, new species of plants or animals, and human medical treatments cannot be patented.

For more information about the Patents Exhibition, visit http://www.eng.nufar.co.il/PAGE60.asp.

‘O.C.’: How a Young Creator Spells Success


Josh Schwartz doesn’t sleep much on Tuesday nights anymore.

That’s the night his new show, "The O.C.," airs on FOX, and the weekly insomnia awaiting the public’s response has become an occupational hazard ever since.

Over coffee early one morning, Schwartz, the 27-year-old who’s being touted as the youngest person ever to create his own television network drama, discussed his recent starburst since the show debuted in August. "We’re starting to settle now," he said, looking disheveled by design in vintage green T-shirt, powder blue cords and sneakers.

The Jewish writer and executive producer has cause to relax, as Fox just picked up a full season of his teen drama — "it’s not a soap" — about a tony Newport Beach gated community. While the show is currently on hiatus for Major League Baseball playoffs and the World Series, it is set to resume on Oct. 30. — hopefully resuming its summer spot as the highest-rated drama with teens, as well as pulling in the key coveted demographic of 18-49-year olds.

"The O.C." is centered on the Cohen family and Ryan, the troubled teen from Chino they adopt (Benjamin McKenzie). Schwartz has infused a little bit of Jewish soul into the predominantly whitebread "O.C.," with Sandy Cohen (Peter Gallagher), a liberal Jewish pro-bono lawyer, and his son, Seth, a nerdy and sarcastic high school senior (played by the unlikeliest of geeks, Adam Brody). Kirsten Cohen (Kelly Rowan) is the WASPy mom who has garnered them entree into this exclusive world, as she has the money from working in her father’s real estate development business.

So far, hints at the characters’ Jewishness have been limited to throwaway lines. Explaining why he can’t get along with Kirsten’s uber-WASP dad when he comes to visit, Sandy says, "I’m still Jewish." Seth makes reference to studying the Talmud and to his Jewfro in two recent episodes, and Schwartz has promised a season finale involving "Chrismakah," wherein Ryan has to make the little money he has to purchase one gift last for eight.

Explaining this choice, Schwartz said, "For Sandy it just felt like one more thing to add…. But it felt like it was a natural thing for his character, coming from his background and how it would make him sort of feel a little bit even more out of place in Newport, and for Seth, as well."

Much of the basis for ‘The O.C.’ is autobiographical, Schwartz told the Journal. Raised Reform in Providence R.I. to parents who were Jewish toy inventors, Schwartz says he based his characters on people he knew in Providence or at USC, where he majored in film. Of all the "O.C." characters, he says Seth Cohen’s take on the world is closest to his own: "Sort of a smart ass, but with an underlying sweetness."

"I remember when I was a kid I was always looking for someone like that, that was cool, to kind of get behind, and hopefully Seth Cohen will be that to inspire more kids to be proud of their background," Schwartz said, "But it’s not gonna be a Star of David burning on the Cohens’ front lawn or anything inflammatory like that. I think we just want to sort of weave it into the background of these characters and have it be part of their personal culture."

Brody, for one, is pleased with this decision. As a secular Jewish actor playing a Jewish character, he said, "I like the way Josh does it. It’s self-deprecating. I never want to be on ‘Seventh Heaven,’" he said, referring to the moralizing WB show about a reverend’s family.

For Jews living in Orange County, it’s doubtful whether being Jewish makes them feel out of place. "I think if Jews feel isolated, they isolate themselves," said Elsa Goldberg, 39, from Laguna Beach. She said there were many Jewish organizations available to people looking to meet fellow Jews.

She finds other aspects of the show off the mark as well, a sentiment expressed by quite a few who live in the O.C. There is, however, at least one thing she thinks Schwartz got half right. "I think that there’s probably a lot of intermarriage out here," she said, "but Jews always seem to find each other."

Schwartz isn’t reading all of the criticism, but he admits to perusing the message boards online. "You gotta check in," he says, "and I find if anybody starts to rag on a certain element of the show then I have to go in and make fun of it in the next episode…. But it’s interesting … as soon as the show airs, five minutes later you can go online and see what people thought about the show and that’s really exciting. Then sweat over it next week."

Despite being want for sleep, Schwartz doesn’t seem to be sweating too much at the criticism, nor the pressure of all his new responsibility. He’s mostly just grateful. "It’s really exciting and I just try not to blow it. Just try not to have too many people hate you for not appreciating it. Because I do appreciate it."

"The O.C." summer season runs on FOX in October if the baseball playoffs end early. The new season will begin on Thursday, Oct. 30 at 9 p.m.

The Final Push


In the final days before the Nov. 5 election, secession supporters are facing a tough battle. The latest public opinion poll shows Valley voters backing Measure F, which would create a separate city, by a narrow margin.

A Los Angeles Times Poll earlier this month found only 42 percent of likely Valley voters in favor of secession. However, a more recent study by Survey USA for KABC-TV found Valley cityhood supported by 58 percent of likely voters in the Valley and 40 percent citywide.

In the past five months since the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) gave its approval to a ballot measure on San Fernando Valley secession, a war of words has been waged between Los Angeles City Hall and secession proponents such as Valley VOTE. Although the polls indicate a likely victory for those in favor of keeping Los Angeles in one piece, the outcome still appears uncertain, according to some observers.

