Lebanon Innovate: Mapping Business Support Organizations in Lebanon

The mapping of Lebanon's BSOs allows Lebanon Innovate to gain deeper insights into the Lebanese ecosystem and its various players, analyzing the business support landscape in this field.

Lebanon Innovate is a 42-month program initiated by Berytech and funded by the European Union, aiming at revitalizing the entrepreneurial and productive sectors of Lebanon. The program encourages innovation by supporting Intellectual Property (IP) and knowledge transfer, with the goal of turning the country into a knowledge-driven digital nation leading in innovation.

Through the process of mapping the ecosystem, the program has identified eleven Business Support Organizations (BSOs) in Lebanon and assessed their status, technology transfer maturity, services, business model, and impact on the local ecosystem.

Mapping the Lebanese Innovation Ecosystem Objectives Led by Gap Report & Recommendations

Lebanon Innovate has shaped its activities and objectives based on Berytech’s continuous work through THE NEXT SOCIETY, which established a national innovation strategy for Lebanon starting in 2017.

This effort resulted in a report proposing a roadmap of 29 actionable recommendations for universities and other key ecosystem players to enhance technology transfer dynamics in Lebanon. The report identified over thirty gaps in various areas, including Lebanon’s weak collaborative culture, challenges in funding for researchers during the prototyping stage (referred to as the ‘valley of death’), lack of incentives and rewards, limited awareness of commercialization, weak IP protection, and insufficient players involved in managing intellectual property and licensing.

The mapping findings and report recommendations have been instrumental in guiding the involvement of business support organizations in the Lebanon Innovate program and in building the local ecosystem. The objectives of the ecosystem mapping report are led by the recommendations generated from this report study. Read the full recommendations here.

Objectives of Mapping Lebanon’s Business Support Organizations

The mapping of Lebanon’s BSOs allows Lebanon Innovate to gain deeper insights into the Lebanese ecosystem and its various players, analyzing the business support landscape in this field.

The identified organizations in the ecosystem will play a significant role in the Lebanon Innovate program and will have multiple opportunities to participate in its diverse activities.

The program constructs three Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) focusing on Agriculture & Food, Healthcare, and Information & Communication Technology (ICT). These communities unite BSOs, government bodies, academia, research institutions, and companies, creating connections among these four pillars. This aims to facilitate technology and knowledge transfer within the ecosystem by bridging the gap between industry and research, fostering technology transfer, encouraging collaboration and simplifying access to funding.  

The mapping also plays a pivotal role in the Innovation Resource Portal, an all-inclusive online reference for ongoing and upcoming innovation initiatives, along with sector-specific resources. It contributes to the creation of an interactive ecosystem map, which spotlights crucial players in the Lebanese ecosystem who have the potential to become integral members of the Knowledge and Innovation Communities.

Additionally, the mapping report outlines specific areas where these BSOs can make significant contributions to the Lebanese Industrial Research Achievements (LIRA) program within the three communities. The LIRA program accelerates researchers and innovators by providing funding, mentorship, and resources to develop their products or services, including validating new ideas, business development, and facilitating collaboration between industry and academia.

The mapping also acts as a catalyst for fostering greater inclusivity among BSOs, encouraging their active participation in local, regional, and international matchmaking events, thus expanding their global reach and impact.

Eleven Business Support Organizations in Lebanon Mapped

Lebanon Innovate has meticulously mapped eleven BSOs that specialize in vital areas such as business incubation, acceleration, innovation services, and funding facilitation. To systematically assess these BSOs, Berytech evaluated each organization across different dimensions, including its market presence, services, business model, resources, and impact. The eleven BSOs in Lebanon are categorized into five groups:

I.       Innovation Centers:

1.        Lebanese American University Fouad Makhzoumi Innovation Center LAU FMIC: Established in 2019, LAU FMIC is an innovation center offering comprehensive incubation services, supporting entrepreneurship, and guiding startups in market definition, validation, and investor preparation.

2.         Asher Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik: Founded in 2017 by Tony Asher to establish a business incubator at USEK, promoting innovation and entrepreneurship.

3.         Zein American University in Beirut Innovation Park (Zein AUB IPark): An innovation center established at AUB in 2019 through an endowment fund by the Zein family. It supports AUB students, alumni, and faculty members in developing innovative ideas into profitable startups.

4.         Entrepreneurship and Competencies Center (EC²): EC², was established at the University Saint Joseph (USJ) in 2019. It offers a variety of services to USJ students and graduates and assists them at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. These services include an annual training program, entrepreneur coaching, consultations, innovation and entrepreneurship competitions, legal training on intellectual property (IP)-based innovation, legal coaching for IP registration, and coaching to identify potential IP services resulting from research. EC² aims to create a supportive framework for young individuals, especially USJ students and recent graduates, who aspire to become entrepreneurs by providing them with valuable advice and guidance for their new business ventures.

