Several Israeli companies have joined the government-led initiative to ease traffic congestion.
A network of large drones – many of which are operated by Technion alums – have taken to the skies as the country prepares its national airspace for air taxi transportation and deliveries.
The Israel National Drone Initiative (INDI) – a two-year, NIS 60 million government-led pilot project – was established in 2019 to fly passengers and heavy cargo to reduce congestion on Israel’s busy roads.
Eleven drone companies were involved in the experimental flights this week, including:
Cando Drones. Its fully autonomous two-seater air taxi has been developed to carry passengers up to 220kg for up to 30km. CTO Moshe Kipnis and CFO Alon Zabuski are both alumni of the Technion.
Airways Drones. A provider of AI-based systems for the smart management of drone fleets. Investor, Oded Agam and Advisory Board Member, Yosef Fryszer, are alumni of the Technion.
Robotican. A developer of ground and air-based mobile autonomous robotic systems. Chief Scientist Amir Shapiro and Business Development Director, Eli Ben-Aharon, are both alumni of the Technion.
The INDI initiative is developing a “system of aerial routes in the sky” to allow different types of drones to fly simultaneously for various purposes, such as healthcare, commerce, security and passenger transportation.
Transportation Minister, Miri Regev, said: “This is the first initiative of its kind in the world for an extensive and multidisciplinary examination of new technologies, including the transportation of cargo and, later, people. The collaborative project examines all the aspects – including regulation and legislative changes – involved in the commercial operation of drones as an additional tool to deal with congestion.”
Over the next two years, the participating companies in the INDI initiative will continue to conduct flights throughout the country in controlled airspace.
atalysts spur the world’s economy, but they still hold many mysteries. “One-third of global gross domestic product relies on catalysts, and yet do we really understand how they operate under working conditions? Absolutely not,” says Charlotte Vogt, an assistant professor of chemistry at the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology.
Vogt is determined to fill that knowledge gap. Her research reveals the inner workings of catalysts that could tackle climate change by decarbonizing our energy systems and industrial processes, and she’s driven by the urgency of the challenge. “We have to come up with new catalytic systems at record speed, and how are we going to do that if we don’t really understand them?” she says.
Most of the common reactions in the chemical industry involve passing gases or liquids over solid catalysts at high temperatures or pressures. To improve the performance of these heterogeneous catalysts, chemists try to understand the mechanism of the reaction going on at the catalyst’s surface. Traditionally, this approach has involved using spectroscopic and other techniques to study simplified versions of the reaction systems—perhaps focusing on a single facet of a catalyst crystal at extremely low pressure so that just a few reactant molecules adhere to its surface.
Despite the insights they have provided, these model systems are completely different from the conditions of industrial reactions and can give a misleading or incomplete view of how the catalyst works. So Vogt instead studies catalysts in their real-world operating environments, known as operando in chemical parlance, and in real time, which poses enormous experimental challenges.
A catalyst particle can have many different reaction sites that change during the reaction. And the catalyst is surrounded by a blizzard of reactant and product molecules, most of which are not undergoing the reaction in question at any given moment. “You’re sometimes looking for spectroscopic signals that are like a needle in a haystack,” Vogt says. “So we’re developing techniques to elucidate those tiny but important signals and distinguish them from everything that is not important.”
“We have to come up with new catalytic systems at record speed, and how are we going to do that if we don’t really understand them? ”
Charlotte Vogt, professor, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology
Her team studies catalysts using X-rays at synchrotron facilities, for example, or infrared spectrometers in Vogt’s lab. Then the researchers use machine learning and pattern recognition techniques to comb through the terabytes of data. They also design specialist reactors that can operate at realistic conditions while allowing spectroscopists to peer inside the heart of the reaction.
Vogt is applying these techniques to the reactions of small molecules, including carbon dioxide and ammonia, that have a huge global impact. In addition to studying conventional heterogeneous catalysts, she’s also interested in developing operando techniques to study electrocatalytic reactions that produce NH3 or convert CO2 into fuels and other useful products. Deployed at an industrial scale, these reactions could take advantage of the growing availability of renewable electricity.
