Innovation Factory Program: Developing Commercially Viable Innovations

Posted on September 2, 2019

The objective of the program is to give startups international exposure with access to local and global markets, business networks, and a pool of seasoned experts, mentors, and investors”

Innovation Factory is a 6-month acceleration program allowing startups to develop their innovation in any sector into commercially viable products and applications. 

The program, funded by the European Union under THE NEXT SOCIETY and organized in Lebanon by Berytech and Anima, is based on facilitating the process of technology transfer from researchers and innovators to the public allowing them to develop practical and commercially relevant applications and products. 

Starting with a 3-day bootcamp, the program allowed 9 teams to access a 3-month acceleration phase which will culminate in a demo day on September 19, allowing two startups to move to a 3-month incubation phase. 

“The objective of the program is to give startups international exposure with access to local and global markets, business networks, and a pool of seasoned experts, mentors, and investors,” explains Krystel Khalil, Programs Director at Berytech.

A Journey into Technology Commercialization

Throughout the acceleration phase, an intensive journey of 3 months, the nine teams worked on validating their market and improving their business model.

Training sessions covered subjects that included design thinking and how to develop the customer persona and integrate innovation in their product. It included marketing research techniques and tools and how to develop a go-to-market strategy. The program also included legal training with a focus on intellectual property and a business model and financial modeling training. The teams benefited from one-on-one coaching and support sessions to perfect their business and pitch it. 

According to Joelle Atallah, Berytech’s Business and Finance Advisor, “The teams have promising ideas that reflect their expertise in tech and science; what they mainly needed was support in order to understand the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and the dynamics of the business environment. Through the Innovation Factory Program, they got equipped with the needed knowledge and experience in order to start playing in the business arena.”

The nine participating teams are developing innovations that range across the sectors of education, clean technology, health, and road safety: 

C Green is transforming sludge – the solid part obtained at the end of the wastewater treatment, into local organic fertilizer according to FAO guidelines by using a special process for the treatment.

UnderConstruction is recycling waste – a combination of water and plastic, to be used in construction to improve the industry while being sustainable and healthy for the environment.

BBox is an educational game that is designed to make children more mindful and aware of civic and contextual matters applying the methodology of learning-by-doing.

Handy Hand provides amputees with the emotional satisfaction of having a personalized, custom musculoskeletal prosthesis limb that looks and moves much like their own missing hand. 

ALARMate has created a smart device that prevents vehicle drivers from falling asleep at the wheel reducing accidents caused by drowsy drivers, that lead to property damage, injuries and deaths. 

VitaLip is a lipstick that provides women with their daily needs of 3 essential and critical vitamins mainly B9, B12, and D preventing deficiency, especially at their child-bearing age. 

Smart Trash Can is the first automated waste sorting machine for public use, that integrates echo technology to sort waste according to material type in the most effective way.

Energy Builders is a hands-on technology robotics game and circuits for kids, that will allow them to learn the basics of energy and water efficiency along with renewable energy.

Six Degrees of Freedom is a solution that targets the dentistry field helping dentists communicate, organize, document and manage their working space through their mobile phone. 

“Throughout this program, we noticed the drive and commitment of participants who mastered very good technical skills but were also eager to acquire business acumen. It what was interesting to see how their projects were shaped according to market insights they collected throughout the program,” comments Krystel Khalil. 

Guiding the Shift

The entrepreneurs were accompanied by a team of trainers and coaches who have made sure that they received all the knowledge needed to move forward with creating their startups in addition to all the experience and support they require to move forward in their entrepreneurial journey. 

“The program has provided us with an excellent business learning experience. It helped us to transform our passion in research and papers into business, so at the end of these two months, we were able to get an IP, to finalize the R&D phase and to start the quality control phase to validate our results. It enabled us to shift from a pure academic idea dedicated to getting our Ph.D. degree to a potential business project that we can commercialize,” explains Rosabelle Chedid, Co-founder of C Green.

Mira Ayoub, Co-founder of Energy Builders also discussed her team’s journey in the program, “Throughout the program, we learned how to identify ourselves in the market and how to identify the right distribution channels, we also validated our target audience and prepared a 5-year financial projection plan.”

Showcasing and Matchmaking event

Following the past 2 phases, the teams have now reached the culmination of presenting their work. The nine teams will be showcasing their innovations during a public event on September 19, 2019, where they will be pitching in front of an audience of partners, industry players, experts and investors with jury feedback. 

The event will also feature matchmaking meetings between the teams and seasoned investors, industry leaders and experts to explore investment and business opportunities. Two teams will be selected to proceed for the incubation phase of the program in Berytech where they will be assisted to develop their business.