Noam Amitay has been a cook, a security trainer for El-Al Airlines, a soldier, a sous-chef and a patent examiner with the Israeli Patent Office. Now, he’s helping Cartherics strengthen its IP position.
By Leigh Dayton
31 May 2021
As a youngster Noam Amitay and his sister and three brothers lived in the “kids’ house” at a kibbutz near Beersheba. “We saw our parents about three hours a day,” he recalls. His father, an agriculturalist, managed the communal farm. His mother worked with children in another kids’ house and was the dining room chef.
By age 14 Noam was working one day a week around the kibbutz while studying. He especially enjoyed helping in the kitchen.
After finishing high school and a three-year mandatory stint in a combat unit – “I did not enjoy that” – Noam took an emotional break like many former soldiers. He travelled to China, the Philippines and Nepal. But at age 21 Noam’s mother died and he spent a year at the kibbutz as a sous-chef.
“I cooked rice for 400. We also had falafel nights and a lot of pizza,” Noam notes proudly. “It was a very good experience, a closure for me.”
Clearly, it was time to begin his life again. Israel’s innovative culture pointed the way.
Science & Innovation
When it comes to research and development, Israel truly hits above its weight. With a population of roughly 9 million, it ranked 13 in the respected Global Innovation Index for 2020. In contrast, Australia ranked 23.
Given Israel’s record it’s not surprising that Noam chose to restart his future with a Bachelor of Sciences degree at Ben-Gurion University’s Life Sciences Department. There he met his partner Tal.
“She wasn’t interested, but I made her change her mind. Thank goodness!”
With degrees in hand the couple decided to see the world before starting a family. How?
“We went to work for El Al airlines. We worked in Belgium for two years doing security checks and had free tickets to everywhere. We travelled in the EU, US, Hong Kong, then to the far east, Vietnam and Laos.”
With their travel itched scratched the couple returned to Jerusalem. Attracted to Israel’s innovative environment, Noam settled into a Master of Science program in technology management at the Hebrew University. He loved it.
“It was the ideas world,” Noam says. “The Uni’s technology transfer office was very developed and collaborated with the technology management program. That’s where I was first aware of the IP world.”
By 2008, with his degree in hand, it was time for a change of pace. Once again, the road – rather the free tickets – called. Noam returned to El-Al Airlines where he trained new recruits, while Tal started her Biotech career working for Teva Pharmaceutical.
“Then one day when I was in London I got a call from Israel,” says Noam, explaining how the world of ideas and innovation lured him back. The caller asked: “Noam, do you remember you applied for job as a patent examiner in the Israel Patent Office?”
Noam did indeed remember. The Patent Office was doubling the number of examiners and was recruiting young people for a 2-year cadet program. Noam said yes. Later on, he also became a qualified patent attorney and advanced to the Office’s Pharmaceutical Team based in Jerusalem.
But Noam was not just notching up expertise. He and Tal had the first of three daughters, Kama, in 2011. It was time to move back to the family-friendly kibbutz. From there Noam continued his Patent Office job, and Tal moved to another pharmaceutical company, Kamada. Daughter number two, Goni, was born in 2013. Noor arrived in 2016.
Unfortunately, “ongoing political deterioration among other reasons” forced Noam and Tal to rethink their future. They’d moved to the country-side to improve the family’s quality of life, “but even in the kibbutz you can’t avoid the conflict. We spent time in the bomb shelter,” recalls Noam.
“We didn’t want to raise kids in such an environment.” So what to do? In 2017 Noam and Tal resolved to up stakes and move to Australia. “It was a huge decision and a pretty heavy load to carry,” Noam admits.
Life Down Under
In August 2017 Noam, Tal and their young family arrived Australia.
“Arriving in Melbourne with five suitcases and three little kids, no family or friends around, was by far the scariest thing I have done in my life.”
Fortunately, the couple had both found jobs before they moved. Tal landed a position in a biotech start-up at the Royal Women’s Hospital, while Noam was hired as an IP Analyst at FB Rice Patent and Trade Mark Attorneys.
“We had a good couple of years to settle comfortably.”
The FB Rice position was Noam’s first experience with private industry. He enjoyed learning from an “enriching” group of people, however, after three years he no longer felt challenged.
“I was getting a bit bored. I missed learning and evolving with the science”, says Noam. Although he was not actively looking for work, by chance, a friend at FB Rice, who had moved to the Sydney University commercialisation office, sent the ad for the Cartherics job.
“It was perfect timing.”
Plus, Noam is impressed with the Cartherics team. “The group is amazing. The potential is amazing. I’m excited.”
Noam has one reservation, however. “I have big shoes to fill while Telma is on maternity leave!”.