• Shiri Azenkot

    Enabling blind people to see through interactive technology

  • Ran Korber

    Monitoring air quality for a healthier environment

  • Dr. Kobi Vortman

    Creating the operating room of the future

  • Ester Segal

    Revolutionizing cancer treatment through nanotechnology

  • Oded Ben Dov

    Opening the world of communication to those who are paralyzed

Meet the Technion Innovators

We all have passions. Some of us aspire to use them to drive innovations to help change the world. There are places where such innovators can come together to do just that. Those places are the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute in New York City, and the Guangdong Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Shantou, China.

These Innovators are a distinct collection of Technion scientists, alumni and thought leaders who strive every day to create promising new technologies, successful products and start-ups. Each recognizes the power of education for the greater good and all possess an insider’s understanding that Tech is in Israel’s DNA. Advancing technologies is inherent in everything the Technion does in Israel, New York, China, and around the world.

Moty Avisar

Technion Alumnus, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Surgical Theater

Using virtual reality to improve the outcome of brain surgery

“We allow the pilot to fly through the scene of tomorrow’s mission, and that’s exactly what we’re allowing the brain surgeon to do.”

A former Israeli Air Force officer and flight simulator, Moty is revolutionizing the operating room with an interactive surgical navigation system that enables surgeons to “step into” a patient’s brain to conduct a dry run of the upcoming surgery. By combining flight simulation software with traditional brain scans, he and his team created 3D models of the brain. Surgeons can then view those models through a high-tech VR headset, virtually touring the surgical treatment in advance. Earlier in his career as a member of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, Moty worked closely with Lockheed Martin to manage the $50 million F-16 Flight Simulator program.

Shiri Azenkot

Assistant Professor at Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute

Enabling blind people to see through interactive technology

“I’m so excited about the mission (of The Jacobs Institute) — the emphasis on being extraordinarily engaged and having real world impact beyond just what academics traditionally do.”

While many of us contemplate going offline to take a break from information overload, others have not had that luxury. Until now. Professor Shiri Azenkot is developing technology for existing smartphones that would allow blind people and those like herself suffering from low vision. Her latest research explores how augmented reality applications can enhance people’s vision and help them perform daily activities. Applications include shopping, way-finding, and socializing.

Learn more about Shiri on page 19 of Technion USA) > 

Oded Ben Dov

Technion Alumnus and Co-Founder of Sesame Enable

Opening the world of communication to those who are paralyzed

Sesame is out to foster equality through cutting-edge technology. We apply state of the art know-how to underserved audiences.”

Almost overnight, Technion alumnus Oded Ben Dov quit his commercial video gaming enterprise to create the first completely touch-free smartphone for the disabled. The Sesame Phone, developed with fellow Technion graduate Giora Livne, who is a quadriplegic, is powered by voice control and uses cutting-edge head-tracking technology to open a new world of communication and independence for quadriplegics, people suffering from ALS, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries, and others who have limited or no use of their hands. The technology has won numerous awards including Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award for $1 million and Michael Bloomberg’s Genesis Generation Challenge. Oded earned his Technion bachelor’s degree in computer science, focusing on image processing and artificial intelligence.

Assaf Glazer

Graduate of the Technion and the Runway Startup Postdoc Program; CEO of Nanit

Helping babies and their families to sleep through the night

“As an alumnus of the Technion in Israel and the Jacobs Institute’s Runway Startup Program, I’ve seen just how impactful a true culture of entrepreneurship can be. My time at the Jacobs Institute has been instrumental in much of my own success.”

Nanit is a smart baby monitor that uses machine learning to provide sleep insights through first-of-its-kind camera vision. Nanit provides comprehensive sleep reports that actually measure a baby’s behavior throughout the night without requiring any kind of wearable component. Becoming a father sparked Assaf to apply his experience building intelligent cameras to create the first baby monitor that can help parents understand their kids.

