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Mission Log: Day 2

A mission is a bubble of possibilities and hope. It is shaped by intellectual high level questions and lifts with bits of R&D. If the stated purpose of a mission is to be exposed to the inner workings of an ecosystem (and to examine the environment up close and personal), then the untold benefit is the immersion in ideas and possibilities (and people) that hold the power to change the world. When you’re immersed in this way (even for just two days), you feel uplifted, hopeful, excited, and enriched. You might feel proud of any part you undertake to support this environment, and proud of the people and work that our Philadelphia region and Israel are contributing toward improving lives and sustaining our planet.

Sometimes they work on it together…

The folks on the mission with us range from delegates actively searching for a very specific new tool all the way to delegates who are getting a sense of possibilities. Some delegates have packed agendas with stakeholders that the PICC has helped to arrange. Or meetings with BIRD Foundation regarding a grant (the PICC is the regional representative). But other delegates might be less specific, taking a less measurable approach to mission goals. They’re counting on immersive time in this ecosystem and culture to help them calibrate and be guided toward people and ideas that can create sparks in their lives and careers.

For the folks not with us on this mission, we want you to know that a primary goal in planning and leading missions is to enrich our ecosystem every day of the year for every PICC member and members of our community. We’re actively scouting for people, companies, and ideas that will be featured through the entire 2023 membership event calendar in our region. Think, mini-missions of an evening event, or a round table, or a field trip to a cool plant, or a big conference…you get it. We know that a sustained microdosing of mission-like immersion can be enjoyable and transformative to your work and career. And we count on your membership to make this possible.

Today we went to the Technion. We got there from Tel Aviv by train which took less than an hour and was convenient. The Moovit app makes boarding and departing the station a seamless digital experience. The campus is up the mountain (Mount Carmel), so we hopped on the Carmelit cable car, highly recommended and great mountain side and valley views. Part of our mission is to get around like locals and reduce our carbon footprint, and although a tour bus or van would be easier, it wouldn’t provide either benefit.

On food tech, we discussed sustainability and the packaging of food that is both polluting the planet and at the same time extending food stability and reducing food waste, thus helping to feed the planet. Tough tradeoffs! We discussed the benefits of using more olive oil and cutting back on Oreos. And we discussed at length the significance of developing alternative proteins. The Technion is set to invest and focus on food tech solutions. Stay tuned for much programming about this from PICC through 2023.

Prof Maya Davidovitch Pinhas views herself as a material engineer who uses her training on food so she could “eat her experiments.” Such knowledge can potentially open a path for development of innovative healthier food products. Prof Liveny Yoav works on the enrichment of foods with hydrophobic biologically active molecules for promoting health of global populations.

On life-sciences and gene and cell therapy, Prof Philippa Melamed studies mechanisms through which regulatory hormones induce chromatin and epigenetic changes to affect various aspects of physiology, especially in the reproductive endocrine system. She works to understand the importance of these mechanisms in diseases that affect human fertility. Bonus Bio Group CEO Shai Meretzki explained how his company grows bones, cartlidge and fat cells from patient cells.

We ended the day meeting Mindup, the premier digital health incubator, and heard from the founders of most member companies. We also got to meet Ola Baker, CEO of Scientech Accelerator, the first Arab accelerator for life science and climate tech. Ola spoke about the challenges that Arab-Israeli scientists (who are numerous) face. She explained that while substantial incentives and access to government Innovation Authority funding do radily exist, the Israeli startup nation skipped the Arab community. She said that “Arab entrepreneurs don’t know how to translate science into business” and that much of the work of the accelerator is mentoring and modeling for a new generation of Arabs who are choosing entrepreneurship over stability and job security which are traditional values held in the highest regard in Arab culture and families. We look forward to working with Ola in the future.

We then walked back to the train station and settled into a busy commuter train back to Tel Aviv and had a free evening.

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