Genesis Prize gives award to 10 Israeli firms helping combat COVID-19

Natan Sharansky, recipient of the $1 million prize in 2019, funded competition of tech companies with ‘most promising’ innovations to fight the pandemic

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

The 2020 Genesis Prize is awarded at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, December 24, 2020 (Mark Neyman/GPO)
The 2020 Genesis Prize is awarded at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, December 24, 2020 (Mark Neyman/GPO)

The Genesis Prize Foundation on Thursday announced the winners of a competition among Israeli high-tech and biotechnology firms that are behind “the most promising innovations” in Israel to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement took place at the President’s Residence during a small, socially distanced ceremony, which also celebrated Natan Sharansky, who funded the competition. Hundreds of invitees from around the world joined the event by video, the organizers of the competition said.

Sharansky was chosen the 7th Genesis Prize laureate in December 2019 and directed his $1 million award to organizations fighting the coronavirus. Part of Sharansky’s award was used to fund a competition for Israeli biotech and high-tech companies developing innovative solutions in this battle.

The contest, launched in partnership with Start-up Nation Central, recognizes Israeli companies that achieved technological advances aimed at preventing, diagnosing, and treating the effects of COVID-19.

An Israeli medical worker receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv on December 20, 2020. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Hundreds of Israeli startups and other firms took part in the competition, of which 21 were shortlisted, with 10 winners announced after being vetted by a panel that included scientists, medical doctors and philanthropists.

Among the judges were philanthropist and SpaceIL founder Morris Kahn, Startup Nation Central head Eugene Kandel, and Dr. David Agus, a physician and the author of the New York Times bestseller “The End of Illness.”

The winners said they plan to donate the funds received to Israeli nonprofits that are working to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

President Reuven Rivlin awards the 2020 Genesis Prize at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, December 24, 2020 (Mark Neyman/GPO)

The 10 winning companies are:

Kamada, a plasma-derived protein therapeutics company, which completed manufacturing the first batch of its plasma-derived Immunoglobulin G (IgG) product for coronavirus patients
Pluristem Therapeutics, a regenerative medicine company developing a platform of biological products to treat coronavirus
Sight Diagnostics, which uses advanced computer-vision and machine-learning technologies for blood diagnostics
• K Health, a personalized artificial intelligence-based health assistant, which shows patients how doctors have diagnosed and treated other people with similar cases
• 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
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
Sonovia, the developer of the “SonoMask,” a face mask that is said to be more than 90 percent effective against coronaviruses, and 99.89% effective against other viruses
• Biobeat, which develops a wearable device for what it says is 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, a developer of communications solution for ventilated patients in ICUs

The annual $1 million Genesis prize honors individuals who serve as an inspiration to the next generation of Jews through their outstanding professional achievement and commitment to Jewish values and the Jewish people. Previous winners include artist Anish Kapoor, violinist Itzhak Perlman, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor-director Michael Douglas. Winners traditionally donate the prize money to charity.

The 2020 Genesis Prize is awarded at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, December 24, 2020 (Mark Neyman/GPO)

Natan Sharansky was announced in December 2019 as the 8th Genesis Prize Honoree in recognition of his life-long advocacy for human rights, democracy, service to the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

Start-Up Nation Central is a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen Israel’s tech industry by creating connections with global business organizations, venture capitalists, investors, and government officials.

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