ISRAEL@70: 70 times that Israeli innovations impacted the world

A difficult physical environment within and hostile neighbours without means that Israel has had to innovate more than most nations to survive and thrive. With little or no resources and limited opportunities to boom industrially, the tiny nation of Israel with a population of about 9 million has had to invest in education and human capital – an investment that has yielded excellent results in terms of driving the Israeli economy toward knowledge and innovation-dependent high technology.

Israel has been very successful in leveraging innovation and high technology to surmount its challenges and earning for itself the title of ‘Innovation Superpower’ of the world. For instance, Israel – being more than half-desert and faced with existential water threats – developed cutting-edge desalination technology to produce water from the Mediterranean Sea. Israel also developed critical water management solutions such as drip-irrigation to turn its desert land into lush green fields; and Israel has the highest percentage of waste-water recycling and reuse in the world.

Over the decades, Israel has shared its innovations and solutions with the world. Like the biblical story of David and Goliath, Israel – a small nation – delivers well above its weight in terms of the solutions it offers to some of the most gigantic challenges facing the world. As Israel celebrates its 70th anniversary, here are some 70 Israeli innovations that have changed the world.

  1. GrainPro Cocoons: The preservation of food in times of bumper harvest for use in leaner seasons has been a problem confronting man for generations, as seen in the biblical story of Joseph in Egypt. In modern times, this problem has found a solution in the Israeli solution designed by Prof. Shlomo Navarro. His GrainPro Cocoons provide an inexpensive and effective way to store staples in small to large quantities for up to 24 months without chemical preservatives – thus preserving food security in several countries around the world.
  2. USB Flash Drives: Perhaps few inventions symbolise the spirit of Israeli innovation as the USB flash drives which today have become the preferred storage device for transferring/storing large amounts of information conveniently. The USB flash drives (also known as pen drives or by its original brand name “disk-on-key”) was invented by Israeli company M-Systems, which went on to be a market leader in the production of USB flash drives before it was taken over by Sandisk.
  3. Office Printers: The Israeli company Indigo (Now HP Indigo after being purchased by HP) basically invented the technology that made it possible for offices around the world today to have printers that churn out high quality digital prints.
  4. Drip-irrigation: Since Israeli water engineer Simcha Blass and his son Yeshayahu invented modern drip-irrigation by the incorporation of plastic emitters, the technology has gone on to become the world’s most valued innovation in agriculture. Drip-irrigation systems deliver water directly to the roots of plants and could save as much as 90% of water used in irrigation when compared to flood irrigation. The company started by Simcha Blass – Netafim – is still the world leader in drip-irrigation systems till today.
  5. Pressure regulator in drip-irrigation systems: Drip-irrigation systems would not have had such a great impact on agriculture were it not for the invention of a pressure regulator by Rafi Mehoudar. The incorporation of his systems into drip-irrigation technology made the technology more efficient and led to increased use around the world.
  6. Biobee: Inside Israel’s Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu, Biobee breeds and exports millions of insects to farms around the world to do the noble job of eating up pests and boosting productivity. Biobee’s revolutionary work ensures that pests can be controlled using sterile biological agents (insects) so that farmers do not have to introduce harmful pesticides to crops. BioBee exports 8 different species of biological control agents, plus pollinating bumblebees, to 32 nations around the world.
  7. PillCam: Imagine a pill that is also a camera – such that when swallowed it travels through the digestive system taking pictures along the way. That is exactly what Dr. Gavriel Iddan invented, and the company he established (Given Images) produces PillCam which enables doctors around the world to diagnose digestive system disorders by receiving pictures and videos of the entire digestive tract in 8 hours without hospitalisation of the patient.
  8. Tal-Ya: Israel’s Tal-Ya invention is a simple, inexpensive tray made from recycled plastics that harvests the morning dew and directs it to the root of plants therefore providing a lifeline for tree crops in the early stages of growth. Tal-Ya reduces the need for irrigation and fertiliser by 50% and prevents weeds growing around plants.
  9. Israeli/Jerusalem/Pearl couscous: A type of toasted pasta also known as ptitim, it was invented in Israel during the austerity period and is now a popular food eaten across the Middle East and in numerous countries around the world.
