JERUSALEM, June 22, 2020 - From Jerusalem, Israel, an online Pandemic Innovation Conference, a live interactive event, hosted by OurCrowd, brought together investors, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, corporate executives, government officials, and press from over 90 countries around the world.
CEO of SaNOtize Dr. Gilly Regev announced that her company’s coronavirus nasal spray therapy is pursuing clinical trials in the UK. Currently undergoing clinical trials in Canada, Regev said that, if approved by regulators, SaNOtize’s technology, based on nitric oxide, will be the only recognized therapy on the market proved to prevent COVID-19 from infecting the upper respiratory system.
One key presenter to the live online event which was available also on Facebook, was Dr. Paul Rothman, Dean of the School of Medicine & CEO, Johns Hopkins Medicine, the world center of data on the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote medical consultations via telemedicine, altered waiting rooms, and precision medicine guided by big data analytics – these are just part of the “revolution” that will transform the future of healthcare, stated Dr. Rothman.
“We went from providing a couple of dozen telehealth visits a day before the pandemic to about 5,500 every day in a few weeks,” Dr. Rothman said, estimating that 30 percent of visits to the doctor will be replaced by online consultations.
“I think we’ve come a tremendous distance from our early vaccine technologies,” said Joseph Jacobson, head of the MIT Molecular Machines Research Group when asked if a vaccine could be developed as quickly as people hoped. “We’ve got a tremendous number of tools in the tool chest. I think we will be able to be successful both on the vaccine front and on the therapeutic front for COVID.”
Away from medicine, companies like data.world, Ripple, and TechSee reported growing sales. Tovala, which provides home-cooked gourmet meals using a smart oven, reported a fourfold increase in business since September and a 20 percent increase in orders from existing customers.
The OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference, streamed on June 22 to thousands of participants around the world, also discussed priorities for the $100 million OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Fund.
“We think this crisis is going to have an impact on many different aspects of society as well as the economy. The overall strategy for the fund is to put together a portfolio that includes medical as well as non-medical opportunities,” said David Sokolic, one of the Fund’s principals. “One of the areas where we expect an acceleration is in education. The world has been through a massive experiment in distance learning in the last few weeks. We think this crisis is going to open an opportunity to experiment with new forms of education.”
Investors addressing the conference included Scott Bessent, CEO & Chief Investment Officer, Key Square Group, Jeremy Levine, Partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, and Deven Parekh, Managing Director, Insight Partners.
The Conference also featured Ruth Atherton, Deputy General Counsel and Director, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Chemi Peres, Chairman of the Board of Directors, The Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and Neil Ackerman, Head of Advanced Technologies, Global Supply Chain, Johnson & Johnson.
Also appearing was Eli Beer, founder, and president of United Hatzalah, who recovered from COVID-19 after 30 days of intubation and coma in a Miami hospital.
The conference heard from multiple investors and CEOs whose companies were thriving during the world economic crisis. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technology in new areas including working, studying, and exercising from home, alternative food offerings, remote technical assistance, and cybersecurity.
“We believe that now actually is a very effective time to invest, because not only are financial crises often good entry points into the market, in this case, the private market but in addition, it is a social inflection point,” said Jon Medved, CEO, and founder of OurCrowd. “These changes in society, whether it is socially distanced work or learning, or new needs to protect ourselves from cyber hacking, these are the ‘new normal,’ which absolutely indicate a new opportunity to take advantage of big trends. Today we see several companies who are growing in the pandemic, whose revenues are going up, who are acquiring new customers and who are both doing well and doing good.”
While the event was accessible to individuals from around the world, it was reported that more than 180 one-on-one investor meetings were scheduled. Hundreds of networking connections and meetings were arranged by attendees, proving that in a world profoundly changed by the pandemic, the global tech ecosystem can still come together to meet, learn, invest and get business done.