Bar-Ilan University | President’s Report 2022

41 SCIENCE +MEDICINE + DESIGN = 949 The first thing people want to know when they hear about UnBox’s new collaboration with Sheba Medical Center and Jerusalem’s Bezalel School of Art and Design is, of course, the meaning of its name. “949 should actually be 950,” concedes UnBox CEO Ariel Sella with a smile. “Since there are, we have it on good authority, 950 meters between the medical center and Bar-Ilan. Unfortunately, the domainname ‘950’ was already taken, sowe decreased the number by a digit—after all, the goal of the program is to erase the distance between the two institutions by means of a synergy.” A first-of-its-kind, scalable platform for venture building in medicine, 949 brings Bar-Ilan researchers together with clinicians from Israel’s largest hospital to create technologies that solve patients’ and physicians’ challenges. By adding designers from the country’s leading school of design, their products—from AIpowered rapid diagnostic devices to software that optimizes workflows in health settings—will have something all too many of them lack: sensitivity to user experience. “949 allows researchers to contribute the multi-disciplinary science, physicians to contribute their clinical know-how, and designers to guide the process towards an offering that’s usable, intuitive, and more likely to be embraced,” Sella explains. Given that 949 has committed to founding 24 startups in the next four years, it’s a good thing the program’s premise is the creation of winning teams. “The need for innovation in the healthcare sector is enormous, and there’s no doubt that Bar-Ilan researchers’ technologies can answer that need,” Sella says. “Bar-Ilan was simply determined to think out of the box about how to accelerate that process. That’s what UnBox is all about.” “We send teams into the world to speak to representative customers. Not to try and sell their idea, but to listen to what customers say they need. We give each team several mentors withwhom they can consult as they pivot in light of what they hear,” Sella says, adding that this aspect of the UnBox program is wholly unique to Bar-Ilan University. “Then, we teach them how to raise money and build an advisory board—essentially, how to stand on their own two feet.” And after an average of one-two years, Sella finishes, most UnBox companies do. “I realized that very few Israeli entrepreneurs understand the process of customer validation,” says Sella. “Yet it’s the key to granting an ideawings.” Now entering its fifth cycle, UnBox can lay claim to having helped launch 12 deep-tech startups (“and counting,” adds Sella) that solve intractable problems in medicine, healthcare, transportation, agriculture, and education. Most of all, insists Sella, UnBox’s success has shown that you don’t have to be a born entrepreneur to launch a successful company. Rather, researchers can learn to channel their desire to help the world into a product with real impact. “Entrepreneurship, like most things in life, is an acquired skill. It can be taught. And what better place to teach it,” he asks, “than at a university?” UnBox: A Story in 4 Years 70+ ˜ 500 number of Bar-Ilan researchers, post-docs, graduate students, and entrepreneurial team members who participated in UNBOX’s semester-long entrepreneurial course applications from UNBOX course participants for help founding their own companies +$12Mdeep-tech startups launched successfully