Five promising startups enrolled in the fourth batch of the Agrytech Accelerator Program were selected to participate in an intensive nine-day immersion program to the Netherlands in collaboration with Wageningen University and StartLife as part of the acceleration phase.
The startups, whose aspirations were closely aligned with expanding to Europe as a target market, benefited from exposure to European experts in preparation for a potential soft-landing program in the Netherlands.
The Immersion Trip
The trip was meant to give each of the startups international exposure, a fresh perspective on the latest in agri-food innovations and an understanding of the local startup ecosystem. The main goal was to help them in forging potential partnerships with Dutch counterparts.
Rami Hilal, co-founder of Dooda Vermiculture Solutions, stated, “We benefited from this trip in many ways: We got first-hand exposure to the Dutch Startup scene. We were also able to meet different local businesses and get a better idea on how business is conducted in the EU. We were presented with several opportunities to collaborate with businesses and individuals in the Netherlands and we were given the chance to pitch in front of a new audience and get feedback. Most importantly, we were put in contact with an investor who is willing to invest in our company.”
The trip’s agenda was developed to give the startups insights on the European Market and included sessions on Doing business in the European Union, Growth Marketing and Branding and Pitch training. Rachel Sfeir, co-founder of X-Tend, explained, “The trip was beneficial and interesting in learning about how we can take our startups to the next level in terms of market opportunities, branching beyond Lebanon, investments, and support, while also building connections with other startups and making friends in the process.”
The startups who joined the trip had expectations ranging from receiving technical feedback, to exploring the potential of landing in Europe, to growing their network of mentors. They were also exposed to learning more about Venture capital companies in Europe, as well as learn about funding opportunities for non-EU countries. Hiba Rajha, co-founder of NaturaChem, shared: “The trip opened our eyes to new perspectives and possibilities and allowed us to adjust our model to a more international one, oriented towards sustainability.”
In addition to workshops, one-on-one sessions were organized to provide the startups with feedback on their investment pitches, especially to gear them towards the European market and pitching to European investors and potential partners. Ghewa Cherfane, co-founder of Agricom, said “The trip was amazing overall. We had the chance to see how things work abroad and learn from their experiences. I loved the way research is done there it was a real inspiration.”
Finally, the startups benefited from networking events with StartLife, a Dutch Incubator that supports startups in the food and agriculture sector, and Wageningen University, who provides the program with in-depth insights and share key knowledge in the agri-food sector. Ali Ammouri, co-founder of Grains and Pulses, stated, “The trip exposed us to new experiences, opened up doors to potential collaboration, and enriched our entrepreneurial skills.”
The Immersion Program is a program that was organized in partnership with Wageningen University and StartLife as part of the Agrytech Accelerator Program by Berytech funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lebanon.
Berytech designed and developed the Agrytech program to make sure Lebanon has the most competitive companies that are sourcing, solving, growing and transforming food, as well as feeding the world from Lebanon. The Agrytech Accelerator Program is under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub, a new out-of-the-box approach by Berytech, co-funded by the Kingdom of The Netherlands, aims at strengthening business advancement and job creation in the Agri-food and Cleantech sectors in Lebanon. Berytech supports innovations across these sectors by offering startups the resources, knowledge, support, and funding worth around $100K, necessary to scale their ideas and grow them to penetrate international markets.