‘Grand Challenges Israel’ announces global health innovations

Top Israeli innovators receive grants for bold ideas to find solutions for developing nations – markets in which there’s a real need for urgent solutions.

(Photo; shutterstuck)

(Photo; shutterstuck)

The winners of the Grand Challenges Israel 2014 Awards were announced today by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and his Canadian counterpart, Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird at a festive ceremony in Jerusalem. The Foreign Ministers also signed four agreements, two of which were MOUs and two declarations of intent, underlining the strong diplomatic and economic ties between Israel and Canada.

Canadian Foreign Minister, John Baird: “The friendship between Canada and Israel is the foundation for increasing dynamic partnerships, partnership in diplomacy and government but also a partnership in innovation, science, business and cultural ties.”

The funding announcement comes one year after the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS) at the Israeli Ministry of Economy together with MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, launched Grand Challenges Israel. This program is dedicated to supporting technological and innovative solutions to grand challenges in global health and food security in developing countries, in addition to expanding efforts to integrate Israeli innovation in developing markets.

Israeli Chief Scientist Avi Hasson: “In Israel, there is a large community of developers and entrepreneurs whose innovations are focused primarily on Western European and North American markets. The goal of this program is to steer Israeli entrepreneurs towards finding solutions for developing nations – those markets in which there’s a real need for urgent solutions – as well as opening up a huge, untapped business potential for Israeli entrepreneurs and industrialists. Nothing speaks louder than success, and today the success that these entrepreneurs and innovators have achieved will pave the way for our future scientists and entrepreneurs, working together to ‘do good and do well.’”

MASHAV Head Amb. Gil Haskel: “This special program reflects Israel’s desire to continue to aid developing nations in areas of relevance to them, marking the point at which Israeli diplomacy and technological innovation meet.”

The Grand Challenges Israel initiative is modeled on the Stars in Global Health program of Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, which is already making substantial contributions to global health and is part of the Grand Challenges Initiative launched by the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation in 2003.

Within this framework, Grand Challenges Israel is offering yearly grants of up to 500,000 NIS to Israeli researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs for the proof of concept and development of their product/innovation in areas of global public health and food security, while providing a suitable framework for channeling and introducing Israeli innovative technology and services to this challenging and growing market.

After a call for proposals by Grand Challenges Israel in early 2014, ten Israeli companies – out of more than 100 applicants – with promising innovations were awarded a seed grant of up to 500,000 NIS each to develop their bold idea.

The projects are:

Health care:

• Ariel Beeri, Everywhere Diagnostics: Ending cervical cancer by enabling screening using mobile phones.
• Yossi Alder, Respimometer: Early detection of pneumonia with a simple & efficient diagnostic tool.
• Tomer Keren, Biogal, Galed Labs Acs Ltd.: Point of Care PCR-like detection test kit for Leptospirosis, a neglected worldwide public health problem.
• Sagi Gliksman, Nanovation-GS: Sticky patch for early detection of pneumonia.
• Amir Galili, Westham Ltd.: New approach-method for controlling African Malaria vectors.

Water, Food Security & Agriculture:

• Rom Kshuk, Oplone Pure Science: Oplone Safe Water Strip.
• Pablo Kaplan, Sharp Mentoring (originally Wheelchairs of Hope): Delivering mobility, empowering access to education and independence.
• Alan Bauer, Aquatest: Personal Water Safety Device.
• Ram Reifen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Chickpea – the superfood.
• Haim Avioz, Tiran University: Development of biotechnology for all-male African River prawn aquaculture.