The 2016 Business Opportunities in Israel Lasers Electro-Optics conference was held at the Lev Academic Center in Jerusalem last week. A number of startups which use new technologies were represented there, including 3Dot and Augmedics. The first has developed a new way to make the plates for printing presses and the second offers a new surgical virtual reality system for doctors.

The Lev Academic Center is a religious school which offers a combination of Tora study and technological training. It is not an easy place to get to, in spite of its growing importance in the world of Israeli academia. Few buses go near its location in the Givat Mordechai neighborhood and the bus stop is out on the road. Once you get off the bus one must walk about 10 minutes downhill to the school’s main entrance.

The individual seminars, of which there were many, were really geared toward people who already understand the tech and science of it all. That is certainly not me. If it were, I would be working for such a tech company instead of writing about them.

So let me tell you about two new and interesting companies that I learned about that day. Both are fine examples of what the world is now calling “Startup Nation.”

Dr. Yacov Malinovich is the founder and CTO of 3Dot. The 62 year old physicist has a large white mane of curly hair. His startup is currently looking for $500,000 in seed money.

The idea behind 3Dot is both simple and brilliant. Today printing companies must order the plates that their presses use from an outside supplier. Whether for a cardboard box or a greeting card, the plates are what print text or an image onto the paper. (Newspaper presses use a different system.) 3Dot offers a machine printers can buy which makes the plates. So they will be able to make their own, thereby saving time and money.

The company’s name has three meanings: 3D for the 3D printers; OT for the Hebrew word which means print; And Dot because the printing plates are comprised of numerous little dots.

3Dot expects to have a prototype ready within two and a half years and needs $3 million in funding for its beta device.

Dr. Malinovich explained that they, “are competing with the current tech which is chemical based. But the great thing is that our plates are the same format as the one ones currently used so they can be used in the already existing machines. Nothing needs to be changed and the printers will simply order our machines and make the plates on location instead of ordering them.”

3Dot expects to charge about $300,000 per machine and sees a whole new market just for the materials which are used to make the plates. The company believes that printers will see a return on their investments in the new hardware within 18 months.

Their plates are made out of the same polymer as those currently in use.

The company estimates that currently the world market for such plates is more than $1.5 billion a year and that they have more than 20,000 potential customers waiting for their services. Dr. Malinovich added that more than 5 million square meters of plates are made each year at a cost of about $300 per SQM.

When asked if he was concerned that the new tech might put a lot of people around the world out of business he said, “we hope so! But not Israelis.” This is because plates are not made in Israel.

Another startup represented at the conference was Augmedics. Yaron Magal, the CTO of VC firm Terralab, made one of the presentations on new optical tech in the field of medicine. Terralab is the lead investor in Augmedics.

Yaron Magal Talks Augmedics

Yaron Magal Talks Augmedics

Augmedics develops “The VisOR,” which it calls an Augmented Reality Surgical Visualization System. The company boasts that the device increases safety in surgeries. It is a fully Augmented Reality visualization System with see-through Glasses. The Visor allows the surgeon to see the patient’s medical imagery (CT / MRI scans) superimposed directly on the real patient, so he can look at the patient’s anatomy through skin and tissue.

You have probably played some sort of virtual reality game by now. You put on a visor and see a 3D display of some sort. Your physical movements are then mimicked within the game. If you have not yet played such a game then you are either way out of touch or have at least watched someone else play one.

But doctors do not like to use such a visor because they do not let them see what is actually happening around them.

So imagine a device that lets a doctor have, in effect, X ray vision while operating on a patient and without losing any visibility. What is special here is that it utilizes a device similar to Google Glass which provides an overlay of its images on top of what the doctor actually sees with his own eyes.

As Yaron put it, “It feels like you can see inside the body like X ray vision. It’s exactly the next generation of CAT scans.”

The device has not yet been approved for clinical use.

Augmedics has $1 million in funding from Terralab and is not looking for more at this time. The two and a half year old company expects to have a prototype ready for human trials within a year. Then it will look for new investors.

I get the impression that within a year from now we will be seeing the same kinds of medical devices that Dr. McCoy used in his sickbay on Star Trek.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFRXQrx7O0s&w=593&h=347]

About the author


Gil Tanenbaum made aliyah from New York after he completed college. He Has lived in Israel for over 20 years. He has an MBA from Bar Ilan University and is a contributor for various blogs.