No idea is too big in Start-Up Nation, and resilience and motivation are what make Israel’s bustling tech economy so successful. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Omer Schneider, former CEO and co-founder of cybersecurity company CyberX, about his time at the Technion and how he took his big idea all the way to an acquisition deal with the largest tech company in the world.

His dedication to his work in every stage of life gave him the confidence to believe in himself and make an impact on millions of people throughout his career. Omer’s story is also a great lesson: if you think you’ve already shot for the stars, you can shoot even higher.

Michael: You’ve had quite an impressive career already, building a company from the ground up and then selling it to the biggest tech company in the world. I’m intrigued by what that process looked like, but I thought we could first go all the way back to the beginning and talk a bit about your time at the Technion. 

Omer: It’s been quite the journey, but it actually started well before my time at the Technion. My story begins with the computer my parents gave me as a kid. Eventually, I used that computer to teach myself how to code in high school. Additionally, half of my family attended the Technion, and the university was very much a family legacy for us. Growing up, I knew that I wanted to continue that legacy and was eager to start my studies in Haifa.

Michael: Was pursuing computer science a no-brainer?

Omer: I hadn’t decided to focus on computer science or any other specific field before I started at the Technion. Honestly, at that age, I thought I could best contribute to my community as an army engineer. I applied to and was accepted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) engineering academic reserve program where my education at the Technion prepared me for my future career in the military. Ultimately, my childhood fascination with computers drew me to computer science. I wanted to learn about the intersection of hardware and software, looking at computer systems at-large.

Michael: What role did the Technion play in your transition into the IDF after graduation?

Omer: With my Technion degree, I was eventually drafted into an elite cybersecurity unit in the army (Matzov). At the time, Israel was building out its national cybersecurity initiative, and I was a founding member of the Israel National Cyber Security Bureau. My early years at the Technion laid the groundwork for my success in this program that essentially established Israel’s cybersecurity infrastructure from the ground up. I refined my skills at setting and accomplishing challenging goals within a rigorous environment while I was in university, and I brought these strategies with me after graduation. I was so invested in the project that I decided to stay in the army an additional two years beyond my required six years of service.

Michael: It sounds like you made quite the impact on your community during those years in the IDF. I can imagine that making the decision to leave was a difficult one.

Omer: Yes, I definitely didn’t take the decision lightly. However, I felt like I had made my mark in an important way, and I wanted to explore what it was like to make an impact in the private sector. Much of my motivation was driven by my curiosity. I wanted to know what it would be like to have my own company and start a new challenge like nothing I had ever faced. My business partner, Nir Giller, and I saw the digital world changing before our eyes and found a gap in the cybersecurity market at the time. We believed that we could build something quite large to fill it, and shortly after I left the IDF in late 2012, we launched CyberX.

Michael: It’s quite a feat to build a company of CyberX’s magnitude in just a few years. Can you expand on CyberX’s mission?

Omer: When I left the army, I had a hunch that the world was about to become much more connected than it had been, even in the early 2010s. From my previous experience, I knew that many of our critical infrastructure networks were missing key monitoring and detection capabilities to prevent attacks. Those systems were only going to expand, so the security risk was becoming more and more urgent, which is where CyberX came in. We specialized in OT (Operational Technology) and IoT (“Internet of Things”) security. We developed unique technology that provided real-time visibility into industrial networks used in energy utilities, water purification plants, oil and gas refineries, chemical plants, manufacturing, healthcare, and other facilities that use equipment from many different suppliers such as Schneider Electric and Rockwell Automation. Our platform used patented behavioral analytics to analyze industrial network protocols in order to detect attacks, understand their root cause, assess risk, and identify vulnerabilities in this very complex equipment.

After a few years of establishing a strong reputation across several industries, we were working with three of the top ten utility companies in the US, three of the top ten global pharmaceutical companies, and multiple Fortune 500 companies, and in more than 30 countries worldwide.

Michael: No wonder Microsoft was interested in your work! 

Omer: It was definitely a surprise, but at the time, I can proudly say that we had grown to be a leader in the space and raised close to $50 million. Our next step was already on the horizon, and then Microsoft appeared!

Michael: I’m sure that this was an important milestone for you, especially having grown up in Start-Up Nation. At the same time, I know you closed the deal during the pandemic, which sounds like a massive logistical hurdle.

