The Defi team, established by Technion students, won first prize and $10,000 in the BizTEC 2021 entrepreneurship competition, which took place in Tel Aviv. The prize was awarded to the team members for the development of a compact portable defibrillator, which is inexpensive and easy to use.
Two teams took second place: BrainSense, which developed a system that monitors stroke events by identifying changes in brain activity and whose members are Technion students; and Oral Detect, which developed a home system for the early detection of tooth decay.
The Promise — and Challenges — of Current AEDs
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is caused when the heart’s electrical system malfunctions. The heart stops beating properly, and its pumping function is “arrested,” or stopped. AEDs are ambulatory devices designed to automatically analyze the patient’s heart rhythm and, if necessary, deliver the electric pulse (or “shock”) to the heart in order to restore the normal heart rhythm. These devices are typically housed in briefcase containers or mounted to walls in offices and public places. Hand-carried AEDs are expensive and difficult to transport.
The Defi team developed a cost-effective, accessible alternative to the traditional defibrillator. Their invention would significantly decrease defibrillators’ size and price, making Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) more abundant in society.
The team includes Ravit Abel, graduate of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Idan Shenfeld, a graduate of the Henry and Marilyn Taub Faculty of Computer Engineering in the Rothschild-Technion Program for Excellence, and Alon Gilad, a mechanical engineer studying for his master’s degree in the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering. The team was accompanied throughout the accelerator process by Ichilov Hospital’s Chief Information Officer, Eyal Kellner, and the Director of Ichilov’s Cardiovascular Research Center, Professor Yaron Arbel.
The BizTEC Entrepreneurship Program: Incubating Israeli Excellence
The BizTEC program was founded in 2004 to cultivate novice entrepreneurs seeking to develop deep technologies that require interdisciplinary collaboration and in-depth knowledge infrastructure. It provides participating teams with close professional guidance by mentors from academia and industry.
In the 17 years of the program’s existence, its graduates have founded dozens of active companies that have collectively raised more than $1 billion, including Breezometer, Augmedics, Windward, Houseparty, and Presenso. This year, around 100 teams applied for the program, and of them, 37 were accepted. Eleven teams made it through to the finals and presented their developments to the audience.
The final event was attended by Technion President Professor Uri Sivan, numerous entrepreneurs, and senior representatives of the venture capital industry in Israel, many of them Technion alumni. They included former Minister of Science and Technology and entrepreneur Izhar Shay, Ormat founders Dita and Yehuda Bronicki, entrepreneur Yossi Vardi, Dadi Perlmutter, who served as Executive Vice President of the global Intel Corporation, Playbuzz founder Shaul Olmert, former CEO of Microsoft Israel, Yoram Yaacovi, and entrepreneur Dan Vilenski.
Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan opened the event and said: “In the past few years we recognized that entrepreneurship is a far broader field than tech entrepreneurship or business entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is a state of mind that can be applied in every sphere of the lives of us all and is tightly connected with leadership.”
“As the Technion’s leading entrepreneurship program, BizTEC well reflects the integration of entrepreneurial leadership as a substantial part of the study experience,” said Prof. Ezri Tarazi, Head of the Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (t-Hub). “It furnishes participants with tools for the assimilation of deep technology in meaningful applications that are connected to the global challenges we face in human health, sustainability, and the digital world.”
The promise of BizTEC is that it allows teams to turn an idea into reality in just six months, first by building the business model, then by developing a proof of concept, and later by acquiring customers and investors. Since its establishment, BizTEC graduates have raised a total of more than $1 billion for their innovations.
Ohad Yaniv, head of the accelerator program and startup programs, said it best: “Compared to any other accelerator in Israel, and even on an international level, its results are exceptional.”