Israel Site Visit Update from Nancy Davis

Momentum is certainly what Susie Ellis and I were feeling as we continued the second half of our site visit in Tel Aviv! Adding to my earlier blog post on the first part of our week, read below for more on the #2022GWS preparations—from the behind-the-scenes orchestrators to our global media event to more innovators at the heart of the Start Up Nation.

Preparations for behind the scenes at the Summit

My day began with a meeting with Revital from Comtec so I could share some of the creative thinking about the Summit, talk more about the Tech Innovation Pavilion and share our vision so she can activate her team and their connections. (Note: Revital is a BuDhaGirl! Over the three years I have known her, I have sent her several sets of bangles…she will finally meet Jessica Jesse in Tel Aviv and she’s very excited. One of Revital’s daughters is interested in fashion and sustainability!)

The inaugural podcast from Welltech Ventures – and we were the guests

Susie and I were invited to be Amir and Galit’s guests on their inaugural podcast,
fortunately, not live! We went to a podcast studio and worked with Ori and Jonathan to record an extensive interview, talking about the GWS and GWI in general, the upcoming Summit, what we are finding and feeling about Israel, wellness and more. Welltech Ventures is beginning a podcast series on wellness, which will be the first in Israel.

A boost from the Israeli “Starbucks”

We stopped en route to our next meeting at Aroma, which is Israel’s answer to Starbuck’s. When Sheila and I were in Jerusalem on vacation years ago, we discovered Ice Aroma, which is a blended frozen latte. It was nice to reconnect with an old friend.

A visit to iMED, a medical innovation coworking space

We then stopped by iMED, a coworking space for medical innovation startups. You’ll want to enlarge this photo to see the names of start-ups that are currently part ofiMED. And do check out their website and introductory video. This impressed us as we really had not seen anything quite like it. Think: WeWork for health entrepreneurs, with an embedded eco-system in collaboration with Ichilov hospital and VCs. The company founders sit side by side (office by office) and share ideas, connections and more. The results are astounding, including a unicorn or two. This was the brainchild of Ronni Gamzu, (below) and Amir and Galit will be moving their offices to this space within the next few months.

Ronni Gamzuis the CEO of Ichilov Hospital and among his long, long list of accomplishments and associations, he was the COVID Czar (think Anthony Fauci) for Israel. He is a practicing medical doctor and—as with many Israelis—has the spirit of an entrepreneur with an altruistic soul. He is determined to impact the health of people everywhere through behavior change, aligned with what we are doing (Moonshot included). He is a visionary. He believes the time isright nowfor medicine, wellness, and technology to come together in service of mankind. He was impressed with the Summit and will be speaking. “Why Wait for the Crisis?” was something he mentioned, wanting instead to prevent the lifestyle diseases that plague “most” everyone who seek medical attention. The meeting with him was powerful.


In our meeting with Ronni was Aviv Shohur, the CEO of iMED, who then took us back to the iMED space to talk further about the start-ups there, what they are doing and who might be part of the Tech Innovation Pavilion. Among them, a company working on biodegradable, 3-d printed bone pieces that dissolve once the real bone grows back; a health data/analytics/encryption company from the “8200” which is the highest-level military security arm of the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) and more. They will partner with us to bring some of these companies to the Tech Pavilion and Aviv might serve as a judge for the Call for Innovations competition.

Scouting potential locations for the Summit dine-around

Sarona Market. Potential dine-around location.Clarois a beautiful, open, light, spacious and very good restaurant next toSarona Market, which is an historic destination in Tel Aviv. It has a high-end, authentic feel and there is a good deal of outdoor space for walking, sitting, having a caffé, etc. The restaurant, if available, can accommodate over 200 people, and there are other restaurants nearby that are also very good. According to Revital, there is a great, night-time historical tour of Sarona, that people really like, which could be an after-dinner activity. Sarona is not far from the Hilton.

Susie and I opted for an early night, given that Wednesday is the day with media and meetings at Nike Innovation Centre, and people came to us! We are now both timeshifting back to the east coast as well. Ömer arrived late yesterday and it should be another packed day, meeting extraordinary people in this extraordinary place.

