While working out of mobile hospitals in Syria, Sebastian Jünemann and his team noticed a thistle-like plant called “Carduus” growing in the desert landscape. As medics working in a harsh environment, they had found their mascot.
“We were like this plant,” Jünemann says. “We were there, where no other NGOs go.”
They trimmed the name by two letters and created Cadus, a nonprofit specializing in mobile hospitals that can pop up in the most difficult conditions.
“Everyone said it wasn’t possible to put a mobile hospital two kilometers from the frontlines in Mosul,” Jünemann says. “We showed them it ispossible.”
Jünemann, a paramedic since 1997, says his team developed its own mobile medical solutions when they saw that the existing options wouldn’t work. They were too expensive, too delicate for tough conditions, and took too long to set up and take down—a critical element when working near a frontline.
That’s where the team’s second skillset comes into play. Jünemann and his co-founders met in Berlin’s club scene, putting together giant music festivals such as Fusion, “the Burning Man of Germany.” This burner-meets-medic crew understands the critical timing involved in loading in and out quickly, and can also get by with less sophisticated equipment when necessary. When they saw the $1 million price tag for mobile hospitals, they set out to build a low-tech, low-cost solution.
The hospital’s first use, in Mosul, staffed by volunteers from around the world, yielded positive feedback from the World Health Organization. Now the team is ready to build a second hospital. But constructing each hospital themselves isn’t the goal for Cadus.
“Our aim is to develop a blueprint for mobile hospitals for small, medium, and large nonprofits in poor countries,” Jünemann says. They think even the well-funded Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) could benefit from a lower-cost solution that would be more nimble in rough terrain.
For now, their reach is smaller, but no less impactful.
“Each month, we have more than 1,000 patients,” Jünemann says. “And 300 people who would be dead now if we hadn’t been there.”
Even before the lights went up on the stage, the WeWork Creator Awards was literally one of the biggest events of the year in Jerusalem. Nearly 4,000 people packed a stadium that usually hosts basketball games, and they came from as far away as Tel Aviv, Herzliya, and Be’er Sheva. It was also the largest regional competition so far for the awards, hosted in cities around the world.
At the job fair and pop-up market held before the awards, there were so many people that it was sometimes difficult to navigate the aisles. People eagerly pushed forward for free samples of food — even crispy grasshoppers.
When WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann finally stepped onto the stage, the event had the feeling of a homecoming. Neumann and his sister Adi Neumann, a model who hosted the event, both grew up on a kibbutz not far away.
This is the second time the Creator Awards has been held in Israel. In October more than $1 million was awarded to winners at an event in Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem — where a WeWork location isslated to open later this year — a total of $774,000 went to eight winners.
Here are some of the most unique and exciting highlights of the evening.
Most progressive fashion statement: More than 30 local artists, companies, and nonprofit organizations took part in a pop-up market on the arena’s concourse. There were bright paintings on canvas, glittering jewelry, natural beauty products, and plenty of T-shirts, including some emblazoned with the words “I’m Not for Sale,” part of a campaign against prostitution and human trafficking by the local nonprofitTurning the Tables, which was also a finalist at the Creator Awards.
Best product you can bury: Perhaps the most intriguing items for sale were paper greeting cards that weren’t just recyclable — they could actually be planted in the ground. Made by the Israeli company Paper Bloom, there are nine types of seeds embedded in the paper of the cards, resulting in several types of flowers that bloom throughout the year.
Best way to attract a crowd: More than 30 companies and nonprofits staffed tables at the event’s job fair, including half a dozen Creator Awards winners from last year’s event in Tel Aviv., The participants, like Yahoo’s Israeli R&D team and Taboola, were looking to hire a total of more than 70 people. Among the most attention-grabbing booths was that of the Israel Innovation Fund, a nonprofit promoting culture and creativity in Israel, whose table was covered with bottles of local wine.