Omer: We were ecstatic about the opportunity, but yes, working on the deal through the pandemic added an extra layer of complexity. The world was changing every day, the stock market was unpredictable, and we had to conduct all negotiations on Teams. Fortunately, Microsoft was committed to the process, and finally, after several months of paperwork and discussions, we closed the deal in June 2020.

Michael: Wow, that must have been an incredible whirlwind. I’m always curious what a start-up founder does after a successful exit. Personally, I would choose a long vacation, but something tells me you aren’t finished quite yet.

Omer: You’re right, I stayed with the Microsoft team for two years after the deal as a director on the IoT security team as we continued to grow the business inside Microsoft. Since then, I’ve stayed active in the tech world and done some investing. I’ve also enjoyed spending time with my wife and four kids here in the Boston area. I’m a long-distance runner as well, so I’m always training, and I’ve done an Iron Man triathlon and several marathons.

Michael: It never ceases to amaze me hearing from Technion graduates about how much tenacity they have in every aspect of their lives! What is your next move now that you’ve left Microsoft?

Omer: I learned from my time at CyberX that I love to be the guy who makes things happen, and I’m certainly not finished leaving my mark on the tech world. I’m working on a new company – Cetu with a new partner, Kfir Gollan. Something big is in the works, even bigger than CyberX in my opinion – I just can’t say much about it yet. The company will focus on the intersection of security and data!

Michael: You have quite the resume for making big impacts, so I don’t doubt that your expectations are correct. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about your career so far and your time at the Technion!

Going from development on Israel’s world famous Iron Dome missile defense system to maximizing energy usage might sound a little odd, but to Ron Halpern, chief commercial officer at mPrest, the software company behind the platform, the transition was a natural one.

“Iron Dome essentially is a real-time distributed asset optimisation system; the assets happened to be interceptors,” Halpern tells NoCamels.

mPrest used the principles behind Iron Dome to create the mDERMS energy management system (IDF Spokesperson’s Unit)

Having developed the command and control system for Iron Dome, the 20-year-old, Petah Tikva-based company “went on an Internet of Things journey,” as Halpern puts it, and decided to apply the principles used to create the missile defense software to making electricity plants more efficient and sustainable. 

“Fundamentally, from an architectural perspective, we’re continuing to do the same thing,” he says.  “We do asset health management as performance management in the electric grid.”  

mPrest used its optimization technology to create a new distributed energy resource management system (DERMS). These systems are designed to maximize efficiency on a power grid through both the supplier (referred to in the industry as “front of the meter”) and the consumer (known as “behind the meter”). 

“We’re creating a single picture, a single view, a single process – the virtual process – and we’re analyzing that process and optimizing that process,” Halpern says. 

The company’s unique platform, known as mDERMS, manages all aspects of a power grid’s performance, integrating with existing software such as analytics and hardware such as sensors and providing a bottom-up image of the infrastructure for the operators and a detailed breakdown of their energy consumption for users. 

Illustrative: mDERMS presents a bottom-up presentation of a power grid’s performance (Unsplash)

mDERMS also integrates power from those users who supply the grid with clean energy they have themselves produced through wind, hydro or solar power on their property. These independent energy producers band together to form consortiums in order to sell a substantial amount of power to utility companies, rather than the negligible amounts they produce individually. 

These consortiums are known as virtual power plants (VPPs) and the power they provide supplements the grid, making it more sustainable. 

What sets mPrest apart, Halpern says, is its holistic AI-driven approach – merging the clean energy from the VPPs, optimization of resources and advanced storage capabilities to create what he calls “a dynamic and efficient energy ecosystem.” 

The main target function of the mDERMS is to ensure that from an operational perspective, everything is optimized, he explains. 

The software can put together a plan to dilute energy consumption across a longer period of time so that there is not a peak of demand at certain hours, such as when people come home from work. 

This is known as “peak shifting,” Halpern says, and also involves the utility company charging less at certain times in order to encourage more usage at those hours. 

Mass use of energy-heavy assets such as air conditioning units can put great stress on a power grid (Pexels)

“Everyone comes home in the summer and turns on their air conditioner, they want the house to be cold,” he says. 

“[But] instead of cooling the air conditioner at 6pm, let me start cooling at 5pm and then by 6pm it’ll be cold; I’ll turn it off or adjust the thermostat so that I won’t have a peak at 6pm when it’s inconvenient for the utility.”  

