Salaries in the Israeli Industry rose by 25%

According to a recent report by the Central Bureau of Statistics, the average salary in the computers, electronic products and optical devices manufacturing industry in Israel amounted to NIS 22,411 per month ($6,580) in 2019. The report covers 2019 data and does not include the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the industry. This constitutes an increase of about 25% compared to 2015, in which the average salary amounted to NIS 19,885 ($5,840).

At that time there was a very small change in the number of workers in the industry: in 2015 it included 68,200 employees, while in 2019 this number reached roughly 69,800. The meaning is that the rise in salaries indicates a shortage of manpower in the industry. In the entire high-tech industry, the average salary amounted to NIS 23,545 per month in 2019 – more than double the national average salary – which amounted to NIS 10,783 per month.

This industry that provides almost a tenth of the employee jobs in the economy: 323,400 jobs out of 3.74 million jobs in the entire economy. The main component of the industry is the provision of software and communications services, which accounted for approximately 227,400 employee jobs in 2019.

In practice, the number of employees in the electronics industry is slightly higher than the CBS’s estimates, since in the official data, the local 49,900 R&D workers are grouped inside the High-tech Services category. In 2019, the Israeli industry employed about 49,900 R&D workers, whose average salary was NIS 28,000 a month.

The main problem is that during that period there was no increase in the industry’s output, and exports even fell slightly. In 2015, Israeli exports of computers, electronicS and optical equipment amounted to approximately $12.59 billion – constituting an all-time Israeli record. Then began a decline that reached a low of $10.5 billion in 2009, and in the following two years exports recovered slightly and reached approximately $11.42 billion in 2019.

The conclusion is that the Israeli electronics industry has reached the year of COVID-19 when it is in a dire situation, facing a decline in output and sales – along with a significant increase in expenses.

StoreDot is Charging Commercial Drones in just 5 Minutes

StoreDote from Tel Aviv announced an automated charging station fully-charging a commercial drone in five minutes. This ultra-fast charging (UFC) wireless station designed to charge drones using StoreDot FlashBattery technology. It overcomes two major barriers disturbing the drone industry: the need for a “man-in-the-loop” to replace battery packs between missions, and restrictions on where charging stations can be located.

Today, it takes between 60-90 minutes to charge a commercial drone, with full charge giving a flight time of approximately 30 minutes. As a result, drones spend far longer in the charging station that in operation. To overcome this problem, additional batteries must be purchased and swapped out between flights. This costly process also requires a ‘man-in-the-loop’ to replace the batteries, making drones operations less autonomous.

The need for a person to be involved in the charging process also limits the range of operation and demands locating charging stations at easily accessible locations. This means that drones currently have to spend much of their limited flight time travelling to and from the nearest charging point, greatly reducing their operational efficiency. It also restricts the use of drones in harsh or dangerous terrains – often where they could bring the greatest benefits.

Dr. Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot, said that by reducing battery charging time to just 5 minutes and eliminating the need for human intervention, fully-autonomous drone operation is finally being made a reality. “Drones will now be able to spend much more of their valuable flight time engaged in actual missions.”

StoreDot uses organic compounds synthesized in its labs, to produce its instant-charging battery – FlashBattery. The technology is based on novel materials replacing the active graphite with metalloids such as Silicon, combined with proprietary organic compounds that protect the active materials during fast charge. While LiBs are aimed at increasing battery capacity, StoreDot has taken a new approach and redesigned an entirely new Li-ion battery structure in order to tackle the need for frequent charging.

Belkin Laser raised $12.25 million for Non-invasive Glaucoma Laser Treatment

BELKIN Laser from Israel has completed a $12.25M financing round, led by Rimonci Capital and Santen Ventures. The company has developed a 1-second, non-invasive glaucoma laser treatment based on technology invented by Prof. Michael Belkin. The CEO, Daria Leman-Blumenthal, said the capital raised will be used to conduct further trials in GLAUrious project, supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

The European consortium was established to advance Belkin’s technology, which is designed to address a specific problem: glaucoma is a chronic disease that affects about 140 million people worldwide. It causes vision loss to the point of total blindness, usually due to high intraocular pressure. Belkin also plans to initiate trials in Asia.

Automatic treatment, once a year, lasting only one second

Although it cannot be cured, the process can be delayed by treating it with eye drops. The problem lies in the fact that it is a lengthy treatment that requires discipline, and so about half of the patients stop it within the first year. BELKIN Laser employs automated process lasting only one second: a projection of 120 short laser pulses to the border of the limbus, which accelerates the fluid drainage from the eye, thereby reducing intraocular pressure.