  10. Cherry tomato: Although cherry tomatoes are not an Israeli invention, modern varieties of it were developed in Israel by Israeli scientists – which means that whereas cherry tomatoes were hard to find on shelves a few decades ago, today they are difficult to miss on salad menus around the world. Thanks to Israel!
  11. Zero-discharge System in Aquaculture: Israel’s GFA (Grow Fish Anywhere) has developed and implemented around the world an aquaculture system that releases no discharge into the environment. Their innovative system takes nitrates from the bottom of ponds and cleans them out of the water before sending the water back into the pond. Thanks to GFA’s innovation, farmers around the world are able to grow fish anywhere. Even in the desert!
  12. TraitUP: A technology developed by Israel’s Morflora provides a generic, non-transgenic and non-heritable platform that delivers DNA into seeds quickly and reliably to protect from diseases, introduce new desired traits and enhance crops in a single generation. The technology is in use across the world and has won several awards for contributing to food security.
  13. Rosetta Green: Israel’s Rosetta Green developed a unique technology that uses microRNAs to improve crops in the agriculture and biofuels industry. The company has made a huge impact on agriculture productivity around the world and was acquired by Monsanto in 2013 in a multi-million dollar deal.
  14. 8088 Processor: The original IBM PC that forever changed the future of computers was based on the Intel 8088 Processor, developed in Israel. This development paved the way for other future developments such as the MMX and Centrino chips which became the brain in desktops and laptops around the world.
  15. Viber: The Viber App, developed in Israel by two former IDF officers, provided cross-platform instant messaging and VoIP over mobile phones and became a must-have app on almost every mobile device. The company was purchased by Japanese multinational Rakuten in 2014.
  16. 3-D Object Modelling: As 3-D printing continues to disrupt industries and impact lives around the world, Israel’s Cubital has developed and patented a technology that enables the company to model objects in 3-D and enable printers to recreate these objects layer-by-layer.
  17. Solar windows: An innovative new idea that is bringing the world closer to the dream of a net-zero building, Israel’s Pythagoras Solar has developed an innovative Solar Window – a transparent photovoltaic glass window that generates energy and also allows light into buildings.
  18. MobilEye Car Navigation: Starting as a university research work by Prof. Amnon Shashua of the Hebrew University, Israel’s MobilEye has developed into an innovative Advanced Driver-Assistance Technology that is powering the development of self-driving cars. The MobilEye system also provides collision warnings to drivers. The Jerusalem-based company was bought in 2017 by Intel for a record US$15.3billion. The MobilEye EyeQ2 chip is used in the Hyundai Lane Guidance Camera Module.
  19. MyEye: Orcam, another company established by Prof. Amnon Shashua developed MyEye1, a high-tech wearable device that enables blind or visually impaired people to ‘see’. MyEye1 is essentially an intuitive, lightweight smart camera that instantly and discreetly reads printed text aloud – from any surface – and recognises faces, products and money notes, all in real-time.
  20. Real Time Microbiology: Israeli company TACount’s innovative technology enables the detection, identification and counting of microorganisms in minutes rather than days or weeks compared to existing techniques. The technology has found widespread application in the water, food and beverages, micro-electronics and cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries.
  21. BabySense: A non-touch, no-radiation device developed in Israel and now manufactured and sold by Hisense Health Monitoring Technologies – used in hospitals and homes around the world to protect infants from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, which is the leading cause of death in infants under 1-year of age.
  22. System to record movement on paper or computer: Just as music can be captured in writing, two Israelis set out to create a system of recording dance moves on paper so that it can be recorded and practiced over again by others. The system they created, called the Eshkol-Wachman Movement Notation System, is today used in dance, physical therapy, studying animal behaviour and early diagnosis of autism.
  23. The world’s smallest video camera: Israel’s Medigus has made the world’s smallest video camera, the microScoutCam 1.2 – which has been adopted by NASA for use in their space robots. The tiny camera was already being used widely in endoscopy. The camera itself measures 0.05 inches in diameter.