Part of the unusual nature of the secession vote has been the necessity for candidates for office in the proposed Valley city to also promote the split from the city, without which there can be no offices to fill. A group of candidates running in planned Valley council districts formed the organization United Valley Candidates (UVC) to pool resources and ideas for promoting the breakaway effort. Many commented on the difficulties involved in running dual campaigns for office and secession, especially when it was their first bid for elected office. In addition, for Jewish candidates there has been the problem of overcoming the organized Jewish community’s vocal opposition to Measure F.

A group of prominent local rabbis has taken out newspaper ads — including in The Jewish Journal — urging Jewish community members to vote no on secession. Also, the American Jewish Committee recently came out against secession.

In the nonpartisan Valley mayoral race, a Jewish Republican, 48-year-old Assemblyman Keith Richman of Northridge, appears to be the front-runner. He has endorsements from the Daily News and Assemblyman Dario Frommer, giving him a slight edge over his nearest competitor, realtor Mel Wilson.

The Democrat-backed Wilson, 49, is a former professional football player, who has served on the Los Angeles Fire Commission and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board. Other mayoral candidates include Marc Strassman, 54, an Internet consultant from Valley Village, and Leonard Shapiro, an 83-year-old newspaper columnist.

A high percentage of those seeking spots on the proposed Valley city council are Jewish. Of this group, Scott Svonkin is running the most conventional campaign. The chief of staff for Assemblyman Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood) has received a number of endorsements, even from vocal opponents of secession, such as the county Democratic Party.

Aided by a $103,000 war chest, Svonkin has billboards placed throughout the proposed 14th District, which includes Studio City and parts of Sherman Oaks and Valley Village. In addition, he has sent out mailers and aired television ads that emphasize his experience but make little mention of secession.

Other candidates with less funds have sought creative ways to get their names before the public. Stephanie Spikell, also running for the 14th District seat, enlisted the help of her father, Hy Spikell, and five of his friends at the Jewish Home for the Aging in Reseda to make calls to likely voters in the district.

Fellow council hopeful and UVC member Frank Sheftel, running in the 12th District, has been reaching out to seniors in the final weeks of the campaign, handing out fliers and promotional ballpoint pens at the Jewish Family Service’s Valley Storefront in North Hollywood.

Sheftel reported an encounter with one elderly woman whose experience, he said, typified older residents in the area. “She lives in a seniors apartment complex with 200 people, and they don’t have a polling place, so they all vote absentee,” he said. “She said she had gotten mailers from Jewish organizations saying to vote against it [secession] and she did.”

Sheftel echoed the sentiments of other Jewish candidates when he expressed his dismay at the organized Jewish community’s response to Valley secession.

However, Sheftel said he was not going to lose hope. “This is a David vs. Goliath situation, and as I recall, David came out on top,” he said half-jokingly. “It’s not unprecedented that this could happen.”

“People are not buying what the mayor is putting out,” Sheftel said. “Larry Levine [founder of One Los Angeles, which opposes secession] likes to call the whole thing a ‘scheme.’ It is so offensive but typical of the language [the opposition] is using. Things are getting ugly and going to get uglier.”

Similar complaints can also be heard on the opposition side, with people like former Congresswoman Bobbi Fiedler pointing out the folly of secessionists demonizing Mayor James Hahn.

“The biggest mistake made by leaders of the secession movement has been to attack the mayor,” Fiedler said. “Even if secession passes, the Valley is going to be heavily dependent on city services for at least a year, and to attack the mayor instead of talking positively about what they will do themselves is just bad politics.”

Secession foes have continued running their now-familiar roulette-wheel TV ads, depicting secession as “a gamble we can’t afford,” along with similar radio ads ending with the tag line, “The devil is in the details.”

Many Valley residents interviewed by The Journal said that despite the battle waged by One Los Angeles and other unity groups, they planned to vote for the breakaway effort, even if they didn’t fully understand all the ramifications.

“Richard Katz makes some impressive arguments,” noted one woman after attending a debate between the pro-secession Katz and former members of the Los Angeles City Council held Oct. 13 by The Jewish Federation/Valley Alliance’s Jewish Community Relations Committee.

The fact that people are making up their minds based on one debate they attended or one candidate who knocked on their door worries Fiedler. The former congresswoman, a Republican who served from 1981 to 1987, was a longtime proponent of secession and even worked with Valley VOTE up until a few months ago.

However, she said the LAFCO report outlining the financial and legislative impacts of secession changed her mind. Now she is actively supporting the opposition, even giving a speech against secession at a seniors fair promoted by Hahn.

“It’s going to be a disaster for the Valley,” Fiedler said. “The public doesn’t understand the scope of what secession means.”

“The fact that it will be a municipal city instead of a charter city means that a whole host of laws passed by the City of Los Angeles will not be provided in the new city — things like term limits, a living wage, provisions for a city ethics commission and all other commissions, with the exception of a planning commission,” she said. “We won’t even be able to vote for the city attorney or the city controller, because they will be appointed positions.”

On a positive note, Fiedler said, whether or not secession passes, the movement has brought to light the very real problems within the San Fernando Valley that need to be addressed. On that score, at least, both sides agree.

“There’s going to be a lot of cleanup afterwards, no matter what happens either way,” Sheftel said. “It’s not over on Nov. 5, not by any means.”

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