TERA.Bio Partner’s Chief Beny Rubinstein On How To Beat The Pandemic Faster And More Sustainably
A new wave of technologists, innovators, and investors is shaking up the healthcare category. Israel-based TERA.Bio Partner’s Chief Beny Rubinstein explains why building a TERA.Bio and helping solve some of the world’s biggest challenges efficiently has unique challenges.
Q: Please tell us more about yourself and how you got involved with Tera, and how is Tera involved in driving the sustainability agenda across external stakeholders
A: I am a “pragmatic idealist”. My entire life and motivation have been focused on how to attain wisdom, how to be able to “see” what is not always visible through conventional eyes and to drive positive impact to the world.
According to the Keirsey Temperament Sorter®, my personality type, the “Champion” (ENFP), makes up little more than 3 to 4 percent of the total population.
Idealists are spiritual, intuitive people who can enjoy spending a great deal of time and energy working toward a better understanding of who they are. The ultimate hope of this group is to attain true wisdom.
And that’s exactly how and why I got involved with TERA in 2020. A year after leaving a promising career at Microsoft, where I learned most of what I know about business since getting my M.B.A. at The Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania.
I dedicated a year of my life to a “sabbatical”, basically trying to learn as much as I could from the Israeli society and its amazing innovation ecosystem.
I also volunteered to mentor dozens of immigrants (Olim Hadashim) and entrepreneurs through organizations like Gvahim, MassChallenge, Product League, WeWork Labs, and others, and while I was mentoring a young lady, an entrepreneur at a WeWork in Tel Aviv, and helping her land her dream job at Microsoft (which she did!), she asked me if she could pass my contact information to someone at TERA. I got a phone call two days later, which resulted in a series of deep conversations not only about my professional skills, experiences, and qualifications – but also about my values and aspirations, which turned out to be a great match with TERA’s founders’ vision to make this a better world with plenty of opportunities for everyone to thrive.
TERA is a deep technology company fuelled by decades of cutting-edge engineering. TERA’s vision is to advance lives using Terahertz (THz) waves.
Q: The revelation of Terahertz (THz) waves and their human-safe nature can help solve today’s global pressing challenges across a multitude of industries and markets. We are focused on developing and introducing creative solutions, given the extent and breadth of the possibilities that THz waves and TeraWater hold.vis tell us about the new COVID19 testing mechanism developed by Tera? And how that is better for a more sustainable future as opposed to the current methods of testing?
A: As TERA’s corporate philosophy strives for a long-lasting contribution to humanity by introducing novel technological solutions that can advance the lives of billions over the next coming years, when pandemic became a matter of national interest for the State of Israel in 2020, we repurposed our capabilities of TeraHertz applications to help governments and businesses all over the world to reopen the economy safely and effectively.
Thus, TERA Ltd formed its TERABio Ltd. fully owned subsidiary (“TERA.Bio”), where I lead engagement with clients and strategic partners worldwide who are committed to scaling that effort across multiple industries and continents.
We strongly believe that the only way to prevent a pandemic is by breaking the chain of transmission as early as possible, in addition to vaccination and masks protection. The most effective method to
do so is by performing mass screening testing for the general population in public areas (e.g.
airports, schools, events, etc.), thus clearing individuals who test Negative for COVID-19 and not clearing the pre-symptomatic, asymptomatic, or Positive for COVID-19 individuals. It also allows for safer and smoother international travel (cruise lines, airports, etc.), large gatherings in sports arenas and other entertainment venues, as well as large office buildings, among others.
Unlike Rt-PCR tests (currently considered to be the “gold standard”) - which are invasive, expensive, intended to detect symptomatic to COVID 19 individuals only, and slow to generate a result
(due to the need to be administered and analyzed by medically trained personnel), TERA.Bio’s COVID-19 rapid breath test offers a quick, non-invasive, inexpensive, accurate, real-time screening tool that can be administered by non-medically trained personnel.
Moreover, since TERA Bio’s THz technology can detect the associated biomarkers and proteins of SARS-CoV-2 in-breath, as opposed to DNA/RNA based solutions (Antigen/Rt PCR), it can provide an accurate reading across the entire spectrum, including other and newer COVID-19 variants as they come up (unlike PCR-based tests that might require new chemical reagents for such detections).