Most popular souvenir: The most intriguing table at the job fair belonged to Hargol, an Israeli company that produces food products made from grasshoppers. The company — the top winner at the Tel Aviv Creator Awards — caught many people’s eyes with jars of roasted grasshoppers. About 40 percent of people who stopped by the table sampled them, leaving their transparent wings and crispy legs in little piles on the table. Many people then pocketed full jars to take home. “People keep taking them when we’re not looking,” said Hargol CEO Dror Tamir. “I don’t blame them. It really is the best souvenir.”
Most practical swag: The most in-demand item of the evening appeared to be bright red bags emblazoned with the words “Work Happy.” These were from Jobbio, the Dublin-based online hiring platform. “Personally I think they are quite eye-catching,” said Jobbio’s account manager Martha Hayes, who traveled from Dublin to attend the event in Jerusalem. “And they are a useful place to keep the rest of your swag.”
Favorite food: At a moment when Israeli cuisine has been making global headlines, tables filled with local specialties were scattered throughout the event’s pop-up market and job fair. Popular items included fresh pitas stuffed with chicken, lamb, fish, or roasted vegetables and topped with cilantro-infused tahini. There were also tiny jars of creamy malabi pudding topped with pomegranate syrup and pistachio nuts. But the biggest hit may have been the chocolate chip cookies, baked on the premises in a giant oven by Pilpel Catering. “Holy Moses, these are good,” said one person who sampled them.
Most creative cocktail: Open bars served beer, wine, and craft cocktails all night long. People seemed to love the Golden City, a drink inspired by Jerusalem and made from vodka and honey and garnished with fresh cucumbers.
Most mind-blowing performance: For those who could tear themselves away from the party-like scene at the pop-up market, the highlight of the masterclasses was a show by Israeli mentalist Lior Suchard. As usual, the internationally known performer wowed the audience by reading people’s minds. At one point he seemed to know some participants better than they knew themselves. When asking one woman how many letters were in the name of her first crush, she kept saying five. Suchard replied, “Are you sure it isn’t six?” Sure enough, Suchard guessed the name, and there were indeed six letters.
Most tear-inducing moment: After the audience heard inspiring stories from all of the night’s finalists, it was Kaima Farm, which helps teeneagers who have dropped out of school, that took home the top prize for nonprofit ventures. Yoni Yefet-Reich, Kaima’s CEO, immediately handed the prize over to one of the teenagers who said his life had been transformed by his time on the farm.
Biggest winner: The $360,000 grand prize went to Yehudit Abrams, a recent American immigrant to Israel, for her startup MonitHer, which is developing a hand-held ultrasound device women can use for monthly breasts exams. The device will alert them to any changes in tissue, a key to early diagnosis of breast cancer. “I’m empowering women,” Abrams said, holding up her award.
Best show of hometown pride: Moments after Abrams was showered in sparkly confetti, another top figure in women’s empowerment, Netta Barzilai, who recently propelled Israel to Eurovision champion with her song “Toy,” took the stage to kick off the real party part of the evening. The crowd gathered around her, wildly snapping photos.
When Raffi Rembrand’s son was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4, it was not the worst news the family received that day. The biggest blow came when their doctor said it was too late for the earliest treatments.
So for Rembrand, a chemical engineer by training, finding a way to detect autism earlier became his life’s mission.
Now, more than three decades after his son was diagnosed with autism, Rembrand has founded an Israeli company, SensPD, which he hopes will accomplish just that.
SensPD, a winner in the WeWork Creator Awards held on June 20 in Jerusalem, is developing a way to detect autism based on physiological signs. The company uses an existing device commonly used to check the hearing of newborns, but has modified it to check for sensory perception. One of the major components of autism, which affects one of every 59 children born in the U.S., is its effect on the sensory system.
“We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” says Maayan Shahar, SensPD’s CEO. “But we have altered a very known device used in all hospitals that will hopefully provide a standard screening process for all babies.”
The goal is for such a test to eventually become standard for every baby born around the world, allowing the various treatments for autism to start as soon as possible. When started very early in life, some therapies have a success rate of up to 90 percent.
“It’s been known for a long time that it’s early intervention that makes all the difference,” Shahar says.
