Tech investor, entrepreneur and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am: “Silicon Valley wouldn't be Silicon Valley if it wasn't for the innovative minds, the spark that’s happening here in Tel Aviv.
IMPROVATE founders Irina Nevzlin and Ronit Hassin Hochman: “Our international innovation forum will yield business deals that will bring Israeli innovation to center stage.”
IMPROVATE, a platform for connecting change-makers and decision-makers, held its first annual International Innovation forum in Jerusalem on November 29, with the participation of speakers and representatives from over 20 countries.
World leaders - past and present - opinion shapers, investors and technology experts, got together for a series of panel discussions and lectures on ‘The Impact of Innovation For All,’ ‘Technology in the Service of Medicine,’ ‘Food security in an Era of Climate Change,’ as well as panels on the latest threats and developments in Homeland Security and Cyber Security.
Opening the event, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said the IMPROVATE International Innovation Forum was “one of the most important conferences held in Jerusalem in the past decade.” The event ended with a performance by the Black Eyed Peas at Jerusalem’s Pais Arena in front of the conference participants and thousands of fans of the international supergroup.
Among those attending the forum were futurist, tech entrepreneur and Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am; the former prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair; former world chess champion and leading AI and Cyber Security thinker, Garry Kasparov; international businessman and investor Mikhail Khodorkovsky; philanthropist and publisher, Leonid Nevzlin; two-time Israel Defense Prize winner, and inventor of the Iron Dome missile defense system, Dr. Danny Gold; and IMPROVATE board members, former Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev, former Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta and Maj-Gen (Ret) Amos Gilead, the Executive Director of the Institute For Policy And Strategy at IDC Herzliya and Chairman of the Institute's annual Herzliya Conference.
Leading Israeli technology and innovation, and investment companies presented at the forum: Bright Data, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Netafim, Pluristem, Mekorot GMedical, EPM, Tempramed, Gadfin, Precise Bio, Rithem LIfe Sciences, Controp, BIOHOUSE, General Robotics, SYS Technologies, AVA Biodefender, Skivolt, Initiium Cyber Security and the Atmosphere Fund
Discussing the company’s vision, Co-Founder and Chair Irina Nevzlin, said: “To bring together people from different environments and different cultures - governments, businesses, you name it, you need to create a shared language. So our job here at IMPROVATE is to create a platform that allows everybody to start building a common language because that’s a win-win for all of us.”
“In order to create win-win solutions in our complex world, you cannot have one leader, one perspective, one viewpoint; it’s too complicated for that. What you need is different skills, different ideas, and people who want to come together to achieve a lasting change. IMPROVATE is exactly the platform that can make it work.”
Artist and tech entrepreneur, will.i.am, known to many for fronting the supergroup Black Eyed Peas, spoke about a range of topics, including the role of technology and innovation in music, his investments in Israel, and using technology to create a fairer society.
Will.i.am described Israeli tech talent as “mindblowing”. “Israeli talent is by far the greatest in the region, you have the most talented people here... Everybody knows the marketing and the power and the might of Silicon Valley, but Silicon Valley wouldn't be Silicon Valley if it wasn't for the innovative minds, the spark that’s happening here in Tel Aviv.”
On his work promoting art and science education among disadvantaged youth, will.i.am said: “AI and natural language understanding is the bright light at the end of the tunnel because now you have you know designer mentors on a digital level that understand the kids’ needs and can teach a kid in ways that traditional classrooms we're always behind on”
On using technology to create a fairer society, will.i.am called on the tech corporations to free up data. “The trick is data and who owns it,” he said. “How do you equip people with their own data, so that the machine, the AI, can really understand them to help them with what I call information GPS, like the GPS that gets me from one place to another ... if a person wants to change their life, they want to come from poverty and be agile if they want to change their health, if they want to go from weighing a certain amount of pounds and stones and be healthy, you need to own your own data. And so these are things that we haven't even scratched the surface on. Because the business models of the juggernauts don't allow the individual to own their data.”
Or Lenchner, CEO of Bright Data, an industry-leading web data collection platform, dedicated to making public web data accessible to all, said: “What we see is that once you give people access to the resource [data] they can do the most incredible things you wouldn't even imagine. It's really similar to electricity, so you can build everything. And data in my opinion is a new type of electricity.”
Lenchner also spoke about the Bright Data Initiative in which the company gives away its data tools pro bono for NGOs, non-profit organizations, and academic institutions. “Over 300 academic institutions have already joined the initiative. For example, one of the leading universities in Zurich joined the initiative and used our software to collect public data on court records in India with the goal to try and understand or try to quantify gender-based discrimination in the legal system in India. It’s amazing, it’s public data, it's there, you just need to be able to collect it and analyze it. We're very proud that we have been able to prove that with access to data you can do good.”
