December 17, 2017 | Four Israeli startups were listed on Business Insider’s “50 startups that will boom in 2018,” published late last month. The list is based on observations by venture capitalists who have either invested in the startups or are watching developments. The four Israeli startups are Zebra Medical Vision, a medical tech company which uses artificial intelligence to read medical scans to automatically detect anomalies, recently partnering with Google for $1 scans ; Vayyar Imaging, which developed a technology to “see” through objects and recently announced that it has raised $45 million in Series C funding; Kryon Systems, which developed software robots using AI for enterprise automation and recently opened a new office in Germany to meet European and Asian demand; and Secret Double Octopus, a tech company based in southern Israel that developed the world’s “only password-free, keyless authentication technology to protect identity and data across cloud, mobile and IoT environments.”
December 17, 2017 | Four new, joint medical research projects by Israeli and British scientists focused on stem cells were awarded a funding boost of roughly $2 million by the Britain Israel Research and Academic Exchange program (BIRAX), a British Council initiative founded in 2011, in partnership with the British Embassy in Israel, the Pears Program for Global Innovation, which bridges between Israeli tech and the developing world, and the UK-Jewish charity UJIA. The new round of funding will go toward projects examining stem cell therapies for diabetes, heart disease, leukemia, anemia and Alzheimer’s disease, and will bring together scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the Weizmann Institute for Science, the Technion–Israel Institute for Technology, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Exeter University, the University of Cambridge and the University of Glasgow, the UK’s Jewish Chronicle reported.
December 17, 2017 | Sirin Labs, the Switzerland-based Israeli-founded blockchain firm known for developing a $17,000 secure smartphone for high-end clients, announced that it has so far raised $121 million in five days in an initial coin offering (ICO), a means of crowdfunding via cryptocurrency, for its next project — a blockchain-secured, open-source phone and PC called FINNEY. Sirin Labs said it raised the money from over 5,000 people globally. The crowdsale for the SRN token, Sirin’s cryptocurrency, was launched on December 12 and will end on December 26. CEO and co-founder of Sirin Labs, Moshe Hogeg was cited by Reuters as telling reporters: “These are our potential clients. We think they will be the first to buy the phones.” Sirin Labs recently signed soccer star Leo Messi as a brand ambassador for the company, making international headlines. Hogeg said the target sum had been $75 million. The phones and PC, built on an in-house operating system SirinOS and supported by SRN are expected to hit the market next year, Hogeg indicated. The devices are set to feature crypto-wallets, a secure exchange access, encrypted communications, and a P2P resource sharing ecosystem for payment and apps, Sirin Labs said.
December 14, 2017 | Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries will cut 14,000 jobs around the world, with most of the layoffs to occur in 2018 as part of a restructuring plan to save the ailing company, Teva said in a statement on Thursday. As part of the plan, Teva is expected to pay back its almost $35 million debt and cut its total costs by $3 billion by the end of 2019. A majority of the layoffs are expected by the end of 2018, and employees will be told within the next 90 days, the company said. Meanwhile, the Histadrut organization of workers in Israel called for a general mass strike in Israel on Sunday in solidarity with the more than 1,500 Israeli employees expected to be let go. The union’s chairman Avi Nissenkorn announced in a press conference that the strike would include airports, seaports, government ministries, health organizations, banks, transportation services, state-owned companies, the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and all Teva manufacturing plants in Israel. He called Teva the “flagship of Israeli industry,” Haaretz reported, and said it has “become the symbol of Israeli industry’s destruction.” Nissenkorn noted that the layoffs were ordered by the company’s current CEO Kare Schultz, a former Danish businessman, and that it was “abandoning the vision of its founders.” While Teva is a global generic drugmaker with locations in Japan, Europe, and the Americas, it’s an Israeli-based company with headquarters in Petach Tikva.
December 14, 2017 | Israel has been voted into the International Institute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA) by a majority of the research organization’s international members, the Science and Technology Ministry announced this week. The IIASA is a distinguished Austria-based research institute of an international network of researchers. It has a total of 24 members including the United States, the UK, China, Russia, Egypt, and Indonesia. Israel’s membership was approved by 17 countries, with five voting no and one abstention. Israel’s annual membership fee will will cost about $413,858 with the Science and Technology Ministry footing about 70 percent of the bill. Upon inclusion, Israeli researchers will get access to data analysis and training from the organization with possibilities for research collaborations. The institute is known for its published studies in topics like environment and economy, which are among the most internationally well-received science research in the world. Science, Technology, and Space Minister Ofir Akunis said in a statement that the inclusion was “an expression of great faith in Israeli science, technology, and innovation.”
