To celebrate Israel’s 64th birthday, ISRAEL21c brings you the country’s top 64 innovations - developments that are transforming and enriching lives across the planet.
When Israel was founded 64 years ago, it was a barren country with no natural resources, little water, and more than half of its land mass desert. The only thing the new country had going for it was the natural creativity of its people. More than six decades later, the Israelis have turned their country into an oasis of technology and innovation. With the most startups per capita worldwide, and the third highest number of patents per head, Israel has become one of the leading players in the world of high-tech innovation, attracting international giants to its shores. From health breakthroughs to technology, agriculture, the environment and the arts, the country’s innovations are transforming and enriching lives everywhere. Israel today is playing a significant role in some of the most important challenges facing our planet. Not bad for a country the size of New Jersey. To celebrate Israel’s birthday, we give you a list of the country’s top 64 innovations. Enjoy! Also, be sure to check out our special Made in Israel video and t-shirt!
Founded by Dr. Gavriel Meron in 1998, Yokneam-based Given Imaging revolutionized the world of gastrointestinal diagnosis by developing a miniature camera in a pill, called the PillCam, to visualize and detect disorders of the GI tract.
The PillCam is now the gold standard for intestinal visualization and is sold in more than 60 countries around the world.
In December last year, TIME magazine called InSightec’s FDA-approved MR Guided Focused Ultrasound one of the best 50 inventions of the year.
The 13-year-old Haifa company has developed a futuristic technology called ExAblate, a non-invasive, magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery system that thermally ablates, or destroys, tumors inside the body. The device has huge potential to address a wide variety of medical problems, including many diseases that currently have no treatment.The 13-year-old Haifa company has developed a futuristic technology called ExAblate, a non-invasive, magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery system that thermally ablates, or destroys, tumors inside the body. The device has huge potential to address a wide variety of medical problems, including many diseases that currently have no treatment. The 13-year-old Haifa company has developed a futuristic technology called ExAblate (http://www.israel21c.org/health/israel-s-insightec-hopes-to-ease-the-pain-of-bone-cancer), a non-invasive, magnetic resonance-guided focused ultrasound surgery system that thermally ablates, or destroys, tumors inside the body. The device has huge potential to address a wide variety of medical problems, including many diseases that currently have no treatment.
Copaxone (glatiramer acetate) was originally developed by a doctor at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, and is now the world’s top-selling treatment for multiple sclerosis.
The drug is marketed by Petah Tikvah-based Teva Pharmaceuticals, and received FDA approval in 1996. Teva, which has 46,000 employees worldwide, is one of the top 15 pharmaceutical companies in the world and the largest generic pharmaceutical manufacturer.
For many people, the first line of defense against flu is Sambucol, an elderberry extract concocted by Israeli virologist Dr. Madeleine Mumcuoglu.
Elderberry has long been used as a folk remedy. Mumcuoglu studied it intensively, and after identifying the key active ingredient turned it into a natural formula that has become one of the most popular homeopathic treatments for flu on the market today. Laboratory studies show that Sambucol is effective against human, swine and avian influenza strains. It is sold throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
Everyone remembers when paraplegic Artie Abrams got up and walked for the first time in the popular TV program Glee. The incredible transition from wheelchair to walking was made with the help of a very real product, the ReWalk robotic exoskeleton developed by Yokneam-based Argo Medical Technologies.
ReWalk is the brainchild of Israeli electrical engineer Dr. Amit Goffer, who was left quadriplegic after an accident.The device includes leg braces with motorized joints and a backpack battery system, enabling paraplegics to walk and climb stairs without assistance for up to 12 hours a day.
Herzliya-based Itamar Medical developed a miniature sleep lab that can be worn on the wrist and one finger to diagnose and identify the source of sleep problems.
WatchPAT, which allows patients to be diagnosed at home in their own beds rather than at hospital sleep clinics, was named one of the 10 best medical innovations for 2010 by the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic. Sleep experts suspect that sleep disorders are at the root of many work- and automobile-related accidents, sexual dysfunction and depression.
Imagine a no-pain vaccination or other infusion of a drug that’s normally injected. TransPharma Medical, based in Lod, spent close to a decade perfecting a way to do just that. Its ViaDerm drug delivery system uses a no-fail, painless applicator loaded with pre-measured drug patches. The battery-operated applicator allows the medication to diffuse through the skin and into the bloodstream.
In cooperation with major pharmaceutical companies, ViaDerm is being tested clinically in several countries with the expectation of developing a welcome alternative for patients who must take daily medications prescribed for conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis.
Itamar Medical also created EndoPAT, a heart-smart device that uses a fingertip test to measure cardiac health, and can even predict whether the patient will suffer a heart attack in the next seven years.
