Rhode Islanders get glimpse of intriguing Israeli startups


PROVIDENCE – Israeli startups focused on early detection of autism, at-home urine testing and sailing analytics were in the spotlight on Feb. 16 as the RI-HUB and the Rhode Island Israel Collaborative launched the second season of “Little States, Big Innovation.”

The monthly program introduces Rhode Islanders to some of Israel’s most exciting startups and the entrepreneurs behind them, who may be considering expanding into North American markets such as Rhode Island. Avi Nevel, founder of RIIC, said last year’s program was “very successful” and led to “multiple connections” between Israel and Rhode Island.

The first segment of the Feb. 16 Zoom program featured Jonathan Sadka, founder and CEO of Ladatt, which is focused on creating a platform for diagnosing certain diseases in babies, with a main focus on building a tool for the early detection of autism.

“In the U.S., around one in 44 children is diagnosed with autism, often very late,” Sadka said. “Autism is often comorbid with other disorders or other problems, such as GI [gastrointestinal] issues, epilepsy, seizure disorders … many of those can be mitigated if treated early enough.”

Sadka said that research shows that using electroencephalography, or EEG, is a non-invasive way to track brainwaves to accurately diagnose autistic children at a very young age.

He said the company Ladatt has backing from a “large IT company in Israel” and plans to start clinical trials by 2023.

Sadka said that last September, he visited Rhode Island to assist in one of the neuroscience labs at Brown University, which he called an eye-opening experience of the tremendous potential for health-care research and development.

“We are looking for collaborations within the U.S., even at this point,” he said.

Annette Tonti, managing director of RI-HUB, said she was thrilled to hear Sadka’s news.

“At RI-HUB, we give startups six months' free space [and] access to everything that Rhode Island has to offer, including our incubation services and mentorship,” she said. “We want to be able to … build economic development here in Rhode Island … with our friends from Israel.”

The second segment featured Varda Aberbach presenting her company, Samplify, which aims to revolutionize urine testing for early detection of kidney disease.

“Eighty million people are at risk of kidney disease, and 90% of them don’t even know they have it until much later down the line,” she said. “People are just not taking the test, or are not completing it correctly.”

To solve these problems, Samplify has created a hygienic and easy way to take a urine sample and safely store it in a sealed case for 20 hours and then get an accurate reading on an iPhone.

Aberbach said Samplify is just starting trials in Jerusalem, and would be “more than happy to have collaborations with an American hospital to run the trial.” Down the line, she said, the tests could be introduced to the American market.

The final entrepreneur to present was Omer Brand, founder and CEO of KINETIX, an advanced platform that helps organizations, coaches and athletes improve performances in sailing.

Brand, who has won national and international sailing championships, said he decided to  join the high-tech scene after retiring from competitive sailing.

He said the most effective way to analyze a sailing performance is by video analytics, but it’s difficult to get a complete and objective analysis from the perspective of any one coach or   trainer.

KINETIX solves this problem, he said, with its fully automated platform, which is based on video and sensors and uses a unique algorithm and analytic platform.

“It [video] can be from any device like a cellphone, GoPros or smartwatches,” Brand said. “The platform provides those golden moments that the athletes and coaches can learn from.”

Brand said KINETIX is up and running in Israel and has already changed the way athletes, coaches, managers and even parents are engaging with the sport. He is hoping to break into the American market next.

“Our main focus now is north of New York, like Rhode Island,” he said, adding that he knows Newport is a sailing capital.

“So, we’re definitely in the right place for us to collaborate,” he said.

The next program is March 17 at noon. Register at https://bit.ly/3pnVtK6.

SETH CHITWOOD  (www.sethchitwood.com), of Barrington, is a features reporter for The Standard-Times, in New Bedford. He is also the creative director of the award-winning Angelwood Pictures production company.

RIIC, Little States Big Innovation