3 Israeli start-ups to vie for Chinese prize money, limelight

Innovators in the fields of cancer, speech therapy and drone navigation are finalists in Beijing competition in August

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Israeli finalists at the Global Innovation Awards 2016 (Dror Sithakol)
Israeli finalists at the Global Innovation Awards 2016 (Dror Sithakol)

The three Israeli startups chosen to represent Israel at the finals of the Shengjing Global Innovation Awards 2016 in Beijing this August are a developer of genetic therapy for cancer, a mobile speech therapy startup and a creator of an autonomous navigation system for drones.

The winners will compete against startups from the US, Europe and China for prizes worth $1.5 million, the opportunity to get investment from a special $25 million fund set up by China’s Shengjing Group, and the chance to present their technology to investors and leading companies from China and the world. The finalists are scheduled to go on a road show which will include meetings with Chinese tech companies and will get extensive coverage in the Chinese media.

The finalists were announced at a ceremony in Tel Aviv Monday night.

Boomerang, one of the three finalists, is developing a cancer therapy that targets cancerous cells by using advanced gene editing tools and activating “suicide genes,” the company said. The system can be adapted to the genetics of each patient, paving the way for a potentially personalized medication.

NiniSpeech uses mobile feedback technology to help people who stutter. The mobile app allows users to practice their speech with other people who are going through the same process, helping them increase their confidence with the feeling they are not alone. It also provides users with feedback about how well they have done and monitors progress.

AerialGuard, the third finalist, has developed a navigation system that allows unmanned vehicles to navigate and perform missions in an autonomous manner, sensing and avoiding objects during flight and searching for new paths when necessary. The company does not build drones but envisages partnering with existing manufacturers to install its system.

The Global Innovation Awards were established by the Shengjing Group, a management consulting firm. The Israel segment of the competition, run by venture capital firm Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) was launched in March this year, with 140 Israeli startups entering the competition from a wide variety of fields. The three winners were selected from among eight companies chosen for the semifinal competition by judges from who are leaders in the Israeli high-tech ecosystem, JVP and the Shenjing Group said in a statement.

This year, a wide variety of startups participated in the competition from a number of different sectors, including FinTech, pharma, medical devices, healthcare, enterprise software, Internet, and media.

Israeli startup DiaCardio, which uses algorithms to analyze cardiograms, was named the winner of the 1st annual Global Innovation Awards during last year’s finals in Beijing.

“We put a lot of emphasis on choosing companies with solid global potential which understand market trends on a worldwide basis,” said Yoav Tzruya, JVP partner, in a statement. “There is a lot of deep technology in the Global Innovation Awards competition this year and this is a true testament to the Israeli tech ecosystem.”

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