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Where biotech and high-tech meet
Author  Gali Weinreb

Executives in Israel for the MIXiii conference tell "Globes" about the future of medicine.

From Globs

2014 is positioned to go down in history as one of the stormiest years for biomed. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index has risen sharply, by tens of percentage points, since the beginning of the year - a process that opened the door to dozens of IPOs - but has recently lost ground.

Pfizer is in talks to acquire AstraZeneca for more than $100 billion, the pharmaceutical and biotech companies continue to launch groundbreaking products, and the field of medical technology is in the throes of a revolution.

Senior industry executives from around the world who participated in the MIXiii Israel Innovation Conference (which combined the Israel Advanced Technology Industries annual international biomed conference with a high-tech conference for the first time), spoke to “Globes” about the latest breakthroughs, gave forecasts for the future, and explained what brought them to Israel.

According to Pitango Venture Capital General Partner and MIXiii Biomed Co-Chair Ruti Alon, “The forecast in the field of biomed is fundamentally complicated, due to of the interaction between political trends, such as globalization and different modes of distribution that bring Western diseases to new countries, and technological trends, such as genomics.

“In light of this, we can expect continued pressure to lower prices, significant changes in marketing systems, broader use of Internet, and the continued rise in prominence of the consumer as a factor in decision making. In Israel, there is a deep understanding of what is required to develop HealthIT products, that will connect the medical community.”

DFJ Tel Aviv Venture Partners General Partner and MIXiii Biomed Co-Chair Dr. Benny Zeevi said: “I believe the transitions from hospital care to remote care, from general care to personalized care, from treatment-based care to more preventive care, and higher patient involvement in treatment, will translate into a more pleasant patient experience, and greater commitment to maintaining therapeutic regimes as a result.”

”More holistic diagnosis and care”

Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) seems to be one of the less familiar among the 20 big companies, but only because it is not publicly traded. The company has 50,000 employees, and invests 20% of its revenue in R&D, with an emphasis on internal R&D.

The company has, in the past, been in talks to acquire an Israeli company, and has recently established a branch in Israel, headed by Orna Fiat Steinberger. The branch is responsible for running the company’s clinical trials in Israel.

The company was established 129 years ago. It was founded by, and is managed still today, by the Boehringer family, and Ingelheim is the German city in which the company was founded. Today, the company has a rich pipeline of products. Chief Medical Officer Prof. Klaus Dugi points in particular to the new cancer drug Volasertib, a small molecule inhibitor that prevents cancer cells from dividing by attacking the PKL1 protein. The company is testing the product for leukemia treatment, and is currently in Phase II clinical trials.

According to Dugi, the most significant scientific breakthrough of recent years is the recognition of the role that the mix of live organisms living in and on our bodies has in causing and preventing illness. “Today, using genome sequencing technology, we can know precisely what the genomes of our intestinal bacteria are. These genes, which are not exactly part of our bodies, apparently affect not only diseases of the intestine, but others as well. This knowledge can lead to entirely different medical diagnoses and treatments from those we know today - more holistic diagnosis and care.”

Dugi claims that the patent cliff troubles the industry, but not BI, and it is likely to be less problematic for the industry in the future. “In a world where most newly approved products are biological, which are harder to duplicate, it is possible that patent expiry will be regarded differently, and less seriously, in the future.”

The real industry crisis is not an R&D crisis, in his opinion is, but rather a budget crisis - governments are unable to maintain the health budgets necessary to create significant continued growth in biotech and pharmaceuticals, and drugs will soon need to prove that they save not only lives and suffering, but also money (as is the case for medical devices today). In order to do this, it will be necessary to improve existing patient monitoring data systems, and to match the best treatment to each patient.

Fiat Steinberger says that: “The fact that BI is a private company allows it to invest in R&D without thinking about how the analysts will look at the bottom line next quarter, or even next year, and, therefore, we have many long-term plans.” The company has 90 research projects, and it classifies ten products (in eight categories) as “pre-launch,” which means they are either in advanced Phase II with good results in previous trials, post-Phase III, or they have already been approved.

BI also has a venture capital fund that seeks out biomed companies to invest in, including companies in early stages of development that are not yet suitable for traditional venture capital funds. In 2014, the fund invested in a company called Metabomed, which at the same time received investments from the Merck Serono incubator in Yavne, from the Pontifax fund, and from the Technion technology transfer company. The company deals in treatments based on cancer metabolism - treatment through the resources that the cancer consumes.

