IO Tree Wins Agrytech Hackathon 2018

Qualifies to participate in the Agrytech Program and receive up to US$100K in support and grants

IO Tree, a startup which aims to design and implement a machine to monitor the presence of the med fruit fly and inform the farmer when it’s the best time to spray, won first place at the Agrytech Hackathon event this weekend organized by Berytech, the Ecosystem for entrepreneurs in Lebanon. The Hackathon was held under the Patronage of the President of the Council of Ministers H.E. Mr. Saad Hariri, represented by Minister of Administrative Development H.E. Mr. Nabil de Freige, and supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The first-place team, which included Christina Chaccour and Nisrine El-Turky, won $6,500 and has been pre-selected to join the second edition of Berytech’s Accelerator Program Agrytech, which starts in June 2018 with a boot camp; the team now has access to up to US$100K in support and grants through the program. The team had a functioning prototype to demonstrate in front of the judges and audience at the Hackathon and will now have the chance to take their startup and idea to the next level.


Launched by Berytech in 2017, the Agrytech Program, co-funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, aims to attract the best startups in the agri-food sector and provide them with appropriate technical and commercial resources as well as community support to expand their ideas into successful businesses with a global impact.


Chairman and CEO of Berytech, Maroun N. Chammas, commented: “We are very excited to organize these events under the Agrytech Program, proving that Lebanon can play a role in solving world challenges in the agri-food sectors.” Chammas thanked Prime Minister Hariri for his valued patronage of the Agrytech Hackathon, “it but emphasizes the passionate support he continues to show Lebanese entrepreneurs.”

Chammas added that the Agrytech Program and all its related activities, would not have been possible without the continuous and unwavering support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “Thanks to them, we are now working on building a regional and international network through our partnership with StartLife and FoodValley, which ultimately benefits our participating startups.”


The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lebanon, H.E. Jan Watmans, said: “Lebanon remains a priority country for the Netherlands and our support will remain strong for the coming years. We are committed to supporting youth and entrepreneurship, in creating jobs, and providing access to education to all residents in Lebanon. The Agrytech program in its first year have been very successful, as we’ve seen many young entrepreneurs come up with a lot of good ideas that contribute in enhancing the agriculture and food processing sectors.  We are happy to work again hand in hand with the Berytech team and encourage all youth who have innovative ideas to enroll in this program.


Hackathon Winners & Participants
There were two winners for second place, team Agry Mac with Abbass Al Hajj, Elie Said, Marc-Halim Matta, and Engema Succar – an application that will detect and/or predict illness in trees soil and plant and team Zaatine with Sarkis Khatecherian, Nshan Karoghinanian and Fadi El Hajj – a machine that solves the challenges of separating Zaatar leaves from the stem. They won a shared prize of $4,500 and are also pre-qualified to attend the boot camp part of the Agrytech Accelerator Program.

The Agrytech Program team qualified 80 participants from some 160 applicants to join the hackathon. They were divided into 26 teams, including developers, engineers, data scientists, designers, innovators, professionals and university students who competed for three consecutive days, to translate innovative ideas into prototypes under the supervision of Dutch consultants and experts from FarmHack.Nl and Source Institute, in addition to Berytech and other members from the agri-food community.

The participants had 54 hours to work on their solution, and were judged based on Idea and Market Validation, Impact, Innovation, Sustainability, and finally Prototype. Ten (10) teams out of the 26 were pre-selected to pitch in front of the grand jury.

The judges this year included H.E. Mr. Jan Waltmans – Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands; Mr. Maroun N. Chammas – Chairman and CEO of Berytech; Dr. Hady Khalaf – Digital Transformation Director of Bel Group Middle East and Africa; Mr. Peter Hrechdakian – CEO of UNIFERT; Ms. Josien Kapma – Co-founder of FarmHackNL; Mr. Joe Baddour – Assistant General Manger – Head of Corporate Banking Group of BLC Bank; and Mr. Fady Debbane – Vice Chairman of Debbane Agri.


The Hackathon Agenda and Activities
The first day started with the formation of the teams and presenting of the challenges, in addition to meeting the experts who provided them with the information and data available to start developing the solutions. The day continued with several workshops.

The second day began with an open public session and the participants were mentored throughout the day by experts in their fields. The day ended with an intervention from Mr. Jamil Qurbani, president of Green Studios, who shared his experience in the field through an interactive session.

The third day included the teams’ pitches for their creative solutions and the announcement of the winners who are now qualified to participate in the Agrytech Program, which aims to attract the best startups in the agro-food sector and provide them with appropriate technical and commercial resources as well as community support to expand their ideas into successful businesses with a global impact.

Participants were able to use Berytech Fabrication Lab to create their prototypes, which has the latest digital manufacturing technology and a wide range of machinery and equipment to develop hardware, electronics and other elements.


The Challenges
The Agrytech Hackathon aimed to solve different environmental, economic, business, and marketing challenges in the agri-food industry. The challenges encompassed different subsectors of the agriculture and food industry that include: forestry, farming, crop production, livestock, poultry, fisheries, and food production.

Agriculture is the third most important sector in Lebanon after the tertiary and industrial sectors. It is a small but stable part of the Lebanese economy, despite the fact that the agriculture industry only contributes 5% of Lebanon’s GDP.

Many of Lebanon’s poorest families depend on agriculture as their primary source of income and employment. Approximately 20 to 25% of Lebanon’s active population is involved in the agriculture sector, with a large share of Syrian workers.

This sector has been facing many challenges for a while, including the increase in population growth, climate change and limited resources of land and water; in addition to the change in consumer demand, trade, research and development that are imposing strong regulations to access the international markets. All of the challenges presented at the Agrytech Hackathon have given a voice to the sector and highlighted the need for a skilled workforce capable of implementing these improvements and innovations to progress.


Community Support
The Agrytech Hackathon was supported generously by Bel Group, Unifert and Debbani Agri. Other supporters included IPTEC and Waste Beirut, as well as BLC Bank, as the event’s Preferred Bank.


Apply to Agrytech
Agrytech Accelerator Applications for Batch II are open till April 30, 2018. Apply by clicking here to find out more.

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