Speaking about the NSO affair, following its blacklisting by the United States as well as legal action taken against it by big tech companies including Facebook and Apple, former world chess champion and renowned cyber and AI expert Garry Kasparov, said governments needed to regulate the distribution of certain cyber technologies
“There is no point in regulating technology itself,” said Kasparov, “because if it can be done it will be done, but governments can control the distribution of technologies” and make sure it does not get into the hands of regimes and elements that abuse it for malign purposes. Governments, he said, had to show political will and to remember that “the best form of defense is offense.”
“It is a subject we have to talk about,” he said. “We are in the midst of a digital cold war and we need a strategy to deal with it.”
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the founder of the Yukos oil company and an international businessman and investor warned of the dangers of unregulated technology being manipulated by populist politicians.
“Just try to imagine 20 years ago if you wanted to appeal to people you had perhaps a newspaper and television and if you were to say something that is complete nonsense this mediator had an editor and a proof-reader that would put you in a very uncomfortable position. But now you can have your own [social media} account and you can say whatever you want and no one will look at what you say critically so they can be completely miss-led,” Khodorkovsky said.
“We have a whole string of populist politicians that are using that for their own benefit and that they are forming an audience so what is happening is that people are making decisions concerning their lives in fields in which they have absolutely no competency. A great example is Brexit. People made a decision and now they are encountering problems but they do not understand this is an outcome of their decisions.
Former Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, said IMPROVATE had a major role to play in getting policymakers to adopt new technologies.
“The single toughest thing for people in government, for policymakers, is a lack of understanding of what technology can do. Technology is going to change everything; it is the 21st century equivalent of the 19th-century industrial revolution. Literally, everything is going to get disrupted and change .... the most important thing platforms such as IMPROVATE can do is get policymakers to understand what is possible and understand how they might apply it.”
Speaking on a Food Security panel, former Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev said: Food production and agricultural technologies are a huge, strategically important industry of the future and we are just at the beginning of this development. Israeli companies are extremely well-positioned to unlock that potential. The time has come for Israeli companies to scale up on smart agriculture because you have the technologies that are solving problems. Let's make them available to everyone.”
IMPROVATE CEO Ronit Hassin Hochman said: “Several months of intense work came to fruition on a day in which we succeeded in bringing together leading Israeli technology companies with decision-makers and senior representatives from over 20 countries. During the forum itself and in the days following dozens of business meetings were held between these incredible tech companies and the representatives from across the globe, and that is a huge success.
The IMPROVATE International Innovation Forum has already led and will continue to lead to business collaborations and opportunities on a wide scale. Following on from the forum, we will lead a business delegation to Eastern Europe next month and we are working on our next conference in Budapest
Let’s make it work!”
Boaz Levi, President and CEO of IAI, the largest aerospace and defense company in Israel with $4.5 billion a year in revenues, discussed IAI’s system of systems architecture and how it is bringing holistic disruptive solutions to the table, and how it is investing in the synergy between military and civilian products.
Levi said: Holistic, disruptive solutions require leadership. We are stabilizing the future by investing in systems in architectures and in ideas and we are also changing policy and entering into the innovation with a new approach to adaptable products.”
Yaki Yanay, CEO of Pluristem, which extracts stem cells from postnatal placenta to create treatments for diseases, said: ‘We must change our health care system entirely. From treating human beings with endless chronic treatments and then hospitalizations, to developing agents that will be able to regenerate and to heal our bodies. That's the only way to go. It is exactly what cell therapy is about...I truly believe that we are at the beginning of a biotech revolution and more specifically that cells have the capabilities to solve some of our major most important problems because today we have the abilities to control and to leverage the building blocks of life.. we are just at the beginning of exploring this microscopic universe.”
General Manager of Innovation and Ventures at the Mekorot National Water Company, David Balsar, noted that Israel had managed to detach itself from dependency on climate with 80 percent of drinking water coming from desalination and 90 percent recycling of waste water. Balsar gave a review of some of the start-ups Mekorot invests in, including sourcing and locating technologies with Microsoft and migrating them to water uses. Among the companies Mekorot invests in are IXDen, which provides cyber security for IOT devices and secures water sensors to detect anomalies; CQM Water is a compact transferable devices that generates chlorine; NewSight Imaging is a semiconductor company that Mekorot has partnered with to create a smart sensor to identify the smallest particles in water; and Evolution Water, which uses AI to drive significant energy savings in water systems.
Elad Levi, Head of Middle East and North Africa at drip irrigation pioneer and agritech innovator Netafim said: “The new generation of farmers is much more open to adopt new technologies, for example, our NetBeat digital farming system, which is a control and monitoring system that enables farmers to take decisions based on real time data from remote sensors in the field 24/7. I think that the day that farmers will manage their farms from their smartphone is very, very near. We will see more and more farms that are active on line and taking data-based decisions that will enable them to be much more precise, and to increase yields while reducing resource use, which is, I believe, the most important impact to address the climate change trend that we see all over the world.”