In 2021, Vogt established her research group at the Technion, where she has joined the new Stewart and Lynda Resnick Sustainability Center for Catalysis. “She mixes a deep knowledge of science with a vision of how to apply it to real-world problems,” says Ilan Marek, the center’s director. “She was a perfect fit.”
Vogt has always understood the power of chemistry to change the world. Her father, Eelco Vogt, was the global R&D director for catalysts at chemical company Albemarle, “so I had a really good role model at home,” Charlotte Vogt says. After undergraduate and master’s degrees at Utrecht University, she stayed on for a PhD with Bert M. Weckhuysen, a leading proponent of operando spectroscopy. “She is very driven, she knows how to organize things, and she has a real passion for science,” Weckhuysen says.
Her PhD research included dissecting the Sabatier reaction, which typically uses a nickel catalyst to convert CO2 and hydrogen into methane and water. Improving the efficiency and selectivity of that process could offer a way to use industrial CO2 emissions as a raw material for storing renewable energy in chemical fuels. Vogt’s spectroscopy work revealed how the nickel catalyst particles’ size and structure affected the reaction and how metal oxide supports beneath the nickel particles influenced the products formed.
Weckhuysen and Eelco Vogt are old friends, so Charlotte Vogt was determined to forestall any suggestions of favoritism and worked hard to establish herself as an independent scientist. “In fact, during my PhD I didn’t talk to my dad about my science. Not one word,” she says.
Now that Vogt has her own lab, though, she’s happy to discuss the trials and tribulations of being an assistant professor with her father and has even collaborated on a paper with him. “He’s an amazing support system to have,” she says.
In October 2023, Professor Emeritus Avraham Shtub of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, will offer his course “New Product Development” as a Global Network online course for the ninth time. While the content is similar, the course has evolved over the years. In 2014, “New Product Development” was among the first small network online courses (SNOCs) offered through the Global Network for Advanced Management. In 2019, a version of the course was added to Coursera, and Shtub shifted to a “flipped classroom model” for the SNOC, assigning lectures on Coursera for homework, and then using the virtual class time for discussion. Then in 2021 and 2022, the course added an additional experiential component. Shtub assigned students to projects with early-stage startup founders with whom they collaborated, giving them hands-on experience in product development.
We asked Professor Shtub about his motivation for offering the course as a SNOC and what students can expect from the course.
What made you decide to teach this particular course as a SNOC? As the head of the project management research center at the Technion I was asked to develop a course focusing on the management of New Product Development (NPD) projects, as part of the new Startup MBA program at the Technion. Today I teach this course at several universities in Europe and the USA using zoom. During a meeting of GNAM universities in China I presented this course as part of the Technion presentation. Several universities – members of GNAM – were interested in the course. I agreed to teach it as a SNOC as it was a great opportunity to collaborate with other GNAM universities and to teach students how to manage international NPD projects.
Who should take this course? The course is designed for students who want to learn how to manage NPD projects and would like to apply this knowledge in the framework of an international team of GNAM students. Specifically, students who consider the idea of founding a new startup can use this course to simulate the development process, including the preparation of a project plan and its execution in a simulated environment.
What does the global virtual environment of a SNOC provide for students in terms of cross-cultural learning, and how can this also help you? Many NPD projects are performed by international teams. The concept of a Glocal product (Global product with a local adaptation) is based on the understanding of customers’ needs and expectations in different countries. Working with a team of GNAM students from different countries facilitates cross-cultural learning and helps in the development of ideas for Glocal products and services.
What do you hope students take away from your class that they can apply to their careers, regardless of the path they choose? I hope that the tools and techniques discussed and used in this course will help the students in focusing on the most important issues in the New Product Development process. The opportunity to work with a team of GNAM students from other countries will expose the participants to other cultures and a variety of decision-making processes.
Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that is worth considering or mentioning? A paper recently published:
Solan, D., & Shtub, A. (2023). Development and implementation of a new product development course combining experiential learning, simulation, and a flipped classroom in remote learning. The International Journal of Management Education, 21(2). Can help students understand the course content, structure and learning outcomes.