Using stem cells to regenerate tissue

Over the past decade, Takeda Pharmaceuticals has gone from being a Japanese pharmaceutical company to being a global giant, competing head to head with the biggest global players. The company’s Israel office is headed by Arie Kramer. Following its acquisitions of US company Millennium Pharmaceuticals, which is developing a cancer treatment, and veteran European pharmaceutical company Nycomed, Takeda has become one of the most significant global powers in the pharmaceutical industry.

Despite the acquisitions, Takeda, like all the major pharmaceutical companies, has been forced to contend with the patent cliff: the expiry of patents on leading products, while R&D fails to produce new products at the expected rate.

“The patent cliff troubles the pharmaceutical companies and the investors,” said Takeda Head of R&D Tetsuyuki Maruyama, who was tasked with finding a solution to the problem, and has succeeded in doing so.

“It seems that the worst is behind us,” he says, “And I believe that the industry has learned from it: to place less emphasis on bestselling drugs, and to vary the product offering.

“A decade ago, large pharmaceutical companies avoided anything ‘difficult,’ like cancer, or rare diseases. The smaller companies proved that these are attractive markets, and now the big companies are scurrying to close the gap. We believe that this will happen also for the brain, so as larger companies leave this field, we focus on it.”

What are the developments that are likely to have the most significant impacts on the future of medicine?

“I believe in a combination of drugs and antibodies, where the antibodies lead the drugs directly to specific targets. Our company has such a product that should reach the market soon, after having waited for years for the right combination.

“Using such technology, together with products that use the immune system to treat cancer, I believe that the medical world will actually reach a cure for cancer, and I am not the only one who believes this.

“Another exciting technological development is the bacTRAP platform, which we loved so much that we bought the company that developed it. This is technology that allows us to look at changes in gene expression in specific cells in tissue that has many different kinds of cells, where each one expresses genes a little differently.

“Using this focus, we can develop far more accurate drugs. This is true for many areas, but most of all the brain, which has a mix of cells. I believe that the field of regenerative medicine, using stem cells to regenerate sick tissue, will lead to breakthroughs.”

Maruyama notes that Takeda owns a group called New Frontiers Science Team, which seeks technologies in advanced development stages and whose representatives were at the conference as well.

What are the most interesting products in your pipeline?

“We just now launched our first cancer drug based on a combination of antibodies and drugs. We are waiting on the launch of a new drug to treat Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome, which is most effective for patients for whom existing treatments don’t work. We are focusing on the digestive system.”

“Israel has an ideal mix”

Becton Dickinson (BD) is a medical device supplier that deals in a broad range of products, including hospital lab equipment. The company specializes in cheap medical equipment that is manufactured in large quantities.

“I have been with the company for 11 years,” said BD Director of Business Development Al Lauritano, “First, I headed the life science new business incubator in North Carolina, and I have basically held the same job ever since, only the job has grown.”

Incubator? That must have been revolutionary, at the time.

“We had an incubator from 1998 to 2008, into which we accepted mostly companies from academic institutions, but it wasn’t so successful. The business model was that after our initial investment, more investors were meant to join in, financial institutions, but, in order to attract such investors, the companies were forced to change their business models in directions that interested us less, as strategic investors. So we didn’t get what we wanted out of them.

“We never really shut the incubator down, but we became very picky. In the beginning of this year we decided to establish a ‘virtual incubator.’ We won’t host the companies, instead, we will support them wherever they are. We won’t only invest money - we will also send our people. That way, we will be able to get to know the companies well.”

In the coming year, BD will announce its first incubator company. “This is one of the reasons I am in Israel” says Lauritano.

“We believe that Israel has an ideal mix of entrepreneurs, technology, financing, and operational infrastructure, including the support of the chief scientist. In April, we announced our participation in a collaborative project between the chief scientist and the international corporations. This summer, we will put out a call for opportunities in Israel,” says Lauritano, who worked at Israeli company D-Pharm in the past.

Lauritano is particularly interested in combinations of information technologies in daily medical products. “Therefore, it makes sense for us that the conference brings high-tech and biotech together,” he says. He notes that many BD products are in competitive markets, where the product is manufactured by the millions (syringes and catheters, for example).

“How can we bring added value to such a product? Adding information technology in or around it is one method. We see that hospitals need to improve their workflows, in order to prevent mistakes in drug administration and to make sure that patients follow through on the treatments that are prescribed to them. So we want as much information as possible to be entered into medical records automatically from our medical devices.”

