Catching up with the Agrytech Accelerator Program

Ten weeks into the sixteen-week acceleration program, the Agrytech board met up with the 11 Agrytech startups who have moved forward in the Agrytech Accelerator. The meet-up followed a scheduled board meeting to recap the program’s accomplishments and discuss future objectives. 

Agrytech’s board members include include Mr. Peter Hrechdakian – CEO of UNIFERT, Michel Daher – CEO of Daher Capital, Dr. Fadia Comedian – Director of Grants & Contracts at the American University of Beirut, Dr. Maya Kharrat Sarkis – Director of ESIA-M, Dr. Roger Van Hoesel – Executive Director of Food Valley NL, Maroun Chammas – CEO of Berytech & Berytech Fund Management and H.E Jan Waltmans Ambassador of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Beirut.

Wednesday September 6, 2016

The board discussed the progress of the program and the extensive outreach plan to attract youth, women, Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian refugees on all Lebanese lands to join Batch 2 of the Accelerator launching soon. It also ran through the details of the Online Resource Platform  and its objective to support future or current entrepreneurs in the agri-food innovation. The board also went over the upcoming opening of the Berytech FabLab.The Agri-food Innovation Cluster assessment was also presented and more info will be shared in the near future.

The board and the startups made the acquaintance of the newly appointed ambassador, Mr. Jan Waltmans who has recently started his mandate in the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Beirut after serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, The Hague and Zambia. “Programme is of great importance as it supports students and young professionals to develop innovative concepts to start businesses themselves. Lebanon needs such initiatives in order to boost economic activity and employment. The enthusiasm and drive of participants that I met was overwhelming. I trust that both Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian participants will benefit from the programme in order to let their communities benefit as well,” commented Mr. Waltmans of his visit.

Following the meeting, the board members visited the Berytech FabLab and took the time to discuss the progress and updates of the 11 teams and their projects.

Dr. Roger Van Hoesel, coming all the way from the Netherlands to attend, observed: “During my visit, I realized it is hard to imagine that Agrytech was only launched in January of this year. Listening to the activities that have taken place already and talking to the start-ups in the program, it felt as if Agrytech has been around for a much longer period. This no doubt is a compliment for the team: the energy level is high, there is openness to adapt if needed. It should not be forgotten that, in a sense, Agrytech aims at creating a whole new industry in Lebanon. The accelerator part has kicked off smoothly. I haven’t met all the start-ups in the program personally, but I loved Makanat, Smart Gourmet and Mekaprep. The other element of the project, the cluster development, is still at  an early stage. The feedback of Lebanese companies was very positive, however, emphasizing the need for a collaborative platform to encourage innovation. In the coming period the services to be offered and the exact topics to work on will be defined together with a small group of front-running companies.”

Upon completing their 16 weeks, the 11 teams will undergo another selection process that will reduce the number to 6-8 startups that will go through incubation in Berytech for 6 months and receive another round of funding.

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