The Genesis Prize Foundation announced on Thursday the winners of a high-tech and biotechnology competition for Israeli companies in honor of Natan Sharansky, the recipient of the 2020 Genesis Prize.
The competition aimed to identify the most promising innovation developed by Israeli companies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement took place at the residence of President Reuven Rivlin during a small, socially distanced ceremony celebrating the legendary Jewish leader of the Soviet Jewry emigration movement, former Israeli politician, and former head of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Several guests attended in person, with hundreds of invitees from different parts of the world joining by video.
Sharansky was named the seventh laureate of the Genesis Prize in December 2019. The selection committee noted his “extraordinary lifelong struggle for political and religious freedoms, emphasizing the relevance of his work in today’s world.
The Genesis Prize, also dubbed the “Jewish Nobel,” is a $1 million award established in 2013, seeks to recognize Jewish individuals who have attained excellence and international recognition in their chosen professional fields with a contribution to humanity and a commitment to Jewish values.
Sharansky directed his $1 million award to companies fighting the novel coronavirus.
Sharansky’s award was partially 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 Israeli NGO Start-up Nation Central, recognizes Israeli companies that achieved technological advances aimed at preventing, diagnosing, and treating the effects of COVID-19.
Hundreds of Israeli startups and established organizations took part in the contest, according to Stan Polovets, co-founder and chairman of the foundation. Twenty-one shortlisted companies made it into the second round of the competition, with ten winners selected by a judging panel that included prominent scientists, medical doctors, and philanthropists such as Morris Kahn, a leading Israeli philanthropist and founder of SpaceIL, Eugene Kandel, head of Startup Nation, and Dr. David Agus, one of the world’s most respected physicians and the author of the Number One bestseller “The End of Illness.”
President Rivlin said it was “no surprise” that Sharansky had chosen to use the $1 million Genesis Prize money and to give it to philanthropic and high-tech initiatives addressing the greatest challenge facing the world today.
“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,” he added.
“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,” said Kandel, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central. “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 announced at the ceremony will donate funds to Israeli non-profits of their choice, working to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
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The ten winning companies are:
Kamada, a plasma-derived protein therapeutics company, that completed manufacturing the first batch of its plasma-derived Immunoglobulin G (IgG) product for coronavirus patients. The company signed a deal with Israel’s Health Ministry in October for the investigational product.
Pluristem Therapeutics, a regenerative medicine company developing a novel platform of biological products to treat coronavirus.
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.
K Health, a personalized artificial intelligence-based health assistant, which shows patients how doctors have diagnosed and treated other people with similar cases.
Sight Diagnostics, a company that uses advanced computer-vision and machine-learning technologies in the field of blood diagnostics. Earlier this month, they signed an agreement to supply their OLO analyzers to medical centers in the United Arab Emirates and Gulf countries over the next year.
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.
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.