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Israel Innovation in Digital Health and Medical Devices Conference During RI Startup Week a Success

By Michael Schemaille

On October 20, 2021, the Rhode Island-Israel Collaborative (RIIC) hosted an event titled “Israel Innovation in Digital Health and Medical Devices.” The RIIC, a not-for-profit group dedicated to building commercial, academic, and scientific connections between institutions in Israel and Rhode Island, organized the event as part of RIHub’s Startup Week. The event was the latest in RIIC’s series focusing on neuroscience and digital health.

Governor Dan McKee with Avi Nevel; Below, Ambassador Meron Reuben, Israel Consul General to New England

The event began with in-person remarks from RIHub Managing Director Annette Tonti, who was followed by Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee and Israeli Consul General to New England, Ambassador Meron Reuben. As part of his remarks, McKee presented RIIC founder Avi Nevel with a Certificate of Special Recognition acknowledging RIIC’s efforts in building economic and community relationships between Rhode Island and Israel.

Domenic Delmonico, Executive Director of RI Medicaid at Tufts Health Plan

A moderated Q&A session followed, and featured three Israeli tech CEOs with moderator Dominic Delmonico, Executive Director of RI Medicaid at Tufts Health Plan. Domenic Delmonico spoke about his experience during RIIC’s LifeScience and Healthcare mission in 2013 and acknowledged how advanced digital health and medical devices are in Israel.

Dan Shwartzman, CEO of MindUp

The participating CEOs were MindUP’s Dan Shwarzman, GaitBetter’s Hilik Harari, and OpenDNA’s Eran Feldhay. Shwarzman spoke first, describing how MindUP’s digital health incubator funds, supports, and nurtures early-stage Israeli digital health companies. His overview of Israeli technological innovation outlined MindUp’s portfolio of companies looking for collaborative partners, along with details of their most recent advancements.

Hilik Harari, CEO of GaitBetter

Harari spoke next, describing GaitBetter’s collaboration with LifeSpan Newport Hospital and Rhode Island Hospital and how that partnership has led to advancements in mobility training technology. Harari also spoke about GaitBetter’s participation and graduation from the MindUP accelerator, and the benefits it provided. This connection was made as a result of GaitBetter’s participation in the RIIC’s program, Little States Big Innovation.

Eran Feldhay, CEO of OpenDNA

The final CEO to speak was OpenDNA’s Eran Feldhay. Feldhay described OpenDNA’s efforts in pioneering artificial intelligence-assisted treatments for polygenic diseases, and expressed his desire to find collaborative partners in Rhode Island. OpenDNA is a current participant in MindUP’s incubator.

Andrea Yonah, Director of Business Develpoment BIRD Foundation

Up next was Andrea Yonah, Director of Business Development for the Israel – U.S. Binational Industrial R&D Foundation, aka BIRD. Since 1977, BIRD has provided matchmaking support and grants of up to $1 million to Israeli – U.S. partnerships. Yonah spoke about BIRD’s mission and successes, explaining that since 2006 nearly 30% of BIRD’s grants have been awarded to healthcare and life science collaborations. She also provided examples of BIRD grants awarded to Rhode Island-based companies such as GTech, Hasbro, and Rhode Island Hospital.

Closing remarks were provided by Nevel, who explained that “[RIIC’s] matchmaking has led to a lot of success stories. Israeli companies are interested in working in Rhode Island because we’re a small, collaborative, and have a great network. Israel has more than 1,000 tech companies, and we want to help them expand here. Rhode Island companies looking to acquire or develop technology should look no further than Israel. There are huge opportunities out there, as well as grant money, and we’re here to help make those connections.”

Honoarable RI Governor Dan McKee. In the background, slide Anette Tonti,RIHub Managing Director

This was RIIC's first in-person event since the start of the COVID pandemic. Attendance was open to vaccinated members of the public

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