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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thomas Friedman, "India's Innovation Stimulus": I Envy India

I envy India.

From New Delhi, an itinerant Thomas Friedman tells us in his latest New York Times op-ed, entitled "India's Innovation Stimulus" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/06/opinion/sunday/friedman-indias-innovation-stimulus.html?_r=1&ref=opinion), that he feels like he has met half of the world's seven billion people on the road from Agra to India's capital. Friedman is bursting with stories about innovation intended to offer low cost, hi-tech solutions for India's poverty.

Friedman tells us about a software program that runs on cellphones and is intended to advise illiterate farmers how to tend their crops. He describes “a single, portable, intelligent, noninvasive, eye prescreening device” for identifying diseases that can cause blindness. He lauds a cellphone travel search service that can pinpoint the lowest fares. And he writes of an effort to provide every Indian citizen with an identity number, which will assist the government in delivering services and subsidies.

Nowhere in Friedman's column is there supercilious, uninformed criticism of India's prime minister, Manmohan Singh. If only once Friedman could likewise visit Israel without lashing out at Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and reserve his comments for the scientific achievements being made by this tiny country of some seven million souls.

Were Tom to spend a day with me, I would take him south along the congested Haifa-Tel Aviv Highway to visit with several Israeli corporations with which I have been fortunate enough to become acquainted.

I would take Friedman to Nano Retina (http://www.nano-retina.com/), which is creating a miniaturized artificial retinal implant, expected to restore vision to persons suffering from advanced macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and retinitis pigmentosa, following a 30-minute minimally invasive procedure.

I would take Friedman to Compugen (http://www.cgen.com/), whose in silico (by computer) drug discovery efforts have given rise to a growing list of promising early stage drug candidates, including CGEN-15001, which has dramatically improved disease symptoms and abolished spontaneous relapses in an animal model of multiple sclerosis (see: http://www.cgen.com/Content.aspx?Page=press_releases&NewsId=571).

And I would escort Tom to Evogene (http://www.evogene.com/), which is using computational genomics technologies to significantly improve plant traits and to address growing demands for food, feed and fuel.

But even after witnessing these remarkable developments, my guess is that Friedman would still write another column decrying Netanyahu's purported obstruction of the peace process. After all, that's what his readership has come to expect and is waiting to hear.

[As noted in prior blog entries, I am a Compugen shareholder, this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Compugen shares, and in mid-September 2009 I began work as a part-time external consultant to Compugen. This blog entry has not been authorized or approved by Compugen.

I am a part-time external consultant to Nano Retina.

I am an Evogene shareholder, and this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Evogene shares. This blog entry has not been authorized or approved by Evogene.

The opinions expressed herein are mine and are based on publicly available information.]

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