The Innovators Way is a new photo exhibition showcasing 27 researchers whose innovations, developed at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, improve quality of life and human welfare worldwide in fields such as health, safety, environment and nutrition.

The exhibition celebrates the work of those researchers whose initiatives have led to commercial products on the market today.

These creative initiatives came about as the result of intensive and wide-ranging scientific research, followed by patent registration, commercialization and finally marketing by Israeli and international companies.

None of this would have been possible without Yissum – the Technology Transfer Company of the Hebrew University. Yissum is solely responsible for the commercialization of innovations and technologies originating at the university. The company was among the first of its kind in the world when it was established in 1964, and is today ranked among the world’s 15 leading companies in this field.

To date, Yissum has registered more than 7,000 patents on more than 2,000 inventions, and has established 72 spin-off companies.

The scientists and innovations documented in the new exhibition include:

Prof. Haim D. Rabinowitch (right) and Prof. Nachum Kedar established the foundations for the introduction of genes for extended fruit shelf-life into standard tomato cultivars, turned cherry tomatoes into a global commodity, and developed the cluster tomatoes. (The original research was conducted jointly with Prof. Yosef Mizrahi of Ben Gurion University and Dr. Ehud Kopeliovitch. The seeds are produced and manufactured by Vilmorin (France), Monsanto (USA), Syngenta (Switzerland) and Bayer (Germany).

Prof. Marta Weinstock-Rosin who developed Exelon, a medicine prescribed for people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. Exelon can slow the progression of the disease in a significant proportion of patients and improve cognitive function in some subjects. Exelon is manufactured by Novartis (Switzerland).

Professor of Chemistry David Avnir, developer of Sol-Gel Technology for the formation of new materials which combine the properties of glasses or ceramics with the properties of organic and biological compounds. Applications of Sol-Gel Technology have been developed in the fields of optics, catalysis, sensing, polymers, biochemistry and pharmacy. Many researchers at the Hebrew University have participated in the various developments. Sol-Gel Technologies, Inc. (Israel) was established to commercialize products based on these newly invented materials, and is active especially in the fields of dermatology and agriculture.

Prof. Alexander Vainstein, the Wolfson Family Professor of Floriculture, who developed the MemoGenetechnology which enables the creation of new traits in plants and the enhancement of agricultural crops through genetic modification. MemoGene is a groundbreaking process for targeted and site-specific plant genetic modification, using highly innovative novel tools for genomic modification. The technology, which was patented jointly by Yissum and Danziger Innovations (Israel), is applicable to all plants.

Prof. Shmuel Peleg has developed technologies upon which two Israeli startups were founded. One technology creates panoramic stereo images from photographs taken by an ordinary camera, which has been commercialized by HumanEyes Technologies (Israel). The second is a technique for video synopsis, which enables hours of video surveillance footage to be viewed in minutes, and which has been commercialized by BriefCam. [Full disclosure: I work for BriefCam and know Prof. Peleg personally. I also thought the photo really captured his spirit.]

The exhibition’s photographer, Nati Shohat, is the founder of Flash 90, a photographic agency that supplies images to newspapers, magazines and other customers in Israel and abroad. Shohat’s news photography and artistic and portrait work have been exhibited in many venues and in publications such as Stern Magazine, Paris Match, Le Monde, Time and others.

Hebrew University has about 1,000 senior faculty members and a student body of approximately 23,000. To date, it has conferred over 120,000 degress. The University has some100 research centers and more than 4,000 research projects. Faculty members and alumni have been awarded 8 Nobel Prizes, 1 Fields Medal, 269 Israel Prizes, 12 Wolf Prizes, 18 EMET Prizes and 41 Rothschild Prizes. Founders include Chaim Weizmann, Albert Einstein, Martin Buber, Chaim Nachman Bialik.