Amit Goffer

Technion Alumnus and Founder of ReWalk and UPnRIDE Robotics

Empowering paraplegics to stand, walk and even participate in marathons

“ReWalk has been my life’s work and passion. Its impact on the lives of individuals with spinal cord injuries has exceeded my expectations.”

When a tragic accident confined Dr. Goffer to a wheelchair, he marshaled his Technion knowhow to invent upright alternatives. He created ReWalk, a robotic exoskeleton for paraplegics, and UPnRIDE, a revolutionary mobility device designed for those who would otherwise be confined to a wheelchair. The first commercially available exoskeleton in the U.S., ReWalk was named “best invention” by Popular Science and Time.

Click here to watch a video about ReWalk >

Prof. Hossam Haick

Technion Alumnus and Faculty Member, Inventor of the Na-Nose and SniffPhone

Catching cancer even before it develops

“One of the major challenges in the modern era of disease diagnosis is how we can detect disease when we are still feeling healthy.”

Prof. Haick made his mark in science at the early age of 32, thanks to the development of his now well-known Na-Nose breathalyzer to detect disease. Built with an array of nanosensors that detect disease biomarkers, the Na-Nose can sniff out more than 17 diseases, including various cancers, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, sometimes years before they develop. The technology, which has earned him many prizes and grants and has placed him on several lists of the world’s most influential scientists, could be applied to mobile phones to create a “SniffPhone.”

Watch this video to learn more about Prof. Haick’s incredible work >

Captain Derek Herrera

Former Marine Special Operations Officer

First in the U.S. to own the pioneering ReWalk device

“Innovations from the Technion have changed my life! By using devices like ReWalk, I have regained physical abilities that otherwise would have been permanently lost. Innovation from the Technion has inspired me to continue to innovate in my own life as an entrepreneur. The incredible work being done there has forced me to rethink what is possible.”

In June 2012, Marine Corps Captain Derek Herrera was leading a patrol in Afghanistan when a sniper’s bullet entered his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. Researching new technologies, he found ReWalk—a robotic exoskeleton created by Technion alumnus Dr. Amit Goffer that enables paraplegics to walk. Herrera participated in clinical trials, and in 2014, when ReWalk received FDA approval for personal use in the U.S., he became the first American to own his own ReWalk device. A year later, Herrera, who received a Bronze Star for his bravery in the Marines, launched the medical device startup Spinal Singularity.

Watch Capt. Herrera using Rewalk >

Ran Korber

Technion Alumnus and CEO and Co-founder of BreezoMeter

Monitoring air quality for a healthier environment

“Our mission is to improve the health and quality of life for millions of people worldwide. Without the Technion, BreezoMeter would not have come about.”

How smoggy is too smoggy? Just plug your street address into the air pollution monitor application BreezoMeter for a real-time assessment. BreezoMeter will tell you which park is healthier to play in with your kids, or whether you should minimize your exposure to outdoor air pollution. Every year more than 3.5 million people die because of air pollution. Awareness is just as critical as prevention. Ran earned his Technion bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering and had vast experience in environment and health prior to co-founding BreezoMeter.

Click here to watch a video on BreezoMeter >

Ziv Lautman

Technion Alumnus and CMO and Co-founder of BreezoMeter

Monitoring air quality for a healthier environment

“We are passionate about the environment, technology and the innovation that brings the two together.”

After hiking all over the world and seeing massive environmental degradation, Ziv focused his studies on environmental engineering. He teamed up with fellow Technion graduate, Ran Korber, to invent BreezoMeter—a mobile app that combines publicly available data with information developed by proprietary algorithms to assess air quality in real-time, on a street-by-street basis. BreezoMeter was named one of the world’s 20 most promising startups. Ziv earned his Technion bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering.

