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July 16, 2020 5:33 am

Israeli Defense Companies Team With UAE Firm to Develop Breakthrough Coronavirus Technology

avatar by Yaakov Lappin /


Employees of Israel’s Sonovia Ltd, makers of washable and reusable antiviral masks, which the company says can help stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), work at their laboratory in Ramat Gan, Israel, May 17, 2020. Photo: Reuter / Amir Cohen.

JNS.orgTwo leading Israeli defense companies have recently announced historic cooperation agreements with Group42 (G42), a technology company from the United Arab Emirates, in order to develop new solutions against the coronavirus pandemic.

Israel Aerospace Industries is working with the Abu-Dhabi-based company to research and develop a medical system that can scan the blood of people from over the skin and notify them in seconds whether the disease has been detected, allowing for mass screening.

Meanwhile, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems announced that it had signed two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) to “explore collaborations in the research and development of effective solutions to combat SARS-CoV-2.”

IAI said in its statement that its Elta group held a video conference with the UAE to sign the agreement, adding that “representatives of both companies discussed ways to leverage Artificial Intelligence and other innovative technologies, including lasers and sensors, to develop new COVID-19-focused systems. The solutions, as well as the joint medical and technological initiatives, are meant to help not only the populations of both countries, but also aid in the global battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and improve the health-care situation of the entire region.”

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Israel Lupa, executive vice president and chief technological officer of Elta, told JNS that IAI has been busy over the past six months in developing new solutions and assistance systems for medical systems, alongside its traditional activities.

These include the Tamar remote monitoring system of vital signs, used in hospitals for measuring pulse, breath, and temperature, and virus detection and disinfection systems. IAI has also developed an AI-based predictive system that can warn doctors about a likely deterioration in the condition of patients a day ahead of time.

IAI-Elta has created ties with technological companies around the world to create cooperation, said Lupa, and this is how the company reached G42.

“We saw that their research studies connect with our capabilities. There is one research study of theirs that attempts to identify disease in blood. We have technologies that can support the imaging of blood cells. They have researched the linkage between blood form and disease,” said Lupa.

“We connected these two capabilities to develop products that can screen populations. They can be placed at airports, the entrance to shopping centers, or any site in order to allow global economic activities to return as soon as possible,” he added. ”We decided that there is an opportunity to connect here, and developed a business model that provides solutions for both companies.”

Lupa noted that “this virus does not distinguish between nations, religion, or races. The connection between organizations around the world is legitimate and logical because the virus does not care about your religion,” he stressed. “This is a business connection. Both companies see a global need to solve a problem.”

Yoav Turgeman, IAI’s vice president and CEO of ELTA, said, “We are now proud to join forces with Group42 from [the] UAE and take the first step in what may become future joint work by the two countries.”

Rafael, meanwhile, said in a statement that it too held a video conference in which executives from each company took part in a signing ceremony.

“During the event, they discussed ways of leveraging their respective expertise to develop cutting-edge solutions and medical initiatives that could not only benefit the population of the two countries, but humanity as a whole,” the company said.

In recent months, Rafael has developed a range of solutions to help society during the pandemic, including robotic systems for hospitals, thermic sensors to remotely-detect body temperature, a “splitter” for ventilators to use on two patients simultaneously, a medical-data streaming app, big-data and AI technologies, and other solutions.

Peng Xiao, CEO of Group 42, said: “At G42, we embrace international cooperation as a way to create better and more effective technologies for the public good. The UAE has led by example in the global collaborative effort to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, and our company is privileged to follow the lead, and share resources and expertise with Rafael and IAI for such a significant cause.”

Brig. Gen. (ret.) Ariel Karo, Rafael executive vice president for Marketing and Business Development, said the collaboration was “historic,” adding that it “was born out of a global crisis. As a technological leader, particularly in the field of AI, we are proud to offer our range of capabilities and know-how to help in the fight against the COVID-19.”

G42 has expertise in AI applications, and has also recently announced a partnership with Britain’s Oxford Nanopore Technologies for the joint development of an end-to-end detection solution to screen for illness in mass and on-demand.

Yaakov Lappin is a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He specializes in Israel’s defense establishment, military affairs, and the Middle Eastern strategic environment.

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