  24. Early Sense: EarlySense is an Israel medical device company that is a market leader in contact-free medical and home sensors for monitoring patients. The company’s technology is used in hospitals, rehabilitation centres and homes around the world, and can be placed under the beds of patients to provide health data backed by artificial intelligence.
  25. Israeli bandage that stops bleeding in under a minute: An Israeli bandage made from plant-based gauze that stimulates coagulation can stop bleeding in less than a minute. The bandage, called Woundclot, is made by Israeli company Core Scientific Creations and currently sold in 32 countries around the world. It is saving lives in situations where compression technique can be dangerous after an injury.
  26. Medicine for Parkinson’s disease: The drug Azilect, used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, was developed by Moussa Youdim and John Finberg of the Technion, and commercialised by Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals.
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  1. Medicine for Multiple Sclerosis: Copaxone immunomodulator for treating multiple sclerosis was developed by Michael Sela, Ruth Arnon and Deborah Teitelbaum at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science.
  2. The Keeper: The Keeper is a 3-phase fault current limiter based on intellectual property from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University that instantaneously blocks current surges and limits the current long enough to clear faults. The revolutionary system being used by power utilities across Europe and North America prevents frequent power outages and protects against multiple faults.
  3. Video Synopsis Technology: Israel’s BriefCam invented and owns worldwide patents for Video Synopsis – a technology that allows organisations and security agencies to review hours of video in minutes and sometimes seconds by simultaneously displaying events that have occurred at different times and highlighting excerptions and providing smart alerts.
  4. WeCU: Using complex algorithms anchored on behavioural science, the WeCU technology is able to scan through crowds of people in public places such as airports and pick out terrorists with a high degree of success.
  5. Digital forensics: Israel’s Cellebrite has developed the technology to hack into almost any phone and tablet. The digital forensic firm is on call from law enforcement agencies around the world and is making a huge impact in preventing and solving crimes and atrocities. The company made headlines in 2016 for helping US authorities crack the iPhone used by the San Bernadino terrorist after Apple declined to assist law enforcement agencies.
  6. Epilator: The epilator is an electrical device that removes hair by grasping hairs and pulling them out. The first epilator was called the Epilady, invented and manufactured in Israel by Mepro in Kibbutz Hagoshrim.
  7. Floating Solar Panels: Israeli company Solaris has developed floating solar panels that generate power at cheaper rates. Solaris says their floating solar panels can free-up land for cultivation while making use of part of the over three-quarters of the world surface that is covered by water.
  8. Enzyme-based catalyst for bio-diesel production: Israel’s Transbiodiesel is the owner of a unique patented technology that uses enzyme-based catalysts to produce biodiesel and omega-3 fatty acid concentrates. The company is involved in several big and small projects around the world and has been recognized for contributing to a cleaner and more sustainable world.
  9. Plastic Recycling: As the world continues to grapple with the environmental disaster of plastic waste, Israel’s Elya Recycling is turning that plastic waste into amazing new products. But don’t take my word for it. Check them out at
  10. Air from water: It is now possible for divers to spend extended periods under water without a tank because Israeli company Like-A-Fish has developed a new tech that extracts air from water and makes it available to divers. Humans can now swim Like-A-Fish, literally.
  11. Water from air: On the flipside, Israel’s Water-Gen has developed a new technology that traps atmospheric humidity and produces water from it that can be used by humans. This means that in emergency situations and in areas where water is a scarce resource, water can be extracted from…air!
  12. Energy consumption analytics: Israel’s Panoramic Power is an innovative wireless, self-powering device that provides residential and commercial facilities with information on energy consumption, operating costs, efficiency using cloud-based analytics. The company sold 25,000 sensors across 700 cities in 30 countries before it was taken over by US energy giant Direct Energy in 2015.
  13. Solar Energy Optimisers: Israel’s SolarEdge developed a unique system of optimisers and inverters that increase the output of energy from solar systems. In 2010, the company shipped 250,000 optimisers around the world – accounting for 70% of the optimisers market. The company also announced a partnership with Tesla, the same year it raised US$126million from an initial IPO.