In the future, the company intends to help healthy people as well, “For example, diabetics, who are at the forefront of the population that monitors and manages its health regularly, every single day. Why shouldn’t all the healthy people, or people with chronic diseases, monitor themselves in such a manner in order to maintain optimal health? Our goal is to make a business of this.”

What is the most interesting product you have launched in the past two years?

“We surprised the industry this year when we announced that were opening a generic drug department. We have always had syringes that added value to drugs, and now, instead of selling them only to companies, we will incorporate generic drugs ourselves.”

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 26, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014

 Taken from Globes - Where biotech and high-tech meet

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Biotech - Tailor-made for Israel
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Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and the second to Prof. Ada Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science number among the many awards bestowed on the country's biotech scientists.Israeli professor Ada Yonath, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009, for her work instem cell research (Photo courtesy Weizmann Institute of Science)The pace of innovation, development and growth in Israel's biotechnology sector is unparalleled. Israel's biotech industry is the most aggressive in the world, with more startups per capita then any other country. Its 180 biotech companies - each built on a combination of academic excellence, a highly-skilled workforce, cutting-edge technological inventiveness and entrepreneurial daring - are creating therapeutic products, diagnostic tools and revolutionary drug-delivery techniques benefiting people all over the world.Tailor-made for IsraelBiotechnology, the science which applies breakthroughs in molecular biology and immunochemistry to diagnosis and therapy, was born in the late 1970s. In many ways, it is tailor-made for Israel, being rooted in innovation and perseverance; a highly educated workforce; the lessons of military service; intimate links between researchers and entrepreneurs; and US capital and markets and, particularly, the US 1985 free trade agreement with Israel.• Innovation and perseverance: A small country with a population of only seven million and few natural resources, Israel's economy is necessarily one of innovation and perseverance. 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It was developed by Protalix Biotherapeutics, a company that began life in 1994 within Israel's Meytav Technological Incubator, graduating to become an independent publicly held company with a market capitalization of more than $700 million, trading on both the NYSE Amex Exchange and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.It recently sold the rights to this experimental Gaucher's medication for $60 million to the New York-based Pfizer, the world's largest-selling pharmaceutical firm.Neuroprotective drugsD-Pharm Ltd. (TASE: DPRM) is focused on the design and development of innovative drugs for the treatment of serious, potentially life-threatening medical conditions that affect the brain.The Company has developed two unique platform technologies that generate lipid-like medicines. These technologies use cell-membrane specific mechanisms and influence lipid-related biochemical pathways, for therapeutic effect.The Company has two products in advanced clinical development: a Phase III product, DP-b99, for treatment of acute ischemic stroke; a Phase II product, DP-VPA, for the treatment of complex partial epilepsy, migraine and bipolar disease. D-Pharm is an integrated drug development organization with headquarters, research and development laboratories, and pilot manufacturing plant in the Kiryat Weizmann Science Park, Rehovot.Computational Biotechnology  Martin Gerstel, chairman of the board at Israeli computational biotech company Compugen, and a major figure in Israel's biotech industry. Compugen is a leading drug and diagnostic product candidate discovery company. Unlike traditional high throughput trial and error experimental based discovery, Compugen's discovery efforts are based on in silico (by computer) product candidate prediction and selection utilizing a broad and continuously growing infrastructure of proprietary scientific understandings and predictive platforms, algorithms, machine learning systems and other computational biology tools to address important unmet therapeutic and diagnostic needs - either for Compugen or its partners.Compugen's growing number of collaborations covering the further development and commercialization of Compugen discovered product candidates all provide Compugen with potential milestone payments and royalties on product sales or other forms of revenue sharing.  These collaborations may be entered into before product candidate discovery is undertaken pursuant to "discovery on demand" type arrangements, or with respect to existing product candidates, collaborations can be initiated prior to or at the proof of concept stage, or after additional preclinical activities have been undertaken by Compugen.GenomicsGenomics uses the RNA system within living cells to control which genes are active and how active they are. 