XPlain Ltd is proud to be one of the sponsors for a one-day seminar: Performing Human Clinical Studies Using Medical Devices, on December 15, 2010 at the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv 8:30-15:15.

The seminar will cover topics such as how to conduct human studies in accordance with AMAR requirements, statistical aspects of clinical studies, the new EU MEDEV and how to submit a request for performing a clinical study involving a medical device.

There is a nominal fee of NIS180 for attendance that will be donated to the community.

Click here to view the Invitation

Please stop in to visit us at our booth and learn about what we can offer you in the field of documentation of medical devices.

We look forward to seeing you there.

This post is a continuation of our interview with Dr. Amnon Weichselbaum, who is the New Projects Manager for the Yozmot Haemek technological incubator.

Q: What is the success rate of the incubator in getting funding for startups?

A: The last 17 companies that we have proposed to the committee have been funded. Approximately 80% of the companies that completed two years in the incubator were funded by outside investors.

Q: That’s pretty impressive. To what do you attribute your success?

A: Through experience I’ve learned both what is likely to get funded and what will have a good chance of success.

Q: Can you elaborate? What are you looking for?

A: I look  at the technology as well as  at the personality of the entrepreneur. The project has to be practical in terms of novelty, potential market, IP and development timetable, but what is more  important is the personality of the entrepreneur. The entrepreneur must be both realistic in terms of what is required for the successful development and commercializing of a product. At the same time, he must have great determination and fire in his eyes.

Q: Can you quantify the traits that you are looking for?

A: Actually I can. I presented a quantified method of determining the potential success of an idea and presented it at a lecture that I gave to students. But, in fact, there are more factors going through my head when I decide about a project, and I don’t literally quantify the process in “real life”.

Q: Is there a problem with entrepreneurs coming from academia not being prepared for the business world?

A: Sometimes people coming from academia have unrealistic expectations and don’t realize the importance of certain steps in product development, such as regulatory issues in the development of a medical device.

Q: What is the main reason that incubator companies fail to get outside funding after two years?

A: In my experience, projects generally don’t fail because of technological reasons but rather due to personality conflicts.

Q: Who actually owns the companies?

A: The companies are owned partly by the entrepreneur, partly by investors, and partly by the incubator.

Q: Do you retain your shares after the company leaves the incubator?

A: It depends. Sometimes we retain all our shares and sometimes we sell all or part of them at different stages in the development of the company, depending on our financial needs and the business opportunity.

Q: That brings me to my next question. Who actually owns the incubator?

A: We are the last incubator that is state-owned and we are now going through privatization, meaning that we will soon be self-sustaining.

Q: What are the implications? Is that good or bad

A: I think that it is good and bad. On the one hand we will be self-sustaining and not taking taxpayer money for the day to day activity and management of the incubator, but on the other hand we may not be able to take as many chances backing projects that may be a little more risky.

Thanks for talking with us

Posted by: xplainblog | August 11, 2010

Yozmot Haemek – The Technological Incubator at Migdal Haemek

As we described in our previous post, Israel has a vigorous technology incubator program. Starting with this post, we will highlight incubators located in Northern Israel.

Today’s post features the Yozmot Haemek Incubator in Migdal Haemek. To learn more about the incubator we interviewed Dr. Amnon Weichselbaum who is the New Projects Manager for the incubator. In addition to his administrative position, Amnon brings a unique perspective to his work because he has also founded two companies in the incubator, one of which (Fertillegent) has already produced a commercialized product.

What follows is a summary of our discussion.

Q: If I am an entrepreneur living in the North I can choose from several incubators. How do I choose in which incubator I want to set up my company?

A: I would advise you to visit the incubators that you are considering. How are the facilities? Do you feel good chemistry with the people there? What is their success rate in having projects approved? How many of their projects have gone on to be successful companies? In addition some incubators specialize in certain types of technologies. For instance, our incubator places an emphasis on medical device companies.

Q: How does this help an entrepreneur who wishes to develop a medical device?

A: We know the field. We know the process from a technological, IP and regulatory standpoint and also know investors who are interested in investing in medical devices.

Q: What is the process that someone with an idea has to follow to set up a company in the incubator?

