Monday, July 16, 2012

Israeli Innovations

My interest in Israeli Innovations got triggered after reading a Forbe's interview with Erel Margalit who is the founder and head of JVP, Jerusalem Venture Partners (, a leading Israeli venture capital firm dedicated to building world class media technology companies. Established in 1993, JVP now has over $900 million under management and is investing in 35 companies. I have summarized here two insights that I picked up by reading his 7 Golden Rules for Entrepreneurs 
1. Engineers alone won’t make it. We need to put engineers together with writers, storytellers, advertising people, artists… an army of engineers alone can’t succeed.
To create, it is better to be around people with different mindsets. It’s not just a world where an engineer meets another engineer, it’s a world where an engineer meets an artist, a movie person, an advertising person… The people, and even companies and countries that will succeed are those that will focus on creative hubs rather than R&D centers.
I spent ten years in a R&D organization and I fully agree with Erel's view - there is only so much a bunch of Scientists and Engineers can achieve. They also tend to work on interesting problems over important problems. We need to bring the writers, story tellers,  artists etc to ensure that the Scientists and Engineers apply their Minds on socially relevant problems. I have great regard for Inventions coming out of R&D efforts, but Innovation goes well beyond solving tech problems. If we look at the four elements crucial to the success of Innovation (a) Exploring the opportunity (b) Generating an Insightful Idea (c) Creating the Value (d) Monetizing the Idea  - the Engineers play an important role in Idea generation. Excellence in the  other three areas needs participation of Writers, Artists, Story tellers, Marketing & Advertising Folks etc.

2. Entrepreneurs
 should first focus on attending needs, then on making money. There is no need to show you can make money immediately. Before showing you can make money, focus on developing a crystal clear idea. 

This point resonates well with my view (refer my recent blog post "The Four Faces of an Innovator")  where I placed the effort to align the idea to meet a critical need and articulating the value creation (step # 2)  well ahead of the monetization efforts (step # 4).
Now lets us look at the Inventions and Innovations coming from Israel.

Despite -- or possibly because of -- its small size and geopolitical isolation, Israel has developed a global reputation for its cutting-edge high-tech industry. A special report from Knowledge@ Wharton explores the drivers behind Israel's innovative impulse

Here is one Invention that caught my attention:

A new solar window from Israel can generate power, reduce energy consumption and let in daylight, promising a green revolution to the construction industry.
Pythagoras' solar window
Pythagoras’ photovoltaic window.
The dream of constructing a net zero-energy building has yet to become a reality, but now an Israeli company has come up with an idea that could make it possible.
The innovative product from Pythagoras Solar can be described as a solar window that combines energy efficiency, power generation and transparency.
The world’s first transparent photovoltaic glass unit (PVGU) has been designed to be easily integrated into conventional building design and construction processes. This means that existing office blocks can be retrofitted with the new material instead of energy-seeping glass windows – a process that will pay itself back within five years.
Pythagoras Solar’s breakthrough was selected from nearly 5,000 entrants as a winner of the prestigious GE Ecomagination Challenge (, which recognizes the most promising innovations for capturing, managing and using energy in buildings ($100,000 Prize).

Israel's Top Innovations - - here is one innovation that I liked :

Pillcam - The most effective way to protect ourselves from Colon Cancer is to take a Colonoscopy examination - but most people are reluctant to undergo that because of the unpleasant experience - hence they face a high risk. The innovative Pillcam has made the Colonoscopy examination very easy, non-invasive and a pleasant experience to the patient - the patient swallows the pill and the pill send images as it travels through the interiors of the patient - the accuracy of detection is good.

Q: What is a PillCam video capsule?

A: An ingestible capsule device equipped with a miniature video camera to visualize the small intestine (PillCam SB), and esophagus (PillCam ESO) for detection of damage or disease.

Q: How does PillCam SB capsule endoscopy work?

A: The smooth plastic capsule contains a miniature video camera and is equipped with a light source on one end, batteries, a radio transmitter and antenna. After it is swallowed, the PillCam SB capsule transmits approximately 50,000 images over the course of an 8-hour period (about 2 images per second) to a data recording device attached to a belt worn around the patient’s waist. The small bowel images are then downloaded into a Given® Workstation computer where a physician can review the images in order to make a diagnosis.

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