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Savyon has gone on to develop and market tests for urinary tract infections and for HIV.Orgenics, founded in 1983, produces 22 patented easy-to-use, stand-alone, ELISA-based ImmunoComb kits that test for Chlamydia, hepatitis A and B, cytomegalovirus, toxoplasmosis, rubella, Helicobacter pylori and AIDS, as well as non-wipe strips for measuring blood glucose levels.Zer Science-Based Industries specializes in diagnostic tests related to fertility. Its Single-Step pregnancy test requires just drops of urine to give an accurate result within five minutes, even before the first missed menstrual period.Future blockbustersOne example among many is Glassia, the first and only high purity, liquid, ready-to-use α1-proteinase inhibitor for adults with inherited emphysema resulting from α1-antitrypsin deficiency.Kamada, the 20-year-old biopharmaceutical concern that invented Glassia, entered an exclusive distribution and manufacturing agreement for its production in mid-2010 with the global health-care company Baxter International.Biotech and electronics One of the best-known diagnostic devices developed in Israel is the Pillcam, created by Given Imaging. The pill-sized camera can be swallowed, and is used to diagnose stomach disorders.Among Israel's strengths is the interdisciplinary nature of its R&D. This underlies the creation and development of out-of-the-box products. 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With only one in 250 compounds making it from preclinical development to market (and taking perhaps seven years and $500 million to do so), the major brake on Israel's biotechnology cluster is the lack of an asset-intensive infrastructure.Investment is in especially short supply for the so-called Valley Of Death phase - the gap between very early stage investment (usually academic research funds), and easier-to-obtain investment for the clinical study phase which, although more costly, is correspondingly more certain than early-stage technologies. Government help Israel's government supports a spectrum of programs to help start-ups survive the difficult stages between proof of feasibility and final success. They include R&D grants from the Chief Scientist's Office (since the early 1990s); the Magnet framework that brings companies and researchers together to develop novel generic technologies, underwriting up to 65% of the budget (since 1994); a National Committee for Biotechnology tasked with developing and promoting biotechnology in Israel (established in 1995); Bioplan 2000, which created dedicated biotech incubators to bridge the gap in funding, infrastructure and managerial talent; naming biotechnology a National Project and creating infrastructure centers which give researchers access to essential equipment and knowhow (2002); and, most currently, a generous Grants Program administered by the Israel Investment Center; an Automatic Tax Benefits program administered by the Tax Authorities, offering foreign investors unique advantages; and finally, deignating biotechnology a Preferred Sector.Academic research funding Israel's biotech research at its universities and medical schools is the foundation of the industry. Dedicated biotechnology departments are rare anywhere, but there are three among Israel's seven main universities. Biotech research is funded from the annual $140 million research budget at Israel's universities and is comprised of external competitive research grants (36%); the regular budget of the universities (36%); and industry and government research grants and contracts (28%).Technology transfer Israel has 12 technology transfer organizations, seven of them university-based and five in its leading research hospitals. They are highly effective: the Hebrew University's Yissum, for example, founded in 1964, generates more revenue than its counterparts at MIT, Harvard or NYU in its management and licensing of thousands of patents developed within the institution. More successful still is the Weizmann Institute's Yeda, which has been named the world's third most profitable technology transfer organization.IncubatorsBased on Israel's high-tech experience, incubators have been created to nurture young biotech companies. There are both public and private incubator organizations, but all offer fledgling entrepreneurs skilled and experienced management, suitable R&D facilities, technical, financial, administrative and logistic support, administrative services (secretarial, accounting, legal, acquisition) and business guidance. The Technological Incubators Program, established in 1991 for high-tech and administered by the Chief Scientist's Office, includes a number of biotech startups. BiolineRx was set up in 2003 by Teva, Hadassah's technology transfer company Hadasit and two leading venture capital funds as a clinical-stage, publicly-traded, biopharmaceutical development company. It licenses promising early-stage projects and develops them as far as Phase I clinical trials. Rad-Biomed Accelerator is another interface between biomedical research and Israel's biomedical industry. It provides physical infrastructure, seed capital, business development and a wide range of related services to help entrepreneurs establish companies that will join the flourishing Israeli biomedical industry. International partnersThroughout most of biotech's history, small companies have been the hotbed of innovation. These small firms, however, generally lack the development capital to fund the costly clinical trials and launch of new therapeutics. 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TAU team takes part in discovering new planet