  14. HelioBooster: The HelioBooster is unique technology developed by Israel’s Heliofocus that boosts existing thermal plants using high temperature solar steam. The company has completed and is involved in several projects around the world – and is the first Western solar energy company to participate in a solar energy project in China.
  15. PrimeSense: An Israeli company that developed 3-D sensors for electronic devices– basically sensors that could allow devices such as phones and security systems to ‘see’ their users and also analyse objects in the environment in three dimensions. In 2013, Apple bought PrimeSense for US$360million.
  16. The World’s Smallest DNA Computing Machine System: Scientists at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science have developed a device that has been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the smallest biological computing device in the world. Instead of silicon chips the device runs on a single strand of DNA, can be injected into the body, and is programmable. In the laboratory, the device was even programmed successfully to recognise cancer cells and release molecules to destroy them. The possibilities unveilled by this new area of biological computing could change our lives in unimaginable ways.
  17. Nanowire: Three Israeli scientists from the Technion developed a tiny conductive wire from tiny particles of silver that is a thousand times thinner than human hair. The nanowire has opened up a whole industry of opportunities and is being applied in electronic devices and in medicine.
  18. Quasicrystals: The discovery of quasicrystals by Israel’s Prof. Dan Schehtman of the Technion led to the award of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Today, Quasicrystals are used in surgical instruments, LED lights, non-stick cookware etc.
  19. ReWalk: For people suffering from Spinal Cord Injury (SCI), the ability to walk again is an important dream. Israel’s ReWalk developed an innovative solution that makes this dream a reality. ReWalk’s exoskeleton enables people suffering from SCI to stand upright, walk, turn and climb and descend stairs; and it is the first exoskeleton to receive FDA clearance for personal and rehabilitation use in the USA.
  20. Surgical Robots: Israel’s Mazor Robotics, founded 16 years ago, manufactures and sells robots that participate in surgical procedures. The company is a pioneer and a market-leader in this field. 29,000 procedures and 200,000 implants have been placed using their robots.
  21. Treatment for Essential Tremors: Essential tremors are nerve disorders characterised by uncontrollable shaking. A new treatment available to sufferers of this condition has been developed by Israel’s Insightec using non-invasive MRI-Guided ultrasound technology.
  22. Optical Patient Monitor: In Israel Prof. Ze’ev Zalevsky of the bar-Ilan University, in collaboration with a counterpart at the University of Valencia-Spain, has developed a revolutionary technology that detects ‘nanometric’ vibrations from the body to measure health parameters such as heart-beat, blood pressure, respiration rate, lung sounds, muscle activity and blood glucose without any contact with the patient. His discoveries have been commercialised through the company ContinUse Biometrics.
  23. Wireless blood sugar monitoring kit: An Israeli startup – GlucoMe – has developed a wireless blood sugar monitoring kit for diabetes patients. The company recently signed an agreement with a chain of diabetes clinics in India to include its tech in homecare kits for thousands of patients.
  24. Emergency Bandage: Also known as the Israeli Bandage, the emergency bandage is an innovative, battle-proven first-aid tool that stops blood flow in traumatic haemorrhage and has saved many lives in both military and civilian emergency situations. It is “the bandage of choice of the US Army and special forces”. It was developed by Israeli military medic Bernard Bar-Natan.
  25. Aviva Method: Or the Aviva dance, is a system of physical exercises that was developed after 28 years of research and is claimed to stimulate specific glands for the release of reproductive hormones. Aviva dancers around the world claim the routine helps with slack pelvic floor, incontinence, irregular menstruation, menstrual problems and fertility issues.
  26. Krav Maga: A form of martial arts for self-defence and combat developed for the Israel Defence Force and security agencies. There are international organisations that teach Krav Maga around the world and it has been adopted for training by several national security agencies.
  27. Steel Security Door: Rav Bariach’s new design for steel security doors and a geometric lock system became the standard security doors in Israel and is incorporated in doors sold on five continents around the world.
  28. Uzi Submachine Gun: The Uzi was a compact submachine gun designed and first built by Captain Uziel Gal. The gun went into widespread use first in Israel and then across 90 nations around the world, reaching sales of about US$2billion as at the end of 2001.
