High-tech, Biotech Projects Highlight BIRD Grants

The Israeli-American Binational Industrial Research and Development Fund (BIRD) approved grants to 14 cooperative projects yesterday.

One grant will finance a joint development project between Israeli SoftExpress and Fulcrum I.T. Services. The project will focus on the development of live video broadcasting to a mobile device or PC via 3G technology.

BIRD approved a number of medical instrumentation and biotechnology projects, including one between Israel's Vascular Technologies and B. Braun Medical of the U.S. for the development of micro-instruments that enable the precise penetration of needles into blood vessels. Another project between the American firm Sirogenesis and Israeli Biotechnology General will develop instruments for the treatment of respiratory distress in premature infants.

The fund approved an alternative energy project between Israel's Zephyr ProteomiX and Donaldson Company that will focus on developing nanocomposites for the production of ethanol and waste treatment. The foundation also approved a security project between the American company Vicon and Israel's Agent V.I. for the development of a smart system for securing schools.

At the fund's 30th anniversary celebration earlier this month, Google's Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist, Dr. Vinton Cerf, outlined sustainable trends including increased computing power, network and storage capacity, lifespan and productivity. Unsustainable trends include increasing carbon emissions and the percentage of the world population living in poverty.

Cerf added that in 1997 there were 50 million Internet users while today the number has grown to 1.1 billion. Even so, that number represents 17 percent of the entire world, "leaving plenty of opportunities for innovation and more Internet penetration, especially in underdeveloped parts of the world."

At the same event, GE Global Research Senior Vice President and Director Dr. Mark M. Little discussed that due to the world's growing population and life expectancy, there will be increased demand for more electricity, clean water and access to affordable, quality healthcare. He noted that ecologically oriented products have become "hot" items in the company, which has already invested in a cleaner coal burner, hybrid locomotive train, and more than $5 billion in wind energy.