17 January 2018 - 1 Shevat 5778 - א' שבט ה' אלפים תשע"ח
Farmer invents machine during stay in Israel E-mail

Vietnamese farmer Pham Van Hat, who has only a seventh-grade education, is now earning a very good livelihood by selling a sowing machine that he invented while he was working in Israel.

The machine is one of several made by the 44-year-old man from Ngoc Ky commune in Tu Ky district in Hai Duong province.

Before his success, the inventor once had to take a loss from a vegetable-growing project. After three years of implementing the project, Hat became penniless in 2010 because the businesses that had signed contracts underwriting his vegetables did not buy his products as promised.

To escape insolvency, he decided to go to Israel as an export worker. He had heard that Israeli used advanced technologies in agriculture, with revenue of billions of Vietnamese Dong from every hectare of vegetables.

In Israel, discovering that many kinds of work were still done manually, Hat told the owner of the farm where he worked that he would invent a machine that could help reduce the need for manual labour.

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Mark Zuckerberg donates to Indian education startup E-mail

Jewish entrepreneur and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have donated a whopping US$50 million to Indian education startup BYJU’s, along with LightSpeed Ventures and Times Internet, according to Forbes. Last March, Sequoia Capital and Sofina donated a total of US$75 million to the startup.

Founded in 2011 by Byju Raveendran, BYJU is an app that helps students in grades 4-12 to learn subjects such as science, mathematics, physics and biology easily and independently. The app offers original content, watch-andlearn videos, animations and interactive simulations. Some of the content is offered free of charge.

At present, BYJU is the largest ed-tech company in India. The app has been downloaded more than 5.5 million times. It currently has more than 250,000 subscribers who pay an annual subscription of US$150, and 30,000 new users are joining each month.

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Chinese firm invests in Pluristem Therapeutics E-mail

Israel-based Pluristem Therapeutics Inc., a leading developer of placenta-based cell therapy products, announced on 25 October that it had signed a term sheet for an investment of approximately US$30 million by China-based Innovative Medical Management Co., Ltd (IMMC).

IMMC is publicly listed Chinese company active in the healthcare industry and an affiliate of Zheshang Venture Capital Co., Ltd., one of the most active venture capital firms in China.

The arrangement will proide a share sale of approximately 16,890,000 shares of Pluristem common stock, which will be sold at US$1.77 per share. In addition, Pluristem will issue to Innovative Medical approximately 4,422,500 warrants to purchase shares of Pluristem’s common stock with an exercise price of US$2.50 per warrant, exercisable for a period of five years.

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Singapore Airlines eyeing direct flights to Tel Aviv E-mail

Singapore Airlines, considered one of the world’s top air carriers, is looking into launching direct flights to and from Israel. According to sources in the Israel Airports Authority, the airline has submitted a request for permission to land in Israel starting in the summer of 2017, but there is no guarantee that the flights will be approved.

Over 10,000 Israelis visited Singapore in the first six months of 2016 alone, compared to 15,000 in the whole of 2015. This growth would justify direct flights.

Singapore is a gateway to the Far East, as well as a hub for flights connecting to Australia. Currently, Israelis can travel to Singapore on Ethiopian Airlines, Royal Jordanian and Turkish Airways, or fly to Singapore from Europe.

In 2015, Singapore Airlines, like other premium Asian airlines, experienced a drop in the number of business-class passengers and lower demand for full-price tickets caused by the new budget airlines operating in Southeast Asia. The airline is seeking new markets, which is apparently one of the reasons it is looking into Israel.

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China’s Neusoft and Infinity Group set up Israel med-tech fund E-mail

Chinese IT corporation Neusoft and Israeli-Chinese private equity fund Infinity Group have set up a US$250 million investment fund and platform for Israeli medtech companies operating in China. The new fund was launched at the recent “INNONATION: China-Israel Investment Summit”, which was held in September in Tel Aviv. It was the second such summit – the first was held in Beijing in January 2016.

The aim of the fund is to create a model by which Israeli medical technology companies can connect to China by integrating into the cloud being developed by Neusoft.

The cloud and Neusoft’s connections will offer Israeli companies access to and approval from the SPDA (the Chinese equivalent of the US Food and Drug Administration) as well as end-user customers.

This is the first such co-operation between Infinity Fund and Neusoft, and the investment will run over three years.

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