Six Israeli startups that are helping save lives

Companies are among 62 featured in David Wanetick’s book ‘Solution Nation,’ about Israeli firms having a global impact

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

Dengue fever is a disease caused by a virus transmitted from mosquitos most commonly found in South East Asia and South America (jarun011; iStock by Getty Images)
Dengue fever is a disease caused by a virus transmitted from mosquitos most commonly found in South East Asia and South America (jarun011; iStock by Getty Images)

“Solution Nation: One Nation is Disproportionately Responding to the World’s Most Intractable Problems” offers an in-depth analysis of 62 emerging Israeli companies, all of which are developing solutions to life-threatening problems.

Here are summaries of six of the companies featured in the book, courtesy of the author, David Wanetick (see an interview with the author).

Love-bombing mosquitoes: Mosquitoes cause more human death and suffering than any other organism on earth. Female mosquitoes are incentivized to bite as many people as possible since they depend on protein from blood to reproduce. They also multiply prolifically: for every milligram of human blood extracted, female mosquitoes lay roughly 40 eggs. Kfar Saba, Israel-based Senecio is love bombing mosquitoes into oblivion. Senecio packs airplanes with sterilized male mosquitoes. When released in mosquito-dense areas, these little Romeos mate with their awaiting Juliets. Since female mosquitoes only make love once in their lifetimes, no offspring result from these Senecio-induced liaisons.

Converting the movement of ocean waves into energy on land:  Ocean waves hold an annual 3.5 terawatts of raw energy potential—the equivalent of 3,500 large coal plants operating at full capacity. Most ocean energy companies place their wave capture systems four or five kilometers from the coast, where higher waves tend to pack a powerful punch. This strategy is tempting but tremendously expensive and risky given the unsparing weather conditions that lie so far away from the shorelines. Tel Aviv, Israel-based Eco Wave Power has developed technology that allows it to convert the movement of ocean waves into energy on land. Positioning ninety percent of its equipment (just about everything except for floaters attached to long arms) on land enables Eco Wave Power to improve the reliability of electricity generation, reduces stress on equipment, and slashes insurance premiums.

Illustrative: A small boat out at sea (Creative-Family/iStock)

Robots kick brain matter away from tubes: More than one out of every 1,000 babies are born with hydrocephalus, which is evidenced by babies’ heads being massively disproportionate to their bodies. The standard procedure for treating hydrocephalus entails inserting a tube in the brain, through which excess fluid is routed to the abdomen, where it is dissolved. One of the problems with these tubes is that brain tissue often becomes entangled in those tubes. Infections and further surgeries can result. Yokneam, Israel-based MicroBot Medical has developed a robot that resides inside of the tubes that transport excess fluids. The robots’ little legs kick invading brain matter away from the tubes, reducing the risks, trauma and costs of repeated brain surgeries.

Determining the sex of chicks when still in shell: For well over two billion male chicks born to hens in the egg industry every year, their first day in this world is also their last. Male chicks are worthless in the poultry industry; they will never lay eggs and they cannot grow nearly as large as broiler chickens. Industrial-size macerators await them. By introducing Big Data, irradiation and other proprietary know-how to the poultry industry, Kibbutz Ma’anit, Israel-based LivEgg can determine the sex of an in-shell embryo. LivEgg’s gender identity analysis is non-invasive and is driven by algorithms and machine learning.

Illustrative. (iStock)

Converting landfill waste into moldable materials: The roughly two billion tons of waste generated worldwide every year causes a whole heap of trouble. At least 80% of such waste finds its way into landfills. Landfills offer a smorgasbord of toxic and noxious elements—mercury, methane, arsenic, cadmium, acids, and lead to name a few. Tel Aviv, Israel-based UBQ is perfecting a technique for converting landfill waste into moldable materials that can replace plastics and woods used in end products ranging from trash cans to furniture. UBQ’s process of evaporating, separating and grinding landfill waste into a raw manufacturing material requires neither burning nor water, leaves zero residual waste, demonstrates high fuel efficiency and emits few pollutants.

Converting toxic gases into breathable air: How can people be rescued from high-rise buildings? Why not use elevators which can carry people to the ground much faster than descending dozens and dozens of flights of stairs? After all, firefighters use elevators to reach high floors. Jerusalem, Israel-based Salamandra Zone de-risks the use of elevators when buildings are ablaze by converting toxic gases into breathable air in nanoseconds. Many hundreds of liters of treated air are pushed into the elevator cab every minute. The tremendous pressure pushing the air prevents smoke from entering the cab when the elevator is moving or when its doors open. Further, this treated air is cooled from 300° to 35° Celsius.

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