Key Learnings: Berytech Learning Series on Clean Technology

If we invest in waste and work in it, we can create 50,000 direct jobs and we can generate US$2-3 billion in economic turnover - Ziad Abi Chaker

Under its Cleanergy program aimed at catalyzing cleantech innovations, Berytech gathered key experts alongside successful entrepreneurs in recurring weekly webinars to discuss the challenges in the Cleantech sector and how to innovate solutions. The purpose was to create a community of entrepreneurs and an orbit of experts and supporters, leading to the creation of startups that would serve the local, regional and international needs.

The educational series showcased a number of key experts alongside successful entrepreneurs in each of the sectors of waste management, water and wastewater management and renewable energy, in recurring weekly webinars throughout April and May 2020.

 Find out the key learnings from each session gathered by sectors.

Key Learnings – Waste Management

Waste Management expert and entrepreneur Ziad Abi Chaker – CEO of Cedar Environmental L.L.C. discussed the role of the private sector and entrepreneurs after the coronavirus pandemic in developing a roadmap to avoid another health crisis. A multi-disciplinary engineer, Ziad started Cedar Environmental, an environmental and industrial engineering organization that aims to build recycling plants. In his talk, Ziad explained how he believes Lebanon can implement a zero-waste strategy by sorting household garbage and centralizing municipal recycling. According to Ziad, there are 7 types of waste: “If we invest in them and work in them, we can create 50,000 direct jobs and we can generate US$2-3 billion in economic turnover.”


Dr. Dominique Salameh, Head of Continuous Learning and Training Department and Doctoral Programs at the Faculty of Sciences of Saint Joseph University covered the opportunities and challenges on how to satisfy industrial value chain gaps through entrepreneurship and niche sectors strategies. With his intensive experience in strategy and waste management systems especially in hazardous waste treatment and aerobic and anaerobic digestion, Dominique focused on the raw material provided from waste, solid waste, liquid waste, and the potential to fill gaps in the industrial value chain. He invited entrepreneurs to innovate in re-contextualizing waste as a raw material in different industries especially in agriculture.


Shada el Sharif exposed the challenges and opportunities for the private sector in waste management in Jordan. Shada is currently Senior Advisor to the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD) for the project to establish Jordan’s National Center for Innovation (NCI). She recently served as Director of the Jordan Environment Fund (JEF), a national financing vehicle linked to the Ministry of Environment with a mandate to support sustainable development and green growth in Jordan. Her talk highlighted the importance of creating laws paving the way for all kinds of environmentally friendly policies.


Ronald Richa discussed the waste management challenges in the oil and gas sector. Ronald is the Industrial Business Development Director at Veolia Middle East covering a wide range of industrial projects mainly in the Oil & Gas sector, providing sustainable solutions in water production, wastewater treatment, and hazardous waste management. His talk covered the types of waste that result from oil and gas extraction, water, sludge, and bi products. For companies, being able to manage this waste will reduce the disposal cost, minimize volumes, optimize the waste operations, and onsite recycling.


Dr. Najat Saliba, Director of the Nature Conservation Center (NCC) at the American University of Beirut, leads projects based on a public participatory approach that aims to find innovative solutions to local environmental challenges. Together with Anwar Al Shami, the Lead Environmental Engineer at the Nature Conservation Center, they discussed solid waste management and the response of the NCC to the crisis. The NCC works to create an enabling environment for research and innovation in waste management. Saliba brought together the stakeholders, spheres, and elements of waste management into one integrated system while Al Shami introduced the tools that he created to incorporate these components to take proper decisions and set a long term strategic plan.


Key Learnings – Renewable Energy

Hassan Hrajli discussed expanding localized energy opportunities. Hassan is the manager of the UNDP-CEDRO project and has been UNDP Energy Advisor since 2009. He discussed enabling technologies that would allow renewable energy generation on a household level. “Why distributed renewable energy generation? Our electricity system is a US$2.3 billion industry a year and this money mostly is the cost of fuel that we are importing. We need to create opportunities to disconnect from the system as much as possible until Lebanon gets its act together and improves the system.”


Jessica Obeid is an independent energy policy consultant & Academy Associate at the Chatham House. Realizing that technology can only go so far without adequate policy tools, Jessica decided to go into the policy world following a decade in engineering. In one of the Renewable energy sessions, Jessica discusses that with all the problems that Lebanon is facing, what it needs to aim for is lower electricity prices, increased competitiveness, and higher imports, improved technology integration and innovation, Economic stimulus and job creation, and retention of funds inside Lebanon. To provide all of these goals, the solution is renewable energy, especially decentralized renewable energy models.


Walid el Baba, MD of Webco sarl and president of the Lebanese Solar Energy society board, discussed how innovating in clean energy will lead the way for the transition to a sustainable environment. Developing new components and increasing the performance of existing renewable energy products will help reduce the use of conventional energy sources.