A: After deciding which incubator you would like to work with, you meet with them and present your idea to an internal committee. If they approve the project they help you fill out the forms which must be submitted to the incubators administration, the Office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Industry Trade and Labor

They then send a representative to interview the entrepreneur and write an appraisal. We go with the entrepreneur to meet with a 12-member committee who decide on the spot whether or not to OK the project. If the project is approved the Chief Scientist provides $350,000 and the incubator and entrepreneur must provide an additional $100,000. This is meant to last for approximately two years.

Q: What happens during those two years?

A: Especially in the medical device field, it is unrealistic to expect a market-ready device to be developed in two years. However, we expect to see a fully developed prototype and Proof of Concept. The company should be at a stage where it is able to attract outside investors.

Q: What does the incubator provide the entrepreneur?

A: In general, our goal is to allow the entrepreneur concentrate on developing their idea from the technological as well as the business development point of view while we take care of all the rest. We provide a physical space, utilities, cleaning, bookkeeping, and secretarial services. In addition we can recommend subcontractors, put them in touch with investors, and are always available for providing advice.

Q: What happens after two years?

A: After approximately two years the company is expected to be able to attract outside investors and to move out of the incubator. In some cases additional funding can be provided by the Chief Scientist for an additional year within the framework of the incubator . If the company is not viable it closes.

Q: Do you stay in touch with companies after they leave the incubator?

A: Yes. We sit on the board of directors and retain our shares for a certain period after the company leaves the incubator.

To view the second half of this two-part interview click here.

Posted by: xplainblog | July 26, 2010

Technological Incubators in Northern Israel

In honor of the incubator in Misgav being named Outstanding Incubator for 2009 we are beginning a multi-post series on Technological Incubators in northern Israel.

Here’s a few facts about the incubators program in Israel taken from the official site of the incubators program :

  • The program was originally  initiated in 1991 to help entrepreneurs who had immigrated to Israel to develop their ideas. Since then the program was extended to non-immigrants and now is open to all Israeli citizens.
  • The program is administered by the office of the Chief Scientist of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor.
  • There are currently 24 incubators in Israel located from the Negev to the upper Galilee, with 15 located in the periphery.
  • There is one incubator devoted specifically to Biotech (in Jerusalem).
  • There is a Jewish-Arab incubator in Nazareth which is the first incubator of its type to be co-owned by Jewish and Israeli Arabs businessmen.
  • There are about 200 companies operating in incubators.
  • As of 2007 the type of  companies in incubators were as follows: 39% medical device, 19% software, 19% biotech, 9% electronics  and the rest split between agriculture, communications, environment, and machinery.
  • By the end of 2006, the total cumulative private investment in graduate incubator companies surpassed $1.5 billion.
  • By the end of 2006, over 1000 projects had matured and left the incubators. Of these graduates, 57% have successfully attracted private investments.

In our next post we will begin to feature individual incubators starting with the Yozmot HaEmek incubator.

Unfortunately, many of us who don’t work from home, find ourselves working in open office spaces. This means we are sharing space with 1 to 3 other writers or staff, if we are lucky, and up to ten or more, if we are not. This requires thought in how to take into account that “you are not alone.”

One of the biggest problems of the open space is the temperature of the room. There are some of us who like it cold, others warm to quite warm. I have worked with what I call the penguins. To them 23° was too warm. Other individuals like the temperature quite warm, where 25° is cold. What is the solution for the average person? The onion: dress in layers. Or if you know your environment, have that extra sweater, scarf, or even gloves in your drawer at work. Ladies please remember this is a workplace and not the beach. And if you complain that you are cold when you are half dressed, it becomes very annoying to the people who are dressed appropriately.

What about music? We all have different tastes in music, from hard rock to classical. Not everyone can work with music in the background either. I know that when I am doing some heavy duty editing, I need to read it carefully and I can’t manage it with music in the background. Fortunately, in the era of the mp3 players and earphones, everyone can pick the music of their choice. But there are some dos and don’t with this, too. Please keep your singing and humming at a low volume. Drumming along with the music, either with hands or feet is annoying to others.

Everyone comes to work wanting to share the movie they saw last night, the wedding they went to, or what the little one did when he got up this morning. Most of the time, everyone wants to hear it, too. But it may be easier to take it into the hallway for discussion. Realizing that often this is not possible, and no one I know can really not tell at least one joke, story, or personal anecdote each day; do it, but let’s not make a party out of it. And if you have figured out how to save the planet or need to have some other philosophical or political discussion, save it for coffee break or lunch.

