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NIS 5 Million to Be Granted for Innovative Ideas Helping Resolve Global Health Issues and Ensuring Food Safety. Ten Initiatives Will Receive Grants from the Office of the Chief Scientist and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Up to Half a Million Shekels Each

 

JERUSALEM. JULY 22nd 2015– The Grand Challenges program is an international initiative taking place in countries like the US, Canada, India, Brazil, China and others, aimed at encouraging novel solutions for global food safety and health challenges, with an emphasis on developing countries. The Chief Scientist at the Israeli Ministry of Economy in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Agency for International Development Cooperation (MASHAV) and the Prime Minister's Office are launching the second round of Grand Challenges Israel, a competition aimed at encouraging innovative technological or social solutions in food safety and global health, with an emphasis on developing countries. The program promotes Israeli technological innovation in new markets as an expression of Israel's commitment to offering aid to these countries.

 

Israeli Minister of Economy and Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee Aryeh Machluf Deri: "This exceptional program helps the weakest sectors. Most of the world's population suffers from lack of food and access to fresh water and increased exposure to disease. We invite Israeli entrepreneurs to develop technologies that will improve the quality of life of billions of people around the world."

 

Developing countries face complex challenges related to under-development, lack of resources, technology, skilled personnel and advanced infrastructure. They require innovative solutions adapted to their complex environment. Israel enjoys a large community of developers and entrepreneurs, focusing mainly on the markets of Western Europe and North America - with extensive knowledge and industrial R&D capabilities in the life sciences in general and public health in particular.

 

The Israeli Ministry of Economy, through the Office of the Chief Scientist, helps strengthen and broaden the technological base of Israeli industry with a variety of support programs. As part of this support and in light of Israel's international cooperation and assistance programs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ MASHAV agency, the Prime Minister's Office and the Israeli Ministry of Economy have initiated a unique program operated by the Office of the Chief Scientist intended to promote research and development to find technological solutions for health challenges in developing countries - Grand Challenges Israel.

As part of the program, up to NIS 500,000 will be granted to prove the viability of innovative solutions for problems in global health or food safety. The program aims at directing Israeli entrepreneurs to seek solutions for developing markets - markets where urgent solutions are needed on the one hand and which offer large, unrealized business potential for Israeli industrialists and entrepreneurs on the other.

 

Among the ten initiatives given grants last year: a novel device to diagnose cervical cancer, a tool for diagnosing malaria, innovative water purifiers and affordable wheelchairs for children to enable maximum mobility and access to education.

 

Israel’s Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Economy Avi Hasson said: “The Israeli segment of the International Grand Challenges competition is an expression of Israel's capabilities in the field of technological innovation, together with the Israel’s world-renowned entrepreneurial spirit. A combination of doing good by helping resolve global challenges and establishing a foothold in new markets with unique consumer demands for the Israeli industry can bring Israeli entrepreneurs vast new business opportunities."

 

Head of MASHAV at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Gil Haskel, said: "This unique program reflects Israel's wish to continue helping developing countries in relevant fields and constitutes the meeting point between Israel's diplomacy and technological innovation."

 

In light of the complex business environment in developing countries, the Office of the Chief Scientist and MASHAV will help entrepreneurs who show interest in finding compatible partners for the development and implementation of initiatives in developing countries. The criteria for submissions include: Potential effect on the health situation in developing countries - the contribution R&D products can have on health challenges in developing countries; the possibility of implementing developed products in developing countries in order to improve public health, save lives or minimize disability. The product and the technology - a different and original approach, technological viability, advantages over existing solutions, the ability to reach significant milestones within the implementation period and the ability to undertake a realistic R&D program during the implementation period. Quality of personnel - knowledge and experience of applicants in the relevant field, personnel available for attaining the program's goals. Scalability - the existence of a clear plan to implement R&D products to solve health challenges in developing countries on a commercial scale within a reasonable amount of time, including the possibility of fundraising and/or finding compatible partners for continued development and commercialization; and Integrated innovation - combining technological innovation with social and business innovation in a way which can maximize the effect of R&D on health challenges, including cooperation with relevant social initiatives in developing countries.

 

Applications are welcome from researchers, entrepreneurs, small and medium sized businesses (up to 100 employees), research institutions and NGOs. Submissions found compatible will receive funding at up to 90% of the initiative's approved budget, to a maximum of NIS 500,000 - for proof of concept.

 

 Additional data is available at http://www.grandchallenges.org.il

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technion ranked 31st in the world in the U.S. Academy of Inventors index


The Technion received approval for 65 patents in the U.S. in 2014, the most of any Israeli university.