The device, which uses two small probes that hook up to each index finger, has received a seal of approval from the prestigious Mayo Clinic.
Jerusalem-based Brainswaydeveloped a revolutionary painless, non-invasive deep electromagnetic stimulation device for the brain that can ease addiction, depression, autism and a range of other brain disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
During the 15-minute treatment, patients wear a helmet with an electromagnetic energy-emitting coil positioned according to the area of the brain that needs stimulation. Trials are taking place successfully throughout Europe, North America and Israel.
Award-winning research by Prof. Michal Schwartz at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, has led to the development of promising new therapies for acute spinal-cord injuries.
The late actor Christopher Reeve visited Proneuron Biotechnologies, the Israeli biotech company set up to commercialize these technologies, and described Israel as the world center for research on paralysis treatment. In 2007, Proneuron began developing a therapy for Parkinson’s disease with support from the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Babysense is a no-touch, no-radiation device designed to prevent crib death. Developed by Israeli company HiSense and released to the market in 1992, the device monitors a baby’s breathing and movements through the mattress during sleep.
An auditory and visual alarm is activated if breathing ceases for more than 20 seconds or if the breathing rate slows to less than 10 breaths per minute. It is sold across Europe, the United States and Asia.
Some 200 million people suffer from the progressive lung condition chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and many face hospitalization several times a year.
Or Akiva-based Deep Breeze has developed an innovative medical device that will allow COPD patients to be monitored remotely from home. It can also image, diagnose and monitor patients suffering from asthma, congestive heart failure and other conditions affecting the lungs. This is the second generation of the hospital-based Deep Breeze vibration-response imaging technology, approved by the FDA in 2007 and in use throughout the world.
The Emergency Bandage was designed by an Israeli military medic, Bernard Bar-Natan, who noticed that bandages hadn’t advanced for decades. It can be applied with one hand and is used to stop bleeding from hemorrhaging wounds caused by traumatic injuries in the field.
Manufactured by First Care Products in Lod, it was first used for saving lives during a NATO peacekeeping operation in Bosnia and is now used by the armies and special forces of the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries. In January 2011 the Emergency Bandage was reportedly instrumental in saving the life of US Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others wounded in a Tucson shooting.
A 91-year-old Hebrew University professor, Prof. Nathan Citri, recently invented a simple new diagnosis kit for antibiotic-resistant superbugs that can identify the type of bug in minutes rather than the current five days.
With superbugs now one of the top killers in US and European hospitals, Citri’s medical kit puts Israel way out front in the worldwide fight against these dangerous new bacteria. The kit is now being commercialized by BioConnections, a British company.
Today some 12 percent of dentists worldwide have ditched the unpleasant drill and replaced it with lasers to shape teeth and gums. The wired optic fibers that deliver the laser beam, however, are unwieldy and difficult to focus precisely.
Yokneam-based Syneron Dental Lasers is changing all that with the LiteTouch dental laser, which does away with accompanying wires and connections. On sale since 2007, the device is popular in Europe and Asia.
Israeli company Cupron uses copper oxide in fabrics to provide a range of innovative products, from an antimicrobial mask and latex gloves to use as protection from flu germs and bacteria, to socks that don’t get smelly — even if you don’t wash them — and pillowcases that help reduce wrinkles while you sleep.
Jeff Gabbai, founder and CEO of the company, calls Cupron’s product “the fabric that fights back.” Treated material is capable of destroying any bacteria, fungi and viruses that come into contact with it, according to the company.
The Disk-on-Key was developed by M-Systems, a company founded by three Israelis. The data storage device was launched in September 2000, and since then has become almost as ubiquitous worldwide as the paper clip.
In 2005, PC World called the device one of the world’s top 10 gadgets in the last 50 years. M-Systems was purchased by the US corporation SanDisk in 2006 for $1.6 billion.
Microsoft’s two most popular operating systems, NT and XP, were developed primarily in Israel. Microsoft has had a strong presence in Israel for many years, and has two R&D centers in Herzliya that employ 600 people.
In 2008, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that the American software giant is as much Israeli as it is American. Last year, Microsoft Israel announced that 13 new products are being developed at its offices, while in March, Microsoft announced that it is setting up its first-ever startup incubator in Israel.
Checkpoint Software Technologies was founded in 1993 in a small Ramat Gan apartment by 25-year-old Gil Shwed and two of his friends. They created the modern commercial computer network firewall, offering vital protection to computers worldwide from the dangers of cyberspace.
Today the company is one of the world’s leading providers of IT security solutions, with some 100,000 customers, and 2,300 employees worldwide.
In Israel, everyone remembers the story of ICQ, the instant messaging computer program developed by five young computer geeks from Israel.
