Start-up’s sealant for collapsed lungs nabs prize at Innovex
The makers of a system that can seal wounds, internal and external, without suturing, bandages, or tape is set to get a million dollars from crowdfunding and was named Israel’s most innovative company by Ofir Akunis, minster of science, technology and space.
Akunis named Vigor Medical Technologies as winner of the Innovex Disrupt contest at this year’s Innovex2016 conference, which took place in Tel Aviv last Thursday. Vigor is now set to receive a million dollars in funding from investors via crowdfunding, in a special raise for the company by Google and Israeli crowdfunding firm OurCrowd.
Over 1,200 of the tech industry’s top leaders from Israel and abroad attended this year’s Innovex event, where visitors heard about issues like entrepreneurship, cyber-security, creativity, Internet of Things, medical technology, nano-technology, China’s economy and its impact on tech, and cloud computing. Speakers included such Israeli tech figures as Economy Ministry Chief Scientist Avi Hasson, top executives from EMC, Microsoft, Flex, and other international tech giants, and researchers from universities and international firms.
Notable was the presence at the event of executives from a number of Japanese firms, including NEC, Honda, Hitachi, and others – none of which have substantial operations in Israel. Because of that, the executives were only willing to speak off the record and anonymously, though one top executive said he hoped that by next year he would be able to speak on the record on behalf of his company. “It’s been a process, but Japan is finally feeling more comfortable with Israel. After your prime minister visited Japan in 2014 and ours came here last year, it’s as if both governments signaled that they are open for business, and are encouraging that business.”
The latest sign of that improving relationship is the purchase of Israel’s Altair Semiconductors by Sony, a deal that was announced several weeks ago. With the deal, Sony becomes one of the first Japanese firms, and certainly the most prominent, to open up shop in Israel.
Traditionally very cautious when it comes to doing business in Israel, “the Japanese have been hearing about the Start-Up Nation for several years now, and their curiosity has been roused,” said the Japanese executive. “In recent months a lot of people like me have been visiting Israel, and we like what we see in many of the start-ups we have been visiting.”
The Disrupt portion of Innovex is always one of its highlights, said Shlomo Gradman, chairperson and organizer of Innovex. “This event is one of Israel’s most important for presenting the country’s latest innovative technology, and the only one that puts so many resources into helping new companies develop the next generation of tech, assisting them in developing partnerships between large Israeli firms and multinationals from around the world.”
With its incoming million dollars, Vigor will be able to continue developing and commercializing its unique wound repair system. Consisting of a device with a specially engineered sealant, the system is designed for use in cases of thoracic trauma, a chest injury that can cause the lungs to collapse due to the entry of air into the pleural cavity (the area between the lung and its protective layer).
If not treated within an hour, major damage or death is likely – as many as 20 percent of soldiers injured in battle die from collapsed lungs – but if treated within an hour, the injured person has an 80% chance of survival, according to Vigor. The company’s sealant devices can be carried in the field by medical personnel and administered in case of an emergency, sealing the breach into the victim’s pleural cavity until they can be taken to a hospital.
That’s the kind of technology Israel can be proud of, said Gradman. “After narrowing down the field from 150 applicants and eight finalists, Vigor emerged as the winner of Disrupt, which highlights the companies that have the greatest potential to succeed internationally. As a company that can help save lives in an innovative and unique way, Vigor was a good choice to win.”