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InSightec has won the European 2004 IST Grand Prize. The company, controlled by Elbit Medical Imaging (54 percent) and General Electric Medical Systems (19.5 percent), won the award, which includes 200,000 euros and the IST prize trophy, for its ExAblate 2000, a noninvasive thermal ablation system.

Dr. Kobi Vortman, president and CEO of InSightec, said the prize was in recognition of the commercial potential of its ablation system, its innovativeness, and its ability to help in medical treatment. Vortman added that the Europeans invest a great deal in research-and-development efforts and resources to counterbalance the United States. He pointed to an expenditure of some 1 billion euros this year in R&D programs.

A delighted Vortman said that, in addition to the cash prize, InSightec could use the European IST Grand Prize logo, which would have a positive impact on its marketing ability, particularly in Europe, though also in the U.S. and Japan. "Since winning last Thursday," Vortman said, "we have received many e-mails of congratulations from the U.S., which has really surprised us."

Established in 1999, InSightec has become a market leader in the field of noninvasive surgery to remove tumors through the use of high intensity focused ultrasound, similar to that of using a magnifying glass to focus the sun's energy on a single spot.

InSightec's award-winning ExAblate 2000 is a focused ultrasound ablation device that can be integrated with a GE 1.5T Magnetic Resonance Imaging System. The role of MR is to help the physician identify the target volume of tissue to be ablated, and then to monitor the delivery of ultrasound energy.

The MR system is widely used in hospitals throughout the world, which improves InSightec's opportunities to market its ExAblate system in the treatment of breast cancer and uterine fibroids.

GEMS has invested $13 million in InSightec. The Israeli company has so far sold one ExAblate system in Israel, another in the United States and has signed a $36 million contract in Japan.

The 2004 IST Grand Prize was awarded to two others, Cedes/Csem of Switzerland, for its ESPROS/TOF, miniaturized optical time-of-flight 3D cameras, and Picsel Technologies of Britain for its ePage. The three winners competed against some 430 companies from 28 countries. In the final stages, this was shortlisted to 20.

Now in its ninth year, the European IST Prize is an award for groundbreaking products that represent the best of European innovation in information technology. According to the literature, "it provides public recognition and a highly visible profile to entrepreneurial teams that excel in generating novel ideas and R&D and converting them into marketable products."