Berytech recently concluded the highly successful fourth edition of the Agri-Food Innovation Days (AFID) 2023, in collaboration with the QOOT Cluster and with generous funding from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lebanon and the support of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) and ENI CBC MED.
Held at Le Royal Hotel in Beirut, AFID2023 spanned two days, Wednesday and Thursday, May 24 and 25, 2023. The event witnessed an impressive turnout, with over 2500 participants comprising of entrepreneurs, buyers, investors, researchers, students, academics, engineers, innovators, investors, farmers, and agrifood producers.
AFID2023 featured a diverse range of activities, both on and off the stage, totaling more than 32 engaging sessions including demo sessions, panel discussions, workshops, and insightful talks. With the participation of over 30 industry experts, AFID2023 provided valuable insights and knowledge-sharing opportunities.
The Agri-Food Innovation Days 2023 event was organized in partnership with QOOT Cluster, funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lebanon, with the support of the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) and ENI CBC MED, in partnership with the Government of Canada, the World Food Program, The German Cooperation, GIZ, The USAID, AFD, The Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the European Union.
The event also served as a platform for showcasing cutting-edge programs, with more than 15 programs highlighted throughout the two days and provided a spotlight for over 60 promising startups & SMEs in the agrifood sector, offering them a unique opportunity to connect with potential partners, investors, and customers.
Furthermore, AFID2023 facilitated ongoing matchmaking sessions, enabling participants to engage in fruitful discussions, establish connections, and explore potential collaborations.
Overall, AFID2023 proved to be a resounding success, serving as a dynamic hub for the agrifood community, fostering innovation, collaboration, and growth in the industry.
AFID2023: A Returning Success
Launching the event was Maroun Chammas, Chairman, and CEO of Berytech: “We have all gathered here with a shared purpose, to shed light on the tremendous potential that innovation holds in addressing the pressing challenges that impact Lebanon and its surrounding region. In the face of numerous challenges, the agrifood sector in Lebanon has shown incredible resilience and determination. We recognize that this industry plays a vital role in the economy, food security, and the overall well-being of our communities.”
In his turn, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Lebanon, H.E. Hans Peter van der Woude pointed out that “People who know me, know as well that events like AFID are close to my heart. First because events like these show that despite everything people are facing in Lebanon daily, we can still work on new and positive opportunities. Secondly, one of the critical factors for success is to have a strong network. Today, AFID is a platform to make and expand connections and to learn, share and exchange with one another. And last but not least, of course I am delighted to do this with a partner like Berytech.”
“Italy and I are good friends of Lebanon, and we are trying to put our best efforts to be with you, to accompany Lebanese companies in the path of re-industrialization for the country, which is what the ministry and the private sector is doing to overcome these troubled times. It’s a pleasure to be present officially at AFID. We are good partners with Berytech with many initiatives throughout the years and many more to come,” confirmed Claudio Pasqualucci, Director of Beirut at the Italian Trade Agency.
In her turn, Nadine El Khoury repeated the commitment of the QOOT Cluster to nurturing innovation in the agrifood industry: “The solid dedication displayed by the QOOT team, QOOT members and QOOT board continues to inspire me every day. Their commitment to excellence and their shared vision of a brighter innovative future is the driving force behind our collective success.”
A Celebration of Agrifood Achievements
AFID2023 highlighted numerous achievements in the programs dedicated to supporting the agrifood sector, significantly enhancing companies’ export potential, fostering agrifood innovation, and contributing to the sector’s overall growth and economic advancement.
One of the notable highlights was the Agrytech Special Edition, which featured a demo session showcasing the accomplishments of six graduates from the Accelerator program. These startups received six months of dedicated support to refine their innovations and scale their businesses, demonstrating the program’s effectiveness in nurturing entrepreneurial talent in the sector.
Another remarkable moment was the graduation ceremony of cohorts 2 and 3 of the Lebanon Export Academy (LEA). Taking the stage, the LEA proudly showcased its impactful work in equipping Lebanese businesses with the necessary skills to sustain their operations, enter new markets, and expand globally. The LEA successfully trained 71 SMEs, with 44 of them being women-led enterprises. Notably, 86% of the trained businesses operated in the agrifood sector, while the remaining 11% were involved in agriculture, further solidifying the academy’s commitment to fostering growth in these crucial areas.
Additionally, AFID2023 celebrated the Food System Challenge, a noteworthy 18-month program that effectively supported 30 SMEs and cooperatives operating within the agriculture and agri-food sectors. This program addressed key challenges within the food system, aiming to generate maximum impact.
Matchmaking activities with the QOOT Cluster
With the support of UNIDO, the QOOT Cluster managed a matchmaking activity connecting 13 buyers from Jordan, UAE, Singapore, France, USA, Canada, Belgium, Australia, Lebanon and the Ivory Coast to Lebanese producers facilitating 300+ meetings between them addressing the potential of export.
Six winners of the Agrifood Innovation Award
The highly anticipated Agrifood Innovation Award was under the patronage of H.E. Georges Boujikian, Minister of Industry of Lebanon. This award highlighted the remarkable achievements of agrifood manufacturers and their invaluable contributions to the industry. Amidst great excitement, winners were announced across six distinguished categories, each representing a specific area of agrifood excellence.
- Baked Goods & Snacks Category: The Original Hummus Bar by Grapeful
- Health & Wellbeing Products Category: Kids Bites by Bazco Group – Raw Bites
- Non-alcoholic Beverage Products Category: Tearapy Functional Tea by Triana
- Pantry Products Category: Del Libano Lasagna by Del Libano S.A.L.
- Refrigerated & Chilled Products Category: Mushrooms Ravioli by Gudtolli
- Alcoholic Beverage Category: Zaatar Liqueur by The Good Thymes
Driving Agrifood Innovation
AFID2023 not only celebrated the current successes in the agrifood sector but also laid the foundation for an even more impactful future. The event served as a powerful precursor to what lies ahead, with a promise of AFID’s return in the coming years with an even bigger impact. As the industry continues to evolve and flourish, AFID is poised to play a pivotal role in driving innovation, collaboration, and sustainable growth, setting the stage for an exciting and transformative journey.
Berytech also partnered with Saint Joseph University of Beirut, IM Fndng, Competencies and Entrepreneurship Center – EC² USJ, Entreprenergy, Michel Daher Foundation, Talal and Madiha Zein AUB Innovation Park, Rural Entrepreneurs, INJAZ Lebanon, Asher Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship – ACIE, Farah Social Foundation, The Nawaya Network, Park Innovation, Beirut Digital District, Environment and Sustainable Development Unit ESDU-AUB, AgSAT, and Dawera as Community Partners.