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In first, Israel’s OurCrowd hosts global Pandemic Innovation Conference

Nurse wearing respirator mask holding a positive blood test result for the new rapidly spreading Coronavirus.
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Attendees from over 90 different countries took part in the discussions

By ILANIT CHERNICK

In a world first, Israel-based OurCrowd, the world’s largest global venture investing platform, hosted the OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference on Monday evening.

The live interactive event brought together thousands of top investors, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, corporate executives, government officials and press from over 90 countries around the world, in what’s been deemed the first global event dedicated to pandemic investment.

One of the biggest breaking news announcements was from SaNOtize CEO and Israeli scientist Dr Gilly Regev, who told attendees that the company’s coronavirus therapy is pursuing clinical trials in the UK. 

According to Regev, if approved by regulators, SaNOtize’s technology, based on nitric oxide and supported by Nobel Prize-winning research, “will be the only recognized therapy on the market proven to prevent COVID-19 from infecting the upper respiratory system.” 

He added that clinical trials were currently taking place in Canada,

Dr Paul Rothman, Dean of the School of Medicine and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, explained that that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the future of healthcare with remote medical consultations via telemedicine, altered waiting rooms and precision medicine guided by big data analytics already playing a major part in this “revolution.”
“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,” Rothman told the OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Conference.

He estimated that 30% of visits to the doctor will be replaced by online consultations.

During the online discussions, Joseph Jacobson, head of the MIT Molecular Machines Research Group addressed whether a coronavirus vaccine could be developed as quickly as people hoped.

“I think we’ve come a tremendous distance from our early vaccine technologies,” he said. “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.”

One of the highlights was the emotional story of founder and president of United Hatzalah Eli Beer who spoke about his recovery from COVID-19 after 30 days of intubation.

“The second time they came to me and said sorry we have to put you again into a coma, and I was crying, and I actually thought I’m never going to come back and I had to say goodbye to my family and I had to say again goodbye to all the volunteers and supporters of United Hatzalah and I though this is it,” he told attendees. “A few days later, luckily, miraculously, thanks to prayers from all around the world, I was able to wake up.”

The conference also heard from several investors and CEOs whose companies were thriving during the world economic crisis because 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.

Speaking about the priorities for the $100 million OurCrowd Pandemic Innovation Fund, one of the Fund’s principals David Sokolic said they 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,” he continued. “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.”

Asked about investing in startups and companies during this uncertain time, CEO and founder of OurCrowd, Jon Medved said the company believes “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.” 

He stressed that these changes in society, “whether it is socially distanced work or learning, or new needs to protect ourselves from cyber hacking,” this is now the “‘new normal,’ which absolutely indicates 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,” Medved concluded.

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