I will write the blog today of today after this post. That should come up in the next 6 hours. Thanks for your patience and thanks for reading!
May 14th 20:00 IDT
Shalom from Tel Aviv!
We landed yesterday in Israel at Ben Gurion Airport. Our guide Steve Gray, met us at the airport and distributed cell phones, water bottles and hats. These, he said, are some of the most important things to have everyday. The ride into Tel Aviv from the airport was pleasant.
There were bright Buganvilia, tall grasses and in some cases even orange groves in the medians of the highway. Upon entry into Tel Aviv many of us found it hard to believe that 100 years ago all that stood was a desert. There are many high apartments in the residential areas. The roads, much like Europe, have narrower lanes than American roads. The first thing we did in Tel Aviv was go to the beach in the hopes that we could swim before the lifeguards left for the night. However, when we arrived at the beach after the lifeguards went off duty. To be safe, we walked along the beach with only our feet submerged.
Our hotel, Ruth Daniel Residence is in Jaffa.
Last night, after dinner in the hotel, we went out for some food and walked up the hill to get into Old Jaffa.
Jaffa is part of the Tel Aviv municipality but, originally, it was a much older city. Old Jaffa is the original settlement site. Jaffa, from the ancient times until the 1930's, was the main port of entrance into Israel. Along one of the roads we found a spot where half of the road was torn up. However, unlike road work, this site had a tarp covering it. We found, from a sign, that the site was actually started as a road project but had been converted to an archeological dig when some ruins were uncovered. This, Steve said, is the reason why every construction project in Israel is required to have an archeologist on staff.
When we made it to the top of Old Jaffa and beautiful skyline greeted us. From this ancient area we had a great view of the beach and the very modern, youthful and idyllic Tel Aviv.
May 15th 08:00 IDT
Til' another day Tel Aviv!
We started out tour today with a stop at the Weizmann Institute of Science. Professor Jacob Karni (a University Of Minnesota graduate) gave us an overview his solar-thermal work and the scientific culture at the Weizmann. After his talk, we visited the research solar tower that he works on.
Next, we visited Urban Aeronautics, our first startup. The CEO and one of the founders Dr. Rafi Yoeli, gave a full technically run down of the VTOL (Vertical Takeoff / Landing) aircraft that Urban Aeronautics hopes to put into production. It more agile than modern helicopters and can be landed in urban environments. The company has a fully autonomous flight system in addition to manned capabilities. The aircraft could be used as an ambulance, cargo transport and even of utility maintenance.
After our first startup, we visited Gemini Israel Funds, our first venture capital(VC) firm. Dr. Ed Mlavsky, the founder and chairman, welcomed us to his space. His presentation covered a variety of issues about the differences between VC's in Israel and those in America. One thing that stuck out to me was that most founders of Israeli startups go on to join or create another startup. It highlights that people here are driven by the love of new technology rather than the money that usually comes with it.
Tal Dagan, the VP of Marketing at Primesense, presented to us when we arrived at their headquarters. Primesense is the startup that created the sensor technology of the Microsoft Kinect. Their sensor combines a depth field image, RGB image, audio and many algorithms to create "sight" for digital devices. Primesense, like Urban Areonautics has expanded there product in many markets --helping the deaf talk, helping the blind see, engaging the mentally handicap to improve cognitive abilities, allowing robots to see, improving crash prevention in vehicles, home theater control, and implementation into cell phones. Here is video of a new technology for the home theater that they are working on.
After the Primesense meeting, we informally split into groups for dinner. We felt nostalgia, after two packed days, over our last supper in Tel Aviv.