Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day 5: Incubators and Accelerators

Our last full day in Israel was Thursday, November 19. As usual, we had the superb Israeli breakfast. At this hotel, it was a 100 ft long buffet that from right to left included coffee, juice, various kinds of cheese, fish, salads, fruit, yogurt, breakfast cereal, granola and many kinds of bread. The buffet turned left to the omelet and pancake/Belgian Waffle areas. They are designed to accommodate a range of nationalities. Maybe Israeli breakfasts are part of the reason they are so innovative.

Our first stop today was to Misgav to visit an incubator called The Trendlines Group. The Office of the Chief Scientist supports 26 incubators around the country. Companies in the incubators can receive up to $600,000 from the Government. This particular incubator was private and was one of two that actually invested in the resident companies. They have three facilities. Misgav focuses on medical devices, biotech and pharmaceuticals. The facility in Mofet focuses on agri-tech, green tech and clean tech energy. They also have a business development consulting arm called Signal. Trendlines has in-house staff support for accounting, regulatory requirements, patents, board management and mentoring. Those also provide business development support for resident companies through Signal. As a consequence, they attract some of the most promising companies in Israel. Some examples in medical devices include:

• A device that is an artificial sphincter for colostomy patients, attaching directly to the large intestine and allowing the patient to use throw away bags.

• A blood test for detecting Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and ALS. Currently the only tests are based on symptoms.

• A new approach to sleep apnea that does away with the face mask and continuous low pressure air.

• A new aortic valve that can be inserted through an artery, rather than with open heart surgery

• A new device for childhood scoliosis that requires only minimal surgery to implant the device. It allows the spine curvature to be corrected with stretching and exercise.

• For asthma patients, a new dry inhaler that monitors whether the pressure and particle size are correct

Like our other meetings at the WATEC, Weizmann Institute, Ben Gurion University, Technion and the Hadassah, we left with contacts and potential business and research opportunities. We finished the day with a one hour debriefing on what the group’s next steps are going to be. Each of the 27 members has specific follow-up responsibilities that we will track on our South Carolina-Israeli website.

We finished the day with a tour of Holy sites around the Sea of Galilee and dinner at an Israeli winery. We then boarded the bus for the return to Tel Aviv and the long flight home.

I have never been on a trip this well organized. There was a wide range of talented people in various fields representing South Carolina. I suspect all of us made lasting friendships. Ford Graham from the Department of Commerce was a great addition.

A major thanks to Mission Chair Jonathon Zucker and to Tom Glaser and his staff from the American-Israeli Chamber for their incredible organization and vision for what this collaboration can do for South Carolina.

My next few blogs will review the culture that makes the Israelis so innovative and what SC can learn from Israel. I hope blogs in the future will discuss the successful results of the South Carolina-Israeli collaboration.

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