Often referenced as a powerful example of Technion graduate ingenuity, Given Imaging – the Israeli start-up that introduced the pill that a patient can swallow for real-time, non-invasive examination and diagnosis, is being acquired for $860 million, it was announced yesterday.

 

Covidien Announces Definitive Agreement to Acquire Given Imaging

DUBLIN, Ireland & YOQNEAM, Israel–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dec. 8, 2013– Covidien plc (NYSE: COV) and Given Imaging Ltd. (Nasdaq: GIVN) today announced a definitive agreement under which Covidien will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Given Imagingfor $30.00 per share in cash, for a total of approximately $860 million, net of cash and investments acquired. This transaction provides Covidien additional scale and scope to serve the multibillion dollar global gastrointestinal (GI) market and supports the Company’s strategy to comprehensively address key global specialties and procedures.

Given Imaging provides one of the broadest technology platforms for visualizing, diagnosing and monitoring the digestive system, including its flagship PillCam®, an innovative swallowed capsule endoscope.

“We believe GI is one of the most attractive specialty procedure areas. Acquiring Given will enable Covidien to significantly expand its presence in a $3 billion GI market,” said Bryan Hanson, Group President, Medical Devices & U.S., Covidien. “Adding Given’s portfolio of diagnostics to our portfolio accelerates Covidien’s strategy of providing physicians with products that support the patient along the care continuum from diagnosis to treatment. It also confirms our leadership in developing less-invasive screening, diagnosis and treatment solutions that can improve patient outcomes and lower healthcare costs.”

“Given Imaging revolutionized GI diagnostics over 12 years ago with the launch of PillCam and created an entirely new diagnostic category — capsule endoscopy. The combination of Covidien’s established global presence and Given Imaging’s innovative capabilities has the potential to transform this market,” said Homi Shamir, President and CEO, Given Imaging Ltd. “After thoroughly evaluating our strategic options we determined that this transaction is in the best interests of Given Imaging, its shareholders and employees and provides unique benefits to patients globally.”

“Call it an exoskeleton or a bionic suit, but for paraplegics, it’s freedom. This innovative device, developed by a quadriplegic Israeli scientist, relies on sensors that anticipate shifts in the user’s balance and translates them into movements like walking and standing. Already available in Europe, the suit had its prime-time debut on an episode of Glee and is being reviewed by the FDA for use in the U.S.”

TIME Magazine has named the ReWalk as standing tall among the world’s top 25 inventions for 2013.

Developed by Argo Medical Technologies, the ReWalk is a commercial bionic walking assistance system that uses powered leg attachments to enable paraplegics to stand upright, walk, and climb stairs. The system is powered by a backpack battery, and is controlled by a simple wrist-mounted remote which detects and enhances the user’s movements. The device underwent clinical trials at MossRehab in suburban Philadelphia.

Technion brainchild

Technion alumnus Dr Amit Goffer is that “guy in Israel.” Goffer, a quadriplegic, explains, “In 1997 when I was injured and became confined to a wheelchair, I looked around and wondered, ‘How come the wheelchair is the only solution?’ I was just astonished by that. After studying the problems involved, I started to design the device at home.”

When Radi Kaiuf, a paraplegic for 21 years as a result of a war injury sustained during Israeli army service, met Goffer at a rehab center and heard about the device, he thought, “I would go to the ends of the earth for something that could help me stand up again.”

ReWalk enables a person who is paralyzed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair, to stand up and walk. Kaiuf was skeptical at first. Would he really be able to stand up, look people in the eye, and walk? “A person in my condition can’t imagine that he will ever walk again. The first time I stood up and walked it was phenomenal.”

The user commands the system and controls when he wants to take a step, to stop, to stand, walk about at his own pace, climb stairs and drive. Goffer explains, “It shifts a person from wheelchair-user status to crutch-user status, which is the whole difference. It helps a paraplegic to regain his self-esteem and be included back into society.”

ReWalk has definite health benefits and will reduce healthcare costs. Kaiuf explains, “For our health we are supposed to stand for two hours a day. ReWalk has helped me in a number of ways: my internal organs are functioning better and I haven’t had any pressure sores.”

Goffer earned his Technion BSc in Electrical Engineering, then served in the army, completed his master’s and PhD degrees and worked as an engineer before founding Odin Medical Technologies in 1994 (Medtronic Navigation Israel), a company that makes intraoperative MRI systems.

Together with Goffer, Argo’s team includes other Technion grads in leading positions. Company Operations Manager, Itai Levinson, an Industrial Engineering and Management alumnus proudly explains, “We are developing and manufacturing the first commercially viable upright walking assistance tool. ReWalk is a combination of innovation on a multidisciplinary level, incorporating cutting-edge technology from mechanical and control engineering, electronics and computer science.”

Argo plans further development on ReWalk so that a quadriplegic, like Goffer, will also be able to use it. Goffer smiles and adds, “Developing medical devices requires education and experience; everything was based on the basic education that I received at the Technion – which is priceless.”