 

The rankings list of the National Academy of Inventors, founded in the U.S. in 2010, ranks the Technion in 31st place in the list of universities around the world, based on the number of patents approved in the U.S. in 2014. The Technion, with 65 approved patents last year, ranks above well-known universities such as Yale, Duke, Rutgers, USC (University of Southern California) and Tokyo University, as well as all the other Israeli institutions that placed in the rankings: Tel Aviv University (43rd place), the Weizmann Institute (52nd place) and Hebrew University (73rd place). The top-ranked university is MIT, which advanced from second place in 2013, with 453 approved patents in 2014.

 

A few of the patents registered by the Technion and approved in 2014 are: medical scaffolding; a system for monitoring air passage in the lungs; a system for the rapid imaging of the macula; non-friction molecular engines; an innovative device for separating oxygen from air; silicon-air batteries; and assessment for the early diagnosis of growths in the large intestine.

 

Prof. Wayne D. Kaplan, Technion’s Executive Vice President for Research, congratulated the researchers, senior staff and students on this impressive achievement.


“The commercialization of inventions and the registering of patents are strategic goals for us, connected with strengthening the ties between academia and industry. The Technion invests significant resources in these matters, and the Technion’s patent registration department, headed by Ofir Alon, is doing wonderful work. We will continue to strive to translate research into finished technology and to bring inventions from the lab to the market.”

 

Benjamin Soffer, director of T3―Technion Technology Transfer Office, which houses the patent registration department, said that this impressive accomplishment is “an expression of the Technion’s tremendous openness to innovation and to the balance between the entrepreneurial spirit and excellence in academia and research. In the past few decades the Technion has been constantly increasing the entrepreneurial component in training students, with the intention that at the end of their studies the students will be equipped not only with scientific and engineering tools, but also with the managerial and entrepreneurial skills that will enable them to ‘invent their own workplace’ and not only to find jobs as salaried employees in existing companies.”


In many instances, the approval of a patent is the preliminary stage to the commercialization of technology or an invention. In the commercialization field, too, the Technion has made impressive strides: Within less than a decade, revenues from commercialization have jumped from $10.7 million annually (in 2008-2009) to over $30 million (2014-2015).

 

“It’s important to take into account that the Technion’s research budget, $135 million a year, is very low compared to the other universities and is only 8% of the MIT’s research budget. If the universities were ranked based on their revenues from commercialization relative to their research expenditures, the Technion would be in third place, behind Princeton and New York University,” said Soffer.

 

The Technion Technology Transfer (T³) office operated in the framework of the Technion Research & Development Foundation, and is responsible for the commercialization and protection of intellectual property developed by the Technion. One of the outstanding successes in this field is the commercialization of Azilect, a drug developed in cooperation with Teva Pharmaceuticals, based on research by professors Moussa Youdim and John Finberg. Sales of this drug top $400 million annually.

 

T3 manages holdings in some 50 active companies and over the past three years, the Technion’s portfolio companies have raised over $250 million in investment capital. These companies include Argo Medical Technologies (which develops exoskeletons to help the disabled to walk); Applied Immune Technologies (a drug development company specializing in T-Cell Receptor-Like, TCRL, antibodies); Accellta (media and cell cultures for the stem cell industry), Sealantis (tissue adhesive); Avraham Pharmaceuticals (drugs to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive disorders), Corindus (robotics technology that enables cardiologists to perform remote catheterization), VibeSec (information security on web-based telephony), NanoSpun Technologies (smart fibers), ElMindA (imaging system for neuron network activity in the brain and treatment based on network stimulation) DigiFlex (products for the printing industry and industrial processes) and Regentis (gel for regenerating tissue).


The department is responsible, among other things, for the management of the Technion’s patent portfolio, which has over 780 applications for patent registration.

 

For the full list of the rankings: http://www.academyofinventors.com/pdf/NAI-IPO-Top-100-Universities-2014.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Cocktail Reception was hosted by His Excellency, the Ambassador Mr. Lars Faaborg-Andersen, Head of the Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the State of Israel, and Mrs. Jean Murphy in the new EU Residence in Herzliya Pituach on 11 May 2015. This reception took place on the occasion of Israel National Science Day in 2015, and in order to stress the scientific cooperation between EU and Israel.

 

Mr. Lars Faaborg-Andersen opened his speech by expressing his great pleasure to welcome the distinguished guests to the EU reception in honour of Israel's National Science Day in which we celebrate one of the strongest bonds between the EU and Israel – cooperation in the field of scientific and technological research

 

He continued with the following remarks:

 

· Our cooperation in science and technology is a model for the type of close relations we hope will continue and which we would like to see in more fields in the future

 

· It is also proof that it is ludicrous to talk about an EU boycott of Israel

 

· Israel has been associated to the EU's Framework Programmes for R&D since 1996 and is the only non-European country to be associated

 

· As you are probably, with a budget of close to 80 million EURO, the current Framework Programme Horizon 2020 is the biggest research programme in the world. We hope that Israel will be as successful in this programme as it was in the previous one -FP7 - which saw Israel researchers participating in over 1,600 projects.

