Posted on October 20, 2018
Berytech organized a 3-day Technology Transfer Bootcamp: From Research to Innovation, through THE NEXT SOCIETY program funded by the European Union focusing on water, food and energy sectors. 25 people, forming 14 teams, labored through the intensive training with the aim of understanding the different business aspects of turning their innovative researches into high-potential, successful startups.
Leading the Bootcamp was Mondher Khanfir, strategist, business consultant and private equity professional with a diversified track record in enterprise development and restructuring in both private and public sectors, in addition to raising funds for research and innovation projects. Through his training, Khanfir took the participants into the essentials of technology transfer, the assessment of intellectual property potentials, the exploration of commercialization and market strategies, and finally, the interaction with stakeholders and the access to finance.
“The Bootcamp was an opportunity to reveal the innovation potential from research results in Lebanon. Nevertheless, science and technology are not sufficient to create a successful startup. An innovator should master business modeling and several other notions of marketing and finance. The researchers who were selected to participate in the workshops were themselves surprised by the scope of their invention, and became aware of the distance that separates them from the market and the gaps in knowledge to be filled,” comments Khanfir.
Guest trainers at the Bootcamp included Joe Moarkech exploring market and innovation strategy, Danny Maalouly explaining finance and investment, Amal Abdallah diving into Intellectual Property and Andre Abi Awad teaching effective pitching methods. The participants also met Nisrine el Turky who introduced her startup IOTree and the journey of her agri-tech solution that started as an academic research, won several prizes including the Agrytech Hackathon, made its way into the second phase of the Agrytech accelerator where the founders are currently working on validating their minimum viable product.
Professional researchers both independent and from various research centers participated in the Bootcamp, including Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth – USJ, American University of Beirut (AUB), Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI), Holy Spirit University of Kaslik – USEK to name a few.
The participants worked on a refined formulation of the value proposition supporting their innovative project idea, with a first apprehension of the distance to the market, and a better understanding of their gaps to commercialize their IP. By the end of the bootcamp, the participants were able to understand how they can build an innovative business concept based on an IP, identify market opportunities, develop a process for technology protection and a technology commercialization plan, create a value proposition, understand basic financial modeling, and finally, acquire to soft skills to pitch their idea.
The bootcamp wrapped with a pitching session to a jury consisting of Ramy Boujawdeh – Deputy GM of Berytech, Dr. Rodrigue El Balaa – Chairman of Agriculture at the University of Balamand and Elie Bachaalany – CEO AutomatiX. The 25 participants were evaluated on IP, innovation and market potential as the jury gave them valuable feedback on their innovations and tips to improve their value proposition.
Ghassan Oueidat came in first place with his project SpiceDR, an autonomous facade crawler with the purpose of performing the cleaning of high rise buildings and facilities while eliminating the use of water from the process. The various benefits of such a product include safety for facade cleaners, privacy for office building employees, process automation, cost-cutting, an increase of efficiency, and cleaning schedule flexibility for facility managers regarding the facade cleaning aspect of the job.
Second place winners were Hiba Rajha and Anna-Maria Abi Khattar with their project Super Powder, valorizing agro-food industrial byproducts (grape pomace, pomegranate peels, orange peels, etc.) by the extraction process of highly bioactive molecules: polyphenols through many innovative technologies such as ultrasounds, electric fields, infrared, etc. After the extraction process, lyophilized polyphenol extracts could be used in several industrial applications such as food, nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and other industries. The project presents a double advantage: first in managing industrial wastes and second in valorizing the organic by-products.
Dr. Rodrigue El Balaa – Chairman of Agriculture at the University of Balamand, comments, “what Berytech is doing by organizing and hosting these boot camps, is changing the perception of research, moving it from behind closed doors to the public arena, where it can be valued and commercialized. We no longer want the researchers to remain in their labs, we want them to put on their entrepreneurship hats and think technology transfer.”
The teams will receive tailor-made advisory sessions from Berytech and industry partners, and international visibility through THE NEXT SOCIETY – an open community of changemakers, entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, NGOs, public and private innovation, research and economic development hubs from Europe and 7 Mediterranean countries, represented by Berytech in Lebanon.
Trainers, jury members, and winners talk about their Technology Transfer Bootcamp experience.