  29. Wall Radar: Israel’s Camero has developed a unique hand-held device that uses Ultra Wide Band (UWB) and special algorithms to enable users see through walls. Camero’s system can penetrate all types of walls and can reveal the number of people on the other side of the wall and their physical attributes. The systems are also lightweight and small and have been used in both military and civilian search and rescue operations around the world.
  30. Iron Dome: Israel’s Iron Dome is a mobile missile defence system that intercepts short-range rockets and missiles and destroys them in the air before they can reach populated areas. The Iron Dome system was first deployed in 2011 and by 2014 had intercepted and destroyed 1,200 rockets.
  31. David’s Sling: Toward the challenge of making the world a safer place for all, Israel and the US collaborated to develop a medium-range missile defence system called David’s Sling to protect from attacks by ballistic medium-range missiles, medium/long-range rockets and cruise missiles.
  32. Arrow 3: Israel’s Arrow 3 exo-atmospheric anti-ballistic missile is something straight out of a science-fiction novel. Developed jointly with the US, it has the ability to intercept ballistic missiles travelling outside the atmosphere – including intercontinental missiles carrying nuclear, chemical, biological or conventional warheads – and can even shoot down satellites in orbit. The Arrow 3 is an innovation that gives Israel the ability to protect the lives of its people and people of other countries, continents and civilisations.
  33. Economics/Game Theory: Israel Auman of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem received a Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in the field of Game Theory.
  34. Economics: Israel’s Daniel Kahneman received the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work which explains the irrational economic choices of humans.
  35. Gett: Formerly known as Get Taxi, this Israeli ride-sharing app enables users to request transport or courier services from their computers or GPS-enabled phones. The Gett services is currently available in over 100 cities around the world.
  36. Waze: A community-based app that provides traffic management and navigation services to users. It alerts drivers of traffic jams, police check-points and other road issues ahead. It also advises on alternative routes and allows users to coordinate trips with friends. The app was an instant hit around the world and was purchased in 2013 by Google.
  37. Drone deliveries: The world’s first drone-based delivery service was developed and deployed by Israel’s Flytrex.
  38. Independent drones: Israeli company Airobotics has been credited with being first in the world to develop a fully autonomous drone that can fly without human guidance. The company’s drones are currently serving some important corporate clients around the world.
  39. com: Do you need a website? Well, instead of paying for a web developer why don’t you build it yourself – using Israel’s which has easy to customise templates and ‘drag-and-drop’ capabilities? You can be like millions of people around the world who use wix.xom to build their websites.
  40. Firewall: The first commercially available firewall for software using inspection technology was launched by Israeli company Checkpoint.
  41. Anti-virus Software: The first anti-virus for PCs was developed by Israel’s iRiS. The company also provided the first anti-virus solution for Windows.
  42. Voice over IP: The world’s first VoIP software was released by Israel’s VocalTec in 1995. The software was developed by Alon Cohen and Lior Haramaty and it was called the Internet Phone by VocalTec – but many people simply called it iPhone.
  43. Instant Messaging: Pioneering work by Israel’s Mirabilis (ICQ for PC) was the beginning of instant messaging and became the foundation for instant messaging apps such as Viber and Whatsapp.
  44. TaKaDu: A revolutionary software developed in Israel and being used by major water utilities around the world, TaKaDu has won several awards for its ability to automatically detect events such as leakages, burst pipes and thefts in utility systems. This innovation has saved billions of dollars for utility companies around the world by preventing non-revenue losses.
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  1. Instant detection of contaminants in water: Built with patented tech, Israeli company Litshot builds key-sized devices that can detect contaminants in water and indicate if the water is safe for drinking or not. The company’s device when placed near a glass of water will blink blue if the water is safe and red if it’s not.
  2. Road Traffic Monitoring System: Israel’s Decell Technologies developed a unique software that uses anonymous mobile GPS, and 3rd party data to provide real-time and predictive information on road traffic. The company was bought by US population analytics firm AirSage in 2015.


Footnote: The writer is the Trade and Economic Coordinator at the Embassy of Israel in Ghana, and General Secretary of the Ghana-Israel Business Chamber.                                                                          FIN

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