December 13, 2017 | Vayyar Imaging, an Israeli company that developed a technology to “see” through objects, announced that it has raised $45 million in Series C funding, raising the total capital raised since the company was founded in 2011 to $79 million. The latest round of funding was co-led by the San Francisco VC firm Walden Riverwood and Israel’s ITI with additional funding from Claltech, Battery Ventures, Bessemer Ventures, Israel Cleantech Ventures, and Amiti, according to a press release by the company. Vayyar developed sensors that can look through materials, objects, and even liquids to deliver 3D images. “Its technology can see through skin and tissue to detect cancer masses, look through walls and create a 3D image of hidden structural foundations; or, it can be used to create a smart home that tracks the location of persons needing care, as well as their vital signs as they move around the house,” NoCamels reported earlier this year. The tech is being used across industry sectors including automotive, construction, agriculture, smart homes, robotics and medical care. Raviv Melamed, co-founder, CEO, and Chairman of Vayyar, said in a statement that “it is amazing to see how the ability to look into objects can help humanity in so many ways. We currently work in collaboration with industry-leading companies to create applications that address some of their toughest challenges.”
December 13, 2017 | In an effort to raise awareness of climate change issues, the city of Tel Aviv-Yafo has joined the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, an organization that began as a network 40 cities around the world tackling global climate change. Tel Aviv is the first Israeli city to join the group, and brings the total to 92 cities, representing more than 650 million people worldwide. By joining the movement, the city has committed to taking action on the goals of the Paris Agreement, an accord within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that says each country determines, plans and reports its contribution towards the mitigation of global warming. Further delivering its promise to take action on environmental issues, the city of Tel Aviv is part of a massive tree planting scheme, a program to remove vehicles from the road, and ongoing educational efforts in schools to educate students and the general public on climate change. Tel Aviv has also participated in the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy, 100 Resilient Cities – The Gobla Resilience Movement, and has signed the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. It will host the groups’ next summit in 2018.
December 13, 2017 | The Israel Securities Authority announced on Tuesday it would block companies based on bitcoin from being included in any indexes on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE), according to a press release. Israel Securities Authority chairman Shmuel Hauser said in the statement that the authority may also block these companies from listing their stock on the exchange until there are suitable regulations. Hauser referenced a company called Natural Resource Holdings because the investment company had announced in a stock filing on Sunday early last week that it is in the process of negotiating a 75 percent acquisition a Quebec bitcoin mining business called Backbone Hosting Solutions. Later, that week, they announced the deal was closed. Following Hauser’s announcement, stock was down at least 48 percent for the investment firm, as reported by Calcalist. Other companies are currently trading on the stock exchange with high volatility. The Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli regulators issued the bitcoin ban due to concerns that stockbrokers were using unregulated bitcoin “fluctuations” to inflate their own stock. Bitcoin is the now well-known digital payment method related to the application of blockchain, a technology that relies on a distributed ledger (shared and synchronized database across multiple sites, institutions, regions) to conduct instant transactions.
December 12, 2017 | Israeli cannabis pharmaceutical company iCan: Israel-Cannabis has joined forces with respiratory device maker Aura Medical to bring nebulizers to the global medical cannabis market. Aura Medical’s portable nebulizer, treating asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) with controlled dosages of medical cannabis, will be rebranded as “Nebican.” The Nebican is designed with Vibrating Mesh Technology. Through its delivery platform, it emits vapor from the inhaler which quickly enters the lungs. According to Aura Medical CEO Connie Lefkowitz, the nebulizer was used only for certain prescription medicines with “targeted formulation” from Ci Therapeutics, an iCan and CannRx partnership. Nebican is expected to launch in California in mid-2018 followed by the Canadian market afterward.