Wonderful science

As part of my timeshifting the next day, I could not have much light until noon. So, no sunshine overlooking the sea, a relatively dark room—just light enough to make coffee, which I am supposed to have. I’m also not supposed to be exposed to blue light, which is one of the worst for shifting circadian clocks, so I have switched my computer to warm light. And I will be wearing sunglasses to my meeting this morning. Science can be strange, but also wonderful.

And speaking of wonderful science, Amai Proteins, the company whose lab we visited on day one, with their interesting founder Ilan Samish, WON THE EXTREME TECH CHALLENGE competition! You recall from my post earlier this week that Ilan was headed to California to pitch to Bill Gates and a team of tech giants. Please read Ilan’s post on LinkedIn. He is part of the Tel Aviv Summit and we are all so proud. This is one of Amir and Galit’s portfolio companies, so they are over the moon.


More photos of the hotel spaces

Lobby of the Hilton
I snapped this photo, realizing I had not sent one of the lobby, which is lovely, when a security guard came out of nowhere and told me, politely, that there are no photos allowed in the lobby. So this is a rare glimpse!


Foyer outside the main ballroom
Before leaving for Nike, I took myself on a quick tour of the meeting spaces again, this time without an event taking place. The ballroom was being set for the next conference, but I was able to experience the large, naturally lit and quite beautiful foyer area outside the ballroom and wanted to share a few photos. Lots of room for all that we do and it’s a pretty nice view, too!

Meetings at Nike Innovation Centre

Judith Halioua
Wedneday was our Media Day, and we spent it at Nike Innovation Centre, thanks to the generosity and hospitality of Judith Halioua, a senior executive in strategy at Nike, and her associate Paz Back. They made us feel welcome and gave us a number of spaces from which to work. Judith is originally from Spain, and I had met her years ago when we were both judges for a Welltech “Call for Start-Ups” competition. She comes from the fashion industry and had some interesting insights about the intersection of fashion, wellness, and technology, and the data that drives everything. Nike renamed their “Innovation Hub” to “Data Science Innovation”. She is really warm and lovely and will serve as a judge for this year’s “Call for Innovation: Wellness and the Metaverse” competition as she spoke about the Metaverse and is very knowledgeable.

Because we were going to be spending the day in one place (I have to say, a welcome relief after running all over Tel Aviv every other day) Amir ensured our time was well spent, and he invited several people to come meet with us.

Sophia Yurchenko and Yarden Zinger
First up were two women from the Israel Export Institute. When Susie was at CES, she visited the Israeli section, which is curated by the Export Institute. They essentially “export Israeli innovation to the world,” for appropriate events and opportunities. They offered to promote the Summit, and particularly the Tech Innovation Pavilion, to their network of 2000+ people. We feel the Export Institute would be another excellent partner for the Tech Innovation Pavilion, likely bringing companies in the health and wellness arena.

Ellie Hanson, FINN Partners
Thanks to Ellie, working closely with Beth and Cassandra, Susie, Amir, Ömer and I were interviewed, via zoom, by Deborah Danon, from the Times of Israel. This was a very hard-won interview, but Ellie, a veteran PR person here, knows how best to navigate the landscape. The reporter seemed interested in everything we had to say, and I guess time will tell if we end up in the news!


Sharon Handelman-Gotlib
Amir and I met next with Sharon, who works at Sompo Digital Lab, an innovative arm of the HUGE Japanese insurance company. It was so nice to meet in person. She’s an absolute doll, speaks all over on Fem Tech, and we had a great conversation about longevity, how digital health is perceived in Japan and more. She has offered to help, truly, in any way possible. Sharon will help promote the Shark Tank, Call for Innovation, etc. And, Sharon remembered that the last time we met over zoom, Adina popped in and jumped on my lap and Sharon and Adina had a conversation about flowers and that warmed my heart.


