Posted on June 20, 2019
Berytech team members Ramy Boujawdeh – Deputy GM, Krystel Khalil – Projects Director and Jessica Hallak – Finance and Administration Manager, joined some 200 participants representing startups accelerators, business federations, investors and public agencies from Europe and the MENA region gathered in Cairo, Egypt, to take part in THE NEXT SOCIETY Matchmaking Forum for Investment and Innovation as well as the third annual conference.
The 3rd annual meeting of the initiative brought together all partner organizations of THE NEXT SOCIETY including Berytech representing Lebanon, who presented the key achievements, challenges and successes of the consortia after two years of activities implemented in the MENA region through several presentations and parallel workshops.
This was also the occasion for everyone to share local experiences, discuss the regional dynamic and also how to better connect startups clusters, industries, investors and academia.
Three different workshops were organized in order to delve deeper into issues related to innovation policies, a tech transfer regional training program for TTO managers and researchers and capacity building for clusters.
Ecosystem partners were also invited to join in order to share their experiences with regards to the different fields covered by the initiative: legal frameworks, startup and cluster ecosystems and technology transfer.
Under the ‘creating a large network of Euro-med innovation stakeholders’ objective, it was reported that agreements with 18 new ecosystem partners were signed, including institutions, universities, and private accelerators to get visibility and ensure cross-promotion of innovators’ sourcing campaigns. Partnership agreements were also signed to ensure startups mobility between the different programs including a cross-training program developed between Berytech and Marseille Innovation on business support methods. It was also reported on the partnership for the international implementation of the ‘Zero Plastic Waste Challenge’ launched by the region Sud, and the mobilizations of MED innovators – 5 out of the 15 pre-selected projects came from MED countries, including Mushtic and Live Love Recycle from Lebanon.
Under the ‘strengthen innovation ecosystems and national frameworks’ objective, 15 priorities were defined at the national level in 6 countries, an association of innovation stakeholders is being created in Morocco, and a technical assistance missionhas started in Lebanon.
Under the ‘support and accelerate MED innovators’ objective, the initiative reported 20 mentoring matches, 25 clusters diagnosed and trained – including QOOT Agri-Food Cluster from Lebanon, 78 benefited from services in the two first promotions, 86 researchers and TTO managers trained, over 500 B2B events organized, and 76 mentors trained.
Challenges in mobilizing foreign investment for developing innovation ecosystems; innovative mechanisms to scale startups; public policies to be implemented to boost access to finance in the MENA countries; and novel strategies for financing innovators in the MENA region were some of the topics that animated the discussions.
As explained by Rasha Tantawi, Head of Business and Entrepreneurship at TIEC, the value of investments received in the top 5 MENA countries – United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon – increased by 1% in 2018, reaching a total amount of USD 673,519,071 which represents 255 investment deals, 16% less than the number of deals achieved in 2017.
Indeed, while the number of investment deals decreased, the size of investments has grown. Venture and growth capital, accelerators and corporates lead the investment deals developed in the MENA region and particularly in the top 5 countries receiving most investment deals. That data clearly reflects the transformation of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in the MENA region from traditional business and investment ecosystem to start-up and innovative business development.
Berytech is the exclusive partner of THE NEXT SOCIETY in Lebanon, working since 2017 on the initiative, which gathers a large network of over 300 business and innovation, research and investment organizations, 2,500 international SMEs and entrepreneurs from 30 countries.
Launched by ANIMA Investment Network, THE NEXT SOCIETY initiated a four-year action plan (2017-2020), co-funded by the European Union up to 90% for a global amount of EUR 7.8 million, which impacts 4 levels of the innovation ecosystem: improve policy frameworks, foster startup successes, promote and internationalize clusters, and accelerate technology transfer towards the enterprise.
“THE NEXT SOCIETY is more than just a project, it is a movement building the next generation of innovators,” comments Krystel Khalil – Projects Director at Berytech in charge of the initiative in Lebanon.