While the micro turbojet engine may be small – weighing only eight pounds – it remains a startling chunk of Inconel. The engine is a single, complete assembly, including all rotating and stationary components.
The turbojet was designed in Creo CAD software, using Inconel as the material and an EOS 3D metal printer as the production machine. “The engine is about the size of a basketball. It would probably be used for drones,” Steve Dertien, chief technology officer at PTC, said during a presentation.
The jet engine project was the brainchild of Ronen Ben Horin, a VP of technology at PTC and a senior research fellow at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology – and Beni Cukurel, an associate professor of aerospace at Technion. The two took their scientific research in jet propulsion and their engineering expertise and designed the engine for additive manufacturing.
When designing the engine, the researchers focused on:
A lightweight design: That required sophisticated lattice modeling and generative design for material and weight reduction while maintaining the appropriate strength and performance that could match designs with more material and heavier weight.
Self-supporting geometries for 3D Printing: That means the software had to optimize designs for printability. Creo needed to create self-supported formula-driven lattices that can be paired with printability checks and modifiers to adjust the design for printing efficiency.
3D printing equipment interoperability: Creo software is compatible with most 3D printing equipment for printing and post-processing. Creo provides a variety of formats, including 3MF, for sending 3D models to the market’s various printer technologies, while also allowing users to create associative models for machining operations. This micro-jet engine was printed with an EOS printer.
In a statement, Cukurel acknowledged that designing the engine with Horin was the culmination of many years of research that included staying on top of advancements in the supporting technology of 3D printing and design software. He noted that the design offers a viable way of producing micro turbojet engines.
While this machine is not the first 3D-printed jet engine — Monash University in Australia claimed that title in 2015, and GE claimed it in 2020 – Cukurel and Horin can probably claim bragging rights for doing it as one piece.
Israel’s ophthalmologists are getting a boost from innovators developing solutions for eye diseases and eye health.
“I think we can see how this industry has matured in Israel, both on the management side, and in the sense of understanding what to develop, and how to develop it,” says Dr. Barak Azmon, a pioneering entrepreneur in the country’s ophthalmology industry.
Azmon is chair of the ophthalmology session at next week’s annual Biomed Conference in Tel Aviv, which showcases the latest developments in healthcare, and will be exhibiting some of these new ocular technologies.
“In Israel, there are around 70 startups in the ophthalmologic space. It’s probably more than in the Silicon Valley or any other region alone,” says Azmon.
“As we will show in this conference, we have a unique year where nine companies in the ophthalmology space have already launched new products or are expected to do so by the end of the year.”
NoCamels takes a look at some of the most innovative solutions in the field of eye health in Israel:
Orasis: Eyedrops For Better Vision
Many people over the age of 45 who have always had 20/20 vision find themselves suddenly needing reading glasses as their eyes age – a chronic inconvenience whose long-term solution is an invasive medical procedure.
But now new eyedrops developed by Orasis will be able to correct farsightedness (presbyopia) – albeit for a few hours.
“We aspire to make near vision clear again for people with presbyopia by empowering them with an unparalleled solution, an eye drop that will provide them with comfort and control of their near vision,” said Elad Kedar, CEO of Orasis.
The eyedrop improves patients’ vision by constricting the pupil, resulting in a “pinhole effect” and increasing their depth of field and ability to focus on nearby objects.
Presbyopia is a result of the natural aging process, and there are almost two billion people living with it globally. They experience blurred vision when performing daily tasks like reading a book, a restaurant menu or messages on a smartphone.
It cannot be prevented or reversed, and it continues to progress gradually. All existing treatment options are either inconvenient, like reading glasses and contact lenses, or invasive, like refractive surgery that changes the shape of your cornea and lens implants, which replace the lens in each eye with a synthetic one.
Orasis’ eye drops will be sold in the US by the end of the year.
CorNeat Vision: Synthetic Sight
Over two million people lose their vision every year due to a group of eye diseases known as corneal blindness.
The only effective treatment available is a cornea transplant – the clear, front part of the eye that absorbs light, which is later translated by the retina into the images that we see.
