Israeli innovators extend Northwell’s global reach

International focus: Northwell Health and the Israel Innovation Authority are partnering up on the development of new medical breakthroughs, both domestically and abroad.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

The Northwell Health system is going international, again, with its latest collaborative effort.

Following recent alliances with multiple domestic partners and several spanning the globe – largely, partnerships with commercial entities focused on everything from wearable medical devices to advanced cardiac care to cutting-edge orthopedics – the New Hyde Park-based health system has signed an agreement with the Israel Innovation Authority to partner on next-level patient-care innovations.

Researchers from both entities will “collaborate on the development, validation and implementation” of those potential medical breakthroughs, Northwell Health said Monday – a golden opportunity to “identify and pilot groundbreaking innovations,” according to Northwell President and CEO Michael Dowling.

Founded in 1974 as the Israeli Ministry of Economy’s Office of the Chief Scientist, the IIA is that government’s research-and-development engine, charged with supporting national R&D efforts financially and otherwise.

Through a system of 24 business incubators – including 22 focused on technology fields – the IIA offers repayable grants and other early-stage business-development support to “hundreds of medical-technology startup companies in Israel,” according to Northwell Health.

Recent IIA activity includes a $3.5 million grant for Gamida Cell, a Jerusalem-based biotech developing cancer and genetic-disease immune therapies. Gamida Cell recently completed a $40 million private-funding round and established a New York presence.

With clients like that, the Israel Innovation Authority is a promising partner indeed for an ambitious and well-stocked U.S. health system. The joint agreement was brokered by Northwell Ventures, Northwell’s corporate-venture arm, and the Government of Israel Economic Mission, a function of Israel’s U.S. embassy focused on economic collaborations across numerous sectors.

The Northwell Health-IIA partnership is part of Northwell’s “broader effort to identify and invest in novel technologies and business models that have the potential to advance care and accelerate our growth strategy,” noted Senior Vice President Tom Thornton, executive director of Northwell Ventures.

Shake it up: Thomas Thornton, senior VP of Northwell Ventures (front left), and Aharon Aharon, CEO of the Israeli Innovation Authority, make it official. Israeli and Northwell representatives approve.

And it’s crucial to both Israel’s domestic life sciences ecosystem and the country’s international healthcare development, added Aharon Aharon, chief executive of the IIA.

“Through cooperation with Northwell, we look forward to creating innovation synergies with the U.S. health system, including the support of Israeli companies in medical-technologies validation projects, co-funding R&D projects, organizing joint ‘innovation days’ and facilitating other types of links between our organizations,” Aharon said in a statement.

But arguably, the greatest benefit of the new collaboration is the exposure of Israeli med-tech companies to “the experience and assets of a world-class organization,” according to Inon Elroy, Israel’s economic minister to North America.

“Working with Northwell will provide Israeli innovation companies with a supportive atmosphere and investment potential to make an impact,” Elroy said Monday.

In addition to adding to its list of professional collaborations announced in 2017 – including new hospital affiliations and a bioelectronics team-up between the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and GE Ventures – the IIA agreement adds to Northwell Health’s increasing international momentum.

Among the health system’s more recent global exploits: the January announcement of a fresh collaboration with German oncology-research expert Indivumed GmbH and this month’s visit by a team of Australian clinicians and administrators, part of an exchange program of sorts with Epworth HealthCare, the largest Aussie nonprofit health system.


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