The arising of hope

The original ReWalk is available in two versions – the ReWalk I and the ReWalk P. The ReWalk I is intended for use by medical institutions for research or therapy, and is used under the supervision of a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist. The ReWalk P is a personal unit, intended for personal use by patients at home or in public. The ReWalk system is priced at approximately US$85,000 per unit. An updated version of the system, dubbed ReWalk Rehabilitation 2.0, was unveiled in January 2013. The ReWalk 2.0 features improved sizing, allowing taller individuals to wear it more comfortably, and enhanced controlling software.

A World 1st – Exoskeleton marathon winners.

On 8 May 2012, paralyzed British woman Claire Lomas used a ReWalk to become the first person ever to finish a marathon using a bionic assistance suit. Lomas, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2007 riding accident, completed the London Marathon in 17 days with her ReWalk system. Later in 2012, Lomas became the first person to take the ReWalk suit home to assist her in everyday tasks.

The “Glee” of mobility

Over 13 million North Americans watched the Christmas episode of the popular Fox TV series Glee, when paraplegic student Artie stands up and walks with the help of an exoskeleton device he is wearing. Artie explains, “It’s called the ReWalk™, some guy in Israel invented it!”

A science and technology research university, among the world’s top ten, dedicated to the creation of knowledge and the development of human capital and leadership, for the advancement of the State of Israel and all humanity. 

The panel – from right to left – Zohar Zisapel, Shmuel (Mooly) Eden, Eyal Waldman and Prof. Peretz Lavie. Photo credit: Hezi Hojesta, Technion Spokesman

Technion President Prof. Peretz Lavie hosted a panel on “From Academy to Industry Leadership – Technion Alumni CEOs Session”, with Shmuel (Mooly) Eden, President of Intel Israel, Eyal Waldman, CEO of Mellanox, and Zohar Zisapel, President of RAD Data Communications. The panel was held as part of  Israel’s main high tech conference hosted by IATI (Israel Advanced Technology Industries), and discussed, among others, the quality of the Israeli engineers compared to their counterparts worldwide, Technion alumni’s leading the Israeli high tech industry, and the establishment of the applied science and engineering campus in New York City together with Cornell University.

The CEO of Mellanox, Eyal Waldman, who graduated from the Technion in 1986, answered Prof. Peretz Lavie’s question on the Technion’s contribution to his career, saying “the Technion shaped the way I think. The fact that the studies connect theory and practical experience is highly significant for later careers. Engineers who are Technion graduates have real experience, which differentiates them from the graduates of other institutions”.

The President of Intel Israel, Shmuel (Mooly) Eden, referred to the issue of the quality of Israeli engineers, saying that the Israeli culture creates engineers who are willing to take risks and to face challenges: “from my experience in Intel, there is a high correlation between senior managers and people who served in military command roles and as officers. Moreover, in Israeli culture there is a tendency to doubt authority and disobey hierarchy, which makes Israeli engineers leaders in founding successful start-ups”.

The President of RAD Data Communications, Zohar Zisapel, said that the Israeli engineers are the best in the world, but the fact that Israel excels in founding start-up companies, but not large companies, is a problem: “we have to get better at building large companies. At the end of the day, when you sell the start-up, you are selling your birthright for a bowl of stew. If we were to develop large companies in Israel, the contribution to the economy would be far more substantial, both in terms of employment and in terms of the company’s long term profit”.

Prof. Peretz Lavie talked during the panel discussion about the new cooperation with Cornell University in New York, which selected the Technion out of dozens of top universities worldwide to establish together with it a unique, combined program for the promotion of knowledge intensive industry in New York: “the new research institute will combine academy and industry. Cornell intends to invest in the project two billion dollars, and the Technion will be responsible for building the academic curriculum”.

During the panel, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg congratulated the Technion by video on its cornerstone centennial. Among others, Mayor Bloomberg said that he is excited about the cooperation between Cornell and the Technion. He also noted the 11 years anniversary of the Twin Towers terrorist attack, and thanked Israel for its assistance to New York during and after the attack.

The high tech conference opened yesterday with a visit to the Technion’s laboratories by dozens of guests from Israel and abroad, and later an event in tribute to the Technion’s cornerstone centennial. The conference sessions will continue at the Jerusalem International Convention Center until Wednesday, September 12th.

Among the main speakers at the conference are the President and CEO of eBay, John Donahoe; President of Samsung Semiconductors, Dr. Nam-Sung Woo; CEO of SingTel, Allen Lew; President of Intel Israel, Mooly Eden; President of RAD, Zohar Zisapel;  President of Cadence, Lip-Bu Tan; CEO of Mellanox, Eyal Waldman;  CEO of Y&R, David Sable; and the CEO of Bank Leumi, Rakefet Russak-Aminoach – in addition to a long, illustrious line of senior vice presidents for technology, mergers and acquisitions, from Microsoft, IBM, Google, Citibank, SAP, eBay, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens, Alcatel Lucent, ZTE and others.