Karina Rubenstein, Director of Business Development, Startup Division, Israel Innovation Authority

“The Israel Innovation Authority is Israel’s central agency to manage the country’s governmental support of the resource of innovation.” We had a good meeting with Karina, who explained how the Israel Innovation Authority works, how they support startups (her division) and how we might collaborate. Of course, the Tech Innovation Pavilion is a natural fit, and a place to showcase some of the startups they support. I have previously met with Shomrat Shurtz, Senior Director of Business Development at the Innovation Authority, and someone Amir knows well, who is also very keen to find ways to collaborate. Karina might be helpful in bringing the UAE to the Summit, through innovation.

Global Media Event via Zoom from Nike Innovation Centre

The team on a Zoom call with global media.(Susie, Ömer, Moi, first row. Amir, Ben Enosh, founder & CEO of Antidote, Galit Horovitz, co-founder, Welltech Ventures.)

Beth and Cassandra organized a Zoom call with global media, including editors from European Spa, Insider’s Guide to Spas, Spa Business, Spa China and more. They were very engaged and seemed quite interested in what we have been doing here on the site visit, who we’ve been meeting with, how plans are shaping up. They were also keen to be reassured that spa, hospitality, and travel would not be overshadowed by innovation, particularly as it relates to technology.

It was great to have Ben Enosh with us, an entrepreneur who founded Antidote, a digital HMO for the under-insured population in the United States. He’s a very sweet man, very creative and it was fun to brainstorm with him after the call, about how best to engage local entrepreneurs.

Amir + Ömer = powerhouse co-chairs
Amir and Ömer are not just powerhouse co-chairs for the Summit, they are incredibly nice people. They get along beautifully and have a lot of respect for each other. Ömer said to me, “Amir is a sweetie-pie.” And he certainly is. We all had dinner together last night, along with Galit, at a very nice restaurant called Pastel. Then Amir drove us back to the Hilton and we said our goodbyes. I have to say, being with Amir and Galit, and being here this week has been an enriching and inspiring time. I adore Amir, he is truly a mensch.

Our final meetings

On our last full day, Susie, Ömer and I met with the Hilton conference team and the Comtec team to review the excellent brief Kendra had prepared detailing some of the most important and unique elements of the Summit—table topic lunches, VIP reception, Ambassador lunch, welcome reception, etc., and determined all the locations, switching only one or two based on being here in person to see them.

Then Susie, Ömer and I met with Ronnie Fortis, CEO of the Tel Aviv Hilton, and openly discussed the way in which we often work with a hotel, and Ömer had his own meeting with Ronnie yesterday to make clear the level of the Summit, delegates, and the uniqueness of the event.

Ronnie then took us to see the Vista, which is a luxury hotel-within-a-hotel, here at the Hilton, on the higher floors. Gorgeous common room, like an executive floor of some hotels, but with a view of all of the Mediterranean and a good part of Tel Aviv. I also saw two types of rooms on those floors, and we know many of our delegates will happily pay more for that upgrade. Note: Ronnie is having all the information about the Vista sent to us, along with rates which he going to try to reduce slightly, so we can let our delegates know for booking. We should have this on our website in the coming week or so.

As I write this, Susie is visiting Aviv, and meeting with Dr. Shai Efrati, who created this company for Hyperbaric treatment. Aviv exists in Tel Aviv, Dubai and Florida. More from Susie on this for sure!

I have 50 minutes more to enjoy caffeine, and then no more until tomorrow. ;0) I’ll walk around a bit and then pack. It’s been an amazing trip and I hope you’ve been able to feel some of my excitement and also feel “in the know.”

Shabbat Shalom from Tel Aviv, and sending love!



About the Author

Nancy Davis is the Chief Creative Officer & Executive Director of the Global Wellness Summit and the non-profit Global Wellness Institute. She has decades of experience in strategic communications for Fortune 100 companies. Since joining the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) in 2013, Nancy has helped expand the organization’s global footprint through events and activities that promote the mission of both the GWS and the nonprofit Global Wellness Institute™ (GWI). She infuses her work with passion and creativity.

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