Click here to watch a video on BreezoMeter >

Prof. Shulamit Levenberg

Dean of the Technion Faculty of Biomedical Engineering

Bringing tissue engineering into the future

“I chose the Technion for its excellent Faculty of Biomedical Engineering. The Faculty provides a multidisciplinary environment with top students.”

Conducting interdisciplinary research on stem cells and vascular tissue engineering, Prof. Levenberg—one of five female deans—has shown that it is possible to create complex tissue in the laboratory, and that these engineered tissue-constructs can integrate with the host when implanted. Her breakthrough work improves the chance of survival for tissue grafts and organ transplants. In a related field of inquiry, she launched the startup “Meat the Future” in 2017 to grow engineered meat in her laboratory. Most recently, she has also focused on customizing antibiotic treatment to deliver earlier and more effective treatment of infectious bacteria.

Click here to learn more about Prof. Levenberg’s rapid antibiotic diagnostics >

Dr. Yoav Medan

Technion Alumnus, CTO and Co-Founder of NiNiSpeech

Helping people who stutter achieve long-term speech fluency

“NiNiSpeech transforms quality-of-life for people who stutter (PWS). It is emotionally moving and rewarding to observe clients become fluent, confident and successful.”

Digital health entrepreneur Dr. Yoav Medan is best known for developing new platforms for InSightec’s (founded by Technion alumnus Kobi Vortman) innovative MRI-guided Focused Ultrasound Surgery (MRgFUS), which treats tumors without incisions. Continuing the Technion collaborative tradition, he teamed up with Technion graduate Yair Shapira to create NiNiSpeech—a technology-based telespeech therapy service platform that addresses the needs of people who stutter (PWS) and patients suffering from other speech and language impairments. NiNiSpeech won numerous global startup competitions and awards, as well as a $2.12 million grant from the Horizon 2020 pan-European program. Dr. Medan also co-founded Haifa 3D, a nonprofit organization that designs and prints customized 3D hand prosthetics for children, veterans and people in need.

Click here to watch a video about NiNiSpeech >

Gidi Navrotsky

Technion Alumnus, Vice President of Engineering of MVR Division of Surgical Theater

Using virtual reality to improve the outcome of brain surgery

“Changing medicine by bringing cutting-edge virtual reality technologies to surgeons and patients.”

With over 25 years of experience in the high-tech industry, Gidi joined Surgical Theater in 2016. At Surgical Theater, he helps develop the interactive navigational planning system. The system uses 3D models of the patient’s brain to allow physicians (wearing VR goggles) to “step into” the brain to conduct a dry run of the upcoming surgery. The technology has been used in more than 1,500 surgical cases to date. Gidi was an officer in the Technology unit of the Israeli Air Force, and a tech leader in Israel’s defense industry. Prior to Surgical Theater, he led important defense projects for the Brazilian Air Force.

Ester Segal

Associate Professor at the Technion Faculty of Bioltechnology and Food Engineering, Head of the Multifunctional Nanomaterials laboratory

Revolutionizing cancer treatment through nanotechnology

“Being a cancer survivor myself and understanding the patients’ needs . . . made me believe that although I am not a physician . . . I have the engineering tools that can allow me to bring the power of technology and engineering into cancer treatment.”

Recruited to the Technion in 2007 to conduct biotechnology research, Professor Segal has focused her work on improving the detection and monitoring of microbial contamination in food packaging. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, she widened her interests to include medical research. Currently, she is developing silicon drug carriers at the new Technion Integrative Cancer Center that are promising effective, focused and personalized treatments for cancer. She is also helping to develop a “lab on a chip” that can diagnose diseases while a patient waits in the doctor’s office. She earned all three of her degrees at the Technion.

Learn more about Ester >

Click here to watch a video on Ester’s research “Lab on a Chip” >

Yair Shapira

Technion Alumnus, Founder & CEO of NiNiSpeech

Helping people overcome speech disorders

“Stuttering and other speech disorders are debilitating and impact one’s personal, social and professional life. I have seen my son struggle, and decided to combine my Technion Ph.D. education with 15 years of high-tech experience to help my son and his fellow sufferers.”

