InSightec was widely tipped for a Grand Prize by visitors to the IST Prize village in Milan. Described as the surgery of the future, ExAblate 2000 delivers focused ultrasound energy into the body in order to completely eradicate tumours without cutting the skin or affecting surrounding tissue. With no need for hospitalization and no recovery times, patients are able to resume their daily activities within hours of receiving treatment.
Dr. Kobi Vortman, president and CEO of InSightec, stated that the prize was in recognition of the commercial potential of its ablation system, its innovativeness, and its ability to help in medical treatment. Dr. Vortman added that the Europeans invest a great deal in research and development efforts and resources to counterbalance the United States. He pointed to an expenditure of some 1 billion euro this year in R&D programmes.
A delighted Dr. Vortman noted that, in addition to the cash prize, InSightec could use the European IST Grand Prize logo, which would have a positive impact on its marketing ability, particularly in Europe, though also in the United States and Japan. Established in 1999, InSightec has become a market leader in the field of non-invasive surgery to remove tumours through the use of high intensity focused ultrasound, similar to that of using a magnifying glass to focus the sun's energy on a single spot.
InSightec's award-winning ExAblate 2000 is a focused ultrasound ablation device that can be integrated with a GE 1.5T Magnetic Resonance Imaging System. The role of MR is to help the physician identify the target volume of tissue to be ablated, and then to monitor the delivery of ultrasound energy.
The MR system is widely used in hospitals throughout the world, which improves InSightec's opportunities to market its ExAblate system in the treatment of breast cancer and uterine fibroids. GEMS has invested $13 million in InSightec. The Israeli company has so far sold one ExAblate system in Israel, another in the United States and has signed a $36 million contract in Japan.
The 2004 IST Grand Prize was awarded to two others, Cedes/Csem of Switzerland, for its ESPROS/TOF, miniaturized optical time-of-flight 3D cameras, able to capture real time, three-dimensional images at video speeds, and Picsel Technologies of Great Britain for its ePage, a mobile content delivery platform that enables a wide range of electronic devices to view, edit and print any form of electronic content, from Internet pages to spreadsheets and videos. The three winners competed against some 430 companies from 28 countries. In the final stages, this was shortlisted to twenty.
Now in its ninth year, the European IST Prize is an award for groundbreaking products that represent the best of European innovation in information technology. According to the literature, "it provides public recognition and a highly visible profile to entrepreneurial teams that excel in generating novel ideas and R&D and converting them into marketable products".