Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid and Google Israel CEO Meir Brand signed the framework agreement, according to a statement.
The Finance Ministry said, “The MOU was formulated as part of recognition of the importance of technology to access government information and services, to reduce the bureaucratic burden, to improve government services to citizens and businesses, and for economic growth.”
Initiatives to come from the collaboration are set to include “Meet the Government” encounters, a platform for Israeli start-up companies to better understand government policies and work plans, a scholarship program cooperation at Ben Gurion University for engineering, computer studies and public policy students to present innovative ideas and technologies for the public sector, and new data banks that can assist Google.
In 2013, Google acquired Waze, an Israeli navigation app and traffic report start-up, for $1.3 billion. Part of the profits from the Waze sale were donated to Israeli charities.
In December, Google also launched an Israeli start-up incubator, called Campus Tel Aviv, “a hub for entrepreneurs and developers located in the heart of the start-up nation” which will serve as “a space for developers and entrepreneurs to attend and organize events with speakers, mentors and other entrepreneurs.”
“The ongoing investment in Israel is proof of the extraordinary talent we have here, and we are committed to continue strengthening the Internet’s contribution to the Israeli economy and public,” Google Israel’s Brand said at its inauguration.
Named after the Roman emperor Caesar Augustus, it served as the capital of the Roman province of Judea and became one of the centers of early Christianity. Now the port city of Caesarea is home to luxury houses like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s – and the company developing the fastest Wi-Fi in the world.
Wilocity is a 60-person company in Caesarea’s industrial zone that is developing what it describes as “the world’s first multi-gigabit wireless chipsets” based on new standards for super-high-speed Internet.
The chips will be able to transmit data at a speed of seven gigabits per second, almost 25 times faster than one of the highest home Internet speeds currently available, 300 megabits per second.
“With every generation of the product, capability improves and speed increases,” said Yaron Elboim, Wilocity’s vice president of engineering, who handles the company’s activities in Israel. “As soon as you have speed, there’s no end to the applications.”
The company has secured $105 million in funding, reflecting investors’ confidence in the specialized set of chips coming from an ancient Roman city, far from the spotlight, that could zoom Web use to a whole new realm of speed.
With 300 megabits per second, users can download a two-hour high-definition movie in 2.2 minutes, run 14 Internet-connected devices simultaneously or download 10 songs in 1.4 seconds, according to technology website Digital Trends.
“This kind of communication lets you play a high-definition movie from the computer on the television screen, without freezing,” said Elboim. “It lets you back up your smartphone on your computer and vice versa in seconds, where today it takes hours.”
Megabits or gigabits per second is only part of the story, said Elboim. For a difference of 10 times the speed on paper, the effective difference is almost 100 times, since Wi-Fi slows down when there are a lot of users on the same system.
In an office using standard Wi-Fi, Elboim said, “Dozens of office workers are sharing Internet access, and it’s very slow. We replaced all the company employees’ Wi-Fi chips with our chip, and they go online with almost no restrictions.”
That’s because unlike the current Wi-Fi technology, Wilocity’s high-speed version does not split up the bandwidth among users.
While this is an advantage of the technology, there’s also a major downside: The router and the computer have to be in the same room. It works from a distance of 100 meters, or 328 feet, but is not effective through walls or other physical impediments.
Wilocity recently concluded a $35 million financing round that brought in Israeli venture capital funds like Alan Feld’s Vintage Investment Partners and Shlomo Kalish’s Jerusalem Global Ventures. Other investors include semiconductor manufacturers Marvell and Qualcomm and networking equipment maker Cisco. Leading foreign funds are also inside, including Sequoia Capital, Benchmark and Tallwood Venture Capital.
Wilocity’s microchip technology has already been embedded for about a year in some Dell computers geared toward businesses. The next generation devices, which are in an advanced stage of development, will have even smaller and more energy-efficient chips.
The super-fast technology is based on new WiGig 60-gigahertz and IEEE802.11 standards for Wi-Fi. The new standards were approved in March of this year, and is expected to become the primary standard in computing over the next few years.
“First it will go into the business routers, then to computers for the consumer market and later, the standard will also reach mobile,” said Elboim. “It’s a matter of price.”
A team of young Canadians and Israelis hopes to ensure that during a long day at work, or even a vacation abroad, pet owners can stay virtually connected to their furry friends.
The developers of an electronic toy and mobile-application control system, called Pawly, won the grand prize on Thursday of the Global Startup Battle, an initiative sponsored by Google.
By scoring first place in the entrepreneurial challenge, the team members have won $20,000 in matching funds, assuming they can raise the same amount in an Indiegogo campaign, as well as an “inspirational visit” to the Google headquarters in Silicon Valley.
The goal of the system, according to its designer, is to take “the guilt away from leaving your pet at home.”
The Pawly system centers around a robot-like mechanism that takes videos in real time and allows owners to speak to and hear from their pets. Four wheels on the flatbed system always touch the floor, so owners can virtually move around and interact with the pet, and a treat dispenser enables further interaction, the team members said. A modular rubber case protects the rolling device from chewing, water and other shock and is both antibacterial and nontoxic, the team members said. For the human user, the mobile app provides remote control over the system.
Prior to winning the Global Startup Battle, the Pawly team came in second place at the Toronto Startup Weekend Maker Edition event, which allowed them to enter the larger contest, the team members said. After rigorously campaigning and attending tech events across Toronto, the team eventually made its way to the final top 15 in the battle – and then to first place on Thursday.
