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New Israeli satellite aims to answer big questions in astrophysics

A new spacecraft will place Israel “at the forefront of a global movement to explore the universe with small, affordable satellites,” according to Israel Space Agency director Avi Blasberger, The Jerusalem Post reported on August 12, 2019. The ULTRASAT satellite, constructed entirely by Israeli scientists and engineers, will be equipped with a telescope designed to operate in ultraviolet light and an especially large field of view to help answer some of astrophysics’ biggest questions. Key areas of research will include the formation process of dense neutron stars that merge and emit gravitational waves, how super-massive black holes rule their neighborhoods, how stars explode, where the heavy elements in the universe come from and the properties of stars that could have habitable planets. The project is expected to launch in 2023. 
Israel moves into the Global Innovation Index top 10 for the first time 

Israel surged to the Global Innovation Index top 10 for the first time, surpassing powerhouses like China, France and Canada, and advancing 12 places from just four years ago, when it ranked 22nd. The rankings, based on 80 different indicators measuring various aspects of innovation, highlighted the Start-Up Nation’s place as a world leader in investments in R&D, research talent, and exports of high-tech services, Globes reported on July 25, 2019.
Euorpean companies swarm Israeli's Silicon Wadi in record numbers

Israel is gaining on Silicon Valley as Europe’s preferred innovation destination. Global innovation advisory firm Mind the Bridge recently noted 41 large companies from nine European countries with corporate outposts in Israel, compared to 60 in California, ISRAEL21c reported on June 11, 2019. The majority of those 41 hubs opened in the last five years with 60 percent designated R&D centers, in contrast to only 19 percent in Silicon Valley. “Large corporations are increasing their efforts to find innovative and disruptive technologies in the world’s most relevant technology hotspots,” Mind the Bridge Chairman Alberto Onetti said. “Silicon Valley and Israel are the most obvious innovation destinations.” 
Israeli high-tech companies raise record amount in the first half of 2019

In an all-time high, Israeli high-tech companies raised $3.9 billion in the first half of 2019 with 254 deals. Continuing the success, IVC Research Center findings showed a record-setting second quarter achievement of $2.32 billion, boosted by 10 mega-deals. Adv. Shmulik Zysman, managing partner & high-tech industry leader ZAG/Sullivan stated, “Just when we thought the investment growth in the first quarter of 2019 had broken every record, along came the second quarter and registered the most significant leap in the total amount raised in the last six years,” The Jerusalem Post reported on July 18, 2019.
Israeli scientists "print" the world's first 3-D heart

On April 15, 2019, Israeli scientists revealed they’ve successfully “printed” the world’s first 3-D vascularized, engineered heart, made using a patient’s own cells and biological materials. “This is the first time anyone anywhere has successfully engineered and printed an entire heart replete with cells, blood vessels, ventricles and chambers,” said Prof. Tal Dvir of TAU’s School of Molecular Cell Biology and Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science and Engineering in the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and the Sagol Center for Regenerative Biotechnology, who was the lead researcher for the study at Tel Aviv University, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Israel becomes the seventh nation to orbit the moon

Although the Beresheet craft lunar touchdown on April 11, 2019 was unsuccessful, the mission allowed the Jewish state to become the seventh country to orbit the moon which was an undertaking the New York Times said “captured the imagination and excitement of people in Israel and around the world.” 
Israel rockets to the Moon

Israel's SpaceIL successfully launched its spacecraft Beresheet from Florida's Cape Canaveral on February 21, 2019 at 8:45pm local time in a bid to become the fourth (and by far the smallest) country, following the U.S., the former Soviet Union and China, to make a soft landing on the moon. Beresheet will travel for two months and approximately 4 million miles before arriving on the lunar surface. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the mission “…a big step for Israel, but a giant step for Israeli technology,” HuffPost recounted. 
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Amazon finalized deal to buy Israeli startup CloudEndure for $200 million

CloudEndure, which provides business continuity software solutions for disaster recovery, is not the first or the biggest Israeli acquisition by the e-commerce giant. In 2015, Amazon acquired Annapurna Labs for $360 million, which became the center for developing chips used by Amazon Web Services, its cloud-computing unit. Additionally, Amazon also has a smaller research and development unit in Israel working on its cashierless supermarkets, as well as another group working on computer vision for smart speakers. This most recent deal in Amazon’s storied past with Israel has been finalized in January 2019 and is expected to be promptly announced, according to Haaretz.