The second cycle of IdeaLab took off in November 2023, after a successful outreach phase that lasted for 1.5 months. The outreach phase involved various online and offline activities to attract, inform, and select the most promising startups from the clean technology and AgriFoodTech sectors across Lebanon, to join the program. IdeaLab falls under Partner Growth, a program established by Berytech and co-funded by The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Lebanon under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub Initiative to enable five partnering organizations to provide technical and business support to entrepreneurs offering innovative solutions in the AgriFoodTech and clean technology sectors.
During the outreach phase, each partner organization – Asher Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACIE), Farah Social Foundation, INJAZ Lebanon, Michel Daher Foundation (MDF), and Park Innovation conducted info sessions, ideathons, and design sprints to reach out to potential applicants from different regions in Lebanon. The activities gathered a total of 332 applications across the five organizations, of which 47 were selected into batch 2 of the IdeaLab program.
The selected startups were chosen based on criteria like their innovativeness, scalability, team, and impact of their proposed solution. The ideas within the program cover a wide range of sub-sectors within AgriFoodTech and Cleantech. 17 of the selected startups were innovating in Cleantech solutions and 30 in AgrifoodTech solutions.
From Learning to Optimized Outreach
The outreach phase for the second batch was carefully adjusted based on lessons learned from the first cycle. Berytech adopted a systematic approach, organizing monitoring and evaluation sessions as well as outreach brainstorming meetings with the five partner organizations. The objective was to ensure a high-quality pool of applicants and develop a strong strategy that played to each partner’s strengths.
The sessions were lively exchanges, delving into reflections on the first cycle. They allowed for the identification of challenges and opportunities faced by both partner organizations and startups, creating an atmosphere that fueled the energy needed for an impressive second round. The feedback and recommendations were shared seamlessly, setting the stage for a second batch that not only promised growth but also a dynamic leap into success.
During the outreach phase, each of the five partner organizations yielded interesting outreach results:
- Asher Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (ACIE): The organization received 32 applications and conducted 10 activities, including nine info sessions with 159 participants and one ideathon with 22 participants. It selected 10 startups out of 20 interviewed teams.
- Farah Social Foundation: The organization received 54 applications and conducted five activities, including four info sessions with 71 participants and one ideathon with 34 participants. It selected 10 startups out of 21 interviewed teams.
- INJAZ Lebanon: The organization received 68 applications and conducted six activities, including four info sessions with 129 participants and two Icamps with 99 participants. It selected nine startups out of 18 interviewed teams.
- Michel Daher Foundation: The organization received 92 applications and conducted nine activities, including three info sessions with 83 participants, one design sprint with 33 participants, and five booths with 117 visitors. It selected eight startups out of 16 interviewed teams.
- Park Innovation: The organization received 86 applications and conducted five activities, including one ideathon with 46 participants and four info sessions with 98 participants. It selected 10 startups out of 20 interviewed teams.
As the shortlisted startups are selected into the program’s validation phase, they will start to receive intensive training and mentoring from experts and coaches on various topics related to entrepreneurship, such as customer discovery, market validation, prototype development, business model validation, and pitching. The validation phase will conclude with a demo day, where the startups will pitch their ideas to a panel of investors and stakeholders.
IdeaLab: Validation Phase
In the upcoming period, the five partners will implement the IdeaLab Program for the remaining three batches, carrying out five cycles of two-month Validation Training. They will support the selected entrepreneurs with mentoring and linkages to help validate their ideas and organize networking activities for startups in the ecosystem. Startups graduating from Idealab will gain the opportunity to apply to Berytech’s Clyntech and Agrytech Accelerators, leveraging the fundamental learnings provided by Idealab to accelerate their projects.
About The ACT Smart Innovation Hub
The Partner Growth Program is under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub, a comprehensive initiative launched by Berytech and co-funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to enable the Lebanese entrepreneurial ecosystem and stimulate innovation and startup creation in the agriculture, food, and clean technology sectors.