December 12, 2017 | Israel Chemicals (ICL), a multinational chemical, metals, and fertilizer manufacturer that mines the Dead Sea for minerals, has entered an accord to sell the units of its fire safety and oil additives business for about $1 billion to New York-based investment firm SK Capital, the chemicals company announced last week. Both businesses are part of an ICL Specialty Solutions’ Advanced Additives business line, with locations in North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Asia. According to reports, ICL is selling its units is looking to get itself out of a $3.3 million debt and generate funding for growth and innovation initiatives. The sale is expected to be completed in the first half of 2018. The ICL fire safety unit supplies chemicals and services to fight wildfires, while the ICL oil additives business manufactures lubrication oil additives, mining chemicals, and pesticides. In a filing to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the units sold have brought $294 million in sales.
December 11, 2017 | Israel’s Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer hospital, the largest medical facility in the country, announced that three of its research doctors have unveiled new breakthroughs in cancer testing, Alzheimer’s disease indicators, and IVF treatment. The hospital said Dr. Damien Urban, head of the Oncology Department at the Cancer Center at Sheba Medical Center, has created the first Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Testing Center in Israel, which allows people to cut the long process of medical testing and bureaucracy to just two weeks. In the past, learning the nature of a cancerous growth could take as long as three months. As part of Sheba’s Neuroscience Division, Dr. Michal Schnaider Beeri is employing advanced tech to detect indications of early-stage Alzheimer’s disease. Research and testing are currently being done with 1,5000 high-risk patients using “retinal amyloid technology.” And Dr. Ronit Machtinger, a senior physician in the IVF Unit of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, in the midst of intense research with counterparts at Harvard Medical School and Columbia University, has discovered that women undergoing IVF treatments can increase their chances of conceiving by significantly reducing their consumption of soft drinks. Located in Ramat Gan, just east of Tel Aviv, Sheba Medical Center is home to the largest percentage of clinical research in Israel being done in a single hospital.
December 11, 2017 | Israeli video platform startup Wibbitz has signed a cooperation agreement with TMZ, the US celebrity news, gossip and entertainment site, the Israeli company announced this week. Wibbitz’s platform automatically converts text articles into short videos geared toward social media and the company says it works with over 500 publishers including Reuters, Forbes, Time Inc and Bloomberg. Wibbitz CEO Zohar Dayan says the technology is based on artificial intelligence, which connects to the publishers’ databases and “scans the articles to summarize the most interesting content,” according to a press statement. Wibbitz, founded in 2011 by Yotam Cohen and Zohar Dayan, has locations in Tel Aviv, New York, and Paris. TMZ is a celebrity news site that debuted in 2005, and has a readership of over 70 million unique visitors per month, according to a study by digital market intelligence and website traffic analytics company SimilarWeb.
December 11, 2017 | Israeli communications customer experience provider Amdocs is teaming up with Union Motors owner/founder George Horesh to buy back land from Teva Pharmaceutical Industries in Ra’anana in order to build a new Amdocs campus. Horesh sold the land to Teva two and a half years ago. Amdocs made the decision last September and on December 6, it announced it had signed a partnership agreement with the Union group in order to get the land back. The purchase of the land and construction of the campus is predicted to reach $350 million over 4-5 years, and Amdocs will finance the purchase. The land that will be purchased in the northern Ra’anana industrial zone is part of a giant area purchased by Horesh from Comverse in 2010. Teva then bought the land back in 2015 in order to build a new campus there but wound up in debt after the acquisition of Actavis for $34.7 billion at the end of the third quarter. In the end, Horesh has decided to exercise his refusal rights to buy it back. The deal will happen in the near the future, Globes reports. George Horesh is the owner and founder of Union Motors, the Toyota distributor in Israel and Lex Motors, the Lexus distributor in Israel. According to Globes, he also has holdings in real estate, energy, and technology. Amdocs was founded in 1982 but has been in its current offices since 1996. It recently extended its lease by 10 years but has an escape clause upon five years notice. The escape clause is valid until June 2022.
December 10, 2017 | Cannabis strains from Tikun Olam, an Israeli brand recognized as the pioneer of modern medical cannabis for the past 10 years, took first place in three categories at the 2017 Canadian Cannabis Awards. The Eran Almog strain took first place for Top High THC Flower. The Avidekel strain took first place for Top High CBD Flower and Top High CDB Oil. The Midnight strain took second place in Top Hybrid Flower. These strains are grown, processed, and distributed in Canada through a licensing agreement with MedReleaf, a company that was named Top Licensed Producer at the awards this year. Since 2010, Tikkun Olam products have been used in ongoing clinical trials in Israel’s regulated medical cannabis market. They have treated sufferers of medical conditions such as cancer, PTSD, AIDS, cerebral palsy, chronic pain and more. U.S. operations for Tikkun Olam were established in 2015 as T.O. global in a joint venture with Tikun Olam in Israel. There are similar partnerships in Canada, Australia, UK, and South Africa. Tikkun Olam’s mission is to educate the traditional medical community and its patients on the application of cannabis as a scientifically proven wellness product.
