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July 11, 2012
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Economic News from Israel

  • Elbit Systems has signed a memorandum of understanding with The Boeing Company to market their US-built Hermes 450 and 900 unmanned aerial vehicles to selected countries.  The agreement was signed at Farnborough Airshow.
  • Given Imaging has won its patent infringement lawsuit against Intromedic Co. Ltd. that was filed with the Seoul, Korea Central District Court last November.  The Yokneam-based company maintains its North American headquarters in Atlanta.
  • Tel Aviv-based Boxee and Comcast have reached an agreement on the free reception of content channels by Boxee media streaming device, the Boxee Box.  Under the agreement which now awaits FCC approval, Boxee can receive the basic cable package from encrypted Comcast broadcasts using DLNA technology to share content via a special analog-to-cable converter attached to the Boxee Box, and shortly afterwards, cable companies will offer a way to decrypt basic cable signals using software.
  • Tel Aviv-based SHL TeleMedicine has attained FDA marketing approval for its Smartheart ECG for smartphones.  The application is available for iPhones, Android devices, and Blackberry, and enables the user to perform a hospital-grade electro-cardiogram and send the results in real time to the company’s telemedicine call center or to his personal physician or cardiologist, uploaded to his personal medical record, or sent to a hospital for medical diagnosis.
  • Facebook acquired Tel Aviv-based Face.com last month for $60 million, and this week continued its tradition of closing down the companies it acquires.  The company’s senior management has been transferred to Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, and all independent activities have been halted including use of an independent brand.  Face.com developed technology used for facial recognition on photos loaded onto websites and through mobile applications, and had released two apps used on Facebook called PhotoFinder and Photo Tagger.
  • A record 1.7 million people visited Israel in the first half of 2012, 6% more than in the first half of 2011 according to the Ministry of Tourism.  A record 285,000 visitors entered Israel in June, 9% more than the previous year and 10% more than June 2010.
  • Israel’s polished diamond sales fell 33% to $1.51 billion in the first half of 2012 from $2.26 billion in the first half of 2011 according to the country’s Diamond Supervisor.  June diamond exports totaled just $95 million compared with $250-$300 million in an average month.  As a result of this negative trend, the Ministry of Industry Trade & Labor convened top diamond industry executives and set up a committee to review measures to develop the industry.
  • According to the UN World Investment Report, foreign direct investment in Israel totaled $11.37 billion in 2011, 106% more than in 2010.  FDI inflow to Israel accounted for 25% of gross capital formation last year, up from 16.9% in 2010, and was higher than the three-year average of $9.63 billion in 2005-07 before the global crisis.
  • Israel has launched its first ever international “green” campaign to promote the nation’s achievements in the field of environmental technology.  Put together by the Prime Minister’s office, Foreign Ministry, and Environmental Protection Ministry, it includes an international ad campaign which will air worldwide on TV networks including Atlanta-based CNN.
  • Israel’s unemployment rate rose from 6.8% in April to 7.1% in May, amounting to 255,000 persons according to the Central Bureau of Statistics.  At the same time, participation in the labor force by people over the age of 15 rose by 59.2%.  The labor force total was 3.606 million persons in May.

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