Problem is, there’s a shortage of cornea donors worldwide. In China, for example, there are five million patients with corneal blindness, but only 5,000 possible transplants a year.
Furthermore, artificial corneas are not effective for more than a few months as the immune system sees them as something foreign that needs to be dissolved or expelled.
But startup CorNeat Vision says it has developed a synthetic cornea that can fully rehabilitate corneal blind patients and integrate into their eye tissue.
The “skirt”, or rim of the lens, is made of a patented plastic that stimulates the cells to accept it and incorporate it into the eye tissue.
“There’s no other material that seamlessly embeds itself with live human tissue for life,” says Almog Aley-Raz, CEO.
“When you implant anything, it triggers a foreign body response, and our immune system will work to degrade and eventually absorb it or, in case it is non-degradable, it will encapsulate it with a granuloma (a cluster of white blood cells and other tissue), isolating it from the body.”
It uses the electrospinning technique – an existing method of creating tiny polymers and metals – to fabricate a rim for an artificial lens, which until now has been seen as an engineering challenge.
The CorNeat KPro is currently undergoing clinical trials, and is expected to be approved for marketing late in 2024.
NovaSight: New Way of Testing
We are all familiar with the ubiquitous eye chart to test our vision, and while it may be effective for adults and adolescents, that isn’t the case for children.
They often don’t cooperate or are simply incapable of taking the test because they’re too young.
NovaSight has developed an eye exam that tracks the position and gaze of the eye to assess their vision.
All the patient needs to do is watch a video on a tablet that is mounted with an inconspicuous eye tracker called the EyeSwift.
The video shows dots that are constantly moving across the screen, and its resolution gradually reduces over time, becoming more and more foggy.
The company’s algorithms then determine the patient’s level of eyesight once their eyes can no longer follow the target. Its creators say it is simple, accurate and more accessible for both children and adults than traditional eye exams.
“We see when the kid or the adult is not able to track this moving target anymore, just by looking at their eyes,” says Ran Yam, CEO of NovaSight. “We know exactly what their threshold vision is without asking them anything, and without them saying anything.”
Until now, eye tracking has mostly been used for gaming or in expensive medical devices such as those used for people living with ALS (an incurable disease of the nervous system) and not in eye care.
“The technology became more affordable over time, so we took that opportunity in order to integrate it into medical devices for vision care,” Yam explains.
The EyeSwift also offers a variety of vision tests, including for color blindness, reading performance, stereoacuity (a person’s ability to detect differences in distance) and more. The same technology also powers the company’s treatment for lazy eye.
NovaSight is this month launching a commercial pilot with Opticana, one of Israel’s leading optical chains.
Notal Vision: Speedy Home Diagnosis
Worsening eyesight is an unfortunate part of aging. For 200 million people worldwide, it comes in the form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a treatable but recurring disease where the central part of a person’s vision becomes blurred or distorted over a period of days or weeks.
If the condition worsens, the person may struggle to see anything in the center of their field of vision, and a lack of regular oversight by a physician could mean that their eyesight has irreparably deteriorated.
Notal Vision provides these patients with a daily home monitoring device using artificial intelligence that within three minutes identifies the onset or reactivation of AMD, thereby offering better, faster and more personalized care.
“The patient puts their head into a viewer where they watch stimuli, and use a computer mouse to click on a location where they spot distortions,” explains Dr. Kester Nahen, CEO of Notal Vision.
“After our AI algorithm analyzes the data, their physician is notified through our monitoring center that provides the service, and a decision can be made to bring the patient into the office for further imaging.”
Notal Vision says a study showed that 81 percent of patients whose AMD progressed and were using their ForeseeHome device maintained 20/40 (or better) vision, compared to only 32 percent of patients whose diagnosis was at a routine eye exam or a medical consultation triggered by symptoms.
The company’s new device, the Home OCT system, will help physicians monitor the symptoms and progression of patients with wet AMD, a more serious form of the disease, and offer personalized treatment. It is expected to be in use in the United States by the end of the year.