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Detection of planets via the beaming effect was predicted in 2003 by Prof. Avi Loeb, Harvard University and Sackler Professor by Special Appointment at Tel Aviv University, and Prof. Scott Gaudi (now at Ohio State University).The second effect that the Faigler-Mazeh method looks for is the stretching of   a star into a football shape by the gravitational tides raised by an orbiting planet. Such distorted star appears brighter when observed from the side, due to the larger visible surface area, and fainter when viewed end-on. The third small effect is due to starlight reflected by the planet itself.Because the brightness variations are extremely small (on the order of one part in ten-thousand), these effects can be detected only with accurate data obtained by space missions. The Tel Aviv team, which is supported by a European Research Council Advanced Grant, analyzed data for more than one hundred thousand stars obtained with the NASA space mission Kepler, looking for the beaming and the two other modulations. After discovering a planet candidate, they collaborate with Dr. David Latham from the CfA and his team, which includes Dr. Lars Buchhave, to observe the candidate from the ground for additional spectroscopic confirmation.On May 3rd 2012 Faigler and Mazeh noticed the three effects in one of the stars observed by Kepler. Ground-based observations to confirm the planet detection were performed by Latham and his team at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona, and by Lev Tal-Or, another PhD student from Tel Aviv, at the Haute-Provence Observatory in France. Both telescopes confirmed unequivocally the existence of the planet, now called Kepler-76b.Last week, Faigler, Tal-Or, Mazeh, Latham and Buchhave, announced the discovery in a paper to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.Kepler-76b is in the constellation Cygnus at a distance of about 2000 light years. The planet, with a mass of twice the mass of Jupiter, orbits its parent star very closely, with a period of one and a half days. The proximity of the star probably causes the planet to be tidally locked, so that the same side of the planet faces the star at all times. That part of the planet is heated by stellar radiation to a temperature of about 3500 degrees F.While examining carefully the stellar brightness, the team found strong evidence that the heat absorbed by the planetary atmosphere is carried around the planet by jet stream winds for about 10,000 miles, a substantial fraction of the planetary circumference. Such an effect has been observed before only in the infrared with NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. This is the first time a wind effect has been observed in the optical band. The study of such a jet is extremely important for understanding how the planetary atmosphere responds to intense stellar heating.All of the planets found so far by the NASA Kepler mission were discovered because they transit (eclipse) their parent stars. What is special about the TAU new technique is that it can find even non-transiting planets. "The irony is that Kepler-76b is in fact transiting the edge of its parent star,” says Faigler. “This is why originally it was misclassified as an eclipsing binary. Only through detection of the three small effects were we able to determine that it is actually a planet.""This is the first time that this aspect of Einstein's Theory of Relativity has been used to discover a planet", says Professor Mazeh, who is a participating scientist in the NASA Kepler mission. "We have been searching for this elusive effect for more than two years, and we finally found a planet! It is amazing that already a decade ago Loeb and Gaudi foresaw this happening. Shay Zucker of TAU, a former student of mine, called my attention to this prediction. At first, I did not believe it is possible, but I slowly got into it. Luckily, we got the support of the European Research Council to carry this project forward, and we collaborated with Dave Latham who believed in this project and kept following the false candidates that Simchon and I were giving him. In the end we found Kepler-76b! It is a dream come true.""The discovery proves the feasibility of the method," says Faigler. "We hope to find more planets like Kepler-76b using the same technique. This is possible only because of the exquisite data NASA is collecting with the Kepler spacecraft for more than 150,000 stars."
Wanted: Arts majors for high-tech
Wanted: Arts majors for high-techFrom GlobsTechnology companies are looking for creativity, flexibility, and the ability to think outside the box.The average profile for a high-tech worker generally includes an education in systems engineering, computer engineering, or programming. However, in recent years, along with the blossoming of start-ups, many companies are turning to completely different fields to recruit workers. They are looking for creativity, flexibility, and the ability to think outside the box - attributes that are not necessarily typical of math and engineering graduates.This trend, which characterizes high-tech and start-up companies, reflects a broader trend: companies are increasingly seeking to hire workers who are not conventional fits for the traditional requirements, so they can contribute to intellectual diversity, and help them to see things a little differently.Shai Ozon, CEO of One1 Group, which employs 3,000 workers in IT, is a strong advocate of hiring management talents from different fields. “The idea is to bolster the management layer with people who come from different disciplines, and to diversify the style of management,” he says. “The reason is that we are in an industry that is constantly changing: the technology changes, the customers come from a wide variety for fields, and we are looking for people who will be able to speak in diverse languages, and not necessarily understand the intricate details of the product we are selling, but more relationship management and sales processes. We can teach them about the product.”Are there problems with today’s training?