THURSDAY, MARCH 8 2012
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC – NO FEE
90 Wellesley Street West
Ofir Shwartz – piano Simon Starr – bass Roy Oliel – drums Ofir Shwartz started his professional career as a pianist and composer in his early 20s with some of the finest jazz musicians in Israel. Ofir takes much inspiration from musicians such as Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, Bobo Stenson, Dave Liebman and many more. Exploring the endless bounds of harmony and melody, he attaches great importance to creativity which results in the unique sound of his music. A progressive piano trio that performs music written and arranged by Ofir Shwartz, this trio has a unique approach inspired by jazz, rock, and drum and bass genres. The trio performances are very alive and energetic – changing rhythms, moving from mellow melodies to dissonance in the spirit of the moment. They create a very emotional and honest connection between themselves and the audience as part of the music creation experience. The Ofir Shwartz Trio currently tours the world in support of their 2010 album “Earlier in Time”.
The world’s leading basketball league, the NBA, teamed up with Israeli startup company Shaker and launched a virtual pub application for Facebook users in which they can create a virtual character– an avatar – and interact with other users.
Shaker, the winner of TechCrunch’s prestigious Disrupt competition, launched the virtual pub on Sunday, ahead of the All-Star Game grand finale. The application includes a basketball arena and virtual rooms for users to interact in, compete in basketball trivia games and watch NBA games displayed on virtual screens. The application also has a Twitter Wall to display Tweets during the games.
NBA and Shaker jointly operate the application – the league will feed game highlights and trivia questions with Shaker responsible for design and operation.
The NBA launched Shaker’s application as part of its new social media initiative which includes fan voting through Twitter in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest. NBA also launched an application for video content such as interviews and highlights.
NBA will not broadcast free content from the All-Star games. Fans that chose not to pay to watch the broadcasts will be able to view stills on the GameTime application.
Shaker has also created a virtual house for the current season of Big Brother as part of a joint venture with Mako, where fans can meet and interact.
Israel was named one of the most innovative countries in the world in cleantech innovation in a study released Monday, with young Israeli companies leading the world in developing new ideas, methods and products for water reclamation, agricultural development, and energy production. Israel came in second on the first-ever Cleantech Global Innovation Index of 38 countries for its efforts in development and commercialization of environmental technologies, behind Denmark, which topped the study.
Clean technology, also called cleantech, refers to the intersection of business interests and investment with environmentally friendly products and services that use alternative energy sources, water purification methods, and the like.
The study was conducted by the Cleantech Group, which represents thousands of investors and companies in the cleantech industry (the company says it represents companies with $3 trillion in assets), and theWorld Wildlife Fund. The countries were evaluated on 15 indicators related to the creation and commercialization of cleantech start-ups, companies and ideas, with an index measuring each country’s relative potential to produce entrepreneurial start-up companies and commercialize technology innovations over the next 10 years.
Israel came in second on the index, the report said, because “it leads the pack in its capacity to produce new innovative cleantech companies” — meaning there are more innovative cleantech companies per capita developing new technologies in Israel than in much larger countries like the US, Canada, Germany, France, Japan, and many others (most of the countries listed in the study are OECD members). Two factors kept Israel out of the top spot: Israel’s small domestic market, and a lack of government support for cleantech development.
“Israel places second on the overall index, primarily due to its very high score for evidence of emerging cleantech innovation,” the report said. But Israel comes in second on the index instead of first because “the country lacks a cleantech-supportive government policy.” However, the dearth of state money is somewhat made up by VC activity, with venture funds and angels funding many small, promising projects, the report added.
Israeli companies also lead in patent activity. As an example of Israeli innovation, the report cited a company called TaKaDu, which develops software-based technologies to detect and prevent leaks in commercial water systems (TaKaDu was named Cleantech’s Company of the Year in 2011, and was one of the Wall Street Journal’s top innovation award winners last year as well). “Israel is especially strong in water innovation, driven by the serious water scarcity that affects the region and supported by Mekorot, the highly innovative water utility that regularly partners with local cleantech start-ups,” the report said.
Although Israelis have developed many great ideas, not enough have been implemented at home. “Israel’s success in giving birth to cleantech companies is not matched by its performance on the evidence of commercialized cleantech innovation factor — the country places 14th,” the report said, adding that “this is likely due to the limited domestic market in Israel as well as a scarcity of local expansion capital.” Most of Israel’s ideas are actually being implemented abroad, benefitting the entire world – but not Israelis.
With a little effort, though, Israel could duplicate the experience of Denmark, the top country on the index. “Denmark places first on the overall index, despite a quite average score for general innovation drivers. Denmark’s top score for cleantech drivers is primarily founded on strong government policy and public R&D spending.” Israel, which leads in innovation, should strengthen government cleantech policy, and implement some of its ideas at home, the report adds.