Salah Tabbara, Co-founder of the Naseem Akkar Wind Farms project, introduced the project as the first wind energy project in Lebanon. It will be launched in cooperation between three companies, Lebanon Wind Power, Sustainable Akkar, and Hawa Akkar, that won the tender of the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water to construct and operate wind farms in Akkar, Lebanon. The three companies are managed by Infratech SAL. The three farms will include up to 43 wind turbines generating a combined total of up to 227.35 MW of power.


Aya Issa, Group Projects Coordinator at IPT, and Rani Al Achkar, Director, Engineering and Planning at the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC), discussed the opportunities and challenges in the energy and transportation sectors in Lebanon. Al Achkar is currently responsible for the installation of 10 grid-connected solar plants in 10 public buildings. He is a member of the committee responsible for the negotiation of power purchase agreements related to the first wind farms by the private sector and leading on the first bid for solar farms by the private sector in Lebanon. Based on this, Al Achkar discussed the concerns, ideas, and solutions in cleantech in the energy sector brought forward by LCEC to the Ministry of Energy and Water, international lenders, and future energy leaders and entrepreneurs. Issa discussed transportation challenges and energy-saving solutions, energy source diversification, and focusing on renewables. 


Key Learnings – Water and Wastewater Management

Salah Saliba discussed the business opportunities to entice private sector participation in water sector performance improvement. Salah is a private sector engagement team lead in the USAID-funded Lebanon Water Project (LWP) at DAI. LWP is a five-year project that works to increase reliable and sustainable access to potable water for Lebanese citizens; improve water management practices and enhance the efficiency and sustainability of public water utilities, while raising awareness on sustainable water use practices and promote better water governance to help assure long-term protection of Lebanon’s water resources. He explained the Public-Private Partnerships model in finding opportunities to encourage the private sector to invest in creating solutions for water management and encourage collaboration between the public and the private sector.


Hussam Hawwa explained the circular economy principles in treating wastewater and the potential of re-using it in Lebanon. Hussam is the founder and CEO of Difaf SAL, a consultancy and engineering bureau for environmental solutions. Difaf projects address water conservation and harvesting, wastewater treatment and reuse, waste-to-resource valorization, water quality monitoring, sustainable agriculture, and ecological restoration.


Dr. Nadim Farajalla discussed the interlinkage between water, energy, and food. He currently directs the Climate Change and the Environment Program at the American University of Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs. His current research focuses on the impact of climate change on human settlements and activities through extreme events of flooding and droughts; the impact of climate change on security; the nexus of water-energy-food and climate change with a focus on adaptation and resilience; and recovery of devastated land due to anthropogenic activities such as wars, farming, quarrying, etc.


Ghassan LeGrand, Managing Director of Veolia Water Technologies Oil and Gas Business Unit for the Middle East Region developed the water projects in the Oil & Gas market, combining his expertise in the petroleum industry as well as his passion to the environment since he deeply believes that ‘’water is too precious to use it only once!’’ Ghassan pointed out that without water, maintaining oil production will be very difficult yet any type of water produced can be treated all with a cost.


Nassim Abou-Hamad, Head of Water Governance and Basin Management Department at Litani River Authority (LRA), and Sara Dia, Water Innovation Lab Program Coordinator at Waterlution, who discussed challenges and opportunities in the water sector in Lebanon. Abou-Hamad introduced the mission of the LRA in implementing irrigation projects and hydro-electrical projects and the challenges it faces in managing waste dumped in the river from slaughterhouses, hospitals, informal settlements, agriculture, and industrial waste. Dia took the viewers through the Water Innovation Lab in Lebanon planned to be the biggest water innovation event in the Arab world dedicated to developing the next generation of water leaders from exploring the dynamic od water problems to market research, creating solutions to receiving awards, and mentorship in succeeding their startups.


Guest Entrepreneurs

Marc Aoun, Co-Founder & CEO at Compost Baladi SAL & CubeX SAL, presented the solutions his startup provides for waste management in residential, commercial, and municipal establishments. His main focus was on the scaled wastewater and solid waste treatment system that allows households to process all of their organic waste on-site effortlessly and recover useful resources out of them with a preview on how they tested the solution in refugee camps.


Khoder Eid talked about his experience in founding Green Track, a green enterprise that teaches people to sort at source while building social cohesion in unprivileged areas of Tripoli. His team of “Green Women” go door-to-door to create awareness about sorting and recycling in the 5,000 apartments of his neighborhood – Jabal Mohsen, and a team of “Green Men” who collect the recyclables and bring them to the allocated factories. Green Track is leading in the field of citizen-led sorting and recycling initiatives. The idea is to reach zero waste in Jabal Mohsen, then spread the project to the rest of Tripoli, especially Bab El Tebbaneh. The two neighborhoods which are regularly at war will socialize over trash.