Q: Have the new agreements signed at COP26 affected Tera both in terms of the current projects your company is involved in as well as the new projects you will be taking on.
A: While the nature of our projects hasn’t changed that much, we’re seeing an increase in the desire and commitment of some of the most prestigious organizations – including some of the top academic institutions in the U.K. and elsewhere to co-invest and collaborate so that we can accelerate and unleash the enterprise power of TERA Waves to achieve the SDGs set out at COP26. We can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together. .
Q: Where do you see Israel and the rest of the East in terms of its Energy and Healthcare requirements and how can Tera provide disruptive technology to meet those needs? Can you talk about some recent headline projects which act as case studies to demonstrate this?
A: In Israel, technology and healthcare are well-established industries for startups and VC funding. The Israeli health tech universe includes more than 250 startups. Israeli companies in the digital health sector raised US$700 million during the first quarter of 2021, almost matching the amount raised by startups in the field in the whole year of 2020 (US$831 million), according to Start-Up Nation Central, an independent non-profit that builds bridges to Israeli innovation. The largest areas of investment are diagnostics and remote monitoring, technologies that underpin the shifts we anticipate in healthcare provision over the coming years.
Terahertz waves offer unmatched opportunities with their abilities to scan and identify chemical and biological biomarkers in breath including proteins associated with infectious viruses. Moreover, breath collection can easily and ethically be administered to large numbers of people in high-traffic areas and populated places. Studies have identified over 3,000 Volatile Organic Compounds (“VOCs”) that can be found in the breath, alongside respiratory aerosols, providing a rich source of information on the overall health of an individual tested and serve as indicators of diseases and/or viruses’ onset, variants, and their progression.
Efficient breath screening for viruses has not been available until today, due to several technical challenges, hence the need to rapid test populations for COVID-19 and other infectious diseases at large capacity. Breath diagnostics can help develop a Bio-Library of viruses enabling us to alert societies, governments, and multinational organizations of possible global pandemics and infectious diseases approaching. One of the organizations that are collaborating with the delivery of our 5-year roadmap for TERA.Bio is the University of Miami, as you can see in this video: University of Miami - YouTube
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic poses an additional impediment, impairing access for billions of people to safely manage drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene services. In addition to the work TERA.Bio is developing to mitigate that challenge, TERA’s R&D team has examined and recognized different wavelength frequencies that efficiently and effectively interact with Hydrogen bonds properties in all water-based materials (H2O).
Our TERA WaterSystem (which incorporates our proprietary TERA System module within) opens new water domains by producing a large volume of surface H2O water (i.e., “TERA Water”), defined as the top layer of water that is in contact with the air. The TERA water system is currently in development, producing different types of TERA Water in a lab setting, used for various water-based formulations.
Since the spectral fingerprint of the intermolecular Hydrogen bonding dynamics lies in the THz frequency range, this allows easy interaction with most substances upon contact and can facilitate many organic activities in our body, including introducing new pharmaceutical and energy applications/use cases. TERA Water has a huge potential to transform and change the economics of the food industry, as well many other adjacent industries such as Cosmetics, Pharma, Energy, and the Food industry – thus enabling billions of people to have more, better, faster, and cheaper access to critical elements for their lives (as a simple example, it can extend the shelf life of some products without refrigeration).
Q: You are an investor and a problem solver for many companies. What was your rationale behind going onto the other side of the table managing Tera’s relationships with external stakeholders, top-level clients, and investors?