“We are in a very exciting time in which the overall landscape in tech has been changing, especially with design becoming an integral part of many startups,” said Shiera Aryev, CEO and cofounder of Pawly. “We think that with bringing together great design and the latest robotic technology, only incredible things are bound to happen. And in a $55 billion pet industry in North America alone, we’re so excited to be given an opportunity to make it a reality.”
In addition to Aryev, who was born in Haifa but grew up in Toronto, a second Israeli on the team of 10 cofounders is Mayer Elharar, the group’s business strategist. Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Elharar left Israel after completing his IDF service to attend university in Canada.
Other members of the team include mechanical engineer Alejandro Rovillard, civil engineer Gordon Dri, robotics engineer Robbie Edwards and industrial engineer Long Gao. Also on the team are full-stack developer Yunan Zhao, a computer engineer; software developer Josh Allen, designer Muriel Schvartzman and business development head Robin Kwan.
Aryev, Mayer and Rovillard will be taking the trip to Google in January and will network with other startup ventures while they are on the West Coast, Aryev told The Jerusalem Post. Meanwhile, the rest of the group will be flying to San Francisco for the Launch Festival in February to demonstrate their concept, at which time Aryev said she hopes they will have a full prototype.
Thus far, the team members only have tested their system on dogs. But they hope to see soon that cats can enjoy the virtual communication system as well.
“As soon as the dogs heard the owners’ voice and they saw treats coming out they were receptive,” Aryev said.
The Pawly entrepreneurs are testing different types of materials to line the robot’s exterior to make the system customizable for animals of different sizes and desires, she added.
Although they intend to launch the Indiegogo campaign sometime in the near future, Aryev and her colleagues emphasized that they are also researching additional opportunities.
“Our intentions are to do a crowd-funding campaign, and we’re taking all the steps necessary to make sure that we create a successful company,” Aryev said.
The water flowing through Israel’s nature sites has increased tenfold over the past decade, and it’s expected to continue increasing due to new arrangements for supplying water to agriculture and the growing use of desalinated water.
At a conference in Tel Aviv last week on river rehabilitation, sponsored by the Environmental Protection Ministry, Nissim Keshet of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority presented updated data on the water flow in nature sites, which showed the dramatic improvement.
The change is especially welcome after many years in which the water in streams and wellsprings was being diverted for human consumption, leaving little for nature sites. During the years of drought, the situation got even worse and some reserves were on the verge of drying up.
Following pressure from the INPA and other environmental organizations (including the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel), 10 years ago an amendment was made to the Water Law, defining nature as a water “consumer” whose needs had to be met. This created a statutory basis for protecting natural water flow.
As a result, the “allotment” to nature was increased by the Water Authority from 10 million cubic meters per year to 50 million cubic meters annually.
Keshet noted, however, that part of the increase in water flow was the result of water being piped into the streams.
“We want special allotments through pipelines to be zero,” said Keshet. “Our approach is that we must allow all the water to be released into nature immediately. Only in areas where that isn’t possible – such as the Ayun stream in the Galilee – should water be piped in from another site.”
Overall, the rate of water released into nature beyond the special allocations has reached more than 40 million cubic meters per year.
Over the next two years, it’s expected to increase by another 50 million cubic meters by increasing the release of springwater into the Kishon River and water from Lake Kinneret into the southern Jordan River.
“The release of water into nature was made possible in part thanks to policies that enable the water to flow through the nature reserves, after which it is pumped from the slopes and used for irrigation,” explained Keshet. “This way we help nature but don’t waste water that can be utilized.”
Another factor enabling increased flow from the springs is that groundwater is being replaced with desalinated water for many purposes.
A delegation of advertising and marketing executives from the United Kingdom came to Israel recently to get acquainted with the local startup landscape and to encourage tech partnerships between the two countries.
Ad-tech in Britain has been an important industry for brands, agencies and publishers for over a decade. But the new technological tricks that Israel’s startups have created are what brought these field leaders to visit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem’s innovation hubs.
Israeli firms met the nine-person delegation to flaunt their cutting-edge technologies in the areas of visual search and exposure, social media, interactive video platforms, big data, real-time analytics, mobile advertising, content marketing and augmented reality.
“There’s a realization in the UK that Israel is really important for tech startups. We’re always looking for the next technologies to help our clients,” Paul McRudden, head of social media at AMV BBDO, tells ISRAEL21c. “I think there’s an impressive range of technologies here — mobile platforms, video creative tools … it’s surprising just how wide-ranging the different technologies are.”
Other advertising agencies and brands to take part in the visit included MediaCom, MEC, BBH, Manning Gottlieb OMD, Group M and Unreal.
“I’ve heard a great deal about the impressive innovation coming out of Israel. I’m very excited to be exploring collaboration opportunities with ad-tech solutions that could really impact the way we do business at MediaCom,” said Stefan Bardega, managing partner/head of digital at MediaCom, prior to arriving in Israel.
The Grant Thornton index draws together 22 indicators, including GDP growth, R&D spend, regulatory risk, access to finance and labor productivity, across five areas of dynamism (business operating environment, science and technology, labor and human capital, financing and environment, economics and growth) to produce the rankings.
Overall Israel ranked eighth place with a mark of 61.8. Australia topped the list followed by Chile, China, New Zealand, Canada, Finland and Singapore.