The same is true in winter, when water heaters go on as people arrive home and want to shower. By switching on heaters earlier in the day, people still have hot water but do not place such strain on the grid. 

And when the supplier is under high stress, mDERMS has the ability to tap into renewable power provided the VPPs, which is stored in batteries off the grid. 

In Israel, Halpern says, the government is promoting external power storage and VPPs – primarily based on solar power due to the country’s Mediterranean/desert climate, with long summers and mild winters.

mDERMS draws on renewable energy to alleviate pressure on a power grid in peak hours (Pexels)

mPrest has already worked with the state-owned Israel Electric Corporation to optimize its performance and recently signed an agreement with the EDF Renewables Israel, the local subsidiary of an international developer and operator of renewable power plants. 

But, Halpern says, the majority of its business is on the international level, where both the distribution and the VPP technology is in demand. 

Utility companies want grid stability and the ability to offer better services to their customers, he says, so they need a system such as mDERMS. 

“From a utility’s perspective, the main priority is to keep the lights on,” he says. 

200+ volunteers from tech community speedily develop GenAI and computer vision-based solutions to address new challenges presented by the war.

Israel Tech Guard, an all-volunteer, not-for-profit initiative empowering Israel’s defenses with the latest technologies, is looking to raise $2 million for rapid-pace initiatives designed to help protect the nation during and after the war.

Formed on October 7 while the Hamas attacks were wreaking death and destruction, Israel Tech Guard was cofounded by serial tech entrepreneur Mor Ram-On; software engineer and team lead at Cybereason Ron Balter; and senior programmer Lior Mizrahi, cofounder and CTO of Maveriks.

Israel Tech Guard merchandise. Photo courtesy of Israel Tech Guard

Around 200 volunteers from Israel’s tech community are working for Israel Tech Guard, which is structured in teams of two to 20 developers operating as internal startups within the organization. This allows teams the freedom to run fast without worrying about office space, legal, financial, and other logistics.

Ram-On says that this agile approach has resulted in each solution taking, on average, a week to develop.

Projects by Israel Tech Guard include:

Blood Donation Bot: A mobile web app designed to streamline blood donation by checking eligibility prior to visiting, saving donors time while also helping the staff at Israel’s national blood and medical emergency service, Magen David Adom, better manage resources.

Rehab Track: An app that helps hospitals to track the location of patients during their rehabilitation to support their physicians treating them throughout the recovery process.

Guardian X: An automated media analysis system for social networks that detects faces and objects of interest and correlates them with known databases for matches.

“Every time I’d bring him a project, he’d hand it back full of comments and tell me, ‘you can do better.’” Aerospace engineer Inbal Kreiss ’88 fondly recalled that lesson learned as a student from Technion Professor Yeshayahu Talmon. And that advice helped shape her career.  

Kreiss, a graduate of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, is today head of innovation at the Systems, Missiles, and Space Division of Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI), the nation’s prominent aerospace and aviation corporation. Since joining IAI in 2000, she has held leadership positions on projects that have contributed to Israel’s security and is widely regarded as a leader in Israel’s aerospace and defense industry. 

“Prof. Talmon set the bar high and showed me that I can set my expectations higher and higher,” Kreiss said. “And the Technion opened doors, introduced me to the top level of experts, and trained me to be a professional.” 

Born in Israel, Kreiss understands that “part of being Israeli is doing something significant to contribute to the defense of our country.” Her father was the head intelligence officer in the 1976 Entebbe raid, which freed Israeli hostages hijacked to Uganda. “Israel’s space achievements are elements of statehood — the courage to be first, to dream big, and to strive for technological superiority,” she said. “The space industry is a wonderful example of the Startup Nation, which I call the Innovation Nation.”  

Kreiss received her Technion bachelor’s degree, graduating with honors while finding time to do folk dancing. She received an Executive Master’s of Business Administration from Tel Aviv University, and continued her studies as a visiting researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). From 1988 to 2000, she worked in the Directorate of Research and Development of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and then joined IAI. By some estimates, one-half its employees are Technion alumni. 