The process is performed once a year, automatically and without contact: the laser beam is directed to its target using a camera with image processing algorithm. The technology is protected by two patents: focusing electromagnetic energy at a target area in the eye, and automatic detection and tracking the eye in motion.

Commercial Activity in 2021

2020 is a critical transition year for the company. Belkin Laser was founded in 2013 and has been engaged in technology development ever since. This year the technology reached maturity, and the company began developing a commercial version of the system. Simultaneously, in January of this year, it presented the first results of a clinical trial held among 120 patients, which was conducted in London as part of the GLAUrious consortium.

The next phase of GLAUrious experiments will be used for submitting an FDA approved marketing application, probably toward the end of 2020, as well as for applying for approvals in China in early 2021. Following this, it will start sales.

Ecoppia received $40 million investment for Solar Panels Cleaning Robots

CIM Group has made a $40 million investment in Herzliya-based Ecoppia, a provider of robots for automatic cleaning of solar panels, and became the largest shareholder in the company. Ecoppia’s VP of marketing, Anat Cohen-Segev, told Techtime that CIM’s evolving ecosystem in the solar market will drive business expantion. “They have established extensive activity in the solar market.”

Ecoppia’s robots clean the solar panels automatically using only microfiber and without the use of water. Regular cleaning is vital, as dust and dirt may dramatically reduce their power output. These autonomous robots clean the panels every night, removing about 99% of the dust that has accumulated during the day. One robot is capable of cleaning 1,200 panels a night.

Ecoppia robots have their own on-board dedicated solar module, allowing batteries to quickly charge in between operations. A cloud-based platform enables remote management via any connected device, while data arriving from smart sensors and AI platform can independently initiate cleanings, based on weather conditions and other parameters.

Founded in the early 1990s by the two Israelis, Avi Shemesh and Shaul Kuba, CIM Group currently manages assets worth of $60 billion. Its portfolio company, Sky Power from Canada, manages solar projects with a total capacity of 2,500 megawatts worldwide. Earlier this year CIM has begun developing the Westlands Solar Park, a 20,000 acres solar park in California, planned to produce 2,700 megawatts.

COVID-19 had a Positive Impact

Ecoppia collaborates with leading Energy companies such as the French Engie Group and EDF, the Indian NTPC and Adani Power, Actis Group from the UK, unEdisson/TerraForm from the US. It says that its activities have grown annually by 200% in the last 6 years. Big financial backer is crucial in the energy market: agreements demand long-term commitment, sometimes for decades, and the ecosystem prefer a strong financial soundness. Thus, CIM Group’s investment helps Ecoppia to meet the financial standards needed in the market.

Unlike many technology companies, the COVID-19 crisis had a positive impact on Ecoppia’s businesses. Cohen-Segev: “It made our advantage clearer. Due to the quarantine and social distancing, maintenance works were stopped at many solar sites, and the panels accumulated dust and dirt that damaged performance. However, in the case of our customers, cleaning works continued as usual, since the cleaning is performed by automatic robots. We have always believed in automation, and COVID-19 has accelerated this understanding among energy companies as well.”

A Spectrometer-on-Chip for the detection of COVID-19

A pilot program has been launched for a rapid COVID-19 detection test, employing a revolutionary device that uses light waves to analyze molecular content. The Israeli Newsight Imaging is collaborating with Sheba Medical Center to identify and classify evidence of coronavirus in the body in less than a second, using a sample of fluid – blood serum or saliva. Concrete results of the trial are expected by this September.

Newsight has received Sheba Medical Center’s IRB Ethics (“Helsinki”) Committee approval to conduct a pilot program for rapid COVID-19 detection tests. The tests will be conducted using SpectraLIT kit, based on Newsight’s Spectrometer-on-Chip. Spectral technology for virus detection is not a new scientific discovery. However, Newsight found a way to bring an expensive device (hundreds of thousands of dollars), to the size of a single cost-effective chip.

Rapid check of 1024 Spectral Channels

Newsight’s device (about the size of a computer mouse) simultaneously checks 1024 spectral channels, currently in the visible light spectrum of 400-700 nm. During the next few months, the company plans to present a device that will be capable of examining a spectral profile in wavelengths of up to 1100 nm. Initial feasibility studies at Sheba Medical Center have shown an ability to separate between alpha-coronaviruses (Alpha-CoV) and beta-coronaviruses (Beta-CoV), with an accuracy close to 100%.

Additional feasibility studies conducted on blood serum samples of people infected with the Dengue virus, were found to be extremely accurate. Newsight and Sheba’s ARC Innovation Center intend to establish a joint company that will make the solutions commercially available to the medical community around the globe.