Aleph Farms, which a Technion professor co-founded, continues to break more records in this latest development
The first company to grow steaks directly from the cells of cows has now received the first halachic ruling regarding the kosher status of cultivated meat.
Chief Rabbi of Israel, David Lau, made the announcement yesterday (Wednesday, January 18th), following an examination of the production methods in the company’s laboratory and speaking with experts in the field.
Rabbi Lau noted, however, that if it is marketed as meat or is “similar to meat in taste and smell”, it should not be mixed or consumed with dairy products.
Co-founded by Technion Professor, Shulamit Levenberg, from the Biomedical Engineering Faculty at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, Aleph Farms has – to date – raised $120 million in funding. It is awaiting marketing approval for its first product – Minute Steak – before it enters the market for the first time.
Other notable animal-free produce startups linked to the Technion include SavorEat, a company that produces 3D-printed burger patties via a robot chef using ingredient cartridges, SuperMeat, which takes cell cultures from chickens and Imagindairy, which develops real milk in the lab without harming animals.
Aleph Farms hopes to launch its Minute Steak in Israel this year, followed by other countries around the world next year.
Meanwhile, Professor Levenberg is working on a host of other exciting innovations, including genetically engineering muscle tissue to cure type-2 diabetes and treating spinal cord injury patients with exosome therapy, which contains three times the amount of growth factors of stem cells, is less invasive and doesn’t rely on human donors.
Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon spent time at the Israel Institute of Technology on an official visit to Israel
The Technion – Israel Institute of Technology was delighted to welcome the Minister of State for the Middle East to its campus this week.
Lord Tariq Ahmad – a British Muslim politician – was impressed with the proportion of Arab students on campus. 30% of this years new students are from the Arab Community and benefit from the Technion Empowerment Programme which gives them individual attention, supervision and monitoring, particularly in their learning of Hebrew which is one of the biggest challenges for Arab students.
This educational model has since been copied by other institutions throughout Israel, enabling a growth in Arab university students in Israel of 78% over seven years, according to research by Israel’s Council for Higher Education.
Lord Ahmad – along with representatives from the British Embassy and the British Council – were welcomed to the campus by the President of the Technion, Uri Sivan, along with several members of the senior team. They learned that 5,000 out of 20,000 students live on campus – the highest number in Israel.
He asked about all the impressive high-tech companies he had driven past on his way to the campus, such as Google and Intel, and learned that they have all come to Haifa because of the Technion and to recruit graduates from the University.
He was also interested to learn that nearly 70% of the founders and CEOs of Israeli start-up companies are Technion graduates and that there are two campuses abroad – one in China and one in New York.
Taking to Twitter following his visit, he wrote: “Fantastic to visit Technion – Israel Institute of Technology University and learn more about the vibrant Israeli innovation scene. I met Professor Uri Sivan and with Professor Hossam Hayek, a BIRAX recipient who created the groundbreaking ‘Alzheimer’s breath test’.”
This invention. which is also used to detect cancer in a matter of seconds was shown to King Charles when he last visited Israel a few years ago. He said that this is a remarkable technological development and an ingenious invention.
Last month the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology synthetic biology team took off for theInternational Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) competition, held in Paris. The students in the group were engineering special bacteria that will produce an industrial substance that deters hair loss, and which can be added to regular shampoos and other haircare products.
This year, the iGEM team from the Technion included 12 students from across the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering, the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Science, the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, and the Ruth and Bruce Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. The team recently received a special Impact grant given to only a small number of the teams participating in the global competition based on their projected benefits to humanity.
Every year, the team chooses an innovative project in the field of synthetic biology, and this year, it involves substances that inhibit hair loss caused by chemotherapy. One of the most common cancer treatments, chemotherapy causes damage to healthy, living tissues and oftentimes hair loss, among other severe side effects.
The Technion team set to compete in iGEM worked on proving the feasibility of lab production of Decursin, a hair loss deterrent, and its possible incorporation into preparations including shampoo, cream, and more. Decursin is a major component of Angelica gigas Nakai (AGN) root extract. It has many beneficial properties including the abilities to suppress inflammation, repress cancer, and prevent apoptosis – or programmed cell death, which includes hair cells.
