December 24, 2020, Jerusalem – The Genesis Prize Foundation (GPF) today announced the winners of the competition among Israeli high-tech and biotechnology companies in honor of Natan Sharansky. The competition aimed to identify the most promising innovations developed by Israeli companies to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
The announcement took place at the residence of President Reuven Rivlin during the small, socially distanced ceremony celebrating the legendary Jewish leader. Several guests attended in person, with hundreds of invitees from different parts of the world joining by video.
Sharansky was announced as the 7th Genesis Prize Laureate in December 2019 and directed his $1 million award to organizations fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Part of Sharansky’s award was used to fund a competition for Israeli biotech and high-tech companies developing innovative solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic. The contest, launched in partnership with Start-up Nation Central, recognizes Israeli companies that achieved technological advances aimed at preventing, diagnosing, and treating the effects of Covid-19.
Stan Polovets, Co-Founder and Chairman of GPF, said: “The competition in honor of Natan Sharansky showcased the impressive innovative potential of Israel’s biotechnology and high-tech sectors. Israeli companies and entrepreneurs are cementing their place in the world as leaders in the biotech sector and we are honored to recognize the best of the best in this field. Their contribution to global health is immense.”
Hundreds of Israeli start-ups and established organizations, such as Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), took part in the contest. Twenty-one shortlisted companies made it into the second round of the competition, with ten winners announced today. The authoritative judging panel included prominent scientists, medical doctors and philanthropists. Among the judges was the leading Israeli philanthropist and founder of SpaceIL Morris Kahn, head of Startup Nation Eugene Kandel, and one of the world’s most respected physicians and the author of the Number One bestseller “The End of Illness,” Dr. David Agus.
Winning companies announced today will donate funds to Israeli non-profits of their choice, working to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
President of Israel Reuven Rivlin congratulated Sharansky, saying: "Natan, you never rest. You took on new roles to promote Jewish unity, strengthen Israeli society, and fight anti-Semitism. It is, therefore, no surprise that you have chosen to use the $1 million Genesis Prize money and to give that money to philanthropic and high-tech initiatives that are trying to address the greatest challenge facing the world today, the coronavirus. The grants were made with a particular focus on the most vulnerable populations in Israel. Natan, as a Prisoner of Zion who turned into a Proud Defender of Zion, there is no one more deserving of this prize. You are a source of inspiration for us all. Mazal tov. “
President Rivlin added: “And thank you to the leadership of the Genesis Prize for your important work, not only to strengthen Jewish pride and unity, but to do so through Tikkun Olam, by bringing together the Jewish People through helping those in need, both in Israel and around the world.”
Natan Sharansky said: “I was selected as the Genesis Prize Laureate a year ago and so much has changed in these 12 months. I am grateful to the Genesis Prize for the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to fighting the pandemic and am heartened by the spirit of humanity and innovation displayed by our high-tech industry. It is the most fundamental Jewish value to help the other – and I call on other Israeli companies to join this effort.”
Prof. Eugene Kandel, CEO of Start-up Nation Central and one of the few guests who attended the ceremony in person, commented: “Israel has ample experience in responding to existential challenges with creative and trailblazing solutions. This experience is proving handy in helping the world fight the spread and implications of Covid-19. Today's winners should be extremely proud not just for the honor they received, but their real and tangible contribution to the global battle against Covid-19".
The ten winning companies are:
- Kamada, a plasma-derived protein therapeutics company, which completed manufacturing the first batch of its plasma-derived Immunoglobulin G (IgG) product for coronavirus patients.
- Pluristem Therapeutics, a regenerative medicine company developing a novel platform of biological products to treat coronavirus.
- Sight Diagnostics, which uses advanced computer-vision and machine-learning technologies in the field of blood diagnostics.
- K Health, a personalized artificial intelligence-based health assistant, which shows patients how doctors have diagnosed and treated other people with similar cases.
- Picodya Technologies, an in-vitro diagnostics (IVD) platform suitable for mass deployment at the point of care, from ICUs and hospital departments to field hospitals, clinics, and home care settings.
- Israel Aerospace Industries, which has developed a model that uses artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning to predict the progression of the disease and coronavirus patients’ medical status.
- Sonovia, the developer of the cutting-edge “SonoMask,” a face mask that has been proven to be more than 90 percent effective against coronaviruses, and 99.89% effective against other viruses.
- Biobeat, which develops a wearable device for continuous, noninvasive, accurate, medical-grade monitoring of vital signs.
- MyZeppi, whose technology is designed to help older adults and their caregivers “visit” each other through video calls via self-flying helium balloons.
- EyeControl, an innovative communications solution for ventilated patients in ICUs.