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The consequences of the coronavirus pandemic might influence various social and economical consequences. Among others, it might change the way defense industries operate. During the next few days, some advanced technological solutions will be deployed in Israeli hospitals, developed by a collaboration between Israel’s defense industries, research institutes, the hospitals and the Ministry of Health. Although the working model was designed for a time of crisis, the Israel Government Companies Authority that has initiated the move already sees the opportunity for business development: extending towards medical technology. 

Within the framework of the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, the GCA has initiated a round table that connects the defense industries, hospital general managers, and medical teams. This is where the industries’ representatives learn about the urgent needs of the healthcare systems during the crisis. The industries develop solutions, and the regulator integrates and gives its basic consent, enabling an accelerated implementation of technological solutions, according to

Officials at the GCA, which initiated the collaboration, believe that beyond the actual crisis, thanks to the direct dialog created, the Israeli defense industries will be able to extend the scope of their activities to the medical technology field.

The innovation forum of the government companies includes companies such as Rafael and IAI, Rotem – the operational arm of the Nuclear Research Center, ISORAD – part of the SOREQ Nuclear Research Center, and the Israeli company for life sciences research of the Israel Institute for Biological Research. Within the framework of the forum, the companies interact with hospitals’ general managers and officials from the medical technology divisions, as well as the government hospitals at the Ministry of Health.

The major activity fields are disinfection and recycling, robotic measurement, medical teams protection, communications, and preventing spray dispersion. The nature of the work is interdisciplinary. For example, the medical teams’ protection field integrates technologies from the materials, communications, image processing, and robotics fields.

At Rafael, some 8-10 work teams are developing projects in the field of team protection, as well as finding practical and agile solutions in other fields. According to IAI, a few dozens of its teams are busy developing products for coping with the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Amira Sharon, VP, R&D, Innovation and Technology at IAI said the company focuses on disinfection and recycling, space disinfection and remote sensing. “We were exposed to a brand new world of content.”

The GCA has already identified in the model an opportunity for business development for the defense industries: extending their activities to the medical technology field. “The big money is found at these two types of industries,” said the Authority’s Head, Yaakov Quint, “the industries that develop tools to kill people and the industries developing tools for their safeguarding them.” IAI and Rafael say that future business development is not relevant at the moment, and the focus is only on the crisis.