Today, the molecule is produced from a rare seasonal flower grown in Korea in an expensive and inefficient process. The student team is engineering bacteria that will produce Decursin industrially.
The prestigious iGEM competition was founded in 2004 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to give students, mainly undergraduates, a chance to experience scientific and applied research in the world of synthetic biology. Since its inception, the competition has been held in Boston. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was held online for the past two years.
This year, more than 300 teams from around the world will participate in the competition, including three Israeli teams – one from the Technion, one from Tel Aviv University, and one from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The first Israeli iGEM team was established at the Technion in 2012 under the guidance of Professor Roee Amit, a faculty member in the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering. He guides the Technion team to this day.
Over the years, teams from the Technion have won multiple gold medals in the competition. But according to Prof. Amit, “Beyond participation and winning, it is important to understand that some of the developments by the Technion teams have already been turned into applied and commercial tracks and have a real impact in the world. One of the most prominent examples is Koracell, which was founded on the basis of the technology developed by our students in preparation for a competition iGEM in 2019. The group developed an innovative technology for the production of honey without bees using a genetically engineered bacterium. This technology allows the honey’s texture and taste to be precisely designed, and it is also a platform for simulating other natural metabolic processes.”
Technion Is Europe’s top university in the field of artificial at intelligence for the second year in a row calling to an international ranking of computer science institutions globally
The university also placed 16th in the world in the field of AI and 10th in the world in the subfield of learning systems.
The Technion continues to establish its position as the leading research institution in Israel and Europe in the core areas of artificial intelligence, thanks to the unique work environment that exists in this field at the Technion,” said Shie Mannor, a co-director of Tech.AI − Technion Artificial Intelligence Hub.
Around 150 Technion researchers are involved in Tech.AI, applying advanced AI practices to a variety of fields including data science, medical research, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, architecture and biology
Solidifying the Technion‘s position as a pioneer and world leader in the field of AI and spreading the knowledge acquired in this process to the commercial world in all its aspects are very important national tasks,” said fellow Tech.Al Co-Director Assaf Schuster.
According to Shai Shen-Orr, who leads the biomed activity and AI solutions for the health sector within Tech.AI, the centre has used its advancements in the field of AI to create partnerships with companies such as Pfizer and IBM and leading medical institutions including the Rambam Health Care Campus in Israel and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre.
The Technion recently announced that it has established a new institute that will focus on applying AI research to create solutions in the field of human health and medicine.
And why H2Pro, set up by Technion Professors is the Israeli startup we all need to know about!
We are living through an exciting part of the global journey to reducing carbon emissions, thanks to a transition to clean energy that’s gaining serious momentum.
Between the ongoing economic recovery from Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine – highlighting the need for the Western world to become energy independent – investments in the global renewable energy market are expected to increase significantly.
By 2040, around 10% of the world’s primary energy demand could be replaced by hydrogen, while the global hydrogen market is expected to more than double by 2050.
Israel, as one example, is currently aiming for 30% of its energy to be renewable by 2030 – a considerable increase on the 2020 total of 7%.
But its success relies on many factors, such as creating more storage, reducing the reliance on fossil fuels and making energy systems more flexible and resilient.
As the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen is a portable, scalable fuel that can serve as a lifeline to sectors that are difficult and costly to electrify, such as long-haul trucking, maritime shipping and air travel.
As a zero-carbon duel, it is also an environmentally-friendly option for high-heat industrial processes, such as steel and cement.
The one to watch out for
While others are developing in the market, H2Pro is at the forefront of making these targets a reality, thanks to its revolutionary method for efficiently splitting water into its two components of hydrogen and oxygen.
Using electricity, the elements are generated separately, unlike conventional electrolysis, enabling a 95% system efficiency.
Founded by Professors Gideon Grader and Avner Rothschild and Drs. Hen Dotan and Avigail Landman of the Grand Technion Energy Programme in 2019, the company, which counts Bill Gates as an investor, has laid the cornerstone of its first production facility, which, when completed, will produce affordable green renewable energy at scale.