18 June 2019 - 16 Sivan 5779 - ט"ז סיון ה' אלפים תשע"ט
South Korean firms invest in Weizmann Institute anti-cancer drug E-mail

An anti-cancer therapy that has been developed by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Technology will receive a US$10 million investment from a South Korean biopharmaceutical company BioLeaders Corporation, which is traded on the Korea Stock Exchange. This is the firm’s first investment in an Israeli venture.

The Weizmann Institute also announced that a second sum of US$2 million will be invested by Yozma Group Asia, a VC fund, in On-Sight Medical Inc., jointly owned by Yeda Research, New York University (NYU) Medical School and other parties.

The institute said that the two Korean entities have committed to investing in two spinoff companies set up by Yeda Research and Development Co. Ltd., the technology transfer arm of the Weizmann Institute of Science.

BioLeaders Corporation, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical firm, has signed a Letter of Intent with Yeda for the incorporation of a jointly owned company that will be set up in the coming months to develop the anti-cancer drug.

The drug will be based on the research of Weizmann Institute professors Varda Rotter and Moshe Oren, both of the Molecular Cell Biology Department.

Rotter and Oren were among the first to discover the function of the p53 protein – called the “guardian of the genome”. This protein is mutated or dysfunctional in over two-thirds of all cancers; such malfunctions can cause the cancer to spread faster. The two researchers recently developed a peptide – a small piece of protein – that can restore proper p53 function. The peptide they developed targets the malformed p53, and enters the cell and binds to the protein.

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Otonomo raising more funds from Asia E-mail

Israeli connected car company Otonomo is in the midst of its Series C financing round, according to Globes newswires. Sources close to the company said that it had already raised tens of millions of dollars, and that the round was likely to reach US$50-100 million this month.

Otonomo, founded by entrepreneur and CEO Ben Volkow, raised a total of US$43 million in its seed, A and B financing rounds.

South Korean group SK is leading the current round with a US$10 million investment. SK, the third-largest conglomerate in South Korea, has US$83.5 billion in annual revenue and 93,000 employees. Other undisclosed new investors are also investing in Otonomo, plus existing investors, such as Bessemer Venture Partners, StageOne Ventures, Maniv Mobility, Dell’s investment fund, international components supplier Delphi Partners and Japanese telecom giant NTT DoCoMo.

Figures published in the South Korean media, based on reports by SK, give Otonomo a value of US$370 million.

Ontonomo has developed a cloud platform for autonomous vehicles that gathers information from vehicles on the roads, compiles it, processes it on the cloud, and commercialises it.

The information includes details about how the driver drives, his/her location in the vehicle, the physical state and maintenance of vehicles, the level of air pressure in the tyres, and even the type of media the driver and passengers in the car consume.

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Indian team in Israel to scour tech for new hospital E-mail

Two representatives from Kolkata, India, were in Israel recently to gain some first-hand knowledge and guidance as they look to build a large new multi-speciality tertiary hospital in northern India.

Dr Chandy Abraham and Mayur Dogra represent ITC, a large Indian conglomerate based in Kolkata. Abraham has been enlisted to be the CEO of the new hospital and Dogra is vice president, growth and development, of ITC’s healthcare business.

They also attended the 5th annual MedinIsrael digital health conference in Tel-Aviv, which was held from 25 to 28 March. Well over 450 companies exhibited digital healthcare and medical techonology products and services. Abraham described Israel’s medical profession and industry as being on the forefront of innovation.

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Chinese healthcare conglomerate Thalys signs MOU with Israel’s iCan E-mail

Thalys Medical Technology, a leading Chinese healthcare conglomerate listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on 11April with iCAN IsraelCannabis, Israel’s leading medical cannabis incubator.

Thalys and iCAN will come together to create a unique partnership to advance the development of early-stage incubated companies that focus on the creation of medical technology, agricultural technology and general intellectual property focusing on the medical hemp industry.

“Thalys and iCAN each bring unique strengths to this partnership, which is strategic in every sense. Thalys will help iCAN’s portfolio companies enter the world’s most populous consumer market. Thalys, which plans to co-invest in iCAN’s portfolio investments that address Chinese market needs, will have exclusive cooperation rights on iCAN’s incubated start-ups and we will have matching stakes in new investments. I am honoured, humbled and proud to work cooperatively with one of China’s leading medical technology companies,” said Saul Kaye, CEO of iCAN.

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Honda teams up with Poliakine on quality-assurance robots E-mail

Japanese auto manufacturer Honda has said it will install robots in a joint venture by Israeli entrepreneur Ran Poliakine and Honda subsidiary Musashi Seimitsu, a tier-1 supplier of parts to the Japanese auto industry.

Last month Musashi Al, the joint venture, completed a pilot with Honda for one of its products, a robot for testing the quality of parts on the production line. The company now reports that it has received orders from customers in the auto industry, headed by Honda, which will install the robot in its assembly line in the coming months. The company is not revealing the size of the order, but market sources say that the deal with Honda is worth in the tens of millions of dollars.

Musashi Al has been working at the Neve Ilan assembly plant near Jerusalem for six months, with around 30 employees. The company also has dozens of production workers in Japan.

Following completion of the pilot, the company is expanding, and plans to increase the number of its employees to 100200 by the end of the year.

The joint venture has developed two products for automated assembly lines so far: an optical system for detecting defects in metal parts on auto production lines and an automated forklift for factories. The company displayed both of them at the artificial intelligence (AI) exhibition in Tokyo last month.

According to Poliakine, Israel has a great deal of knowhow in computer vision and AI, while Japan has a lot of expertise in robotics. The combination of these led to the development of a robot for testing the quality of components.

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