Keeping the Beat

Technion students win top prize in an entrepreneurship competition for developing a smaller, more cost-effective alternative to the traditional Automatic External Defibrillator, or AED. The portable, life-saving device restores normal heart rhythm in people experiencing sudden cardiac arrest

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan, entrepreneurs, and venture capital industry representatives attended the final event of the BizTEC Entrepreneurship Program at the Technion. Since its establishment in 2004, graduates of the program have raised a total of more than $1 billion

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.

First prize winners. Right to left: Ohad Yaniv, Eyal Kellner, Yaron Arbel, Alon Gilad, Idan Shenfeld, Ravit Abel and Prof. Ezri Tarazi

First prize winners from right to left: Ohad Yaniv, Eyal Kellner, Yaron Arbel, Alon Gilad, Idan Shenfeld, Ravit Abel and Prof. Ezri Tarazi

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. Automated External Defibrillators (AED) are ambulatory devices designed to automatically analyze the patient’s heart rhythm and, if it is found to be in need for fibrillation, deliver the electric pulse (or “shock”) to the heart in order to restore the normal heart rhythm. Typically, these devices are housed in wall-mounted cases and placed in key locations around offices and public places. Hand-carried AEDs are expensive and difficult to manage because of their size and shape. This is why the Defi team is developing a smaller and more cost-effective alternative to the traditional defibrillator so that more of these life-saving devices can be made available to the public.

The members of the team are 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. Several months ago, the team took first place in the iTrek competition, which was held at the Technion and at the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech.

Today, the BizTEC Entrepreneurship Program is part of t-Hub, the Technion Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, headed by Professor Ezri Tarazi, under the leadership of Ohad Yaniv, who heads the BizTEC accelerator program and startup programs.

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 professional guidance from mentors in 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.

Yossi Vardi

Yossi Vardi

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, entrepreneur Dan Vilenski.

4.Technion President Professor Uri Sivan

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan

Technion President Prof. Uri Sivan opened the event with these words:

“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. In recent years, here at the Technion we developed numerous social entrepreneurship programs, meaning groups of people that go out to the community and use entrepreneurial tools and entrepreneurial thinking to better the community’s condition, working together with the community. I thank Dita and Yehuda Bronicki who support the program, not only materially but also spiritually. Their spirit is instilled in every aspect of the entrepreneurship program.”

Yehuda Bronicki

“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. This event, hosted by t-Hub and attended by senior members of the Israeli hi-tech industry, is proof of the Technion’s continuing centrality to Israel’s economy.”

“BizTEC is a small, special place that enables teams to come in with just an idea, and in less than six months, acquire all the tools they need to turn it into reality,” said Ohad Yaniv, head of the accelerator program and startup programs. “Starting with building the business model, through validation, creating proof of concept, building a presentation, all the way to the pilot phase, first customer acquisition and even the first investment. Compared to any other accelerator in Israel, and even on an international level, its results are exceptional.”

Second place winners with Dita Bronicki

Second place winners with Dita Bronicki

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 and won the BME-Hack Biomedical Engineering Hackathon that took place at the Technion earlier this year.

3.Third place winners with the entrepreneur Izhar Shay

Third place winners with entrepreneur Izhar Shay

Third place was taken by Soltrex, a team of Technion graduates that developed a fully autonomous technology for the cleaning and operation of solar panels.