Forbes Israel has released its annual Under 30 list for 2020, highlighting a total of 60 accomplished, young Israeli leaders in fields like tech, science, venture capitalism, social entrepreneurship, business, agriculture, sports, entertainment, and beauty. These honorees have not yet passed the age of 30, but are already shaping the future of Israel.
“The young talents of Forbes Under30’s 2020 list are living proof of what to expect. They are inventing new lines of [medical] treatment, shaping the future of cyber warfare, closing deals worth millions, and are responsible for impressive cultural moments,” the authors of the list wrote.
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Thirty entrepreneurs and researchers led the list this year, joined by a separate category with venture capitalists, social activists, actors, athletes, directors, musicians, a farmer, an architect, a composer, a chef, a sommelier, a painter/sculptor, and a cosmetics company founder.
This is Forbes Israel’s fifth list of promising young people – a project the Israeli publication started four years ago. Forbes Under 30 was initially launched in the US in 2011 as 30 Under 30. The American lists recognize 600 business and industry figures with 30 selected in 20 industries each, annually.
This year, Forbes Israel included an entire section of 30Under30 Tech, with founders and entrepreneurs from some of the most promising startups in the Israeli high-tech ecosystem.
There’s Michelle Levy, an information security team manager at Intel, who at 29 years old runs, three information security teams — in Israel, India, and the United States.
“We’re like soldiers on the border,” she tells the magazine, “Of course behind us are security architects and other professionals, but we are the first line of defense.
There’s Maor Shlomo, 25, a co-founder and CEO of Explorium, who is disrupting the data field by building a new kind of Google, focused on AI. Explorium, which was co-founded by Shlomo, Omer Har, and Or Tamir, has raised a total of $19.1 million for its search engine, or data discovery platform, which helps find the right data to build a machine learning model.
“You get so many ‘slaps in the face’ in the beginning and so many crazy highs and lows in a single day. And if you’re not feeling that rollercoaster, it means you didn’t do something right – you didn’t go BIG enough, didn’t do anything drastic enough,” Shlomo told the Founder Stories podcast.
Israel is making a name for itself in transportation tech and the list certainly wouldn’t be complete without at least one founder of an autonomous vehicle company on the list. Shai Magzimof, 28, who founded Phantom Auto in late 2017 with Elliot Katz and Ohad Dvir, is working on a vehicle that can move on its, with a remote human operator in a separate room. The US company Postmates, which makes deliveries through a fleet of robots, uses Phantom Auto’s services.
Then there’s 29-year old Shahar Bahiri, whose smart road startup Valerann has broken ground in transportation tech with its end-to-end system that uses different sensors, a unique algorithm, and a communication system to gather critical data on road environment and 30-year old Miki Shifman’s startup Cylus, an Israeli company that develops tech to protect railway and metro systems from cyber attacks.
In the biotechnology field, Michelle Heyman and Diane Ebensor, 28-year old co-founders, made the list for their company Nanosynex, which is developing a product that will allow patients to figure out which antibiotics are resistant to specific bacteria and which are not. Lewis Wallach, CTO, and co-founder of Immunai, was listed for his company Immunai, a firm that uses “cutting-edge biology with machine learning to unravel the immune system,” the company’s website says.
Finally, Maya Otmazgin Ashkenazi, 30, is the founder of MaoLac, a preventative nutrition biotech company developing active immunity-boosting ingredients based on animal colostrum and using computational biology to create specifically formulated mixtures for infants, sports athletes, elders, pets and more to strengthen the immune system. She also heads Mao FoodTech, a company developing a diagnostic home device that tests specific nutritional components in breast milk and presents the results in an app where mothers can also consult with professionals.
The list includes Neta Blum, who at 27-year old is the first and youngest woman “responsible for developing the next generation of the (Israeli) air force for the Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, or Maf’at, the joint administrative body of the Israeli Ministry of Defense and Israel Defense Forces.
Dr. Shiran Sudri, a 30-year old physician and researcher, is currently working on developing a new, highly accurate, and non-invasive diagnostic method to detect oral tumors in early stages to improve patient survival. The method was developed by Sudri under the guidance of Professor Avi Hirschberg of Tel Aviv University and Professor Dror Fixler of Bar Ilan University.
Also on the list is Noam Liran, 30, VP of Technologies at Microsoft Israel R&D, who at 11 years old taught himself programming and Ophir Harpaz, a 28-year-old cyber researcher at Guardicore, who already has “software engineer at Israel’s Check Point Software” and “cybercrime researcher at IBM” on her resume.
A smattering of Israeli tech researchers, founders, and workers — one as young as 18 years old — in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence round out the list.
Sports, entertainment, activism
The second half of the Forbes Under 30 list begins with venture capitalists like Yehuda Taub, the 30-year old founding partner of Arrow Ventures, a $55 million fund that invests in startups and Shani Zansko, the 30-year-old founder of Isratech Ventures, as well as Saima Sharif, a 28-year old venture capital fellow for seed and Series A venture capital firm NFX.
Also on the list is Keren Herscovici, one of the founders of Woman2Woman (W2W), a community founded to help young women with potential for excellence by connecting them with influential female mentors in key positions. The group was founded as part of the 8200 Alumni Association and Herscovici is a graduate of the elite 8200 IDF intelligence unit.
Other standouts include Michelle Letzer, a financial strategy planner for Google, responsible for the planning and expense management strategy for 81 Google groups that provide technical infrastructure for cloud customer use and Yael Malatsky, director of innovation, ecosystem, and startups at CityZone, an innovation lab and Israel’s first living experiment hub for urban technologies, established in partnership between the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, Tel Aviv University, and Atidim Park in Tel Aviv.
The list would not be complete without the familiar names in entertainment, including the wildly popular Aline Cohen, an 18-year-old who leveraged her YouTube following into a full-blown makeup and cosmetics business and 18-year old Noa Kirel, the triple-threat actress, singer, and dancer whose following in Israel is on par with famous Israeli pop duo Static and Ben-El. She just enlisted in the Israel Defense Forces.
Capping off an incredibly diverse list are two actors from Fauda, Shadi Mar’i and Firas Nassar, director/screenwriter Tal Zagreba, known for his viral Samsung commercials and his short film Gold Award, which won him the Best Young Director award at the Cannes Film Festival, and Sagi Muki, the 2019 judo world champion in the under 81 kg weight category, who is heading to the Olympics this summer.