Top 9 Reasons 2022 Will Be a Great Year

Doom and gloom may seem the order of the day as we close up 2021, but this year bought plenty of things to celebrate and be proud of. Join us in a feel-good look at the last 12 months.

Another difficult year of Covid is coming to a close, leaving us all exhausted by the twists and turns of this seemingly endless pandemic. Each time we think it’s coming to an end, nature throws us a curve ball – first it was Delta and now it’s Omicron.

While the pandemic may have upended our lives, and dominated the news cycles worldwide, there are plenty of other things that have also been happening that not only warrant our attention, but in fact deserve a shoutout.

As we near the end of 2021 and look forward to what we all hope will be a better new year, join us in celebrating and sharing some of the many positive things that have happened this year.

1.This year, marine scientists from Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and more, launched an ambitious five-year Cetacean Translation Initiative (CETI) in the Caribbean to decipher how Sperm whales communicate and whether their speech patterns can be replicated so humans can communicate with them.

In a study published in Conservation Biology, researchers from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa showed that closeness to nature – touching or smelling plants and flowers – improves wellbeing more than just strolling through a forest or looking at a green landscape. So get on out there, folks.

2. Israel is making good progress with treatments against Covid-19

Since Covid-19 hit the planet, pharmaceutical companies worldwide have been searching for treatments and cures. Scientists suggest that Covid will never entirely disappear, but will become like flu – with waves of mutations that differ in severity.

This means we must find treatments.

Israel’s Bonus BioGroup has been making significant progress in this direction. In a Phase II multicenter clinical trial, 94 percent (47 out of 50) patients with severe Covid-19 survived when treated with its drug product, MesenCure.

Study results showed that MesenCure reduced a patient’s hospitalization by about half and reduced mortality by about 70% compared to a control group. All patients had life-threatening pneumonia and respiratory distress caused by Covid-19.

Allocetra is an immunotherapy drug candidate that reprograms malfunctioning immune cells, and is given by IV infusion to severe or critical Covid-19 patients. In a trial of 21 severe and critical patients, 19 were released from the hospital in 5.6 days, less time than expected. The company is in the midst of a new trial of 152 patients.

Opaganib is being evaluated as an oral drug with antiviral and anti-inflammatory actions to treat severe Covid-19 pneumonia. Results of a trial involving 475 patients should be available soon, but early results are promising. In December, RedHill Biopharma announced that Omicron is not expected to affect the performance of Opaganib.

EXO-CD24 is an experimental inhaled medication designed to stop the “cytokine storm” that occurs in the lungs of 5-7% of Covid-19 patients. In August, the medical center reported that 93% of 90 serious Covid-19 patients, treated in several Greek hospitals with EXO-CD24 as part of a Phase II clinical trial, were discharged within five days.

It’s early days yet, of course, but it’s good to know that treatments like these are showing such promise. We’ll continue to follow the story next year.

3. A new species of bee has been discovered

With bee populations declining all over the world and crop pollination in danger as a result, we know why this is good news. The newly discovered bee is unique to the sand dunes of Israel’s coastal plains and has been named Lasioglossum dorchini in honor of Israeli bee researcher Achik Dorchin, who made the find.

Crop pollination relies mainly on managed colonies of the domesticated honeybee. However, wild, unmanaged bees are also highly effective in pollinating natural and agricultural systems.

4. The world just got a little safer for women

As a woman, walking alone at night, or even sometimes during the day, is not just frightening at times, it’s also downright dangerous.

To counter this, Israeli woman Neta Schreiber created an app, SafeUP, which allows women to log on and be virtually or physically accompanied to their desired location by a trained volunteer.

The app was launched around a year ago as a pilot project with the Tel Aviv municipality, and already has thousands of users in Israel, the US, the UK, Hungary and Poland.

5. Even in conflict there is hope

In May, during the conflict with Gaza, violence broke out suddenly between Israel’s Arab and Jewish communities in certain areas of the country. It was shocking and for many people deeply unexpected. But in amongst the violence came incredible stories of heroism – the Muslim Israeli who saved a Jewish man caught in a lynching, the Jew killed in rioting whose kidneys went to an Arab woman, the Arabs who tried to stop rioters from burning down Jewish businesses.

Organizations up and down the country came out strongly in favor of coexistence, from doctors and nurses to biotech leaders and high-tech leaders.

As the country finally calmed down, peace organizations stepped up their work, more determined than ever to make coexistence work.

And the businesses that had been burned and destroyed? The owners rebuilt, often with the help of local communities, and turned their devastating experience into something positive and good.

6. Israel is turning its attention to the environment and that’s good for everyone

Israel is a formidable, innovative world force in so many different technologies including cyber, food, automotive and water, so the news that Israel’s government and tech leaders are turning their attention to environmental technologies is good news indeed.

Israel was never known for its climate techs in the past, and the country has been slow to adopt good environmental practices, but in the last few years something has been changing.

The most interesting companies we spot at ISRAEL21c in our day-to-day hunt for stories are increasingly in the environmental field. That’s where the innovators are going, and that is also where we decided to turn our attention during our 20th anniversary year as climate change increasingly impacts our world.

In October, a new report showed that there are 1,200 climate-tech companies in Israel, and the number is likely to grow after Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced that Israel’s tech sector must pivot toward the battle against climate change, and the government will cut red tape and sign up as early customers for any potential technologies.

7. A match that just keeps getting better and better

In a Middle East full of conflict, one of the most heartening stories of the last year is the way Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have embraced one another so wholeheartedly.

Since normalization in September 2020, the people of these three nations have rushed to fill the gap with visits, agreements, MOUs and cooperation in virtually every area you can think of.

There are billion-dollar investment funds, joint clean-tech ventures, innovation ventures and thinktanks.

But it’s not just business; the relationship goes far deeper than that.

There are baseball tourneys between Israeli and Emirati kids, exchanges of organ transplants, an Israeli baby born in a UAE hospital.

And to cap it all, there’s even a plan to fly together to the moon and back.

8. The world’s manure problem is being sorted
Trust the folks at Paulee CleanTec to come up with a solution for manure. We’ve been following this company since it developed a device that could turn dog droppings into odorless powder at the press of a button.

Since then, the company has grown and pivoted, and has now developed a low-cost solution to convert animal manure into sterile, odorless organic fertilizer.

Our farms today are drowning in dung. Globally, hundreds of millions of tons of the stuff are untreated or improperly treated and discharged into waterways or absorbed into soil, contaminating crops and drinking water.

Paulee CleanTec’s low-cost chemical process, now being tested at a kibbutz in Israel, converts the manure into organic potassium-rich fertilizer, free of pathogens and odor. The powdered fertilizer can be stored safely for the farm to use, sell or trade.

9. McDonald’s started using recycled rubbish to make trays

McDonald’s restaurants in Brazil are serving up orders on new trays manufactured with a composite thermoplastic material made by Israeli company UBQ Materials.

This is the first product to come out of a partnership between UBQ and Arcos Dorados Holdings, the largest independent McDonald’s franchise in the world with over 2,200 restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean.

UBQ breaks down unsorted household waste into its basic natural components and creates a new thermoplastic material that can be made into things like bricks, shopping carts, pipes, trash cans and automotive parts.

Now we just have to persuade fast-food restaurants everywhere to start doing the same.

Lots of things to celebrate in 2022. Happy New Year!