A first-of-its-kind virtual conference spearheaded by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) on March 24 brought together experts from Israel, the United States and Italy to discuss the COVID-19 crisis.

“The only way this [can be] contained is for the leaders to work together to coordinate strategies and best practices between countries,” said JVP founder and Chairman Erel Margalit, who moderated the webinar held on Cisco’s Webex platform.

The discussion addressed four pressing needs: Developing quicker, more cost-effective diagnosis and prediction tools; advancing remote-care technologies; promoting treatment and prevention; and mining data for intelligence regarding future pandemics.

Margalit is building an international online ecosystem of policymakers, academic and business leaders, hospital administrators and health-tech entrepreneurs to pool expertise and ideas on fighting COVID-19.

“We are facing a situation which has never happened before,” said Italy’s Chief Innovation Officer Davide Falasconi.

“This is a 21st century disease. We need to arm ourselves with 21st century tools,” added primary care and population health expert Dr. Nirav R. Shah, speaking from California’s Stanford University.

Participants heard from Israeli professionals, researchers and entrepreneurs who are using and developing such tools.

Dr. Galia Barkai of Sheba Medical Center said advanced technology from several Israeli startups enables contact-free care for COVID-19 patients in a facility built at a distance from the main hospital. “The staff sits outside in an inflatable tent with all the monitors and other equipment,” Barkai said.

Among representatives of startups whose contact-free technologies are employed at Sheba and other hospitals treating COVID-19 patients was Dedi Gilad, CEO of Tyto Care.

Tyto’s remote exam kit is used at 16 Israeli hospitals and with outpatients under quarantine. “Our device is starting to be deployed in hospitals in Spain and Italy and in the five US hospitals that have created corona-based programs for patients,” said Gilad.

Israel’s progress in developing a vaccine was reviewed by Eran Zehavy, Chief Innovation Coordinator at the Israel Institute of Biological Research; and David Zigdon, CEO of Migal Research Center.

Ami Appelbaum, chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority, announced that the IIA, Ministry of Health and National Digital Israel Initiative will grant Israeli companies an initial ₪50 million ($13 million) to develop solutions to short- and long-term challenges of COVID-19. These can include anything from diagnostics to data sharing for better predicting future outbreaks.

Predictive capabilities are getting a boost from Eran Segal at the Weizmann Institute, whose citizen questionnaire is being used in 10 countries to map trends and allocate testing resources; and Amir Harmaty of SparkBeyond, whose big data problem-solving platform is providing real-time insights in Italy and soon in the UK.

Margalit plans additional virtual conferences to coordinate strategies for the COVID-19 crisis.