EPM, led by CEO Reshef Swisa, is a pharmaceutical company that develops innovative, safer drugs, free of harsh side effects. These drugs are derived from synthetic cannabinoid acids, inspired by the cannabis plant. They have the potential to meet patient needs in a wide range of therapeutic areas, improving the health and quality of life of millions of patients around the world, and presenting an alternative to steroid treatments.
EPM is currently developing drugs ahead of human clinical trials, with a focus on orphan diseases, for the following medical indications: Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) and metabolic syndrome, and the skin disease, psoriasis. Prof. Dan Peer, Vice President of R&D at Tel Aviv University, and a member of EPM’s scientific advisory board spoke at length about the great medical potential of EPM’s molecules, which were discovered in experiments in preclinical models of various diseases. Promising results were observed in experiments conducted by Prof. Peer in models of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), among other things when compared to steroid treatments.
Other companies presenting at the forum were:
GMedical, a next-generation mobile health (mHealth) and e-health company that develops and markets clinical and consumer medical-grade health monitoring solutions, and offers end-to-end support for e-health projects.
MSD-Merck is a global pharmaceutical company that has been developing breakthrough drugs and vaccines for over 125 years for the benefit of public health around the world. The company invests major resources in the research and development of modern technologies for disease prevention and treatment, and it specializes in a wide range of fields, including oncology, vaccines, infectious diseases, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Tempramed develops, manufactures, and markets compact, reusable, and maintenance-free smart medical devices for the last mile of the cold supply chain of medications, from the pharmacy to end of use by the patient. The company's products include VIVI CAP, a replacement cap for insulin pen caps; VIVI VIAL for drug vials; VIVI EPI for EpiPen; and the VIVI 8c series, which cools to 8 degrees Celsius.
Gadfin Aero-Logistics Systems develops fast, hydrogen-powered drones with a quiet signature for long-range urgent deliveries and preventative maintenance missions. Among Gadfin's drones is Spirit-One, a long-range VTOL delivery drone for 3-6 kg (6-13 lb) payloads that, for the first time, enables effective delivery of medical and other time-critical supplies at low cost.
Precise Bio is bringing the paradigm of regenerative medicine together with bio-printing for a 4D platform that enables bio-fabrication of tissues for many fields of healthcare, including cardiology, orthopedics, dermatology, and more.
Rithem Life Sciences has developed the ResQR—a CPR aid that assists in the delivery of “hands-only” CPR, and the JoltzAED—the smallest, lightest, and most affordable fully-functioning AED (automatic external defibrillation) unit, an integral part of the CPR protocol. These two devices have the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives each year.
Controp specializes in the development and production of electro-optical and precision motion control systems for air, land and maritime, surveillance, defense and Homeland Security applications.
BIOHOUSE is a medical technology stakeholder community, with a network of spaces designed specifically for medical start-ups, and providing core facilities, infrastructure, and expertise to its members.
General Robotics develops robotic systems for use in the most dangerous areas before humans are sent in. The company's products are designed to meet the operational needs of infantry, SWAT, and special operation teams; law enforcement agencies; and first responders. Its systems are in operational use by special forces around the globe,
SYS Technologies offers a variety of solutions and breakthrough technologies in the field of indoor clean environment systems, as well as portable solutions. Its systems create spaces free of contaminants (particles, bacteria, microbes, etc.). The systems have broad applications, both in the medical field (operating rooms, isolation facilities, etc.) and in the high-tech industry (cleanrooms for a variety of purposes).
AVA Biodefender is a biotechnology company that has developed proprietary technology based on Nobel Prize-winning research, that uses siRNA and CRISPR to destroy viral genetic code and kill viruses and their mutations in poultry and humans
Skivolt has developed a revolutionary electric, zero-emissions, light-weight, jet-ski bike that is easy to transport and use offers upgraded performance over existing water jet skis
Initium Cyber Security a confidential-computing encryption technology provider that enables, through its patent-pending mechanism, for data to remain encrypted, whilst showing the data on-screen to the end user in a secured and zero-trust application
The Atmosphere Fund, part of the Shani Shenhav Group, manages long-term financing investments in a variety of sectors: industry, hospitality, energy, retail, high-tech, and more, with an emphasis on green environmentally-friendly investments, innovative technologies, and investments of social benefit.
Sineterra A new and unique food-tech system, developed for growing. Processing and distributing high-quality fresh produce. In major cities around the world
IMPROVATE is about making practical changes – exposing Israeli tech innovators to governments, investors and companies around the world. In addition to connections and introductions already struck on the sidelines of the International Innovation Forum, IMPROVATE will follow up with business delegations to generate meetings with high-level government officials and business executive and create concrete opportunities.
IMPROVATE’s next conference will be held in Budapest, Hungary and will focus on exposing Israeli medical technologies to government officials and businesses from around eastern Europe.
Presented by IMPROVATE