Jules Hatem introduced his startup Triple E which offers innovative wastewater treatment solutions based on decentralized domestic sewage treatment plants. These plants are flexible, could be fixed or mobile, exposed, or underground having a treatment capacity going from 1 m3/day, going up to 1000 m3/day. It can transform the wastewater into irrigation water, domestic water, or even potable water. Jules discussed promoting decentralized solutions, especially in the rural areas where there are no sewers and central treatment plants to get rid of the “un-septic tanks”, valorizing the treated water and reducing stress on freshwater resources.   


Jad Bsaibes, Co-Founder of Green Power Generation and Head of Amana Energy Saving Solutions introduced GPG as an energy service company to help clients reduce their yearly energy consumption by 50% and more. After its success in Lebanon, GPG expanded its operation in 2018 to the UAE and MENA region.


Georges Bitar talked about his experience in founding Live Love Recycle, the world’s first crowdsourced recycling platform, based on a mobile application that connects the citizens of Beirut with the recycling facilities. Their core value proposition is picking up recyclables 30 minutes after the request for pick up from users and dropping them to the nearest recycling facility, which is user friendly, efficient, and quick.


Baker Bozeyeh talked about his experience is starting FlowLess that has developed a smart system, consisting of smart metering, clustering, and fully autonomous analysis and interpretation using artificial intelligence to automatically detect leakage in water networks and provide monitoring, interpretation, reporting of the network status in addition to the ability to forecast future incidents. FlowLess has the vision to help water service providers significantly improve water supply efficiency by minimizing losses.


Ryme Asaad, Co-founder and Managing Director at Rise2030, MyioLab, and Kapstone Co, has successfully executed more than 250 projects with INGOs, the Lebanese government, municipalities, and local communities on a national level. Her main areas of interest include sustainable and resilient development of cities in the field of contracting (electrical & telecom), waste management and recycling, decentralizing the web and grids in IoT, and renewable energy solutions for rural areas.


Mario Goraieb currently serves as Environment Program Manager at arcenciel. In the course of his work, Mario negotiated with municipalities, ministries, and private sector ways of waste management implementation. He managed, planned, and worked on developing waste management approaches, strategies, and technologies to suit municipalities and various private stakeholders. He has developed a policy brief on the importance of decentralization and the role of municipalities in waste management.


Pierre Elzouki, Chairman of Aquatersus, is a serial entrepreneur. His most known company Scalado became the market leader in mobile imaging when it was eventually acquired by Microsoft, building the current foundation of Microsoft photography solutions. His startup Aqua Tersus is a one-stop-shop providing lasting onsite solutions for biological treatment of polluted water and wastewater, respectively water reuse and restoration of heavily polluted freshwaters. This is done by accommodating complex microbial and hydraulic processes in innovative simple constructions, resulting in highly efficient natural solutions free from sludge and other by-products, treating daily flows ranging from 1 to 250 m3, under any climatic condition. The quality of purified water compares well with water in unspoiled nutrient-poor lakes.


Menna Sabry, Managing Director at Cleantech Arabia showcased her work in supporting cleantech startups and MSEs and acting as a catalyst for clean technology markets and clusters. She discussed the diverse business opportunities in the sector including alternative solid fuels from agri-waste, biogas systems for small cattle holders, solar dryers, and low-cost solar thermal water heaters for agriculture, PV powered equipment, etc.


Antoine Skayem introduced his startups FREE Energy which is specialized in customizing renewable and energy efficiency solutions. He started FREE energy in 2012 as a direct response to the drastic energy situation in Lebanon and led it through a successful acquisition.


The role of financing entities for an inclusive ecosystem

In the eighth webinar of the Cleantech Learning Series on May 26, 2020, guest experts Bassel Aoun, Project Manager at Kafalat iSME Programme, Nicolas Rouhana, General Manager at IM Capital, and Selim Chami, VIRIDIS Manager at Fondation Diane discussed the role of financing entities for an inclusive ecosystem.

Aoun discussed the 3 financing tools of the Kafalat iSME program, its cleantech portfolio, target market, and partners. Rouhana introduced the work of IM Capital in funding and supporting gaps in the early-stage entrepreneurship landscape in Lebanon while also creating the first structured business angels’ groups in Lebanon, SEEDERS and LWAF. Chami focused on the mission of Fondation Diane for civic awareness and eco-sustainable development under which lies the VIRIDIS investment fund.


Mapping Challenges & Opportunities

In the last webinar of the Cleantech Learning Series, the Berytech team, represented by Ramy Boujawdeh, Deputy GM, Elias Nicolas, Cleantech Specialist, and Hania Chahal, Marketing Economist, presented 20 different challenges identified by experts in the Cleantech sector and the opportunities to innovate behind these challenges. Participants also had the chance to learn more about the Cleanergy Accelerator Program.

Never miss a beat

Loved what you read? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and we’ll send you weekly stories and coverages to keep you inspired to start, grow and scale.