JTA NEWS
1 March 2017 - 4 Adar 5777 - ד' אדר ה' אלפים תשע"ז
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Israel and Thailand sign open-skies agreement E-mail

In yet another sign of the opening up of flight routes between Asia and Israel, an agreement between Israel and Thailand was signed in December. El Al Israel Airlines Ltd is currently the only airline operating direct flights from Israel to Thailand. The alternatives are flights with stopovers in various countries.

The Ministry of Transport expects the agreement to substantially increase the number of passengers and to reduce ticket prices. Competition on the Tel Aviv-Bangkok route and flights to additional destinations in Thailand are expected.

Thailand has become an important business and vacation destination for Israelis, with 165,000 passengers flying to and from there each year in recent years. El Al has been the only scheduled airline to fly that route; other Israeli carriers, such as Arkia, have flown in the context of charters.

Nir Dagan, Chairman of Arkia, commented now that the airline will bid on flying the route as well. The agreement allows for more Thai companies to fly to Israel, and the only international carrier from that country that could do so is Thai Airways. The company has reportedly not yet decided whether to go ahead with a Tel Aviv route.

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CreditEase raises more funds to invest in more startups E-mail

China’s CreditEase Wealth Management announced in January the first closing of its second fund dedicated to investing in Israeli tech startups.

The China-based fund, CreditEase Israel Innovation Fund (CEIIF), has closed US$32.2 million and the final target of CEIIF II is US$50 million. CreditEase Israel Innovation Fund I, which closed in October 2015, raised US$30 million.

Led by managing partners Benjamin Weiss and Tayman Kan, CEIIF II will look to invest in Israel-based startups operating in six sectors: virtual and augmented reality (VR/ AR), Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, digital healthcare, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and data storage, and advanced manufacturing.

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Stem cell developer in Japan venture E-mail

In December, Israeli stem cell developer Pluristem Therapeutics Ltd and Japanese Sosei Group Corp unit Corporate Venture Capital Ltd announced the signing of a binding term sheet for the establishment of a new Japanese corporation (NewCo) for the clinical development and commercialisation of Pluristem’s PLX-PAD cell therapy product in Japan.

Following completion of fundraising, the parties plan to establish NewCo in Japan. Pluristem will own 35% of NewCo in return for its contribution of a perpetual licence to commercialise PLX-PAD for Critical Limb Ischemia (CLI) in Japan.

The first indication to be developed by NewCo will be CLI. The design of a 75-patient study of PLX-PAD in CLI was previously agreed upon with Japan’s Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA).

Pluristem chairman and CEO Zami Aberman said, “We are pleased to partner with Sosei CVC to commercialise PLXPAD in Japan. The development of our CLI programme through the accelerated regulatory pathway could allow a more rapid entrance into the sizeable Japanese market, as has been our strategy. Our co-operation with Sosei CVC also creates the potential to develop additional indications in this market, by drawing on our robust portfolio of cell therapy product candidates in development.”

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India’s Edugild to partner with China and Israel platforms E-mail

Edugild, an edtech accelerator based at MIT Academy of Engineering in Pune, India, has joined hands with JMDedu of China and Edtech Israel to enhance the number of Indian startups that want to expand their horizons in China and Israel.

Edugild is focusing its enrollment efforts for the third batch of edtech startups while strategically designing a programme that’s global in nature and that collectively embeds edtech startups in the larger ecosystem. It is also committed to developing a comprehensive and long-term edtech development programme that will raise business opportunities and funding possibilities for edtech startups.

JMDedu currently serves as a major community platform in China for industry conversation and collaboration in education technology. Edtech Israel is a global edtech business hub that successfully connects the Israeli edtech community with international entrepreneurs, investors and business partners, and brings global partners such as Edugild to Israel.

“JMDedu is excited to partner with Edugild while continuing to provide innovative opportunities that equip startups with the cross-cultural skills and knowledge essential for success in today’s global landscape,” said Sophie Chen, Partner of JMDedu China.

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China and Israel eye cooperation on medical robots E-mail

Chinese and Israeli research institutes and companies that attended an exposition in Guangzhou in December are keen to co-operate on developing medical robots.

Nine Israeli companies at the event brought with them robotics currently used in spinal surgery, 3D imaging and medicinal dosage-handling devices.

Israeli Robotics Association Chairperson Zvi Shiller said Israel has developed robots to help the disabled to shower, go to the toilet and climb escalators. Israeli firms are actively looking for partners to produce and sell their robots in the Chinese market. More than 40 Chinese companies showed interest during the expo, while others pitched business ideas to their Israeli counterparts.

Chinese tech firm Gosuncn Technology Group is investing heavily in patrol robots. A senior company official said his team has had a hard time overcoming some technological issues two years into the project and is hoping to find Israeli partners. Du Lan, Senior Vice President of iFlytek, is working to combine speech recognition with health care. The company is working with its major shareholder China Mobile on a series of voice-to-text and textto-voice applications.

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