“Apple’s success did not stem from the fact that their computers were better than IBMs, rather from the synthesis of disciplines. For example, once, the role of information systems was to make sure the computer would work. Today, it is to give the business a competitive edge. It is not enough to speak the old language of technology; you need a broader business vision.”What characteristics are you looking for in employees?The people I am looking for may have backgrounds in law, industry and management, and as far as I'm concerned even art. The important thing is that they have some life experience. They first undergo an internship, for about a year and a half, in three levels of specialization: professional training in IT, management coaching, and in organizational culture the company’s business language. Each one of them will hold a variety of positions within the company along the way: projects, sales, etc., and they will see the big picture.“I am looking for assertive, creative people, who understand business, and from that, also sales processes. Personality and ability to communicate are extremely valuable. It is hard to find managers, and, generally, people look in the wrong place. The match has to be as close as possible. We have built a rigorous program, and I want to have 10 employees enter the first round. If I end up with a few good managers, I will be happy. Good managers are worth a lot of money.”Technology with creativityRSA (EMC Information Security division) Israel Director of Research and Innovation CTO Alon Kaufman says that using information for business purposes requires multi-disciplined people, and professional teams need to include, on the one hand, technical people, with backgrounds in statistics, mathematics, or computer science, and, on the other hand, content experts, who understand the business side, and the customers.“There are very few mathematicians who have a natural business sense, therefore, people who can translate and manage all the technical sides and direct them towards something business oriented that will speak to the customers, and will translate the information in the most practical manner into a final product, are very important. But thinking about the final product has to course through the blood of every one of the workers. So that they have the drive to find the simplest algorithm, and the most practical graphics. When we analyze the data, we need people who know how to ask questions, and know how to present the final product, visually speaking. Such a team could include an architect, a statistician, someone with a degree in computer science, and a physicist. The manager of such a team does not need to be an expert in one of the fields; the manager needs to have the personality traits to allow him to connect everyone, to communicate with the team, and to lead.”Is it possible to find such people?“It makes hiring very complicated. Depending on the candidate, you sometimes change the job description, because obviously you will never find yourself exactly. Typically, managers look for people who resemble themselves, but I think this is the biggest mistake - you should search for people who are different.”At the start-up company Innovid, the employee profile is also atypical for high-tech. “The company’s first employee was a Creative Director, which is a position that does not exist at high-tech companies,” says co-founder and global operations manager Zack Zigdon. “What we are creating is something new, and when you approach a client, you have to show him something to convince him. We need creative people to convince the advertisers.”Innovid offers advertisers a new way to present their products using videos that present viewers with options to be exposed to more and more information about the product. For instance, a viewer watching a car commercial may be able to book a test drive, view the car’s interior, or receive price quotes, while watching the commercial. The company has a full team of art and design school graduates working on the video advertising experience.Playtika Israel, which operates in the field of gaming on social networks, and whose primary platform is Facebook, has a hard time finding workers because the company is so specialized. According to head of HR Gabi Karni, she turns to candidates whom, in a typical recruit, she would not be interested in. The company’s content manager is a script writer, and working directly under him is a toy designer. The studio manager previously worked at an ad agency. The marketing manager is an entrepreneur, who previously founded a start-up. One worker was an IDF intelligence officer; his job is to research the competition. “Initially, it was because we had no choice,” says Karni, “But, later, I understood that, surprisingly, the variety and the heterogeneousness bring about our success as an innovative organization that creates products outside of the box. These workers come from a crossroads, seeking a new and challenging path. They come with motivation, hunger, and desire - this is what creates the synergy with the organizations culture and pace. Their learning curve is very steep, and they succeed exceptionally.”“Also seeking literature majors”As mentioned, seeking employees who do not fit the classic profile is not only typical in high-tech. McCann Valley (McXann Erickson ad agency Mitzpe Ramon extension) chairwoman Hana Rado, had a hard time finding young workers in the area. Hence, some of the senior staff relocated to the area from Tel Aviv, but there is a clear preference for Negev residents. “We take people with undergraduate degrees, who have no experience, and they undergo 3 months of training. For the time being, the training is in Tel Aviv, but soon it will be in Mitzpe Ramon. We have psychologists, economists, lawyers, communications majors, literature majors, people who understand language. People who like to write like journalists, economists, biologists. People who are interested in the Internet world. Wonderful people with values. It’s like a start-up in the desert."Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on December 30, 2013© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013 Globes - Wanted: Arts majors for high-tech      
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