 

· The EU's cooperation with Israel in the field of science and technology is a thus win-win situation for both of us. We both have a great deal to learn and benefit from each other. It is beyond an issue of numbers – the exposure for both our academia and industry to cutting edge research, the links to leading institutions and to key actors in the private sector are invaluable contributions to both our research worlds and economies

 

· We will be hearing later on from Professor Hossem Haick of the Technion whose work on the "electronic nose" has been supported by the gamut of Framework Programme actions from the Marie Curie fellowship through the prestigious European Research Council grant to the collaborative research grant

 

· But our cooperation starts at an even earlier stage than that of post-doc. We will be hearing from high school student Avner Okun who will be speaking on behalf of the six winners of the Israeli Competition for Young Scientists and Developers who will be going on to participate in the EU Competition for Young Scientists that will take place this September in Milan. I would like to take this opportunity to wish them all the best of luck
I would like to conclude by mentioning a few more examples of our cooperation

 

· Both in Israel and in the European Union, we share a common problem: how to ensure that future generations of young people take an interest in science and decide to take up a career in research


Every year Israel, supported by the Framework Programmes, organizes Researchers Night, an event mirrored all over Europe whose purpose, like that of Israel Science Day, is to bring science to the general public and to instill a passion for science in young people.

 

· For the fifth year, the EU Delegation is organising the annual EU-Israel Innovation Seminar which brings together innovation experts to exchange ideas and forge the basis for future collaboration. Last year, the seminar was attended by close to 130 participants including 50 from 13 EU countries

 

Mr. Lars Faaborg-Andersen ended his speech by wishing all the guests an enjoyable evening and continued excellent cooperation.

 

The reception continued with a recorded video with greetings from the European Commissioner Carlos Moedas in charge of Research, Science and Innovation.

 

Then, Mr Ido Sharir, Director General, Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, greeted His Excellency Mr. Lars Faaborg-Andersen, Head of the EU Delegation to the State of Israel, and the distinguished guests. He thanked the Delegation of the EU for organizing this event on the occasion of Israel's National Science Day and pointed out the following remarks:

 

· Science and Technology are an imperative part of our lives; from the moment we open our eyes in the morning and throughout every second of our day.

 

· All our experiences, starting with what we see and do in our daily behavior, continuing to the instruments and devices we use on a daily basis and ending in the explanation of physiological and sociological phenomena – all are connected to Science and Technology.

 

· Israel's National Science Day enables us to present and promote the contribution of science to our life and society.

 

· The National Science Day will be celebrated tomorrow (May 12th) in over a 100 events all over Israel. (We usually mark the Science Day around March 14th - Albert Einstein's birthday, but this year we postponed it due to the general elections held at mid-March.)

 

· These events include interactive activities for the entire family and are open to the public.

 

· They will be held at the universities, at science museums, at community centers, at Regional Research and development Center, etc.


The events will showcase the importance of science in our life and aim to encourage the involvement of youth in the field.

 

· The Ministry of Science, Technology and Space has put on its agenda to reach out to the general public.

 

· We are conducting training activities for youth, women, orthodox communities and ethnic minorities to bring them closer to science and scientific activities.

 

· We believe that science is a bridge to minimize gaps in the society.

 

· Practicing science can allow every man and woman to fulfill their goals and to contribute to society regardless of gender, economic background, or religion.

 

· The scientific cooperation with the EU, particularly with the R&D Framework Programs, has proven to be one of the most important tools to promote academic - scientific research in Israel in the past decade.

 

· We are glad to be part of Horizon 2020 and encourage Israeli scientists to take part in this important European Program.

 

· I hope and know that through the scientific cooperation, all side will benefit and our bilateral ties will bloom.

 

Mr Ido Sharir ended his speech by thanking Mr. Lars Faaborg-Andersen for his hospitality and wishing all the guests a good evening.

 

The reception continued with presentations of the following distinguished scientists:

 

· Professor Hossem Haick, Department of Chemical Engineering and Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute, Technion Israel Institute of Technology.

 

· Mrs Maya Halevy – Director, Bloomfield Science Museum.

 

· Mr Avner Okun, Young Scientist, Himmelfarb Yeshiva High School, Jerusalem

 

The important EU Reception on 11 May 2015 is part of a series of events that took place in different sites in Israel along a week in order to commemorate Israel's National Science Day.

 

 

 Photo Silvia Golan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Clean Water for Advanced Agriculture in Kibbutz Bror Hayil

 

 A pipeline for wastewater and an upgraded pumping system are about to solve the sewage problem in Kibbutz Bror Hayil, which is located near the Gaza perimeter. The project, which was undertaken with the support of Ma'alot 360, Friends of JNF in Victoria, Australia, is expected to be completed within a few weeks. The upgraded system will enable an influx of new residents, agricultural expansion, environmental protection and a higher standard of living for the people of the entire region.

