Intergalactic Innovation in Israel

Our last day of Innovation Journey 2019 was filled with futuristic technology. We began by meeting with SuperSmart, a company that is revolutionizing the shopping experience. They offer an affordable option for supermarkets to implement high-tech, autonomous checkout machines that operate 20 times more efficiently than a normal cashier. Using only one camera at checkout and their proprietary software, they can analyze everything in your shopping cart; yes, even those items hidden at the bottom! The machine has Artificial Intelligence technology that allows it to continually improve as time goes on. It provides a more helpful experience for end-users as well as it can recommend items that they may have missed or forgotten; it can even make sure you’re not overpaying by taking something you don’t want! The whole process takes 10 seconds so you are in and out in a flash. An added bonus for the supermarket is that it helps with loss prevention, saving them up to 4% of revenues each year. It’s an innovative solution to a daily challenge and it was impressive to hear from the founder about their rapid growth. 

We then went to visit HighRoad, an organization that provides a Launchpad Accelerator for up-and-coming startups that are revolutionizing urban technology for smart cities. As humans continue to migrate en masse to urban centers, it’s imperative that we appropriately prepare with infrastructure that is connected via the Internet of Things (IoT). HighRoad’s vision is to connect all major services intelligently. Imagine a future where traffic lights have built-in smart cameras that both detect and prevent slowdowns by managing signals. A future where a smart city is connected via a network with ports to connect devices–that are yet to be invented–in a way that creates the infrastructure necessary for future solutions. These are just a couple of examples of organizations that are coming out of HighRoad. Being in their office felt like taking a peek through a crystal ball at our future. It was really impressive to be around futurists and technologists who are taking an active role in preparing our societies for a better tomorrow. 

Our next visit was out of this world… literally! We had the privilege of meeting with the Founder and Senior Systems Engineer of SpaceIL, an Israeli startup that sent a robot to the moon! It was absolutely incredible to hear first-hand how they designed a robot that ended up orbiting the moon. The company was initially founded as part of an XPrize Foundation challenge, and SpaceIL was the only organization that ended up building their vessel and launching it into space. What’s most impressive about SpaceIL is that they are a non-governmental, private startup organization. As such, they are facing a significant challenge with much more limited resources than any other country that has shot for the moon. While the vehicle ultimately had a mechanical failure and crash-landed, it was seen as a huge success. It’s impressive that a small company could marshall the necessary international resources, create an innovative design, build the autonomous ship, and ultimately launch it into space to orbit once around the moon. They are now changing their focus to educate and inspire the next generation of children around the world to take big leaps for mankind. Who knows what galaxy they will explore next?

Our Innovation Journey ended with a company that is furthering technology that is necessary for the future of sustainable life on planet earth. We visited the Mekorot desalination plant in Ashdod, a company that converts salty ocean water into healthy drinking water. Israel is the largest producer in the world of this technology, per capita. We thought it was a special treat to taste the water at their office–but then we learned that 80% of the whole country’s water is produced by desalination! We had been drinking desalinated ocean water the whole trip without realizing it. We had the privilege of touring their operating facility, walking amidst the pipelines and machinery that process this water so it is safe to drink. Every year, the facility adds more than 100 cubic meters of water to the national water system. This technology is crucial for maintaining a healthy life source for the planet. As our natural resources continue to become more scarce, it is these types of innovative organizations that are paving the way for a sustainable future. 

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