December 7, 2017 |Professor Amnon Shashua, the co-founder of the Israeli company Mobileye, a major player in the autonomous car industry which developed sensors for self-driving cars, and sold to Intel last year for over $15.3 billion, was named among 100 leaders in tech, business, and media “who mattered in 2017” on the first annual “The Recode 100” list. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos topped the list and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Apple’s Tim Cook and Elon Musk were among the top 10. Shashua came in at number 41, tied with Karl Iagnemma, a co-founder of nuTonomy, a self-driving startup. Shashua was named for recently proffering “one of the first mathematical models for safety standards for autonomous vehicles,” said Recode, a tech news site owned by Vox Media. Shashua founded Mobileye with Ziv Aviram in 1999 in Jerusalem. Mobileye was known for developing a warning system that alerts drivers of road hazards using software, cameras, and sensors. Since the acquisition, Shashua was named senior vice president at Intel Corporation, and serves as CEO and CTO of Mobileye, which maintains operations in Jerusalem.
December 7, 2017 | Israeli cybersecurity think tank Team8, founded by veterans of the elite IDF intelligence unit 8200, has teamed up with leading Canadian multinational bank Scotiabank to “foster cybersecurity innovation,” the companies announced this week. The two plan to “exchange knowledge, insights, and methodologies,” they said in a press release. A bank executive will sit on Team8’s advisory board alongside executives and security officers of other global financial institutions. Scotiabank’s Chief Technology Officer Michael Zerbs said the bank was “looking forward to our partnership with Team8 to deepen our technology capabilities and know-how, which are foundational to Scotiabank’s digital transformation. He added that the “partnership will increase our access to Israel’s world-class cybersecurity and fraud prevention ecosystem.” Team8’s CEO and co-founder Nadav Zafrir says the company is “thrilled that Scotiabank will play a role in our unique company creation model to solve the big problems in cybersecurity… Their insights and experience bring incredible value to our approach.” Team8 recently announced that it was opening a new hub in New York City. The think tank and its companies, Illusive Networks, which develops deception tech to detect hacking attacks, Claroty, which provides advanced solutions to secure critical infrastructure systems, and the Sygnia, a “military-grade cyber consulting and incident response company” will all base their US operations in the hub. R&D operations for all the companies will continue to be based in Israel, Team8 said in a statement last month.
December 7, 2017 | Wix has advertised for the Super Bowl for the past three years, but this time, they have decided to move in a different direction. Instead of having their television commercial air during the game on February 4, 2018, the cloud-based web platform will push their focus towards digital ads, the company’s Chief Marketing Office Omer Shai told Calcalist. While Shai affirms that the company’s marketing budget has increased, they are spending the money differently and “adjusting where our audiences are.” Shai says that the company also has their own advertising agency in-house and can produce more of their own content. They also have been looking for web designers and developers who can be reached online rather than on television. Founded in 2006 by Avishai Abrahami, Nadav Abrahami, and Giora Kaplan, Wix has run ad campaigns using recognizable celebs like fashion model Karlie Kloss and Israeli breakout actress Gal Gadot.
December 7, 2017 | Israel-based Viola Ventures, the investment arm of Viola Group, has raised over $100 million, the company announced this week, for the creation of a dedicated FinTech investment fund, Viola FinTech. Some of the fund’s backers include Scotiabank, a Canadian bank with operations worldwide and Israel’s Bank Hapoalim. Founded in 2000, Viola Ventures invests in Israeli early-stage companies with “transformational ideas.” With close to three billion dollars under management, the group has invested in 200 tech companies. The fund will be run by Daniel Tsiddon, a former deputy CEO of Bank Leumi, who said it will provide financial institutions “with the optimal response to cope with the fast-changing environment. Viola FinTech accelerates the integration of innovative ideas into financial institutions while providing the necessary resources to FinTech companies as they scale to transform the financial sector.” Scotiabank’s Ignacio Deschamps says the bank is “delighted to partner with Viola Group to accelerate the bank’s digital transformation and find the most promising FinTech companies across the globe. He said the “partnership will allow us to access Israel’s innovation ecosystem, including well-established cybersecurity and anti-fraud expertise by leveraging Viola’s unique access to relevant companies and technologies.”