 

 “The new system is very important to us and to other rural communities in the vicinity as far as ecology and agriculture are concerned,” said Simon Guthrie, the Economic Coordinator of Kibbutz Bror Hayil, regarding the upgraded sewage system. “The water is used for irrigating the fields, and without proper treatment of effluents, it would be impossible to absorb new residents and expand the kibbutz.”

 

The old oxidation pools provided low quality water and did not meet the standards of the Ministry of Health. The new facility includes an upgraded pumping station and the installation of sewage pipelines, 1.2 kilometers long, that reach the regional wastewater treatment plant in Sderot. The water will be treated in the Sderot Wastewater Treatment Plant and conducted back to irrigate the fields of Sderot and the local rural communities. Upgrading the sewage system keeps the environment clean, ensures a high standard of living for the people and prevents sanitation problems that could inhibit expansion of the kibbutz.

 

 

https://youtu.be/Kr8Bkb2zGZM

 

 Read more at :

 http://www.kkl.org.il/eng/people-and-environment/kkl-jnf-projects-partners/bror-hayil-australia/

 

Photo Simon Guthrie in front of Jojoba groves

Credit.: Yoav Devir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breakthrough in Cancer Research


The ubiquitin system produces a protein that greatly restricts the development of cancerous tumors

 

A new study by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology could hold one key to control cancer cell growth and development. In a paper published in the April 9, 2015 edition of CELL. The team reports on the discovery of two cancer-suppressing proteins.

 

The research was conducted in the laboratory of Distinguished Professor Aaron Ciechanover, of the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. The team was led by research associate Dr. Yelena Kravtsova-Ivantsiv and , included additional research students and colleagues, as well as physicians from the Rambam, Carmel and Hadassah Medical Centers, who are studying tumors and their treatment.

 

The heretofore-undiscovered proteins were found during ongoing research on the ubiquitin system, an important and vital pathway in the life of the cell, which is responsible for the degradation of defective proteins that could damage the cell if not removed. The ubiquitin system tags these proteins and sends them for destruction in the cellular complex known as the proteasome. The system also removes functional and healthy proteins that are not needed anymore, thereby regulating the processes that these proteins control.

 

Usually, the proteins that reach the proteasome are completely broken down, but there are some exceptions, and the current line of research examined p105, a long precursor of a key regulator in the cell called NF-κB. It turns out that p105 can be broken down completely in certain cases following its tagging by ubiquitin, but in other cases it is only cut and shortened and becomes a protein called p50.

 

NF-κB has been identified as a link between inflammation and cancer. The hypothesis of the connection between inflammatory processes and cancer was first suggested in 1863 by German pathologist Rudolph Virchow, and has been confirmed over the years in a long series of studies. Ever since the discovery (nearly 30 years ago) of NF-κB, numerous articles have been published linking it to malignant transformation. It is involved in tumors of various organs (prostate, breast, lung, head and neck, large intestine, brain, etc.) in several parallel ways, including: inhibition of apoptosis (programmed cell death) normally eliminates transformed cells; acceleration of uncontrolled division of cancer cells; formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), which are vital to tumor growth; and increased resistance of cancerous cells to irradiation and chemotherapy.

 

As noted, the precursor p105 is “handled” by the ubiquitin system in one of two parallel and equally prevalent ways. It is either destroyed completely, or shortened and transformed to p50. The current research deciphers the decision-making mechanism that determines which process will be applied to the protein: when a ubiquitin system component called KPC1 is involved in the process and attaches ubiquitin to p105, the protein is shortened to become p50. When ubiquitination is mediated by another component of the system (and without KPC1), p105 is degraded.

 

The decision between these two options has significant implications on the cell, as the presence of high levels of KPC1 (which generates p50) and p50 (the product of the process) – with the accompanying disruption of the normal ratios between the processes – suppresses the malignant growth and apparently protects the healthy tissue. The current research was conducted on models of human tumors grown in mice, as well as on samples of human tumors, and a strong connection was discovered between the suppression of malignancy and the level of the two proteins, clearly indicating that the increased presence of KPC1 and/or p50 in the tissue can protect it from cancerous tumors.

 

Professor Ciechanover, who is also the president of the Israel Cancer Society, notes that many more years are required “to establish the research and gain a solid understanding of the mechanisms behind the suppression of the tumors. The development of a drug based on this discovery is a possibility, although not a certainty, and the road to such a drug is long and far from simple.”

 

Professor Ciechanover won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2004 (jointly with Professors Avram Hershko – also from the Technion – and Irwin Rose, of the Fox Chase Cancer Center) for the discovery of the ubiquitin system. The current line of research is a continuation of that discovery.

 

Photo captions:

Distinguished Professor Aaron Ciechanover. Photographer: Dan Porges.