Israel's 'Billion Dollar' Patch

Israeli high tech continues to thrive. SakeSky has sold a part interest in a life-saving device to a British-Taiwanese firm for $370 million.

David Shamah, | updated: 15:07

Dr. Zvi Picker
Dr. Zvi Picker
Israel news photo: Flash90

If the wearer's condition deteriorates to a point where he or she enters the "danger zone," the patch alerts the cell phone to send out an SMS or other message to medical personnel. 
An Israeli company has sold a one-third interest in a medical device it developed to a British-Taiwanese company for $370 million – making the total value of SafeSky's LifeKeeper Patch over $1 billion.

The deal, between SafeSky and Micro-Star International (MSI), is one of the biggest ever in relative terms for an Israeli hi-tech industry. SafeSky will retain 67% of the ownership of the patch, and MSI has an option to purchase a bigger share later on – at five times the price it paid this week.

The LifeKeeper Patch, not much bigger than a shekel coin, contains a microprocessor which can read information about the wearer's medical state – recording data such as body temperature, heart rate and rhythms, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. When the patch is worn, the information is transmitted via Bluetooth to a cell phone, where an application records the information.

The phone program evaluates the data, and if the information being recorded indicates that that wearer is in danger of a heart attack or stroke, it can send an emergency message out to doctors or emergency services, who can then locate the wearer using the phone's GPS capabilities.

The LifePatch, which was developed by SafeSky co-owner Arik Klein, is considered a revolutionary "teletherapy" device. It contains a number of important advancements, company CEO Dr. Gabi Picker told reporters – among them its ability to determine blood sugar levels without the need for invasive blood tests, a boon for diabetes sufferers. In essence, he says, the patch contains a "mini-lab" where information about the wearer's condition is constantly evaluated.

If the wearer's condition deteriorates to a point where he or she enters the "danger zone," the patch alerts the cell phone to send out an SMS or other message to medical personnel – thus allowing doctors to take full advantage of the "golden hour," the period immediately after a medical event or injury where critical care can do the most good.

According to Picker, both Klein and his partner, Dr. Amos Bouchnik – all of them dentists – have been working on the patch for eight years, and while SafeSky has developed prototypes, it has not yet produced a commercial version of the product, which is where the partnership with MSI comes in. SafeSky will continue to develop applications to allow the patch to be used in a number of medical scenarios. In addition, he said, the company has not sought venture capital or other investment money, because Klein and Bouchnik were concentrating on developing the algorithms for the software that runs the patch.

SafeSky, headquartered in Tel Aviv's Ramat HaChayal hi-tech area, is not just a medical device company, said Picker; the company has about 20 other patents and is in the process of making deals on as well. Among those patents, he said, is a better solar panel, which can collect 100 times more energy than panels currently in use.