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From swords to scalpels: IAI, Soroka hospital to use army tech for medical edge

IAI’s subsidiary Elta and Soroka will set up joint innovation center for medical tech where doctors and defense engineers will brainstorm and seek out solutions

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

An illustration of radar technology developed by IAI's Elta subsidiary (YouTube screenshot)
An illustration of radar technology developed by IAI's Elta subsidiary (YouTube screenshot)

Israel’s Soroka Medical Center in the southern city of Beersheba and a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, the nation’s largest aerospace and defense company, will be working together to adapt military technologies to the medical field.

IAI’s subsidiary Elta Systems Ltd. and Soroka said Sunday they had signed an agreement to set up an innovation center for the development of medical technologies, by converting developments from the defense and security field to the medical sector.

Elta develops advanced intelligence electronic systems, including radars, sensors, communication systems, cybersecurity and AI-based software. All of this knowledge will now be directed toward the medical field.

The idea behind the joint innovation center is to create an incubator for brainstorming ideas. As part of the incubation process, doctors at the medical center will raise medical and engineering needs, and the aerospace engineers will try to come up with solutions.

A joint steering committee will then select the most relevant projects that should be advanced at the innovation center.

Elta’s CEO, Yoav Turgeman, left, and Dr. Shlomi Codish, Director Geneal of Soroka Medical Center at the signing of the agreement to set up a joint medical innovation center; June 2021 (IAI)

During the coronavirus pandemic, IAI, Microsoft and Soroka hospital developed a COVID-19 monitoring cockpit to supervise patients and collect real-time data about those who were on ventilators, making it easier for medical teams to monitor their progress from afar.

The new medical innovation center will join the cybersecurity and smart- transportation activities that IAI is setting up in Beersheba – initiatives that will help bring new jobs and economic growth to the Negev region, the statement said.

IAI’s VP and Elta’s CEO, Yoav Turgeman, said in the statement that the collaboration will help promote IAI’s efforts “to convert advanced technologies to the civilian field and enable a business path for the implementation of various technologies from the security to medical field” for the development of “unique medical technologies.”

The engineering prowess demonstrated during a global pandemic underlines the potential for the growth of an “entirely new business line for IAI,” he added.

“Innovation is a strategic value for us,” said Dr. Shlomi Codish, director general of Soroka Medical Center, in the statement. The collaboration with IAI will allow the hospital to jointly develop systems that arise from the needs of medical staff, who will bring to the collaboration real-world experiences from the wards, operating rooms and clinics.

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