More than 500 entrepreneurs, investors, corporate executives, politicians and philanthropists came to the inaugural MassChallenge Israel Awards last night (November 9) to see which of 10 finalists chosen from MassChallenge Israel’s first startup accelerator cohort would walk away with cash prizes – and the eye of potential investors and strategic partners.

Each entrepreneur was given two minutes to present his or her startup on the stage in an auditorium at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Two finalists received ₪300,000 (about $78,000) awards:

EggXYt, a technology to determine the gender of chicken embryos before incubation and hatching, meant to save 3 billion male chicks from being killed at hatcheries every year; save the industry money; and add billions of eggs to the global food market. CEO Yehuda Elram, a Harvard-educated lawyer, related that his grandparents were chicken farmers.

From left, MassChallenge Israel advisory board member Liat Aaronson, EggXYt CEO Yehuda Elram, MassChallenge Israel Managing Director Israel Ganot, MassChallenge CEO and founder John Harthorne, EggXYt CTO Daniel Offen and IoT executive Ariel Hadar, who presented the award. Photo: courtesy
From left, MassChallenge Israel advisory board member Liat Aaronson, EggXYt CEO Yehuda Elram, MassChallenge Israel Managing Director Israel Ganot, MassChallenge CEO and founder John Harthorne, EggXYt CTO Daniel Offen and IoT executive Ariel Hadar, who presented the award. Photo: courtesy

StellarNova, a startup led by two young mothers – one a PhD chemist and the other an entrepreneur — to encourage girls’ engagement with science using an online community, live workshops and a play kits, the first of which is called The Know-it-Alls’ Great Chemistry Adventure.

Three additional finalists won ₪125,000 (about $32,600):

EyeControl, which is developing a wearable and user-friendly communication device for people with ALS and other diseases that destroy their ability to talk. A clinical trial is underway at Rambam Healthcare Campus in Haifa.

CEO Or Retzkin explaining EyeControl on stage and on screen at the 2016 MassChallenge Awards. Photo by Abigail Klein Leichman
CEO Or Retzkin explaining EyeControl on stage and on screen at the 2016 MassChallenge Awards. Photo by Abigail Klein Leichman

Plasmatica, developer of a unique technology to solve fogging problems on optical surfaces, initially for surgical applications and also for sports and military equipment, expected to hit the market at the end of 2017.

Versatile Natures, developer of a multi-sensor IoT, plug-and-play hook that transforms any construction crane into a smart crane with the goal of cutting down on construction delays.

Since July, MassChallenge Israel has been incubating 48 startups at its office in the Machane Yehuda shuk, Jerusalem’s bustling outdoor market. These were picked from a field of 500 applicants on the basis of their potential for high-impact change in keeping with the global MassChallenge goals.

The Boston-based nonprofit runs four-month accelerator programs in Boston, London, Jerusalem, Lausanne and Mexico City, and takes no equity. More than 1,200 startups have graduated from the combined accelerators, reportedly making MassChallenge the largest startup accelerator in the world.