Israeli startup companies Betalin Therapeutics, Nutrino Health, and E-Shunt have won the first Biomed Startup of the Year competition, which was held by the Israel Innovation Authority at MIXii Biomed 2017 in Tel Aviv this week.

Forty-five startups took part in this year’s biomed exhibition, which was held at the David InterContinental, and of these 10 were selected as “Biomed startup of the year” finalists by a team of experts.

In the medical devices category, the winner was E-Shunt, which has developed an implant for people suffering from glaucoma, a disease that causes intraocular pressure to rise to the point where it can damage eyesight and even cause blindness.

The implant, which uses chemical engineering technology and synthetic biology, channels the pressure deeper into the eye socket, releasing pressure on the optic nerve and stopping the progress of the disease. The simple implant process takes less than 10 minutes, considerably shorter than existing glaucoma treatments, and can be carried out by ophthalmologists who are not glaucoma specialists.

Artificial pancreas company Betalin Therapeutics was announced the winner in the category of pharmaceuticals. The company has developed an artificial pancreas that can detect blood-sugar levels. The pancreas is prepared in a lab using cells from clean lung tissue, onto which healthy pancreatic cells from a donor are implanted. These cells regenerate the body’s internal insulin, producing capability in accordance with the sugar level in the blood.

Nutrino Health, another company that specializes in diabetes, won in the category of digital healthcare. Using developments from the world of big data, the company has developed a digital signature of food stuffs – a “food print” – which is individualized for each person, and makes use of data collected from medical devices, wearables, activity sensors and other biological markers.

According to this personal digital signature, and taking into account additional personal parameters, like allergies, food preferences and more, the system offers the patient menus and foods specially adapted to them, either at home or when eating out.

The system helps diabetics understand how food affects the management of glucose levels in the blood, enabling them to live a healthier life.

“The companies that won signal Israel’s future in the rapidly developing life science ecosystem,” said Aharon Aharon, CEO of the Israel Innovation Authority and a judge for the competition.

Other competition judges included Dr. Talia Ben-Neria, head of the Life Sciences Department at the Israel Innovation Authority; Tzachi Schnarch, Deputy CEO of Technology and Director of the Technological Array at the Israel Innovation Authority; and Dr. Irit Yaniv from the Israel Advanced Technology Industries (IATI).

The focus of this year’s MIXiii Biomed conference, the 16th annual event, was aging. Speakers from all over the world addressed issues including longevity and quality of life, precision medicine, personalized diagnosis, the use of robotics and digital health solutions for the elderly, and age-related diseases.

“The startup competition of the MIXiii Biomed 2017 serves… as a springboard for companies seeking to break into commercial markets and to gain exposure among each other in the hope that collaborative efforts may create solutions for the benefit of humanity,” said Ruti Alon, CEO and founder of Medstrada and co-chairperson of MIXiii Biomed.