November 16, 2018

Next-Gen Photo Editing App, The Fall of Teva, Groundbreaking Research and More – This Week from the Startup Nation

Here are this week’s top tech/health/business news coming straight from the Startup Nation:


IDF Soldiers Take Part in a Unique Collaboration to Help Children with Autism

Soldiers, parents of autistic children, high school students and random volunteers joined forces in Tel Aviv to make life easier for people with autism and their caregivers. Some 85 people took part in a 24-hour hackathon last month organized by OFEK, the computing unit of the IAF. Held jointly with ALUT, the Israel Society for Autistic Children, people worked in groups to put innovation in the service of disability by creating an app or computer program for the benefit of the children.

Read more here. 


Jerusalem Startup Unveils Next Generation of iOS Photo Editing App

Lightricks, a Jerusalem start-up operating out of the Hebrew University of Givat Ram, launched its newest breakthrough product last month: Enlight Photofox, the next generation of the lauded iOS photo editing app Enlight. Photofox, the latest app from Lightricks, introduces a new layers system that pushes the boundaries of artistic photo manipulation and redefines expectations from mobile creativity tools, bringing a layer-centric flow that gives immense power to aspiring artists on the go. Photofox has been tailored to captivate today’s growing mobile creative community, empowering them with the tools to generate impressive visual art.

Lightricks, leading developers of premium image processing software for mobile, was founded in 2013 by five entrepreneurs from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (four CS PhD students and one Supreme Court clerk) and is now paving the way as the innovative maker of creativity tools on mobile.

Read more here. 


10 of the Hottest Autonomous Driving Technologies from Israel

How did Israel, a country that has no domestic car manufacturing industry, become a worldwide powerhouse for autonomous-driving technology (also known as self-driving cars)?

“We get that question a lot,” says Yaniv Sulkes, VP of business development and marketing for Autotalks, a leading Israeli startup in the autonomous driving space. “We’ll meet with a manufacturer and they’ll say, ‘You’re the 30th company we’ve seen from Israel!’”

Read more here.


Drip Irrigation Pioneer Netafim Sells for $1.5 Billion

Mexican plastic pipes producer Mexichem announced Monday that it has reached an agreement to acquire an 80 percent stake in Israel’s iconic drip irrigation company, Netafim, from the private equity fund Permira Funds and other minority shareholders.  Kibbutz Hatzerim, Netafim’s founder, will retain the remaining 20% stake of the company’s share capital. The deal values Netafim at $1.895 billion.

Read more here. 


Renault-Nissan to Open Smart Car Incubator in Israel

Renault-Nissan is jumping onto the Israeli smart car bandwagon. The company announced last week that it was opening a smart car incubator in Tel Aviv.

According to the company, startups selected for the program will be able to plug into a worldwide technology network that is associated with Renault-Nissan, currently the world’s largest automaker. Startups will be able to draw on the experience and resources of other Renault-Nissan research and development centers, and will be able to test their technologies on vehicles in real-world conditions at test tracks belonging to the company.

The incubator, which will be operated in cooperation with the Israel Innovation Authority, will receive up to a million shekels in funding, based on how advanced the startups’ technology is.

Read more here. 


Oracle Selects 5 Israeli Startups for Accelerator Program

Aiming to advance Oracle’s next-generation cloud capabilities, the California-based corporation has selected five Israeli companies to participate in its inaugural Start-up Cloud Accelerator Program in Tel Aviv.

The start-ups, which include experts in fields such as predictive maintenance and cloud native networking, will be joining a six-month program facilitated by technical and business experts from Oracle and the industry. Oracle will be hosting the companies in a co-working space, where they will have access to Oracle customers, partners and investors, as well as free Oracle Cloud credits, to test and develop their technologies across a wide user base.

Read more here. 


Simple Drug Cocktail Reduces Post-Surgery Cancer Relapse

The researchers found that, rather than do nothing around cancer surgery, if they applied a specific drug regimen consisting of a beta blocker and an anti-inflammatory, they could reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. The recommended inexpensive drug cocktail is considered safe and consists of Deralin (used to reduce blood pressure and anxiety) and Etopan (which reduces inflammation).

Prof. Shamgar Ben-Eliyahu of Tel Aviv University’s School of Psychological Sciences and the Sagol School of Neuroscience says that his colleagues were shocked by the results.

Read more here. 


Israeli Scientists Discover A Rare Children’s Disease That Has Puzzled Doctors For Years

The disease, which is characterized by a sudden onset of neurological deterioration in children, has now been identified as a new genetic disease caused by a single mutation. A previously healthy child, between the ages of three and seven, begins to experience a small motor problem. Suddenly, the child experiences rapid motor and cognitive decline. By the time the child is a teenager, he or she usually needs a caregiver around-the-clock.

Discovered by Israeli scientist Dr. Orly Elpeleg, the disease is still unnamed. According to Hadassah, it is the result of a mutation in a single gene in the ribosomal RNA, which is essential for protein synthesis in all living organisms. Its malfunction results in an excess of ribosomal RNA, so that the child’s cells are flooded with and poisoned by it.

Read more here. 


Two Israeli Natural Gas Fields to Start Pumping in 2020

The Energy Ministry officially presented its plan Tuesday for developing the Karish and Tanin natural gas fields, which sit alongside the larger Tamar and Leviathan deposits in Israel’s economic waters in the Mediterranean.

The plan calls for Karish, or “shark,” to be developed first, followed by Tanin, or “crocodile,” if there is sufficient demand in the Israeli market. The two fields are believed to contain some 55 billion cubic meters of gas, which the development plan says will flow to Israel’s shores by 2020.

Read more here. 


Pharma Giant Teva’s Troubles Were Predicted. The Path to Recovery Could Be Rocky

The world’s biggest maker of generic medicines on Aug. 3 triggered a selloff in its debt and equity by paring a profit forecast and warning investors that it may have to renegotiate some debt covenants if cash flow worsens. The Petach Tikva, Israel-based company slashed its dividend by 75 percent, and said it plans to cut jobs and sell off non-core assets to shed some of its $35 billion debt load. Moody’s dropped its credit rating to one step above junk. (S&P reaffirmed the drugmaker’s rating a level higher.)

What’s more, Teva is facing this crisis without a leadership team — it has been without chief executive and chief financial officers for months.

Read more here.