An estimated 30 million Americans suffer from speech disorders. The gains made using traditional speech therapy are often temporary. NiNiSpeech is a virtual speech clinic in your smartphone that helps people with speech disorders achieve long-term remedies. NiNiSpeech provides online therapy with real-time feedback, practice partners and speech games. The company won the 2016 Global Innovation Award in Beijing, and the European Union eHealth competition, and is on its way to become the largest global speech clinic.

Yael Vizel

Technion Alumna, Co-founder & CEO of Zeekit Ltd.

Applying Image Processing to Fashion

“The Technion taught me to take a big problem, break it into small building blocks, create a solution for each piece, then zoom out and combine the solutions to make the system work.”

Using sophisticated image-processing technology, Zeekit is a fashion startup app that removes the hit-and-miss aspect of online clothes shopping by enabling shoppers to “try on” clothing, virtually, before buying. Often called the “Google of Fashion,” the award-winning technology applies algorithms that Vizel formulated at the Technion and tweaked while at Elbit Systems, to map the e-commerce fashion world in a new way. Zeekit was unveiled during New York Fashion Week 2016 through a partnership with Rebecca Minkoff.

Learn more about Yael >

Dr. Kobi Vortman

Technion Alumnus, Founder and Vice Chairman of the Board of INSIGHTEC

Creating the operating room of the future

“The Technion understood early on that its relationships with industry are critical for the ability to innovate — to think out of the box — and from the beginning, invested heavily in developing these types of relations.”

Imagine going in for an operation one day and returning to work the next. That’s the operating room of the not-so-distant future envisioned by INSIGHTEC. Technion alumnus and company founder Dr. Kobi Vortman developed MRI guided Focused Ultrasound Technology to non-invasively treat tumors inside the body without the need for incisions. The technology has received FDA approval to treat uterine fibroids and cancer pain from bone metastases, and is focused on treating Parkinson’s and the treatment of essential tremors.

Prof. Alon Wolf

Technion Alumnus and Faculty Member, Founder and Director, Biorobotics and Biomechanics Lab in the Technion Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Co-Inventor and Founder of Medrobotics Corp.

“Snakes can crawl, wrap around obstacles and ease themselves into structures without causing too much damage. We thought, what if we make them small enough to send into the human body to perform surgery?”

Prof. Wolf is best known for his robotic snake, which can be used in urban search-and-rescue operations. Building on that technology at Medrobotics, he has developed a medical snake robot named Flex®, used worldwide to provide surgeons with single-site access to hard-to-reach anatomical locations. He is also developing a robot for knee surgery, and is involved in rehabilitation. Prof. Wolf demonstrated his snake robots to President Barack Obama and other world leaders in 2013 to showcase Israel’s high-tech products.

Click here to see a video about the work being done in Prof. Wolf’s lab >

Alon Zuckerman

Technion Alumnus, Chief Operations Officer and President of MVR Division of Surgical Theater

Using virtual reality to improve the outcome of brain surgery

“We redefine patient experience by allowing physicians and patients to walk in a 360 virtual reality reconstruction of a patient’s anatomy.”

As a key member of the executive leadership team of Surgical Theater, Alon Zuckerman is defining the vision and strategy that will position the company as the market leader in virtual reality for medical applications. Surgical Theater is an interactive surgical navigation system that enables surgeons to “step into” a patient’s brain to conduct a dry run of the upcoming surgery. Prior to joining Surgical Theater, Alon served as Operations Manager at Elbit Systems, and was General Manager and Vice President of the Board of Simultec, a fully-owned subsidiary of Elbit Systems, based in Europe. Flight simulators developed at Simultec supported the United States Army and U.S. allies, contributing to the success of Operation Enduring Freedom. Alon served in the Israeli Air Force a head of System Engineering.