Jerusalem, June 22, 2011 - Three senior Hebrew University of Jerusalem faculty members have been named winners of this year's Kaye Innovation Awards for their multi-year research efforts which have yielded highly successful business applications abroad.
Prof. Haim Rabinowitch of the Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has been named winner of the first prize. Rabinowitch, a former rector of the university, is being recognized for his long-term innovations in genetic and breeding technologies.
During the last 25 years, the novel results of Prof. Rabinowitch's team breeding efforts have brought about the development of a lucrative seed industry in Israel. The export of tomato, onion and shallot seeds developed by Prof. Rabinowitch and his research team bring in about $50 million annually, with high benefits to the Hebrew University from royalties paid by world leading and Israeli seed companies.
Today, Prof. Rabinowitch is leading the development of a unique garlic breeding project, as well as the development of a plant improvement technology which allows seed producers to easily adapt any plant variety to changing situations. Both projects were recently licensed by Yissum, the Hebrew University's technology transfer company, to start-up companies that were established on the basis of these technologies.
Winner of the second prize among the faculty Kaye Award winners is Prof. Dan Gazit, head of the Skeletal Biotechnology Laboratory at the Hebrew University's medical campus, for his team's 19-year-long research that has led to a breakthrough in the field of stem cell-based tissue engineering, which focuses on the regeneration of skeletal tissue by converting adult stem cells into skeletal tissue. TheraCell inc., a California-based biotech start-up company has licensed this technology from Yissum.
Dr. Raanan Fattal of the Benin School of Computer Science and Engineering, received the third prize for the development of second-generation, wavelet-based image enhancement. This promising sharpness-enhancement technology was licensed by Adobe and is already incorporated in the company's leading Photoshop software.
The Kaye Awards are presented each year during the Hebrew University's Board of Governors meeting. The presentation this year was on June 21. The prizes were established in 1994 by Isaac Kaye of England, a prominent industrialist in the pharmaceutical industry, to encourage faculty, staff and students of the university to develop innovative methods and inventions with good commercial potential which will benefit the university and society.
Yissum is a leader among the world's leading university-based technology transfer companies, with over $2 billion worth of products that originated at the Hebrew University sold worldwide each year by companies under license from Yissum. Since its inception in 1964, Yissum has registered over 7,000 patents covering more than 2000 Hebrew University-originated inventions.