Haifa’s ecosystem is leading digital health in the Post-COVID era 

Science and Health

Innovators and hi-tech entrepreneurs from Haifa and the surrounding area met at the northern metropolis’ Margalit Startup City on Thursday of last week, to celebrate the emergence of a new ecosystem in digital health startups. Eight companies successfully enlisted in the innovation hub presented their work and progress to investors and medical professionals from the city and further afield.

Erel Margalit, chairman of JVP and Margalit Startup City noted the seismic impact already being felt in the digital health industry in Israel and noted, “The ecosystem in Haifa in the digital health field will be similar to the foodtech revolution we are creating in the Galilee. The world of health must go through a revolution; from large medical centers to technologies that offer treatment in the community and at home, remotely and in a personalized and precise manner. This is the revolution that Israel needs to lead from here and from Haifa.”

“The world of health must go through a revolution; from large medical centers to technologies that offer treatment in the community and at home”

Erel Margalit, chairman of JVP and Margalit Startup City

Margalit Startup City Haifa is a digital health accelerator that was launched last June to identify promising startups in the field and accelerate their transition to the next level. 

The high rating of the program, however, is perhaps best attested by the prestigious list of partner organizations. Along side, the NVIDIA Inception Program, Road2, JVP, Margalit Startup City, and the Israel Innovation Authority, come such industry leaders as Super-Pharm, Clalit Health Services, IBM, Philips, U-Bank, the Technion, Haifa University and others.

“We are delighted to see how Road2’s digital activities are taking off and are proud of the participants’ achievements,” said Eitan Kyiet, CEO Road2. “Together with our wonderful partners, we are eager to see what the next Haifa-based cohorts shall achieve in the City and how they shall advance digital health in Haifa.”

While over 120 companies submitted applications, only eight were selected to take part.  Their innovations include sensor analysis from your mobile phone to prevent psychological deterioration and suicide, early detection of strokes and heart disease through a telephone conversation, an electronic stethoscope that listens to the sounds of the body and detects heart and lung diseases, a dramatic improvement in vision through image processing in the brain, and a bot for over-the-counter medication.

The eight startups chosen to take part in the Startup City Haifa digital health accelerator are: 

  • RevitalVision: Vision-training Software for Improving. The company is developing a clinically and scientifically proven vision-training software program designed specifically for adult amblyopia, eye diseases, and vision impairments. 
  • ApoWiser: Digital Pharmacist Platform for Advice on OTC Medications. The company is the developer of PharmAssist, an advanced intuitive digital pharmacist counseling platform that interacts with patients wishing to treat themselves for minor ailments with over-the-counter medications. 
  • Sequel.Care Health: Evidence-based Mental Health Platform. The company provides healthcare providers, patients, and peers with virtual, collaborative, evidence-based therapy, enabling proactive treatment to manage and track patients’ recovery. The company’s solution integrates clinicians, psychiatrists, therapists, peers, family, friends, and the patients themselves around a unified treatment plan. 
  • OpenDNA: Precision Genomic Artificial Intelligence for Polygenic Diseases. The platform allows healthcare providers and payers to easily apply genomic precision medicine and population genomics approaches. 
  • Cardiokol: Voice-based Markers for Large-scale Monitoring and Screening of Heart Rhythm Disorders . The company utilizes proprietary technology that is implemented in speech platforms such as landlines, smartphones, smart speakers, and voice assistants. 
  • BoBO: Smart Fitness and Rehabilitation Tools . By turning traditional training products into wireless, integrative, smart training platforms, bo&bo helps motivate people to stick with their training programs, making workouts more challenging, engaging, and fun . 
  • Sanolla: Smart Diagnostics Solutions. Sanolla’s products include the VoqX smart stethoscope and the PyXy home monitoring device for chronic disease management and early exacerbation detection. 
  • MDIHealth: The company has developed an artificial pharmacology intelligence platform capable of performing multi-dimensional context-based analyses of thousands of pharmacological and patient-specific parameters to autonomously optimize personal medication regimens across the entire population. 

As part of the accelerator, the participating startups enjoyed significant achievements, including: a pilot program in the USA, closing a funding round, a pilot program in Israel with an extensive network, finalizing distribution contracts, building global collaborations, starting clinical research in Israel and more. The Jerusalem Post has learned that some of the companies are already in negotiations for distribution contracts and global collaborations.

Professor Ran Blitzer, Head of the Innovation and Director of the Clalit Research Institute, remarked on the importance of the accelerator as “The program, he explained, “allows for unique developments and combinations of technological solutions to promote the quality of medical care, which provide answers to our most urgent challenges.” He noted that 5 of the 8 selected companies were already in contracting procedures at various stages with Clalit – from initial exposure to a pilot that is already being carried out in the field.”

He wasn’t alone in offering praise from the pharma and medical industry for the new ecosystem in Haifa, and for this program in particular. Yaniv Alon, Director of Hadassah Accelerator powered by IBM Alpha Zone stressed the importance of helping ventures and influencing the field of digital health and strengthening the position of Haifa and the northern region as leaders in the field. “An acceleration program that brings results for the startups that participate in it, is mainly a product of work that is based on wise collaborations and a strong motivation to bring about a significant change.”

However, it wasn’t just the medical experts who welcomed the project. Avigdor Avni, Head of U-Bank, commented, “U-Bank Tech is a unique banking brand that specializes in banking for startup and technology companies, and we are proud to work with and support Margalit Startup City – Haifa, as it drives the development and growth of new companies and technologies in the healthcare and medical industry.”