From the get-go, Kreiss was central to IAI’s defense technology development. She led and managed the design programs of the Arrow 2 and Arrow 3 anti-ballistic missile defense systems. Later, she led the spacecraft design and assembly team for Israel’s first mission to the moon, Beresheet. Even though the spacecraft crashed upon landing, it achieved lunar orbit, and “inspired young children to pursue STEM and space fields,” Kreiss said. What started as a dream of three young entrepreneurs “ended with an entire nation following every maneuver all the way to the moon. For our nation, all it takes for a dream to come true is to dream big— and a lot of determination.”  

Kreiss’ career is punctuated with many proud moments, such as serving as chairwoman of the 2022 Rakia Mission, Israel’s first venture to the International Space Station (ISS). Rakia gave scientists and entrepreneurs opportunities to test space-related technologies in the unique atmospheric conditions of outer space. The selection process to determine which experiments would travel to the ISS was competitive, but the Technion won three spots. “The Mission positioned Israel as a prime player on the global space map, and again the Technion was a key player,” said Kreiss. “The Rakia Mission is a great example of Israeli chutzpa.” 

Married to Yitshak Kreiss, Director General of Sheba Medical Center, Kreiss modestly dismisses references to them in Israeli newspapers as “the scientific power couple.” “That’s only what’s written in the news. We are doing what we do, balancing our work with our life,” she said. “I spent my entire career breathing, living, and dreaming space … bringing together scientists and engineers, entrepreneurs, and innovators, who collectively make the frontier of space accessible.”  

Judith Hocherman-Frommer always envisioned an academic career at the Technion. After all, she spent 10 years there. She received three degrees in electrical engineering and control systems. After a postdoc at Princeton University, she taught as an adjunct lecturer for three years, while working full time at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.  

“I thought I would get some real-world experience before immersing myself in academia,” she said. She intended to stay for one year, but 27 years later, Hocherman-Frommer is the executive vice president for research and development (R&D) at Rafael.   

She is responsible for setting the R&D strategy, finding trends, and determining where to put the research dollars for investment. She also oversees systems engineering and is responsible for collaborations with academia and businesses.   

There are several collaborative programs with the Technion from teaching and student employment to collaboration in research. They send employees to the University to do research and the Technion sends students to do their degrees at Rafael. In some cases, employees are getting degrees from the Technion while doing their research at Rafael’s facilities.  

“The Technion makes a great contribution to the qualitative competitive edge of Israel, which is extremely important for the country,” she said. “Many of our employees are Technion alumni and other leading industries employ Technion graduates.”

When Hocherman-Frommer began her studies at the Technion in 1984, she was one of only about 10 women in a class of hundreds in electrical engineering. But it was never a concern to her, nor did she face any obstacles or discrimination.   

Today, there are times when she is the only woman at the table, particularly in meetings with high-ranking military officers, but she has never felt out of place or disrespected. “I am appreciated for the contributions I make.”   

Hocherman-Frommer is very proud of the role Rafael plays in keeping Israel safe. At the end of 2019, Forbes magazine rated two of Rafael’s innovations among the 12 most significant defense systems of the decade: Iron Dome and Trophy, both of which are playing major roles in the current Hamas-Israel war.  

Iron Dome has saved thousands upon thousands of lives. Its ability to destroy rockets in mid-air with more than 90% accuracy allows Israelis to live life in war with some degree of normalcy. Trophy has saved the lives of countless soldiers. It protects tanks from anti-tank guided missiles and high-explosive artillery.  

“After the Forbes article, I thought, what do I have to invest in now for the next decade?” She’s sure Iron Beam will be the next super innovation. It uses a high-energy laser interceptor, and not a missile, to destroy targets, and is expected to be ready by 2025.   

Of her alma mater, Hocherman-Frommer said, “The Technion makes a great contribution to the qualitative competitive edge of Israel, which is extremely important for the country.   

“The Technion is a place of excellence. Working hard and striving to excel are the keys to success. I got this from the Technion.” 

In a pivotal scene in the blockbuster film “Barbie,” the CEO of Mattel fumes: “No one rests until this doll is back in the box,” referring to Barbie’s escape from his toy universe into the real world (where, for instance, she swaps her pink high heels for some no-nonsense Birkenstocks.)

Like the film’s “Barbie,” Technion alumna Neta Blum B.Sc., M.Sc. has long railed against the stereotypes and double standards that often keep women in a box. Today, the aerospace engineer heads a technological division in Israel’s Ministry of Defense’s R&D body, has earned a place in Forbes Israel’s “30 Under 30,” was named one of 50 most influential Jews in The Jerusalem Post, and has become an inspiration to young girls everywhere.

