Israeli government dips into digital health with $33M grant

By Laura Lovett
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Israel is continuing to carve out its space as a digital health hub in the Middle East. Today the Israeli government announced a $33 million grant aimed at furthering the country's foothold in digital health, specifically in biotech and medicine, according to . Medtronic, GE Healthcare, and Change Healthcare were named the three recipients of the funding; each company will get a different portion of the total amount. 

The plan is for the government to give the companies their grant money over the course of the next six years as they expand their operations in Israel, Reuters reports. 

“We are pleased to be collaborating with the Israeli Innovation Authority,” Medtronic wrote in an email statement to Babyforyou.net.ua about the funding. “With facilities based in Israel, we have access to some of the best minds and most dedicated professionals in the healthcare industry.”

Israel’s interest in digital health is nothing new. In fact, the small country has seen a lot of activity from investors; in 2017 backers poured $208 million into Haifa, Israel digital health startups and $146 million into Tel-Aviv, Israel-based companies for a total of 20 deals in the country that year, according to Startup Health’s 2017 . Emerging Israeli digital health companies include smartphone glucose meter maker Dariohealth, telehealth provider Tyto Care, and deep learning startup Zebra Medical. However, none of the companies selected for the grant are based in Israel, although some have operations in the country. 

Israel's government has also shown a keen interest in digital health. It plans to invest $275 million into digitalizing every citizen's personal health records, according to a . The efforts are in part to expand R&D for new medications, Bloomberg reports. 

The companies selected for the grant aren’t newcomers. Medtronic is one of the big names in diabetes management. The company’s Medtronic MiniMed was approved was the FDA-approved continuous glucose monitoring system that controls automated insulin delivery via a hybrid closed-loop system. At the end of June the company announced that the product was cleared by the FDA for kids aged seven to 14 years. 

GE Healthcare has been in the space for years, launching digital health products as far back as 2009 with the clearance of the ECG product, . In more recent news, the company teamed up with Nvidia in November on an initiative to fast-track artificial intelligence adoption. The Nvidia partnership builds on GE Healthcare’s 10-year alliance with the company to bring the most sophisticated AI to GE Healthcare’s 500,000 globally deployed imaging devices and to accelerate healthcare processing.

Change Healthcare was also founded more than a decade ago in 2005. In June the company announced results of its cost-savings study. It has teamed up with high- companies including Microsoft, Adobe, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona on various studies.