But the standard diagnosis of autism based on a series of evaluations often comes after a children has reached the age of 3 or 4, which is too late for some treatments.
SensPD is currently preparing to start clinical trials in Israel. It hopes that if all goes well it will get regulatory approval for its device within three years.
Rembrand’s son, now 35 and living in a group home in Israel, remains an inspiration for the company.
“We want to bring this to market as soon as possible, but in the most professional way,” Shahar says. ”So that instead of being isolated, children with autism can be a productive part of society.”
While Yehudit Abrams was working as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA, her job was to research the potential use of ultrasound to monitor astronauts on long missions to the international space station. But when her cousin, a gynecologist and breast cancer survivor, was killed in a car accident in 2011, Abrams started thinking of other uses for the medical device.
“She was so passionate about the early detection of cancer, and I wanted to honor her for that,” says Abrams, a physician and mechanical engineer who immigrated to Israel last year from California. “That is what got me thinking about using some sort of portable ultrasound for early detection of cancer.”
Abrams founded MonitHer, a Jerusalem-based startup that is developing a handheld ultrasound device that women can use at home to monitor their breast tissue. The device and its potential to change the way breast cancer is detected is why MonitHer was the big winner the WeWork Creator Awards, held in Jerusalem on June 20. Her company took home $360,000.
“I’m empowering women,” Abrams told the crowd, holding up her award.
Women using the device will scan their breasts once a month for about 10 minutes. A U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved software program then scans the images for any changes over time. If the software detects any potential problems, users will be advised to consult a physician.
By monitoring breast tissue over time, Abrams says women will be able to detect cancer earlier than the traditional method of self-exams where women feel each breast in order to find lumps or swelling.
“We are changing the paradigm from breast cancer screening to breast health monitoring,” Abrams says.
Once more than 100,000 women begin to use the device and upload their scans to the app each month, artificial intelligence and machine learning methods will be used to evaluate tissue changes.
While mammography has long been the best way to diagnose breast cancer, it is less effective on certain women, especially those with dense breast tissue. And the current protocols for breast cancer detection have recently been questioned for resulting in the unnecessary treatment of tumors that may never grow in size or harm a women’s health.
“We are wasting billions of dollars of year treating cancer that women don’t have, and this is because we have stopped innovating,” Abrams said. “Medicine is a dinosaur.”
When his friend Joshua Altman suggested that they could help provide clean drinking water to whole villages, Moshe Tshuva was dubious.
“When I first heard his idea, I told him it couldn’t work, because it wouldn’t produce enough water to be worth it,” says Tshuva, who has worked in the solar energy industry for more than three decades. “But it turns out that I was wrong and he was right.”
Together, the two engineers started Tethys Desalination, an Israeli company that aims to turn salty or polluted water into crystal-clear drinking water by harnessing the energy of the sun. Their easily installed device, which fits into a box that’s about a square meter in size, can produce up to 50 liters of drinkable water each day.
The system is scalable, so one device can meet the needs of a family, and a cluster of units installed together can sustain an entire village. Altman says the device could help save the lives of children in drought-stricken areas of Africa.
“And ultimately, it will allow those places without water to come back to life,” says Altman.
The device, which is being tested on a kibbutz in northern Israel, was a winner at the WeWork Creator Awards, held in Jerusalem on June 20.
The idea for the device came to Altman back in the 1990s when was teaching a university course about water desalination techniques. He found himself frustrated by the limitations of desalination techniques.
“All of the processes use a lot of energy and are very aggressive toward the environment,” says Altman. “I thought there had to be a better way.”
The device is basically a weather system in a box, Altman explains. The sun causes the dirty water inside the box to evaporate. It then turns into mist and eventually drips down, producing clean water. This process, which mimics how clouds work, is repeated four times per cycle to maximize the amount of water produced.
“Basically we see how clean water is created in nature, through the water cycle of evaporation and rain,” Tshuva says. “So we want to use this to solve the water shortage problem in a natural way.”