EC2 is committed to supporting researchers and innovators to commercialize their innovations. They believe that innovation is essential for economic development, and they are working to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs and innovators in Lebanon.

II.       IP Firms:

5.         Alyafi IP Group: An Innovation and IP consultancy firm working with 15 Middle Eastern countries and providing specialized services in Intellectual Property (IP) to protect intangible assets.

6.         Saba IP: An established company founded in 1926 with offices across the MENA region. They offer a wide range of IP protection services, including patent and trademark commercialization, brand valuation, franchising, licensing, and IP counseling.

7.         SADER & Associates: A law firm specializing in intellectual property (IP) services working with national and international companies and providing support to entrepreneurs and startups.

III.      Funding Entities:

8.         Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF): A global association of French-speaking higher education and research institutions. AUF has 99 members in 18 countries, including Lebanon, and plays a significant role in supporting entrepreneurs and startups in Lebanon.

9.         European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD): The EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses offers extensive support to SMEs since 2018, covering areas such as strategy, operations, and quality management. They provide training and consultancy services through a network of local consultants and international experts.

IV.      Incubator/Accelerator:

10.         Smart Ecole Supérieure des Affaires (ESA): An accelerator and incubator established in 2017 within the ESA Business School focuses on transforming creators into entrepreneurs by providing startups with a management toolbox for sustainable success.

V.       Industrial Support:

11.       Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI): Established in 1942 as the national representative of manufacturing companies and employers in Lebanon, ALI aims to advocate for the interests of Lebanese industries and present industry recommendations to various stakeholders and organizations.

Recommended BSO Involvement on the Level of Lebanon Innovate’s Activities

BSOs play a vital role in the Lebanon Innovate Program, with different categories having varying levels of involvement. Innovation centers can contribute significantly by becoming members of KICs and participating in the LIRA program. IP firms can offer services related to IP strategies and policies for universities. Funding entities can post opportunities on the Innovation Resource Portal (IRP) to attract more applicants. Incubators and accelerators can leverage their expertise to support the LIRA program. Industrial Support Organizations can become KIC members and serve as outreach and community partners for the LIRA program. Berytech has identified eight major activities in which BSOs can be involved:

  1. Building Thriving Knowledge and Innovation Communities: BSOs bring technical and business expertise to support applied research and R&D projects in priority sectors like ICT, agrifood, and healthcare. They provide IP guidance, promote entrepreneurship, and facilitate knowledge exchange.
  2. Training University Managers on Innovation and IP Strategies: Certain BSOs, acting as IP partners, can offer ongoing support and technical assistance for implementing innovation and IP strategies at universities.
  3. Developing IP Policies for Universities and Research Institutions: Some BSOs have a strong track record in supporting universities in Lebanon with implementing IP policies and raising awareness about IP and legal matters.
  4. Designing Technology Transfer Structures: BSOs collaborate with Technology Transfer offices and assist universities in designing and establishing structured Technology Transfer structures.
  5. Assisting in Setting Up Technology Transfer Offices: BSOs can support universities in strategizing and sustaining Technology Transfer Offices and assist in staffing and structuring TTOs.
  6. Participating in the LIRA Program: BSOs contribute at various stages of the LIRA program, including outreach, acceleration, and incubation, leveraging their expertise in different program aspects.
  7. Identifying Diaspora Profiles and Networks: BSOs tap into diaspora connections to strengthen ties between the EU and Lebanon, fostering collaboration with companies and institutions abroad.
  8. Contributing Content for the Innovation Resource Portal (IRP): BSOs integrate their resources into the IRP, showcasing industrial challenges, listing innovation challenges, sharing funding opportunities, and competitions to attract researchers and entrepreneurs.

A Comprehensive Understanding of the Eleven Business Support Organizations (BSOs)

The mapping report has provided a comprehensive understanding of the eleven Business Support Organizations in Lebanon. The findings emphasize the important role these organizations play in fostering business growth in Lebanon. This mapping initiative has provided valuable insights into Lebanon’s innovation and business ecosystem, making it an essential resource for stakeholders and opening doors to collaborative opportunities and growth. Lebanon Innovate is excited about the next steps to empower the entire ecosystem.

Picture of Yara Karkafi

Yara Karkafi

Yara Karkafi joined Berytech in December 2022 as a Communications and Outreach Officer and is currently leading the Lebanon Innovate Program. She supports the team in managing the program’s communication strategy, events and activities while ensuring that the message is communicated effectively.

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