Israel’s International High Tech Conference at the Technion

The conference was formally opened with a salute to the Technion in celebration of 100 years to the laying of the cornerstone for our historic building in Hadar Hacarmel

(r-l) Maiko Nishimoto and Kazunari Nawa of Toyota,  Alfonso Gutierrez of Finland, and the Senior Executive Vice President of the Technion, Professor Paul Feigin. 

Israel’s main high tech conference, hosted by IATI (Israel Advanced Technology Industries), began Septrmber 10th, 2012, with a visit to the Technion’s laboratories by dozens of guests from Israel and abroad. In the evening an event took place at Krieger Hall in French Carmel, in a tribute to the Technion’s cornerstone centennial. The conference sessions will continue at the Jerusalem International Convention Center.

This year’s conference boasts an unprecedented concentration of Israeli and international disruptive technologies. It will showcase a unique ‘Invented in Israel’ exhibit of innovative developments by the Israeli R&D centers of multinational companies. It will also showcase the first display of its kind in Israel of the leading Israeli startup accelerators, and, as it does every year, will present new and intriguing Israeli startups. The conference will also serve as a stage for a unique summit meeting of senior representatives of worldwide telecom leaders – Ericsson, Nokia Siemens, ZTE, Alcatel Lucent, and SingTel.

Among the main speakers at the conference are the President and CEO of eBay, John Donahoe; President of Samsung Semiconductors, Dr. Nam-Sung Woo; CEO of SingTel, Allen Lew; President of Intel Israel, Mooly Eden; President of RAD, Zohar Zisapel;  President of Cadence, Lip-Bu Tan; CEO of Mellanox, Eyal Waldman;  CEO of Y&R, David Sable; and the CEO of Bank Leumi, Rakefet Russak-Aminoach – in addition to a long, illustrious line of senior vice presidents for technology, mergers and acquisitions, from Microsoft, IBM, Google, Citibank, SAP, eBay, Ericsson, Nokia Siemens, Alcatel Lucent, ZTE and others.

The conference will be attended by senior government, academy and local authority officials, notably Israel’s President Shimon Peres, Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie, former Ministry of Finance Director General Haim Shani, and others. The conference Chairs are Yossi Vardi and Yahal Zilka.

This would be the largest high tech conference in Israel for the third year in a row, and it will be attended by hundreds of senior executives from leading companies in Israel and worldwide, as well as by dozens of Israeli start-up companies that will participate in panels and present innovative technologies to representatives of companies from all over the world. IATI expects 4,000 participants from Israel and the world to attend the three conference days; international delegations of senior high tech representatives from the European Union, India, China, the US and others, venture fund representatives, senior executives of technology leaders from Israel and the world, the CEOs of leading Israeli start-up companies, entrepreneurs, and additional industry and high tech partners.

This year’s conference will be also attended by extended delegations of leading international companies, who are here to pursue business opportunities in the Israeli high tech and to obtain a personal impression of the local industry and entrepreneurship. The conference will address urgent issues in the global and local high tech, among them trends in fundraising, investments, funds and angels, technological innovations from the chip level to the future of man-computer interface, the telecom market and the transition to LTE, and the world of social media and online advertising.

Aaron Mankovski, outgoing Chairman of IATI and Managing General Partner of Pitango Venture Capital: “the international high tech conference taking place in Jerusalem for the third year now has succeeded in establishing itself as one of the top international conferences in the field, and in attracting the senior executives of leading companies worldwide. Last year, the annual high tech conference provided a platform for meetings and for the creation of professional and business relations between Israeli entrepreneurs and companies and worldwide leaders, which resulted in agreements, transactions and joint developments.”

Yahal Zilka, co-chairman of the conference and Managing Partner of Magma Venture Capital: “This year the conference is attended by an unprecedented concentration of global internet, telecom, chip and capital market senior executives – from China, India, the US and European Union countries. This summit meeting of key players from all over the world under one roof is a tremendous opportunity to create a collaborative growth engine for the Israeli high tech”.

Karin Mayer-Rubinstein, CEO of IATI: “During the conference, IATI will sign cooperation agreements with international companies that will bring added value to its members. This, further to cooperation agreements that IATI signed last year with Indian delegations, and which have strengthens relations with the Indian high tech industry.”

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About Israel Advanced Technology Industries (IATI)

IATI is an umbrella organization for the high tech, venture capital and life science industries in Israel, including for individuals and companies that engage in research, development and marketing in knowledge intensive fields such as hardware, software, internet, telecommunications, bio-pharma and medical devices. The organization initiates and assists in developing policies and activities aimed at advancing the Israeli high tech and life science industries by promoting its interests vis-à-vis government authorities, creating collaborations between its members, promoting innovation and technology, and generating opportunities for the creation of business relations in Israel and worldwide.

Israel Advanced Technology Industries is the largest umbrella organization in Israel, representing over 300 companies and organizations of the entire industrial spectrum in Israel – high tech, life sciences, venture capital, start-up companies, technological incubators, commercialization companies and service providers – that employ hundreds of thousands of high tech and life sciences employees in Israel.