Lebanon Innovate: Mapping the Innovation Ecosystem and Sharing the Findings 

On December 14, 2023, the Lebanon Innovate Program hosted an outstanding event titled “Mapping and Revealing Insights from the Innovation Ecosystem,” bringing together key players from the ecosystem such as Lebanese industrialists, esteemed academic institutions and researchers, government representatives, and dynamic business support organizations. 

Mapping Insights Through Consultants

The EU-funded Lebanon Innovate holds the potential to revitalize Lebanon’s innovation ecosystem and drive sustainable development in the agrifood, healthcare and ICT sectors; allowing the country to become a knowledge-driven digital nation at the front end of innovation. 

Academia  

Mr. Maurice Mouawad, co-founder of Transformeus, explained that while Lebanese universities are undergoing challenges due to political and economic downturns that have impacted their financial stability, there are still opportunities to explore positive and practical solutions. This includes establishing and managing a Technology Transfer Office (TTO) and addressing aspects of intellectual property (IP), dedicating funds to research and lab development, holding industry-centric conferences and workshops to promote a knowledge-based economy, enhancing collaboration to strengthen ties with different industries and facilitate access to knowledge and resources, and securing grants, particularly from private sectors, for applied research in Ph.D. and graduate study contexts. 

Industrialists 

Mr. Mouawad also gave insight into research and development in the fields of agri-food, healthcare and ICT, and the challenges faced. After extensive research, and through collaboration with multiple governmental and corporate sources, a list of industries within the targeted sectors was compiled. In the industrial mapping research, Mr. Maurice conducted a comprehensive analysis comparing the performance of in-house R&D and outsourced R&D within companies in the ICT, Healthcare, and Agri-food sectors. The recommendations provided target addressing these challenges at various levels, including the governmental, innovation support, and private sector levels, among others. 

IP Ecosystem Insights and BSOs 

Dr. Mohab Anis – CEO of Innovety and in-house consultant for Lebanon Innovate – shared insights from the IP ecosystem and Business Support Organizations: It was found that Intellectual Property firms not only provide services related to trademarks, parents, copyrights and audits, but also engage in commercialization strategy and robust IP validation.  

In their role, IP firms provide advisory and capacity-building services to a diverse range of entities, including SMEs, larger corporations, startups, universities, and researchers. Typically funded through sources like donor-funded programs and collaborations with large corporations, these organizations play a crucial role in guiding various sectors, particularly ICT, Healthcare, and Agrifood. In his research, Mr. Anis sheds light on the significant contribution that IP is expected to make in these sectors, emphasizing the importance of guiding universities in adopting effective IP strategies and developing IP policies for universities and research institutions. 

Research Centers 

Dr. Salwa Tohme Tawk‘s research highlights that Lebanon’s current economic situation requires innovative solutions to transition towards knowledge-based models. Unfortunately, due to a lack of essential tools and incentives for effective innovation activation and commercialization, the country is in a decline in overall innovation output. Dr. Tawk’s research focuses on non-academic research centers, revealing that these centers focus on applied research, aligning their topics with the urgent needs of the Lebanese market and relying on donor contributions for operational sustainability. In her recommendations to address these challenges, Dr. Tawk suggests: Bridging the gap between scientific advancements and society, strengthening connections between the public and private sectors, and addressing immediate challenges in the Agri-food, Health, and ICT/CCI sectors, fostering sustainable research and development. 

Insights Through Key Partnerships

The program’s local and European partners spent months mapping the local innovation ecosystem and identifying needs to build various upcoming initiatives that support the advancement of the innovation ecosystem. Through the reverse pitching segment, the mapped industrialists – Tanmia, Multilane and Technica, represented their challenges with the purpose of inviting the entities present at the event to propose an innovative solution to their issues. 

Aurelien Baudoin, Director of Network and Development at ANIMA shared the role of the Lebanese Diaspora in the scope of the Lebanon Innovate program. Based on their mapping results, they learned that the Diasporas mapped can help to access business groups of networks from different countries and collaborate on international projects. ANIMA sees a lot of potential to engage the Diaspora with the Lebanese innovation ecosystem with the support of Lebanon Innovate. 

Moreover, Francisco Julia, Senior Project Manager at LEITAT, presented insights featuring trends and insights in three industries – agrifood, ICT, and healthcare in Europe. LEITAT insights show that these trends impact industry, smart cities, and connectivity, aligning the EU’s vision for a digital future and the imperative for innovation to realize these goals. 

Furthermore, Fabienne Balaa, Executive Director at IRALEB, presented the re-launch of the LIRA Program under Lebanon Innovate.  

The Way Forward

The event wrapped up with a closing presentation from Suha Hallab, Lebanon Innovate’s program manager, shedding light on the journey ahead for the innovation stakeholders in Lebanon under the EU-funded Lebanon Innovate. This program is set to drive tangible change through ongoing collaboration, practical solutions, and a dedicated focus on developing local while leveraging Lebanese industrialists, academic institutions and researchers, government representatives, business support organizations, and more. Moreover, the program aims not just to acknowledge existing challenges but to proactively mold and enhance Lebanon’s innovation ecosystem. Lebanon Innovate is heavily invested in making a meaningful impact on shaping the country’s innovation landscape within the upcoming years. 

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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