Israeli inventor Benny Landa has had a successful career with several companies and 800 patents to his name, but he jokes about his biggest miss: He didn’t invent the iPhone.
“That would have been the killer,” Landa said with a chuckle.
Landa, who once owned Indigo Printing and now runs The Landa Group, is receiving the 2018 Tom Glaser Leadership Award from Conexx: America Israel Business Connector at the annual Conexx Gala on Thursday, March 22, at the Atlanta History Center.
“I’m very honored,” Landa said. “I was totally unaware of the existence of the award until I got the letter saying it had been awarded to me. Since then, I looked it up and am truly honored.”
Landa has invention and entrepreneurship in his blood. As a child, Landa saw his father, a carpenter, build his own invention, a large wooden camera. The contraption was an all-in-one photo booth with a camera and darkroom. Pictures taken with the camera printed directly onto paper, which meant film wasn’t needed.
Landa spent his childhood assisting his father in printing photographs in what he says was the first foray into digital printing — something to which he eventually dedicated his life.
“It was all predestined,” Landa said. “It was preordained that this is what I would do as a child. My dad did this in an era before the world of digital. He did basically what I did: printing without printing plates or films.”
In 1977, Landa founded Indigo Digital Press, using the filmless imaging concept his father had created. By 1993, Landa had created the E-Print 1000, a digital color printing press.
This press bypassed the costly, time-consuming process of setting up printing plates. The press applied small color particles to paper using an electric charge. Using this technology, images could be printed directly onto paper from computer files.
In 2002, Landa sold Indigo to Hewlett-Packard in an $850 million deal, something he said he never thought he would do when he started. Selling his company was the first step in following his new dream: turning low heat into electricity using nanotechnology.
The Landa Group is working on thermal energy conversion. In the next decade, Landa said, he should have his first energy conversion project completed, which will enable mobile devices to be charged. This project has been in the works since he founded The Landa Group in 2003.
“You could do something more profound than printing,” Landa said he realized. “You could save the planet. You could turn the heat around you to useful power. It’s there, and it’s free, and it will be there forever.”
There’s not one invention he loves over the others, Landa said. His creations range from nano pigments for printing to metallization and graphics.
“The reason I love them all is that we try to do research in virgin territory, to go places that no one has ever been before,” he said. “If you do research in the cutting edge of your field, you have a good chance of being the first one to discover the problems in that area. If you’re the first one to discover the problem, you have a good chance at being the first one to invent a solution. Unique solutions make great patents.
“I have the privilege of running a group of companies, Landa Labs, (on the) cutting edge in various fields and transforming (them). That’s an amazing thing. We’re transforming digital printing, transforming hair color, just one after the next. We will be transforming solar energy.”
Digital printing is a vibrant, growing industry, one that will always be in demand, Landa said. While many people think of newspapers and magazines when they hear “digital printing,” Landa said the field encompasses much more, such as packaging for food sold in grocery stores.
“As long as people buy products and buy goods, there will always be printing,” he said. “Less than 3 percent of printing has become digital so far. This industry will be transformed to digital, and now I think the entire world will realize that. When we started, it was all uphill, trying to convince people that the future is digital. Today, everyone gets it. Now, (the question is) at what pace will it accelerate. And now it really is accelerating.”
Landa is one of Israel’s most creative inventors and has proved himself an exemplary ambassador and strong leader furthering U.S.-Israel business ties, Conexx President Guy Tessler said. Landa chose to establish the North American headquarters of Rehovot-based Landa Digital Printing in Alpharetta.
“The world would be much different without his sense of innovation and unique inventions,” Tessler said.
What would Landa’s father think about where his son has taken digital printing and solar energy conversion? Landa said he would have died from pride.
“It didn’t matter what I did; he was always very proud,” Landa said. “The big thrill for him was me working with him. He was thrilled with every little thing I did and showed off everything I did. That faith is the greatest gift that a person could ever get. Most people don’t get that lucky, don’t grow up feeling that they can do anything and that someone has such blind faith. It is a blessing.”