When Research Sparks New Ventures
In the past year, four technologies developed at Bar-Ilan have transitioned into companies traded on the stock exchange, and more are on the way
At a university which engages in research, one of the goals of scientists and scholars is to make a meaningful impact and bring about positive change. For this reason, one of Bar-Ilan University’s important aims is to impact through entrepreneurship, and its investment is already bearing fruit.
In the past year, four technologies developed at Bar-Ilan have received unprecedented funding and a vote of confidence from investors from Israel and abroad: “BladeRanger”, based on green-energy technology by Prof. Gal Kaminka, is traded on the stock exchange; “Phinergy”, also in the field of green energy and traded on the stock exchange, is based on technology by Bar-Ilan University President Prof. Arie Zaban; “Sonovia”, based on technology by Prof. Aharon Gedanken and Dr. Ilana Perelshtein in the field of public health, is traded on the stock exchange; and “Unbound Security” based on technology of Prof. Yehuda Lindell in the field of cryptography, was acquired by the cryptocurrency exchange giant Coinbase. These companies were established by BIRAD (Bar-Ilan Research & Development Company), a university-owned company, which turns new inventions and innovations created as part of academic research at Bar-Ilan into useful products that can be effectively commercialized, thereby expediting the transfer of technologies from the university to industry.
Two other companies emerging from Bar-Ilan University’s UnBox Ventures entrepreneurship center succeeded in raising considerable funding: “Nanocarry Therapeutics” - a bio-engineering technology for the transfer of drugs for neurodegenerative disorders and diseases through the blood-brain barrier, developed by Prof. Rachela Popovtzer and Dr. Oshra Betzer; and “Hedonia” – an application for reducing anxiety, based on research conducted over the years by Prof. Moshe Bar, an internationally recognized neuroscientist.
According to Prof. Zaban, researchers are actually trendologists: they foresee problems that the world will face and try to find solutions. As a researcher, Prof. Zaban focused on renewable energy long before it emerged on the global public agenda, and some of his developments have also become startups.
Bar-Ilan University has an academic community of over 1,000 researchers and another 2,000 administrative employees who work around the clock to impact society and make the world a better place. Prof. Zaban believes that the historical division between applied research in large companies and academic research no longer exists, and that it is wonderful to be a scientist in contemporary times. “As a researcher, I see the tremendous enthusiasm and driving force of our researchers whenever they have a problem that requires a complex solution,” he says. “I enjoy all of my roles – as scientist, entrepreneur and university president. I am proud to see how technologies that I and other Bar-Ilan researchers have developed, impact the world through the connection with industry.”