Bio-Convergence--The Next Phase of Tech and Israel's Economic Growth

There is no secret that tech is the engine of Israel’s spectacular economic growth, but what’s next?

An emerging field in which Israeli innovation is expected to take a leading role is bio-convergence–an interdisciplinary sector that blends tech, bio-science, engineering, computing, artificial intelligence, and automation. Bio-convergence developments have indications for medicine, agriculture, climate change, security, and other areas.

This field takes diagnostics and treatment to the next level, can conserve resources in agriculture, and allow scientists to engineer human tissues for life-saving transplants. Bio-sensors and small devices can provide continuous monitoring in an outpatient setting and free up hospital beds.

Given the fact that bio-convergence can have so many implications in numerous areas, experts predict it is likely to be a $4 trillion industry over the next decade. It is also estimated that half of all diseases in the future will be diagnosed and treated with bio-convergence solutions.

Israel in particular could lead the way in bio-convergence development because in addition to a stellar tech industry it also has a strong biotech sector along with life sciences research. AI and machine learning technologies are highly developed in Israel and it would be a simple matter to combine these elements to fuel development and bio-convergence innovation.

These sophisticated solutions should attract foreign investment in addition to that attained by Israel’s high-tech unicorns and should result in biotechnology that will change the way people worldwide diagnose and treat medical conditions, grow and harvest vegetables and stay in shape.

Monitoring Neural Activity with a Sticker

X-Trodes is an Israeli startup that has developed a small sticker that can be placed on the skin to monitor neural signals traveling to and from the brain. This small device could be a game-changer for diagnosing neural diseases and can be worn while the patient works, sleeps, exercises, and carries on with their normal lives. It eliminates the need to stay for long hours in confined areas for testing and can provide a more accurate picture of how the patient’s system functions under everyday circumstances. The sticker is connected to silver strips and carbon electrodes that receive the data and send them to an app to be recorded and analyzed.

Transforming Transplants

Imagine using 3-D printing to create tissue for a life-saving transplant. Israel’s Center for 3-D Bioprinting is making this scenario a reality. Professor Shulamit Levenberg, Dean of the Biomedical Engineering Faculty at the Technion has already achieved the first stages of testing for this technology and succeeded in repairing injured spinal cords in rats by transplanting human tissue.

Professor Levenberg discusses the rapid development in the area of cultivated tissue from growing 2-D tissue in a petri dish to generating organic tissues through 3-D printing. Just as the tissues are cultivated, multiply and grow in lab conditions, the aim after transplantation is not just that the new cells should replace the missing old ones, but that they should encourage the body to regenerate itself, grow new cells and promote healing.

Laboratory on a Chip

It may seem incredible, but Professor Doron Gerber is finding ways to conduct hundreds or thousands of experiments and tests on a single chip. He works with microfluidic chips that simulate human tissue and can run myriad tests with tiny samples, such as a drop of saliva. This “laboratory on a chip” can run complex tests that yield biochemical data using tiny samples but with impactful results.

Microfluidics has a promising future in the fields of diagnostics, cancer screening, and pharmacological testing. These tests can save time and lab space and produce compelling results.

Invest in Israel’s Economy

Bio-convergence is where tech is headed and Israel has an advantage–given its tech and medical advances. Given its innovation and the strength of Israeli investments, it is clear that now is the best time to invest in Israel. Be a part of Israel’s long-term tech growth with solid Israeli investments. The Jerusalem Portfolio, which is comprised of ETFs, is an Israeli investment with a comprehensive focus on Israel’s economic growth.

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