It’s time for the latest installment of my Good News Friday series, so here we go!
The first item is from the sports arena where we learn that Israeli judokas won five medals in European competitions last week:
Israeli judokas won five medals — including two golds — at European competitions Saturday, marking one of the best days in the history of the blue-and-white team.
Yarden Gerbi won gold at the Moscow Grand Slam, beating opponents from Italy, Mongolia, Brazil, and Holland en route to her first place finish in the under 57 kilogram event. […]
In the under 52kg competition, Gili Cohen and Roni Schwartz took the two bronze medals, earning the women’s team a total of three podium finishes in the prestigious tournament.
Shani Hershko, the coach of Israel’s female national team, told the Hebrew language sporting network One that the results showed “the depth, abilities and qualities Israeli judo possesses.” […]
Hatikvah, Israel’s national anthem, was also played in Germany as Tommy Arshansky won gold in the under 60kg category at the European Cup. Arshansky, 22, defeated five opponents to win the event, proving his appearance at the 2012 Olympics wasn’t a one-time event.
Also in Germany, Tal Flicker came in third in the under 66kg category, earning the men’s team its second medal of the day. Alon Rahima narrowly missed a medal, as he lost his final fight to a Swiss opponent and finished fifth in the under 60kg category.
“I’m proud of the national team and the progress we’ve [been] making this past year,” coach Oren Smadja said. Alluding to the complex financial issues facing the athletes and the judo union, the Olympic medalist said his players “proved themselves week after week” despite “all the difficulties facing us.”
This is fantastic news, especially for a nation not well-known for its success in sports. Kol hakavod to all the judokas and their trainers and may they continue to enjoy many more success for themselves and for Israel.
My next item comes from far-away India, which is negotiating with Israel a Free Trade Agreement:
Israel is negotiating with India the contours of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), said Eli Belotsercovsky, Director of Economic Relations with India and China in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday. However, Mr. Belotsercovsky refused to spell out a timeframe in which the negotiations, which have been on for more than a year, would conclude.
Israel’s trade with China is about $8 billion, compared to $5 billion with India. Mr. Belotsercovsky said diamonds accounted for about 30-40 per cent of the two-way trade between the two countries. “Nearly two-thirds of Israeli exports are hi-tech products,” he said. Asked if the Israel’s focus on India and China resulted from the economic slowdown in the West, Mr. Belotsercovsky said, “Israel had adopted a look East policy much before the global slowdown began.” However, he admitted that Israeli exports to the European Union “have been at a standstill in the last couple of years.” While the EU accounted for 30 per cent of Israeli exports, the U.S. accounted for about 20 per cent, he pointed out.
The Jewish Press adds:
Today Israel is India’s second largest arms supplier after Russia. According to PR Kumaraswamy, a professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, “Growing military cooperation extends beyond arms sales to technology upgrades, joint research, and intelligence cooperation. Despite its possible implications for use against Iran, on January 21, 2008, India launched a 300-kilogram Israeli satellite into orbit.”
However, military ties between India and Israel are not the only aspect of Indian-Israeli relations that are thriving, for India is Israel’s eighth largest trading partner. As Israeli Ambassador to India, Alon Ushpiz, emphasized in the Indian Express, “India-Israel relations go way beyond defense.” Furthermore, the Indian and Israeli governments are discussing the implementation of a free trade agreement. Ambassador Ushpiz told the India Times, “Our estimation is that the volume of trade will go up by billions of dollars once we have a free trade agreement. I think it is important for both governments and for both negotiating teams to look at the immediate obstacles, but also to look at the potential of what we will achieve once we have a free trade agreement.”
There is already a three-year agricultural agreement in place where Israel assists Indian farmers. “We are providing technologies and know-how. Our focus is on training the trainers,” Daniel Carmon, head of Mashav, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, told The Hindu.
A Free Trade Agreement with India would surely be excellent news for Israel’s economy, and opening up to the east is of utmost importance both due to its massive size and population, and also because of the faltering economy of the West, not to mention political difficulties between Israel and Europe. I wish the negotiators of both India and Israel lots of luck in finalising this much-needed FTA so that both countries can profit and grow.
My last item for today stays with international trade but more on the research side: Philips Healthcare are to establish an Israeli incubator:
“We at Philips need to be more serious about our activity in Israel,” said Philips Healthcare Senior VP business development, strategy and M&A Arnaud Bernaert. “There were ideas, which when we first encountered them seemed too advanced for acquisition, and which were ultimately sold to competitors.”
During his last visit to Israel, Bernaert met about 30 medical start-ups, and he expects to continue relations with at least 4-5 of them. “This is only the tip of the iceberg of what exists in Israel,” he said.
There is no one more suitable than Philips Healthcare to establish investment operations in Israeli start-ups. The company specializes in imaging and home healthcare, and it already has a large development center in Israel, with more than 600 employees in a range of fields. In the past few years, the company acquired CDP Medical, which develops digital picture archiving and communications systems (PACS), and closely cooperates with Corindus Vascular Robotics Inc., which has developed robotic-assisted stent placement without the need of a doctor in the room, enabling more precise placement of stents and enabling the doctor avoid exposure to radiation.
Philips Healthcare is also interested in clinical informatics. “At Sheba Medical Center we met a company called Radiologics, which has developed software to independently analyze images and prioritizes them for the doctor. For example, in the emergency room, the software can warn when it sees a patient hemorrhaging and should be examined.
In addition to imaging, Philips Healthcare is seeking to develop in home healthcare. “I was very pleased by the meeting with Neuronix (which is developing a treatment for Alzhiemer’s with a combination of magnetic stimulation and computer games-based cognitive exercises – G.W.). I was surprised that it failed to raise capital on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE),” says Bernaert.
Bernaert is also interested in InSightec Image Guided Treatment Ltd., a subsidiary of Elbit Medical Technologies Ltd. (TASE:EMTC). The company uses focused ultrasound to ablate tissue, using MRI to image the procedure. Philips Healthcare’s praise of InSightec should not be taken for granted. It has a cooperation agreement with Philip’s rival GE Healthcare and Philips has its own MRI-guided ultrasound treatment device.
Bernaert also favorably mentions Elron Electronic Industries Ltd. (TASE: ELRN) portfolio company Kyma Medical Technologies Ltd., which has developed a miniature body penetrating microwave device for monitoring patients with chronic heart failure; Robert Taub and Dr. Adi Mashiach’s Nyxoah SA, which has developed an implant for treating sleep apnea; and home treatment company Vaica Medical Ltd., which allows a pharmacist to package medications that notifies when a patient remembers or forgets to take them.
“I am surprised how Israeli companies are able to move forward with such limited resources,” says Bernaert. “We want to cooperate with Israeli companies at an earlier stage. I have a mandate from Philips Healthcare CEO to establish in Israel an incubator style infrastructure.”
This whole article is nothing but a paean of praise for the Israeli high-tech and biomedical industry and makes our hearts swell with pride. Kol hakavod to all the Israeli scientists, researchers and innovators, as well as kudos to Philips Healthcare for recognizing the potential in Israel and moving forward to expand their interests here.
I would wish that we all be in such good health that we never need the innovations produced in these biomed incubators, but thank G-d that they do exist!
With these good thoughts I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom!