Leading Innovators Unite in New York City for the Technion World Tour

October 30, 2017
Kevin Hattori

The four-day event offered attendees an inside look at The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and its global impact on science, technology and entrepreneurship

More than 350 innovators and influencers came together in New York City last week to share ideas and insights as part of the Technion World Tour (TWT). The four-day event celebrated the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology’s leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship worldwide, and was hosted by the American Technion Society. The TWT followed the September dedication of Cornell Tech’s new campus on Roosevelt Island, which serves as the home of the Joan & Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, an academic partnership between the Technion and Cornell University.

Technion President Peretz Lavie addresses the capacity Rainbow Room crowd, during the “Evening of Innovation” at the Technion World Tour (credit: American Technion Society)

“The Technion is a major source of the brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and is integral to Israel’s reputation as the world’s ‘Start-Up Nation,’” said Professor Peretz Lavie, President of the Technion. “Technion scientists, students and alumni make immeasurable contributions to the world, including life-saving medicines, robotics, nanotechnology and breakthroughs in computer science. We are thrilled to highlight their global impact with the Technion World Tour.”

“Technological innovation has played a central role in allowing New York City to become a global economic capital, and it must continue to play a central role for New York to remain a global economic capital,” said Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York, as part of a video presentation during the Evening of Innovation event. “The Technion helped build the foundation of Israel’s successful tech industry, and it continues to produce new entrepreneurs and technologies that are changing the world. We’re glad New York will now benefit from the Technion’s legacy of innovation.”

During his tenure as mayor, Bloomberg launched a competition among top universities to envision an applied sciences institution that would drive innovation and technology in the city. The partnership between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology was named the winner, claiming the city-owned land and a $100 million dollar prize.

Program highlights from the TWT NYC included:

  • Tour of the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island, home of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, which included presentations by:
    • Ron Brachman, Director of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute, former Chief Scientist at Yahoo! and head of Yahoo! Labs, and an internationally recognized authority on artificial intelligence
    • Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie, a renowned researcher, educator and clinician who helped foster the partnership between Cornell Tech and the Technion
    • Dan Huttenlocher, Founding Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech
    • Fernando Gomez-Baquero, Director of the Runway Startup Postdoc program
    • Yaffa Zilbershats, member of Israel’s Council for Higher Education and Chair of the Council’s Planning and Budgeting Committee
    • Sandy Weill, Chairman Emeritus of Citigroup, CEO of Casa Rosa Ventures and honorary degree holder from The Technion
    • Andrew H. Tisch, Co-Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Loews Corporation.
    • Roy Cohen, producer and director of “Machine of Human Dreams,” and Master’s degree student at Jacobs Technion Cornell Tech
  • An Evening of Innovation at the Rainbow Room, which assembled thought leaders, leading researchers and Technion-alumni scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. Deborah Estrin, Associated Dean and Professor of Computer Science at Cornell Tech in New York City, as well as founder of the Health Tech Hub at Cornell Tech, moderated the evening’s events. The evening’s emcee was Ophira Eisenberg, comedian, writer and host of NPR’s hit trivia comedy show, Ask Me Another. The program included speeches and presentations by:
    • Irwin Jacobs, founding chairman and CEO emeritus of Qualcomm, who along with his wife Joan provided the gift that enabled the creation of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech.
    • Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York, represents the State of Israel to communities throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Delaware. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he is the first Hispanic Consul General of Israel in New York.
    • Technion President Peretz Lavie
    • Assaf Glazer, graduate of the Technion and the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute Runway Postdoc program. Assaf is co-founder and CEO of Nanit, a first-of-its-kind baby monitor utilizing computer vision to help parents better manage their children’s sleep cycles.
    • Amit Goffer, Technion graduate, entrepreneur and inventor of ReWalk, the mechanical exoskeleton for paraplegics, and UPnRIDE, an upright wheeled robotic device that provides upright and seated mobility for wheelchair users.
    • Professor Hossam Haick, a second-generation Technion graduate, and nanotechnology and noninvasive disease diagnosis expert. One of his inventions is the Na-Nose device that can sniff out 17 specific diseases in a person’s breath.
    • Ambassador Ronald Lauder, President of the World Jewish Congress. A philanthropist, diplomat, public servant, entrepreneur, investor and patron of the arts, he has worked tirelessly to help the Jewish community through a wide range of philanthropic and professional endeavors.
    • Professor Shulamit Levenberg, Dean of the Technion Faculty of Biomedical Engineering, and a world-renowned expert on stem cells and vascular tissue engineering.
    • Yoav Medan, Technion graduate and adjunct lecturer at the Technion Faculties of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Medan is co-founder and CTO of NiniSpeech, an online digital health speech therapy platform.
    • Professor Alon Wolf, Technion graduate, Director and founder of the Biorobotics and Biomechanics LAB (BRML) in the Technion’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, and founder of Medrobotics. He is the creator of the Flex Robotic System, a robotic “arm” that enables surgeons to reach beyond their direct line of sight.
    • Surgical Theater, a transformative virtual reality medical visualization platform used to increase doctors’ situational awareness and refine pre-surgery procedures.
  • A visit to the Asia Society, the leading educational organization dedicated to promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among peoples, leaders and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context. Program moderators included Josette Sheeran, president and CEO of the Asia Society, and Mitch Julis, cofounder, co-chair and co-CEO of Canyon Partners, LLC, and former director at Drexel Burnham Lambert. Participants included:
    • Technion President Professor Peretz Lavie
    • Dan Senor, co-author of Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle
    • Edward Steinfeld, professor of political science, the Dean’s Chair in China Studies, and the Howard Swearer Director of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
    • Angelica Berrie, president of the Russell Berrie Foundation, CEO of Kate’s Paperie, and former CEO and Vice Chair of Russ Berrie & Co.
  • A panel celebrating Israel’s business impact on New York City featuring Technion graduates running high-tech businesses. The panel was moderated by Professor Boaz Golany, the Technion’s Vice President for External Relations and Resource Development and the Samuel Gorney Chair in Engineering in the Faculty of Industrial Engineering and Management. Participants included:
    • Dan Bodner, Technion graduate, president, CEO and chairman of the board of Verint Systems, Inc., a global leader of Actionable Intelligence software
    • Amit Goffer, Technion graduate, entrepreneur and inventor of the ReWalk mechanical exoskeleton and UPnRIDE mobility device
    • Moty Avisar, Technion alumnus, CEO and co-founder at Surgical Theater
    • Ambassador Dani Dayan, Consul General of Israel in New York, was also in attendance
  • A Day of Learning, featuring discussions and panels with entrepreneurs, inventors, technologists and members of higher learning institutions. Highlights included:
    • A talk by Rabbi Michael Mellen, founder of Jewish Youth Works
    • A panel on The Future of Robotics, and how artificial intelligence is changing our world, moderated by Yoav Medan. The panel included Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway and founder of the FIRST STEM program, along with Prof. Alon Wolf
    • A panel on Bridges Across Borders: Improving Health and Curing Diseases, moderated by Stuart Feldman, head of Schmidt Sciences at the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation. The discussion featured Professor Asya Rolls, a sleep expert at the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Ze’ev Ronai, co-director of the Technion Integrated Cancer Center, Dr. Nir Barzilai, Technion alumnus and Director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Professor Hossam Haick
    • A panel on 4th Industrial Revolution: The Future is Now, moderated by Neal B. Shapiro, president and CEO of WNET. Participants included Rafael Reif, president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Prof. Ayellet Tal, of the Technion’s Andrew and Erna Viterbi Faculty of Electrical Engineering, along with Prof. Peretz Lavie and Dr. Ron Brachman

    “The Technion World Tour brought together some of the most innovative minds from around the world. Each speaker and presenter recognized the power of education for the greater good, and all possessed an insider’s understanding that innovation is in Israel’s DNA. Advancing technologies is inherent in everything the Technion does in Israel, New York and around the world,” said Zahava Bar-Nir, President of the American Technion Society.

    Technion Professor Hossam Haick explains his “artificially intelligent nanoarray” during the Technion World Tour “Evening of Innovation.” Prof. Haick’s Na-Nose device is able to detect 17 diseases from samples of a person’s breath. (credit: American Technion Society)

    “As President Lavie rightfully said, the Technion is responsible for producing so many of the pioneers that have earned Israel the reputation of the world’s ‘Start-Up Nation,’ said World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, in his remarks during Thursday’s Evening of Innovation. “But the Technion has now also evolved into one of Israel’s greatest global ambassadors. For so long Israel stood by itself, the lone beacon of democracy in the Middle East, surrounded by its enemies and isolated by so much of the world. However, times are changing and countries like China and India are eager to partner with Israeli innovators, and without the Technion none of this would be possible.”

    The Technion World Tour was sponsored by Canyon Partners, AllianceBernstein L.P., and Grant Thornton.

    Honorary Technion World Tour Event Chairs included: Angelica Berrie; The Crown Family; Joan and Irwin Jacobs; Jo Carole and Ronald Lauder; Eric Schmidt; Ann and Andrew Tisch; Lauren and John Veronis; and Joan and Sandy Weill. Event Chairs included: Nancy Aronson; Sarah Conner; Mark Gaines; Mitch Julis; Linda Kovan; David Rosenblatt; Janey Sweet; Debbie Vanderveer. The Host Committee included: Robyn Barsky; Rodica and Paul Burg; Barbara and Bill Dahl; John Davison; Relly and Brent Dibner; Carol B. Epstein; Laura Flug; Randy Gollub and Jon Hirschtick; Alice and Jacob Klein; Marianne G. Johnson and Douglas Libby; Dick Manekin; Naomi and John Newman; Ruth Owades; Angela and Seth Pinsky; Joanna and; Dan Rose; Grace and Marty Rosman; Randee and Ken Rubenstein; Cyma and Ed Satell; Janet Shatz Snyder; Shelley and Ira Taub; Marilyn Taub; Andi and Larry Wolfe; and Derek Yach. Technion World Tour sponsors included: Canyon Partners, Grant Thornton and AllianceBernstein L.P.

    For more information about the event, visit http://www.technionworldtour.org.

    American Technion Society (ATS) donors provide critical support for the Technion — more than $2 billion since its inception in 1940. Based in New York City, the ATS and its network of supporters across the U.S. provide funds for scholarships, fellowships, faculty recruitment and chairs, research, buildings, laboratories, classrooms and dormitories, and more. Learn more how you can help make amazing things happen at www.ats.org.

    The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology is a major source of the innovation and brainpower that drives the Israeli economy, and a key to Israel’s renown as the world’s “Start-Up Nation.” Its three Nobel Prize winners exemplify academic excellence. Technion people, ideas and inventions make immeasurable contributions to the world including life-saving medicine, sustainable energy, computer science, water conservation and nanotechnology. The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute is a vital component of Cornell Tech, and a model for graduate applied science education that is expected to transform New York City’s economy. Learn more at www.technion.nyc or follow #TechnionNYC across social media.

    The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech is the academic partnership between Cornell and the Technion, and is tasked with pushing the boundaries of academia at Cornell Tech. The Jacobs Institute is named for Dr. Irwin Mark Jacobs, Founding Chairman and CEO Emeritus of Qualcomm, and his wife Joan Klein Jacobs, who donated $133 million to create the Institute in 2013. The Jacobs Institute has attracted top talent to its faculty, and is part of one of the strongest security and privacy groups in the world. Since the announcement of the Technion-Cornell historic partnership in 2011, the Institute has recruited faculty, Ph.D. students and post-docs, initiated the Runway Startup Postdoctoral Program to commercialize innovative, deep research, opened Masters programs, graduated its first cohort of Connective Media students in 2016, and is now home to over 50 Masters students in Connective Media and Health Tech.