December 7, 2017 | The Ethiopian government used Israeli-developed spyware to track and spy on Ethiopian dissidents living abroad during an espionage campaign that began in 2016, according to a new report by The Citizen Lab, a research facility at The University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs. The spyware, a commercial product known as PC Surveillance System (PSS) and posing as Adobe updates and plugins, was developed by Israel-based Cyberbit, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, Israel’s international defense company. According to Citizen Lab, the campaign was aimed at supporters of the Oromo ethnic group, who make up Ethiopia’s largest ethnically based regional states, Oromia. Targets included the executive director of the US-based Ethiopian diaspora media outfit, the Oromia Media Network (OMN), who is a prominent Oromo activist, a PhD student in London who was a frequent guest on OMN, and a lawyer teaching at a US university who is also the founder of the Association of Oromo Public Defenders in Oromia. One of the writers of the Citizen Lab report was also a target on the malware during the course of the investigation, the research lab said. Cyberbit told Calcalist when asked for comment that the company’s “products aid the national security of countries in which they are sold, and state agencies in such countries are required to operate these products within the law.” It added that the company “does not operate its products, and like other Israeli and non-Israeli defense companies, it is not fully aware of the way its products are being used in covert by nature activities by intelligence and defense agencies.” Cyberbit said that the “intelligence and defense organizations buying the products are required to use them by law.”
December 6, 2017 | Israel’s umbrella organization of high-tech and life sciences industries Clal Biotechnology announced its US cancer vaccine developer company Neon Therapeutics, where it holds a 5 percent stake, has raised $106 million in a finance round. The company had already announced that it had raised $70 million in the round and later added $36 million to bring it to the current total. The company was already valued at $125 million prior to the round. While Neon says this round helps them further their journey towards IPO, according to a report in Globes, this is also good news for Clal because it will profit from the closing of the round. Clal currently holds 70 percent of shares from the immunotherapy company Vedantra Pharmaceuticals and Vedantra has signed a deal with Neon where it will develop technology used to improve anti-cancer vaccine responses. Clal has said that it has Nasdaq offerings for four of the companies it has recently invested in, including Israeli companies Gamida Cell and BioCancell in 2017. One of the participants in this funding round for Neon was Len Blavatnik’s American holding company Access Industries, who Globes reports indirectly controls Clal Biotech. Clal Biotechnology was founded in 1998 and is based out of Ramat Gan, Israel.
December 6, 2017 | An Israeli researcher nabbed a prize worth close to $50,000 last month for his work on regenerative medicine research over the past 15 years at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Professor Dror Seliktar, who is also the co-founder and chief scientific officer of Regentis Biomaterials, a biomaterials company that develops tissue repair solutions, was awarded the Rita Levi Montalcini Award, established in 2015 by the Israeli government, at an event hosted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in November. The prize promotes “the exchange of scientific scholars between Italy and Israel with funds provided to an Italian researcher to work in Israel and an Israeli researcher to work in Italy,” according to a press release announcing the winner. The award is named after the famed Italian-Jewish scientist and Nobel laureate, honored for her work in neurobiology. Seliktar said receiving the award was “a great honor” and that he was “especially grateful for my collaboration with Tor Vergata University professor Sonia Melino, and look forward to continue researching regenerative medicine technologies in Italy.” He said the collaboration presented “an enormous opportunity to face global challenges while strengthening bonds between countries.” Regentis Biomaterials’ core technology is Gelrin, “a unique hydrogel matrix of polyethylene glycol diacrylate (PEG-DA) and denatured fibrinogen,” which Seliktar originally developed while serving as an associate professor in the faculty of biomedical engineering at the Technion.