Source: Times of Israel
Before leaving for the US, Shalit met with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, who helped expedite his visa application process.
This is Shalit’s second overseas trip since his release. Last month, the soldier met with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Sarkozy was involved in efforts for Gilad’s release and met with Noam and Aviva Shalit numerous times over the years.
For the most part the freed soldier has been keeping a low profile – exceptions including an appearance at a Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball game and the opening of his own Facebook account.
Shalit was released on October 18 after five years in Hamas captivity in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.
Written by playwright and performer Eve Ensler, “The Vagina Monologues” is a series of monologues presented by women focused around the topic of, well, the vagina. Each one tackles the subject from a different perspective and emotion, some humorous, some serious, all meaningful as they deal with topics such as sex, rape, birth, and more.
The play though is more than just another artistic production; the proceeds benefit various women’s causes as part of a global movement called V-Day which has raised over $85 million for women’s anti-violence groups since 1998.
Running last Thursday through Saturday, proceeds from this production benefitted the Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center (JRCC) which serves women who have suffered from sexual violence while raising awareness to prevent future violence. The JRCC approached local resident and American immigrant Kate Nachman to direct the production after she successfully oversaw five previous versions in recent years. Nachman, who runs a gap year program for recent high school graduates from Canada and the United States, jumped at the opportunity, recruiting two of the program’s female participants to join the rest of the female cast, several of whom have acted in past productions as well.
The cast represented several populations with both religious and non-religious women taking part in the show, evidenced by some of the actresses wearing head coverings (in addition to the audience). With large crowds in attendance at each of the three shows, the evening opened with a representative of the center addressing the audience, talking about their important work and where the proceeds would go. The money raised from these shows will not be spent on avoidable or redundant services; rather, they will be used to keep the crisis center from closing. Served by only a small part-time staff, the center works on a shoestring budget to provide such critical services to women whose needs would not otherwise be met.
V-Day events have taken place in over 140 countries around the world through stage performances, educational workshops for both men and women, and more, fighting issues including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation, and sex slavery.
With an overwhelmingly positive response, the performances were a big success, continuing a Jerusalem tradition. The next “Vagina Monologues” rendition will not come soon enough!
Global eBay has officially declared the establishment of eBay Israel and unveiled its activity in the country.
The online retail giant has decided to unite its two activity centers in Netanya and Tel Aviv into one development center and significantly expand it.
The company plans to recruit dozens of new workers, mostly computer engineers, industrial and management engineers and information system engineers, turning eBay’s center of activity in Israel into one of its only technology centers in the world.
Apart from five development centers in the United States, the company has one center in India and one in China.
eBay Israel will be headed by Yuval Matalon, who manages the company’s activity in the Holy Land.
The main activity of the united development center will continue to take place in Netanya and partly in Tel Aviv, but the company is looking for a new complex for the entire activity.
The Israeli development center will focus on building catalogues, creating information on products and developing tools for social commerce, aimed at allowing collective purchases and sharing the buying process with other users.
The company’s entry into the catalogue field and their integration in its websites were made possible after it acquired Israeli company Shopping.com, which engages in price comparison on the Internet and specializes in building catalogues.
Last year eBay also bought Israeli startup The Gifts Project, which developed an application for online group gifting.
Center of gravity shifted
When it first entered Israel, eBay divided its activity between the operation of Netanya-based Shopping.com as an independent company and the use of the Israeli company’s expertise by global eBay’s digital markets service.
Over time, the activity’s center of gravity was shifted to the development of eBay’s technological infrastructure, while Shopping.com continues its business activity in the field of price comparison.
Now, following the acquisition of Tel Aviv-based The Gifts Project, eBay employs more than 200 workers in Israel. The company decided recently to step up its activity in Israel and is preparing to recruit dozens of workers.
According to eBay representatives in Israel, the company’s activity in the country is also aimed at monitoring the development of the Israeli online retail market and investing specifically in eBay’s Israeli customers.
Another Israeli company acquired by eBay is Fraud Sciences, which specializes in developing tools for securing online payments.
eBay operates the world’s biggest and most popular online retail website, with more than 100 million users, and tops the list of high-tech and Internet corporations.
The company, which was founded in 1995 in San Jose, California, as the operator of an auction website, recorded a significant growth in recent years and is now valued at some $68 billion.
The company’s total income in the last quarter of 2011 amounted to $11.6 billion – a 35% increase compared to the previous year.
Apart from the eBay Marketplace online auction website, eBay Inc. also includes global e-commerce business PayPal, GSI Commerce, which provides e-commerce solutions and services, and open source based e-commerce Web application Magento.