Josia Nakash
Founder, Good Vibe Agency

How Israeli Startups Are Hacking the Coronavirus

When faced with a challenging situation (and this is definitely one of them!) we always have a choice. We can complain about the injustice of it all, or focus on the positive. Many people are talking about all the good that is coming out of this crisis. The silver lining is becoming clearer with each passing day.

Another option we humans have is to focus on helping others, rather than just focus on making our own situation better. Doing for others requires incredible strength of character, and we are seeing so many examples all around us. The whole world has gone into startup mode to help ….

Enrique Rubio’s Linkedin post describes it best –

The beer company making hand sanitizer. The car company making ventilators. The young students designing 3D printed ventilators. The person buying groceries for his elder neighbors. The old lady in Italy who sacrificed herself for her ventilator to be used by someone younger. The small businesses reinventing themselves. The HR Tech companies offering services for free. The religious leaders praying for everybody, not just those in their faith. The doctors and nurses and firefighters and police officers and military sacrificing their health and safety for ours. The (handful) of political leaders doing the right thing for the greater long-term benefit of society. The hundreds of individuals stepping up to the challenges of this time and helping others in ways no one would have ever envisioned before. …… We are coming together in such a beautiful way, despite the painful circumstances. I have never seen so much love, compassion, empathy, support, collaboration, as I am seeing these days. The world will not and should not be the same as it was before. We must ensure that this outpouring of love at a massive scale is sustainable over time. Stay safe. Stay strong. We are all in this together. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

As I’ve said before, it’s at times like this when human ingenuity is at its finest. The collective brainpower of Israel’s startup sector is peaking at the moment. Suddenly everyone is getting very creative about how to make the situation better.

APPSFLYER

A great example of this is how AppsFlyer CEO Oren Kaniel has dedicated $500K toward testing innovationThe goal is to support home testing solutions, which don’t require going to a healthcare facility. (At the beginning of the crisis AppsFlyer also shipped medical masks to authorities in China.)

“We will dedicate a $500,000 fund for testing innovations, as well as other support such as leveraging our cloud computing and engineering If you are in the testing innovation field and have a viable testing solution for COVID-19, please contact us at covid19@appsflyer.com.” Oren Kaniel 

 

MY HERITAGE

Genealogy company MyHeritage is recruiting 150 employees for its expedited coronavirus (COVID-19) testing lab in Israel. MyHeritage has partnered with genome sequencing company Beijing Institute of Genomics (BGI) to set up the lab. The lab, expected to begin operations by April 9, will be able to conduct 10,000 tests per day, but expects to scale up to 20,000 per day. Within two weeks, Israel is expected to conduct 30,000 tests a day, including the ones done at MyHeritage’s lab, Israel’s Ministry of Health announced. (MyHeritage also shipped 66K swabs to Israel from the US.)

BATM

BATM founder Dr. Zvi Marom announced that a hospital lab kit to diagnose COVID19 in 50 minutes from saliva samples is nearing themarket, while a home kit will be ready within four months – BATM is developing a home diagnostic kit for COVID19. Marom hopes the home COVID-19 test will be ready for mass production within the next three to four months.  (ISRAEL21C

VOCALIS

Vocalis says that “by analyzing the voice beyond what the human ear can hear, we can unveil dedicated vocal biomarkers that will enable the healthcare community to get insights on the symptoms and hopefully the onset of the COVID-19 virus.” One part of the study will be led by the Israeli Defense Ministry where Vocalis will work with hospitals and academic institutions to sample the voices of confirmed coronavirus patients through a mobile app. Israel currently has over 2,000 such cases. Another part of the study will collect voice samples from the general population at home and the company asks that people donate their voice. Vocalis hopes to enroll at least 100,000 patients to collect as much data as possible. Participants will be tracked weekly for a month. “These voice samples will be analyzed using an AI (Artificial Intelligence)-based algorithm in order to identify the unique vocal ‘fingerprint’, the Israeli Defense Ministry said in a statement cited by Reuters. Vocalis’ researchers hope to rapidly build a point-of-care diagnostic to save lives and prioritize testing and hospitalized treatment. (NoCamels)

TODOS

Todos now has a CLIA lab functioning in Atlanta, they wanted to join the fight against corona and try to help by providing testing to as many people as possible …. tests are in high demand and very low supply, especially in the US. IN RESPONSE, Todos utilized all its resources and reached out to many partners and companies in its corporate rolodex that have developed COVID_19 testing. To date, Todos has signed formal agreements with two companies ( 3D Biomedical and Shanghai Liangrun) and additional distribution agreements with them for the US and Israel.  (Jpost)

MIGAL

The vaccine the whole world is waiting for is being created in Israel by a company that just happened to start researching coronavirus for poultry four years ago.

A team of Israeli researchers says that they are days away from completing the production of the active component of a coronavirus vaccine that could be tested on humans as early as June 1. “We are in the final stages and within a few days we will hold the proteins – the active component of the vaccine,” Dr. Chen Katz, group leader of MIGAL’s biotechnology group. (Jpost)

More Israeli medical innovation to fight the coronavirus from Israel21C

Diagnostics.ai is working toward complete automation of PCR testing for COVID-19 using artificial intelligence (AI). Now being tested at King’s College Hospital NHS London and soon at CLIA labs in the United States, the pcr.ai method would enable doubling the number of samples tested per day without additional staffing needs.

Researchers from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and Rambam Health Care Campus say they can dramatically increase COVID-19 testing capacity by pooling multiple samples in a single test tube.

MyEleanor, a voice bot and virtual care manager from MyndYou, can call individuals or act as a hotline to assess risk, manage symptoms and provide guidance. On each call, AI-driven voice analytics can detect subtle changes in health and trigger proactive interventions.

Typical for the Startup Nation, the government has found a new opportunity to offer support, announcing that it will grant Israeli companies an initial amount of NIS 50 million (about $13 million) for the R&D and demos of systems, products or technological solutions designed to cope with the challenges of the coronavirus. (Forbes, Israeli Startups Join The Fight Against Coronavirus)

About the Author
Josia Nakash made Aliya from Canada at the age of 12 on a 28-foot Cape Dory sailboat. She loves sharing all the good Israel has to offer the world. Josia has a BA in International Relations and Political Science. She was the IDF's second female sniper instructor and is a top marketing consultant and copywriter.
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