“I always wanted to study new fields and to get out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I was always looking for the next step in my career.”

Blum grew up in Maryland and moved to Israel at age 17 to attend the Brakim excellence program, a joint Technion-Israel Defense Forces initiative that combines academic studies with military training. She was the only woman in a class of 20, and one of 10 students left standing at the completion of the rigorous four-year course. After graduation she served in the Israeli Air Force investigating airplane crashes, before joining the defense ministry’s Directorate of Defense Research & Development (DDR&D).

At the DDR&D, which is responsible for developing and overseeing research and defense technology, managing short-and-long-term projects, and training the next generation of defense tech professionals, she became the first woman and youngest person ever to head the Aviation Sciences Section. There, she led and developed Israel’s first 3D-printed UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), SkysPrinter. She then became the first woman head of the Cyber Section and the first woman to head her current division. While her work is classified, she is still developing cutting-edge technology that protects Israel. “Our work is vital for staying ahead of evolving threats, and ensuring the nation’s defense capabilities remain robust,” she said. “I love making a meaningful impact on Israel’s security. And the tools I received at the Technion gave me the ability to lead such technological game changers.

Blum followed her father’s path to the Technion, where she is now finishing her Ph.D. Her research explores the applicability of a principle from structural mechanics to soft biological tissues, specifically for potential advancements in cancer diagnosis. Post October 7, she was invited to present her Ph.D. research at an international conference in Rome. “Despite not being able to attend physically, due to my position in the Ministry of Defense, it was crucial for me to participate via Zoom,” she said. “As the only presenter from Israel, I wanted to emphasize our nation’s commitment to scientific contributions, even in challenging times.”

Blum credits the Technion for equipping her with the technical skills essential for success, “and for instilling in me the importance of breaking barriers.” In addition to her many career “firsts,” Blum founded the “AT” program (Hebrew for “you” feminine) to encourage high school female students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. “From a young age, I’ve always been working mostly with men, and I wanted to change that,” she said. “Our message is clear: ‘You can do it.’”

Despite advances in technology, providing amputees with prosthetics that mimic real limbs is an ongoing challenge. They may be more aesthetically pleasing than they used to be but are not necessarily practical. For example, a prosthetic hand may help wearers hold a cup and drink from it, but making the coffee, using a computer, or playing the piano involves much more complexity.  

“Many people who have lost a hand give up on the prosthesis after a short period because it is heavy, cumbersome, and its effectiveness is very limited,” said Dean Zadok, a Ph.D. student in the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science. “We are trying to develop lightweight, comfortable, and efficient solutions” that enable precise and sensitive hand actions and finger movements. 

Zadok developed a robotic hand that allows the wearer to play the piano and type on a keyboard. His system uses ultrasound that reads muscle movements. It was developed with three Technion faculty members: Professor Alon Wolf, a robotics and biomechanics expert from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Professor Alex Bronstein (computational learning), and Dr. Oren Salzman (robotics), both from the Faculty of Computer Science.  

The device attaches to the forearm and interprets the user’s intentions based on muscle movements, including complicated and fine gestures. Most smart prosthetics currently rely on sensor stickers attached to the skin to interpret muscle signals.  

According to Zadok, “This technology is very limiting, and what we are proposing is a new approach based on ultrasound, providing real-time dynamic information about relevant muscle movements for hand and finger motions.” 

The researchers are currently working on enhancing the hand’s capabilities. They believe this significant leap will substantially advance the field of prosthetics, providing many users with an improved quality of life. 

Dean Zadok received both his bachelor’s (’19) and master’s (’22) degrees in computer science from the Technion. He began his work on the ultrasound solution during his graduate studies, where he volunteered in Prof. Wolf’s lab and at Haifa 3D, a nonprofit that provides free 3D-printed prosthetic hands to Israeli children. He also spent the summer of 2023 at the Carnegie Mellon University Robotics Institute as a visiting scholar.  

“I always wanted to apply my knowledge for the benefit of human health. Algorithms find their application in a variety of fields, and I am glad I could harness it for the important topic of improving prosthetics for those who have suffered.” 

This research is supported by the European Research Council, Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology, the Israel-U.S. Binational Science Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Wein Family Foundation.  