What about sharing YouTube? Some of the best commercials, comedy routines, music take offs etc. are there and you’ve just got to share it. It can be anything from Abbott and Costello, to Weird Al, to that little Korean kid doing Hey Jude and accompanying himself on his air guitar. As with most of the best things in life, there is a time and a place. If you can, forward the link to your home email address and share it with the family.

This is a posting from a contributor who works as a technical communicator at a company in Haifa:

Last but not least, we can’t forget telephone calls. Personal phone calls at work can be a problem. We should be using our mobile phone and taking it into the hall, but not everyone does this. Also, all your friends and family know your work number and like to use it. So, what should you do? Keep it short and keep the number of calls at your desk to a minimum. Don’t plan your kid’s Bar Mitzvah or apartment hunt from your work phone. Doctor’s appointments are often necessary to make as the service is available only when you are at work. Try not to yell at your kids during work hours, for your sake and theirs. Emergencies, on the other hand, happen to all of us, and everyone should take those in stride.

What would be the take home message? “Everything in moderation.”
Don’t take advantage of your office mates, but don’t complain about everyone else all the time. Neither extreme helps you keep a pleasant office environment which we all need to get our work done.

Posted by: xplainblog | February 14, 2010

Using Bacteria to Monitor Water Safety

We would all like to think that the water that comes out of our tap is safe to drink. However, with an expanding world population, pesticide runoff, pollution, and threats of terrorism, we cannot take the safety of our water supply for granted. Various methods have been developed to test for specific contaminants, but a good general qualitative test for the presence of contaminants has been lacking.

CheckLight Ltd (http://www.checklight.biz) located in Tivon, Israel has leveraged the power of luminescent bacteria to serve as a warning system for water contaminants.

Basic research discoveries indicated that luminescent bacteria react to the presence of a wide range of contaminants in the water by changes in their luminescence. CheckLight has exploited this fact to produce portable kits and permanent stations for detecting the presence of water contaminants. Once the presence of a contaminant has been detected, additional testing can be performed to establish the identity of the specific contaminant.

CheckLight was founded in 2001 by Dr. Nirit Ulitzur, whose father, Professor Shimon Ulitzur, performed the basic research that lead to the commercial use of the luminescent bacteria. Checklight was chosen by the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection to supply emergency water testing kits to the earthquake stricken region of Sichuan in 2008, and to protect the water supply for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. In early 2008 WhiteWater, a leading Israeli water technologies company, became a strategic investor in CheckLight.

Posted by: eaglexplain | February 14, 2010

Yin-Yang: Technical Writing and Instructional Design

If I was to illustrate how the two traditional disciplines of Technical Writing and Instructional Design relate to each other I would use a traditional symbol – the Yin-Yang. This age-old symbol carries many different meanings, and the few that I’m aware of can also be attributed to the way these two disciplines complement, challenge, and empower one another.

The two disciplines represent (seemingly) opposing viewpoints.

Traditional Technical Writing is predominantly text-oriented and cerebral. Technical writers mostly use the written word to draw a mental image, clear and concise enough for the reader to recreate in his mind’s eye when the need arises. Although illustration often accompanies the reading material, to the benefit of the more visual audience, it can scarcely replace it altogether (unless it’s an IKEA installation guide, in which case – good luck!). However, reading the manual, regardless of how good it is, can never replace the experience of actually using the product in question.

On the other hand, a good training session, verbally delivered (with a minimum of text), is also experiential. For example, a good instructor, using a well thought-out lesson plan, could explain a concept verbally, draw some scribbles on the white board, and then move to a hands-on assembly practice. This iteration in training between spoken and practical instruction is usually a successful mix, which has no immediate counterpart in technical documentation.

Another distinction can be found in the open-ended nature of live training. A seasoned instructor can provide alternative explanations to the same concept on the spot, in the classroom. Conversely, a technical writer provides one good explanation/illustration that should be clear enough for the target reader.

There is some Technical Writing involved in Instructional Design, and vice versa.

