The current Minister of Environment and Administrative Development H.E. Damianos Kattar visited Berytech recently to learn more about the activities undertaken under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub Initiative, co-funded by The Kingdom of The Netherlands and launched by Berytech back in January 2020.
Berytech’s Chairman and CEO – Maroun N. Chammas, was joined by Ambassador of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in Lebanon H.E. Jan Waltmans in welcoming Minister Kattar.
The delegation included Bassam Sabbagh – Head of Urban Environment Service at Ministry of Environment, as well as Floris van Slijpe – First Secretary Sustainable Economic Development at the Embassy of The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Lebanon.
Achievements and Collaborative Efforts
The Berytech team, headed by Deputy GM Ramy Boujawdeh went on to present the achievements under the ACT Smart Initiative, particularly the success stories in catalyzing Agri-Food and Cleantech innovations in Lebanon.
Boujawdeh presented Minister Kattar with potential collaboration initiatives, requesting support in creating an enabling environment and granting access to much needed data; linking the Innovation and Knowledge Economy to the Ministry, by increasing the mechanisms of Industry to Innovation linkages, to scale and support startups; support in digitization and integration of digital solutions that could benefit Government, Businesses, and Individuals.
Boujawdeh also added that linkages with other Ministries – such as Energy and Water, as well as Interior, the water establishments, and the waste companies was much needed, and that more mechanisms to support, subsidize innovators through tests and licenses support would be of value.
He concluded by saying that a push for Government tendering was now warranted, to encourage the offers by startups and SMEs to bid or join bids, by adding more criteria and evaluation criteria.
Meeting the Innovating Youth
Minister Kattar was introduced to Marc Aoun – co-founder of Compost Baladi and an Alumnus of the Agrytech Program, as well as Guadaluna Chaer – co-founder of Luxeed Robotics and currently enrolled in the program. They both presented their startups and innovations, as well as discussed activities which can be undertaken with the Ministry.
Minister Kattar also heard from the 4 winners of the recently organized Berytech e-Hackathon 2020. All four teams are innovating in the Cleantech sector. He applauded the efforts made by Berytech and the Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.
He then addressed the winners of the e-Hackathon, saying: “while there are things that are lagging behind in Lebanon, opportunities for young people are always progressing, as you are the pulse of society and represent energy, creativity and commitment.”
He added: “The greatest focus in the crisis we are living in will be on fast, cost-effective and local initiatives that are a sustainable solutions to a specific problem, and you constitute an opportunity in this atmosphere that we are experiencing and a breakthrough that can be repeated whether at Berytech or elsewhere to contribute to finding solutions to the problems associated with and around the environment, agriculture or energy.”
Minister Kattar called for “not stopping at the political debate and overcoming the concept of the crisis by the will of the solution”, stressing that “Lebanon has always risen through the strength of the private sector and its capabilities, and this type of initiative [ACT Smart Innovation Hub] confirms the importance of the private sector and the energy and capabilities of our youth.”
Before taking a group photo, the Minister of Environment and Administrative Development wrote in Berytech’s golden book the following words, “My visit to Berytech is an endeavor to participate in the strength of the youth component, and that youth, creativity and innovation constitute the pillars of success and breakthrough to exit from the historical crisis of Lebanon. My wishes for success and I hope you stay connected to our society, its challenges and its solutions.”
ACT Smart Innovation Hub Initiative
The ACT Smart Innovation Hub initiative runs over 36 months from September 2019 to August 2022. It includes two accelerator programs – Agrytech and Cleanergy, it aims to create 200 direct job opportunities and 400 indirect job opportunities with at least 50% linked to youth and 25% linked to women.
Through the innovation hub, Berytech continues its support of the QOOT Agri-Food Innovation Cluster, accompanying its members in their innovation strategies and competitiveness, ultimately leading to efficiency and quality exports from Lebanon.
Berytech will work closely with Academia and research institutes on converting Intellectual Property (IP) into commercialized solutions.
Berytech will also propose policy reforms and establish lobbying and coordination structures that will last beyond the lifetime of the program. All the above will be done using local Lebanese and Dutch know-how and expertise throughout the process.