A: One of the main things I’ve learned from Uri Levine (Israeli entrepreneur and co-founder of Waze) is to fall in love with the problem – not the solution”. I have spent most of my life and career trying to understand the problems that modern society faces so that I could then find a way to take an active role in trying to address those challenges. After 13 years as a global executive at Microsoft Corporation and a total of 20 years in the technology space, I felt compelled to return to my home country (Brasil) and try to address one of the main problems hindering innovation in emerging markets: access to capital to foster entrepreneurship. I became the co-founder and CEO of Acelera Partners – the first Microsoft Ventures partner in Latin America – and tried to address the gaps in the startup ecosystem in Brasil together with Qualcomm Ventures, the government of Rio de Janeiro, and local VCs. You can learn more about that initiative in this video: Who we are: Acelera Partners - YouTube
One of my big lessons learned is that local ecosystems only thrive as they deeply and meaningfully connect with other ecosystems – which led me to propose and convince the Board of Directors to invest in a batch of 10 high tech startups accelerated at Microsoft Accelerator in Herzliya, Israel since to make the Latin American startup ecosystem more successful it is not enough to invest in the best startups and accelerators in Latin America – we need to help Brazilian entrepreneurs, investors, academic institutions and corporations “connect the dots” and collaborate more efficiently with the most innovative ecosystems in the world – such as Silicon Valley and Israel, for example.
Coming back full circle, I realized that to unleash the enterprise potential and power that Israeli tech companies like TERA hold and transform that potential into the value created and delivered, it would be necessary to unite and orchestrate multiple entities – both in the public and private sector – across the globe to deliver the solutions the world so badly needs today. Here we are – as TERA’s Chief TERA.Bio Partners, I have the privilege and the responsibility to bring together Chiefs of State, Ministers of Health, Defence and Economy, Heads of Medical Schools, Regulatory bodies, multinational corporations, investors, and all kinds of leaders and experts in multiple fields such as Biology, Chemistry, Engineering, Travel & Entertainment, Pharmaceutical and so on – to come up with the new standards for the New normal.
As Albert Einstein once said, “You cannot solve a problem with the mind that created it!”. Therefore, I am acting as a catalyst of a new “movement” – one that will break many existing paradigms and require deep collaboration among institutions and very focused execution to allow us all to live in a more free, prosperous, and connected world. One of my main lessons learned in the past 18 months at TERA – after interacting with high-level government officials, very senior executives, wealthy investors, and renowned scientists are that no one has the silver bullet answer to the challenges we currently face – yet together we can come up with the solutions utilizing our assets, including technology, determination, and commitment to a results-oriented journey and a lot of resilience.
Q: Tell us about your favorite city and book of all time and why?
A: I have been privileged with the opportunity to travel to more than 50 countries and to see amazing places. Although I have a very sweet and deep spot in my heart for several cities such as London, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Dubai, Seattle – all the places where I’ve spent quite a lot of time and developed deep emotional connections – my favorite city of all times is Rio de Janeiro (also called Cidade Maravilhosa - the wonderful city, in Portuguese). Rio is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the world (I am certainly biased, as I was born and raised there, yet you can check that out), but it also inspired many poets, writers and also holds some of the greatest memories of my childhood, such as the walks with my grandparents to “fill the lungs with oxygen” in the Botanic Garden (Jardim Botânico), founded in 1808 when Brasil was still a colony of Portugal).
I have a list of at least a dozen books (and writers) that are truly remarkable and both enriched and changed my life, ranging from authors like Aldous Huxley (“Brave New World”), George Orwell (“Animal Farm”), Mitch Albom (“Tuesdays with Morris”), Harold Kushner (“Why Bad Things Happen to Good People”), Simon Jacobson (“Towards a Meaningful Life”), Daniel Goleman (“Emotional Intelligence” and “Transparency”), Dan Senor and Saul Singer (“Start-Up Nation”), Daniel Kahneman (“Thinking Fast and Slow”) and Susan Cain’s “Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talkin”) to the most recent publication by venture-capitalist Michael Eisenberg (“The Tree of Life and Prosperity”). If I had to pick the “one book of all time”, I guess it would be “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl – which significantly changed my perspectives on life. That said, I am highly indebted to “The First Year of Marriage”, by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D. (of blessed memory), which I read 10 years ago and taught me how to shift my mental paradigm from “I, Me” to “Us, We”. Thanks to it (as well as many mentors, teachers, friends, family, and other supporters and growth enablers), I am now approaching my tenth anniversary with the love of my life, who gave me the biggest blessing in the world: to be a father, and who has helped me become a better person and supported both my personal and career growth plans through 3 international relocations during our first five years of marriage. This theme is also greatly addressed in “Morality”, by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks Z” L – an amazing masterpiece by a great thinker and leader that I am reading now.