American non-profit health insurer Highmark has added an Israeli migraine treatment band to the items covered by its insurance policies.

The Nerivio Remote Electrical Neuromodulation (REN) migraine band, developed by Netanya-based Theranica, is placed on the upper arm as soon as a migraine starts (or even used as a preventative measure), and vibrates at an intensity just below the patient’s pain threshold.

It causes nerve fibers in the body to deliver a message to the brain, where it decides that the sensation is harmless and releases neurotransmitters to prevent the sufferer from feeling pain – including in their head. The band can be used on people 12 and older.

The addition by Highmark, which covers around 7 million people in the Pennsylvania area, came after the completion of its own November 2022 study of the band’s clinical benefits, involving more than 384 chronic migraine sufferers.

The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology — established a quarter of a century before Israel became an independent nation — has been inexorably linked to the State’s security since its inception.  

For 100 years, the Technion has been the technological backbone of Israel. Nearly all aspects of the nation’s industrial, agricultural, scientific, and defense capabilities have been driven by Technion students, graduates, or faculty members.   

Technion aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer science graduates are sought out by Israel’s leading defense companies to solve challenges unique to Israel’s defense needs. Alumni are leading teams that develop missile defense systems, underground tunnel detection devices, and drone technology that allows ground troops to survey potentially dangerous urban areas from a safe distance. They are deterring cyberattacks, aiding Homefront Command in planning civilian shelters, and safeguarding strategic facilities.

The Technion imbues its students with an existential obligation to break barriers and make the impossible possible. 

Iron Dome 

Iron Dome, one of Israel’s most remarkable defense systems, has saved thousands upon thousands of lives. During the current war with Hamas, its protection allows Israelis to live life with some degree of normalcy. But if not for Technion-instilled drive, it may never have come to fruition.  

When the nation experienced a massive rocket bombardment by Hezbollah in 2006, the need for a short-range anti-missile defense system was identified. The idea for Iron Dome was developed by Technion alumnus Chanoch Levin who led a team at Rafael Advanced Defense Systems made up of 350 of Israel’s best engineers. His core team members were all Technion alumni.   

Originally no one believed it could be done. “This is like hitting a butterfly with a stone,” said one critic.  

“Imagine a Coke bottle flying several times faster than the speed of sound on an irregular course. Intercepting it seems far-fetched,” said Levin.  

The Israeli air force, missile experts from the U.S., and the media all initially panned the idea, saying it could never be done. Rather than crushing their spirits, the criticism and doubt only spurred them to succeed.  

“Maybe we should thank the media. Because when you read a cynical article, you say to yourself, ‘Let’s show them’ and you tackle the project, invigorated,” said a systems engineer (and Technion alumnus) for the interceptor and launcher.  

Failure was also seen as a necessary ingredient to success. “We developed a work culture of risk-taking, based on the understanding that failures teach you a lot, too,” he said. 

Iron Dome assesses and identifies rocket and artillery shell threats between 2.5 miles to 45 miles away, destroying them in 15 seconds. With a success rate of more than 90%, it was developed in only three years on a shoestring budget, winning full support and funding from the Israeli air force and the United States government.  

Arrow Anti-Missile  

Following the Gulf War in 1991, when Israel was hit by 39 missiles, Israel set to work designing a long-range mobile defense system. Developed at Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) by Technion alumni, including team leader Dov Raviv, the Arrow technology demonstrator was developed. Following its successful construction and testing, production on Arrow 2 immediately began. Arrow 2 destroys ballistic missiles in the upper atmosphere. 

In 2008, another team of Technion graduates at IAI, led by alumna Inbal Kreiss, developed Arrow 3, which is capable of intercepting intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nuclear, chemical, or biological warheads as far as 1,500 miles away, during the space-flight portion of their trajectory. 

“We must be ready on time, and we must be ready before our enemies,” said Kreiss. She said her guiding principle to “Be first; be excellent” was learned at the Technion and that her staff was comprised of so many Technion alumni they would joke that they haven’t left the University.  

She credits the Technion for creating an atmosphere of perseverance, refusing to settle for less than excellence and instilling the determination to overcome challenges. 

As Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion once said of this spirit: “The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.” 

Arrow 3 was used for the first time in November 2023 when Iran-backed Houthi terrorists fired a barrage of ballistic missiles at Israel. The anti-missile system successfully intercepted them over the Red Sea. Arrow 2 has also been used during the Hamas-Israel war. 

