Event Overview by Jessica Horst
Despite Israel being relatively small, with a population that just surpasses 8.7 million people, the country has claimed the title of being the “StartUp Nation.” In 2016, 4750 high-tech start-ups were counted in Israel, which reveals Israel having the largest number of startups per capita in the world at around 1 startup per 1,400 citizens.
On Tuesday, October 16, Georgetown University hosted a StartUp Nation Tech Fair featuring 15 early-stage Israeli companies exhibiting innovative products and technologies. The Tech Fair began with a keynote speech by Ifat Baron, Founder and Executive Director of Itworks, a nonprofit promoting employment diversity in Israel’s booming hi-tech and bridging the employment gaps in Israeli society while catering to the booming industry’s needs. Afterwards, the expo floor was opened for exploration, featuring Israeli technology and the incredible innovators who created them.
By far the most captivating, the virtual reality production studio, VRWiz, captured the crowd’s attention with a demonstration of their virtual reality design prototypes. Students could experience a floating platform decent through a breathtaking galaxy, frequently encountering abstract visuals and “shards” of the universe. When I was suited with the virtual reality headset, midway through the experience I thought to look down. I was amazed by the realistic galaxy beneath my platform and laughed as I actually stumbled when I leaned too far to peer over the edge!
Aside from VRWiz, other startups were also enthusiastically sharing their visions for the future of virtual reality integrated into everyday consumer lifestyles. Another organization, Edge-MT combines creativity, gaming, and technology for marketing and training purposes, offering virtual reality and augmented reality apps and video games. Officially launched the day prior to the Tech Fair, Edge-MT showcased their newest app that allows users to add personal pictures and videos to a virtual reality holiday card layout. Also allowing for a 360° file download, users can send their customized ecards to other users limited to viewing on their smartphone.
In the public health sphere, an organization called Soapy stood out from the rest on the Tech Fair expo floor. Soapy offers an intelligent hygiene micro-station that only takes only 30 seconds and uses 95% less water than any other available solution. Currently operating in an Indonesian school district, the organization offers a sustainable, “smart” way to encourage proper hygiene practices amongst the students and staff. Permitted users are given sensor bracelets to access the hand-washing stations, effectively preventing the tragedy of common resources being misused by the public and ensure sustainable usage.
Another group, 6Degrees, aims to improve the quality of life of returning injured soldiers and those suffering from upper limb deficiency resulting from stroke, paralysis, amputation, and carpal tunnel syndrome. By using a wearable technology that controls smart devices, users can regain control over connected devices using controls or hands-free commands customized to their physical abilities. An organization, CardioSet, created a revolutionary, non-invasive, early detection device that monitors the accumulation of fluid in the lungs to help prevent heart failure. A completely new detection technology, th CardioSet sensors will save countless lives with previously unknown conditions before an emergency situation.
Also present on the Tech Fair floor was Innovation: Africa, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization on a mission to bring innovative Israeli solar and water technologies to remote African villages. With the help of people like you, we have provided one million people across Africa with access to vaccines, light and water. Currently, Innovation: Africa has multiple on-going projects in Malawi, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, the DRC, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Cameroon.
Other consumer desired-based startups included Shupperz, a shopper connection platform, EasyWay, a virtual traveler’s assistance program, and Hopit, a decentralized knowledge ecosystem supported by academic institutions, companies, and individuals worldwide. New industry tools included Bauhub, a platform for managing drawings, documents and tasks to improve workflow among architects, engineers and construction companies working together on construction projects, and Annoto, a program that transforms web-based video into a social experience giving users a new way to engage with digital content and providing customers with advanced analytics on user behavior. Also present were Materials.Zone, a blockchain-based IP repository of materials which automatically collects and indexes the smallest building blocks of research – accelerating innovation and breakthroughs, and CivDrone, a hardware and software company aiming to change land surveying services and improving the speed and accuracy of marking points.
Also featuring internships and employment opportunities with the exhibiting Israeli companies, a LinkedIn photo booth, and raffle prizes, the Tech Fair was a quite a successful exhibition.