As an Instructional Designer writing a lesson plan, I consider how this specific lesson relates to the body of the module. The lesson can be introductory, it can be an in depth analysis of a specific concept/procedure, or it might summarize a specific topic and link it to the next one, along a defined learning path. Furthermore, when putting the lesson to practice, I employ consistency across the training module, accommodating the target audience and subject matter. These considerations run in parallel with common Technical Writing best practices.

As a technical writer considering how to write and illustrate a specific procedure, I work according to an instructional objective: after reading the procedure through, and trying it out on the product, the reader should have initial knowledge of how to complete the procedure correctly. The way I write and illustrate the procedure determines whether this objective is met or not. If I possess and employ training skills, the right approach, and an instructor’s understanding of audience, there is a good chance I’ll write a better procedure which does not require a second reading.

The two disciplines constitute a greater whole.

Technical Writing is used today as primary source material for creating training deliverables. Instructional Designers know that they must consult (and often borrow) from technical manuals to convey the correct information through the training plan and presentation.

This way, a conduit of knowledge – which originates with the Engineering Department’s Technical Writing team, extends through the training staff’s methodology and reaches the customer – is processed and honed to maturity by various people and viewpoints. When a customer provides positive feedback on a training session, it reflects positively also on the source documentation and the staff behind it.

Therefore, although Technical Writing and Instructional Design are different disciplines, they are alike in many ways. They also complement each other, and can join forces naturally to co-create better documentation and better training sessions. 

By Eagle Solomon
CEO, X-Plain Ltd.

Posted by: xplainblog | January 26, 2010

Unmanned Vehicles

For a variety of reasons the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is very sensitive to casualties. This fact has made Israel one of the world’s leaders in the development of unmanned vehicles for warfare including planes, such as this Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) developed by Elbit in Haifa

and Unmanned Land Vehicles (ULV)

And the Protector Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) from Rafael (in Acco)

The possibilities and implications for this type of technology in both  military and civilian applications are immense. On the military side a large number of these three types of  devices communicating with each other and attacking an enemy not equipped with this technology would make for a very one-sided battle along the lines of tanks against bows and arrows. In addition, once these types of devices are deployed in large numbers, there will need to be a re-thinking about the role of some of today’s military technology. Just imagine 50 of these little boats, each equipped with a missile, attacking a large warship. Because of their small size and fast speed they would be very difficult to destroy before they could launch their missiles.

On the civilian side all three types of devices could be used in life-saving applications such as search and rescue and replacing human operators in dangerous or unpleasant environments.

Posted by: xplainblog | January 16, 2010

What’s A Black Body? CI Systems—Testing and Simulation

We recently visited CI systems in the Ramat Gabriel industrial park in Migdal Haemek. CI was founded in 1978 and includes an Electro-Optics Test Systems division, a semiconductor division and a subsidiary in the electronic card assembly and inspection industry. Approximately half its sales are in the USA, with the rest in Israel, Europe and the Far East. CI Systems is one of the leading companies in electro-optical testing, measurement and simulation.

What does this mean? Say you have a system for detecting an incoming missile using infrared technology. How do you test whether the system really works? How do you train your crew? Firing off a missile every time you want to run a training session or test the system can get pretty expensive. This is where the simulator comes in. The simulator can simulate a variety of scenarios including varying the temperature, speed and size of the simulated missile.

So what is a blackbody? In the world of physics a blackbody  is a theoretical creation that is an ideal radiator and absorber of energy at all electromagnetic wavelengths. In the world of electro-optical testing and simulation it is a device that is capable of producing  IR radiation at a variety of uniform and highly defined levels.

Posted by: xplainblog | January 11, 2010

Helping Paraplegics Walk

Argo Medical Technologies located in the MATAM hi-tech park in Haifa was founded by Amit Gofer, one of the founders of Odin Technologies (Now part of Medtronics), after he was severely injured in a motorcycle accident and now uses a wheelchair.

Argo’s first product is the ReWalk. As you can see in the clip the device is a computer-operated exoskeleton that moves the users legs while they support themselves using crutches.

In its current configuration because the use of crutches is required the device can be used only by individuals who have movement in their upper body.

Argo recently raised $3.1 million dollars in funding and following completion of clinical trials at Sheba hospital in Israel is now performing clinical trials in the USA.

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