Newsight Imaging provides CMOS Image sensor chips for 3D machine vision and spectral analysis, protected by 14 US and EU patents. The SpectraLIT Spectrometer is based on NSP2020: A small size chip, which detects light and provides 12bit digital vectors, representing the light intensity of each wavelength. The NSP2020 is able to acquire up-to 40,000 spectral profiles per second, providing ultra-fast analysis of the spectral features of the tested material.

Audi to explore Apollo Power On-vehicle Solar Sheets

Yokneam-based (north of Israel) Apollo Power has signed an MoU with Audi AG to examine the integration of Apollo’s flexible solar sheets technology into cars made by Audi or another brand of Volkswagen Group. During the first 12 months of the agreement, the technology will be evaluated and tested. Following this, the parties will develop relevant products for Hybrid/Electrical vehicles, and after achieving certain milestones, they will introduce products to be integrated in future vehicle models. Apollo Power’s stock rose by about 30% on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Apollo Power has developed flexible solar sheet technology that can be adapted to the needs of the Automotive industry. Last year it conducted a series of experiments in collaboration with BWR, in which a 1.2-square-meter solar sheet was installed on the roof of a Kia Niro family car. According to the research company Market Study Report, the market for flexible solar sheets will grow at an annual rate of 8.7% in the next 5 years, reaching $610 million in 2024.

A solar solution for non-flat surfaces

Founded in 2014, Apollo Power is controlled by Westar Holdings (61%) and its operations are carried out through its wholly-owned subsidiary SolarPaint. Its main target markets are floating solar, automotive, and off grid applications. Thanks to their elasticity and low weight, the solar sheets can be easily deployed on top of uneven surfaces, and thus utilize structures and areas where hard and heavy panels cannot be installed. The main disadvantage of flexible solar sheets lies in their lower energy conversion efficiency compared to rigid solar panels.

Apollo Power’s technology and composition of materials are protected by undisclosed registered patents. According to the company, it has achieved 13.6% conversion efficiency – relatively high compared to competing solutions. The sheets weight 1 kg per square meter. The use of flexible sheets is particularly suitable for the electric and hybrid vehicle industry, as their light weight allows them to be positioned over the entire surface of the vehicle, including the roof and hood, and thus attain an additional energy source to increase the vehicle’s range, or to reduce the batteries’ capacity.

The company is building a semi-automatic production line commissioned from a European manufacturer specializing in machines for the solar industry has recently arrived in Israel. It is considered the first production line of its kind in Israel, and it is planned to start operating as early as in 2020. Its production output is expected to reach up to 6 MWp per year.

Intel may Outsource 7-nm Production

Above: Bob Swan, Intel CEO. “We have invested in contingency plans “

Intel took the market by surprise when it revealed last week a plan to intensify outsource production and to move some of its future 7-nanometer devices production to third parties. Immediately following the announcement, Intel’s shares in NASDAQ lost 16%. In fact, Intel published a very good Q2 2020 results: Revenues of $19.7 billion, compared to $16.6 billion last year. It also expects annual revenues of $75 billion in 2020, compared to $72 billion in 2019.

But Intel’s production difficulties overshadowed every thing else. Intel’s, CEO Bob Swan, published a prepared remarks about the issue: “We are seeing an approximate six-month shift in our 7nm-based CPU product timing relative to prior expectations. Our 7nm process is now trending approximately twelve months behind our internal target. We have identified a defect mode in our 7nm process that resulted in yield degradation.”

“Contingency Plan” means Outsourcing Production

“We’ve root-caused the issue and believe there are no fundamental roadblocks, but we have also invested in contingency plans to hedge against further schedule uncertainty.” Trey Campbell, Director of Investor Relations, gave a context during the earning call: “Our priorities in the ideal world is leadership products on our process technology. But the focus will be leadership products. So to the extent that we need to view somebody else’s process technology, and we call those contingency plans, we will be prepared to do that.”

In an answer to an analyst in the call, Swan explained that if the company decide to continue to do all its production inside, it will invest “a little more (in) 10-nanometer and less (in) 7-nanometer. In the event we decide that we’re going to leverage third-party foundries more effectively, we would have a little more 10 and a lot less seven. In the event we’re not there and there’s a better alternative, be prepared to take advantage of it.”

The conclusion is shocking: Intel does not lead the process race anymore, and it is also does not believe in its ability to provide full scale 7 nm production services for its own road map. In this case it has no other option but to outsource TSMC and Samsung, the global leaders in 7 nm process.