December 6, 2017 | Georgia’s Business and Technology University, a private university in Tbilisi, is set to open a new education center focused on Israeli technology. The new hub will train students and graduates and provide employment opportunities in Israel and in local Georgian industry. According to a report in the Georgian news agency Inter Press News, the project is at least partly funded by the Israeli government. The amount was not disclosed but is said to be several million. The hub hopes to complete training for roughly 100 students by next year. The university, located in an area dubbed “Silicon Valley Tbilisi,” held an event celebrating the launch of the project, attended by university and government officials in Georgia, the Israeli Ambassador to Georgia, Shabtai Tsur and the Honorary Consul of Georgia in Israel, Meni Benish. University Rector Mikheil Batiashvili said the “project and cooperation with the Israeli side is very important for the University of Business and Technology,” adding that graduates of the program are expected to be involved “in international level projects that provide high pay.” Benish said the project was an investment in the students who would later have the experience to play a major role in Georgia’s tech industry. “At the initial stage, the trained [students] will be remotely employed at companies in Israel. During the next year about 100 people will be trained,” Benish said according to the report.
December 6, 2017 | Mobileye, the Israeli tech company acquired by software solutions giant Intel in March, has unveiled its newest chip, the Mobileye EyeQ5 for autonomous vehicles, according to a statement from Intel. Earning its name EyeQ5 is the fifth chip of the EyeQ family and is the first to come out after the company’s acquisition by Intel. The chip is designed for autonomous vehicles Grade 4 and 5 (L4/5). While the first silicone chip comes out in 2018, it will be in full mass production by 2020. According to Intel’s CEO Brian Krznitz, Mobileye’s new chip offers higher deep learning performance efficiency. Intel expects the chip to deliver 2.4 DL TOPS per watt, which it claims is 2.4 times more efficient than what the Nvidia tech company claims for its new AI supercomputer, Xavier, designed for autonomous vehicles. TOPS (Tera Operations Per Second) is a recognized benchmark for measuring the performance of chips. As the percentage of TOPSWatt is higher, it produces higher efficiency because the chip produces less heat and is easier and cheaper, saving fuel and providing a greater driving efficiency and range. Mobileye develops vision-based advanced driver assistance systems to help prevent collisions. It was founded by Amnon Shashua and Ziv Aviram in 1999 and acquired by Intel earlier this year for $15.3 billion. The acquisition was completed in August 2017.
December 5, 2017 | Israel’s military and commercial aerospace tech company IAI (Israel Aerospace Industries) announced that it opened a new representative office in Mexico. The launch was marked at an event attended by local Mexican officials and the Israeli ambassador to Mexico, Jonathan Peled, IAI said in a press release. IAI’s executive VP marketing, Eli Alfassi, said IAI “consider[s] Latin America, and specifically Mexico, as an important market, with significant potential, both in the defense and commercial markets.” He added that the new office in Mexico, “is aligned with IAI’s strategy to bring its technological solutions to the customer’s door, offering solutions that answer the customer’s precise needs, and providing real-time available and accessible services.” IAI indicated that Mexico’s arms imports grew by almost 200 percent in four years, between 2012 and 2016, “placing the country as the 2nd largest importer of defense systems in Latin America during this period.” IAI co-developed Israel’s world-famous Iron Dome anti-missile defense system as well as the Arrow III interceptor system for long-range missiles. According to the Israeli Space Agency, the Arrow III can also serve as an anti-satellite defense system. Earlier this year, an Arrow III battery shot down incoming Syrian anti-aircraft missile in the first reported use of the system. IAI also develops drones, satellites, naval systems, and radars for military and civilian use.
December 5, 2017 | Israeli car sensor company Guardian Optical Technologies has completed a $5.1 million Series A funding round. The round was led by Mirai Creation Fund, a subsidiary of Asian equity management company SPARX Group and Maniv Mobility, an Israeli auto and mobility-focused venture capital fund. Mirai Creation Fund, an investor in automotive giant Toyota, is investing in an Israeli company for the first time, according to a statement from Guardian. The Tel Aviv-based company, which develops sensors that will monitor a car’s interior, says it wants to invest the funding in research and development for its new automatic sensor system. The system combines video image recognition, in-depth mapping, motion detection. A statement from the company says according to their estimations, the senor could save car manufacturers as much as $200 million every year. Founded in 2014 by Gil Dotan and Gideon Carmon, Guardian has developed a 3D sensor that works with seatbelts, airbags and other safety systems to protect drivers and passengers. According to the company, it is also a solution to the problem of babies and pets forgotten in cars.