David’s Sling and Iron Beam 

Israel’s newest defense systems, David’s Sling and Iron Beam – both developed at Rafael – also involved teams of Technion graduates. With coverage three times greater than Iron Dome, David’s Sling identifies and destroys airborne threats from 25 miles to 190 miles away. It became operational in 2017 and has been used in the Hamas-Israel war, intercepting rockets launched at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Iron Beam, still under development, uses a high-energy laser interceptor, and not a missile, to destroy targets. 

A data analytics company in Israel is offering its artificial intelligence tools to help predict where and when the country will suffer rocket attacks during the ongoing war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip – even suggesting the optimal time to take a shower without interruption. 

Sisense which uses machine learning to analyze data for companies, has made its technology available to Israeli government bodies and other institutions during the conflict. 

Israel has been under continuous rocket fire from Gaza since October 7, when terrorists breached the border fence into Israel, killing 1,400 people and abducting at least 240 more. More than 8,000 rockets have been launched at the country since then. 

A launch by the Iron Dome missile defense system, which intercepts projectiles fired at Israel from Gaza (IDF Spokesperson’s Office)

While most of the projectiles are intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, the system is not infallible and the threat of the rockets – as well as falling shrapnel from interceptions – means Israelis still must rush into bomb shelters when the air raid sirens sound. 

“Our platform helps to tap into large, fragmented sets of complex data sources, immediately make sense of all of these data sources and model them into a single source,” Sisense Chief Product Officer Ayala Michelson tells NoCamels. 

“We help [companies] query the data behind the scenes, and then visualize it however they want in their applications. And we have a suite of tools to help them do that,” she says. 

The platform can be easily integrated into existing systems without having to rewrite code or make other changes to data management, Michelson explains. 

“It’s just a drag and drop wizard,” she says. “We know how to access all of the different data sources, and we know how to bring them into the same structure.” 

The Sisense platform uses data analytics to try to predict where and when rockets will be fired from Gaza at Israel (Courtesy)

Once the platform has been integrated, the Sisense system aggregates the often multifaceted data, providing forecasts of what will happen and why the data points to that prediction. 

“We know how to take the data which is complex for many people and put it in simple words that we call it narratives,” Michelsen says. 

She gives the example of a retail company that experiences a peak in sales on a certain day, which can look at different factors that correlate to that uptick. 

And, according to Michelsen, the same principles are true when looking at trends in rocket fire. 

“You can query the data in simple words and tell me: How many rockets were fired between Thursday to Sunday? What are the most probable areas that I should avoid going to on a Friday night?” she explains. 

Once the war began, the Ramat Gan-based company quickly built an internal dashboard to monitor the air raid sirens, Michelsen says, and began to use it to predict trends such as the best time to take a shower and which locations were most likely to be attacked. 

Rocket fire directed at Israel from the Gaza Strip, October 2023 (Screenshot)

As well as predicting rocket fire, Michelsen says, the platform can be used to help charitable organizations keep track of donations during the war – be it funding, food or equipment – and find the best place to distribute them.  

“A lot of organizations are getting a lot of goods or money and it’s hard for them to keep track of who donated what,” she says. 

“On the other hand, they also have a lot of people who need those goods and money and it’s hard for them to do that mix and match.”

The system can help to understand which donation centers are likely to be in short supply of which necessities and then draw on the data to find those goods from other locations. 

Sisense itself is also providing wartime support on a more practical level, allowing employees to donate their time during working hours and raising funds to purchase essentials for soldiers and others affected by the conflict. 

A kindergarten at Kibbutz Be’eri after the community was attacked by Hamas terrorists on October 7 (Yoav Keren)

A member of the company’s team is from Kibbutz Be’eri, Michelsen says. While she was not there when the Hamas terrorists rampaged through the Gaza border community and killed more than 100 of its residents, they used her home in such a way that she can never return to it. 

Some of the money raised by Sisense will go to the kibbutz, which was almost completely devastated in the October 7 attack and could take years to rebuild. 

The company is currently providing free licenses for its software to the Israel Defense Forces Home Front Command, Israeli charities and foundations, and local councils. 

“These are not examples of its day-to-day use,” Michelsen says of the technology. “But in these troubling times, this is a great way to utilize our platform.”