The entrepreneurs, including the son of Internet guru Yossi Vardi, released the first version of their program free of charge in 1996. The first Internet-wide instant messaging service took the world by storm. Two years later the company was acquired for $407 million by AOL. At that time, it was the highest price ever paid to purchase an Israeli technology company. AOL later sold ICQ to Digital Sky Technologies in April 2010 for $187.5 million.
Semiconductor chip maker Intel was one of the first multinationals to come to Israel. It set up a small chip design center in Haifa in 1974 — Intel’s first outside of the United States.
Today Intel Israel employs 7,800 people, and is the corporation’s headquarters for global R&D for wireless technology. The 8088 processor was designed and developed here, as was the Centrino and the SandyBridge, powering millions of laptops worldwide. In March, Intel Israel’s general manager, Maxine Fassberg, announced that the SandyBridge processor accounts for 40 percent of the chip giant’s revenue. In 2011, Intel Israel’s exports totaled $2.2 billion.
The cellular phone would still look like an oversized brick if it weren’t for Israeli know-how in mobile technologies. It was at Motorola’s Israel R&D center that Israeli engineers first developed original cell-phone technology.
Most of the technology in your mobile phone can be traced back to Israeli engineering. From the tool that guards your mobile identity to a new keyboard solution, Israeli expertise keeps your phone from getting bigger yet staying cutting edge.
The Java platform inside Amazon’s best-selling Kindle was developed in Israel. Some four years ago, Amazon contacted Sun, later acquired by Oracle, and asked the company to develop a customized platform to run the software in a new e-book reader device under design.
Sun handed the project on to its Israeli R&D office in Herzliya, and it was designed and developed there. After several years, a prototype was created to Amazon’s satisfaction, and manufacturing began. Amazon is now the undisputed leader in the e-reader category.
Israeli inventor Benny Landa revolutionized the world of digital printing when his Rehovot company, Indigo, launched the E-Print 1000 in 1993. It was a turning point for the printing industry, enabling printers to print directly from a computer file.
Hewlett Packard (HP) acquired Indigo in 2001 for $650 million. Now HP Indigo has become the world leader in digital commercial presses, and is ranked number one in the US high volume digital press market. Landa, who has more than 500 patents to his name worldwide, is expected to unveil a new development, nanography digital printing, in May.
PrimeSense revolutionized interaction with digital devices by allowing them to “see” in 3D and transfer control from remote controls and joysticks to hands and body.
Today the seven-year-old Tel Aviv company is the leading business provider of low-cost, high-performance 3D machine vision technologies for the consumer market and makes the core component in Microsoft’s Xbox and Kinect gaming systems.
Israeli flash memory developer Anobit has developed a chip that significantly improves the endurance, performance and cost of flash storage products and systems. The chips can already be found in Apple’s iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air, as well as in several Samsung devices.
Apple purchased the six-year-old Herzliya company, which has a portfolio of 65 patents, for a reported $390 million in January this year.
We all have questions, and one of the best ways to get them answered these days is to turn to the online Q&A site Answers.com.
The Jerusalem- and New York-based company was founded in 1999 by Bob Rosenschein. It’s now one of the most popular Internet sites in the world — with about 50 million unique visitors a month in the US alone, and 75 million worldwide — making it one of the top 30 websites globally. The NASDAQ-traded company includes WikiAnswers and ReferenceAnswers, and was recently purchased by equity investor Summit Partners for $127m.
Israeli startup Waze has developed a mobile smartphone app that can determine where traffic is flowing or slowing, based on user-generated data from the phone’s GPS. If the GPS tracking is standing still, Waze assumes the car is, too. Waze, founded in 2008, is popular in big US cities — Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas and Washington, DC — as well as Israel, Italy, France, Sweden; Costa Rica, Colombia, Panama, Venezuela and Mexico.
ABC-TV used Waze when LA’s largest highway closed down last July, helping viewers avoid traffic chaos. The news channel is now rolling out the same partnership in other US cities.
It may be a global world, but we still don’t all speak the same language. Babylon.com has stepped in as the world’s official online translator.
Founded in 1997, the company provides online users with a dictionary, translation software, language learning solutions and English writing enhancement. The company has more than 100 million desktop installations in some 231 countries and is available in 75 languages. Every day, 40 million unique visitors come to the site.
Shaker has developed an award-winning virtual bar application that takes Facebook to the next level. The Facebook app recreates social experiences online, allowing people to socialize and meet around mutual friends with shared interests.
In the last six months, the company — which was founded by five students from the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) — has raised more than $17 million in financing from investors including Motorola Mobility Ventures, Michael Arrington’s CrunchFund, Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors and Lady Gaga manager Troy Carter. In September last year the company won the prestigious Startup Battlefield contest at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco. In February the company teamed with the NBA to host fans in the basketball