Berytech has concluded the outreach phase of IdeaLab, a program implemented by the five partnering organizations (ACIE, Farah Social Foundation, INJAZ Lebanon, Michel Daher Foundation, and Park Innovation) in various Lebanese regions under the Partners Growth Program. This phase has resulted in the selection of 48 startups to join the first edition of idea lab, a two-month program, where they can further develop their solutions.
During the Outreach Phase, the program, through the five partners, delivered 18 info sessions, generated 419 applications, provided business and technical support to 148 applicants, conducted interviews with 100 applicants, and selected 49 idea-stage startups to join the first batch of the IdeaLab.
Partner Growth Program was established by Berytech and co-funded by The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Lebanon under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub Initiative to enable the five partnering organizations to provide technical and business support to entrepreneurs offering innovative solutions in the agrifood and clean technology sectors. The program assists entrepreneurs participating in the IdeaLab Program in ideating and validating their solutions and encourages them to apply and join the Agrytech or Clyntech Accelerators to grow their businesses.
Through the $1.5M funded program, Berytech aims to utilize the Partner Growth Program to strategically revive the entrepreneurial ecosystem, which has been severely impacted by the economic crisis, empowering its partners to support entrepreneurs in their respective communities.
Empowering the Lebanese Ecosystem
After attending the capacity-building program and with the support of the Berytech team, the five partners initiated outreach activities in their regions. Their objective was to introduce potential applicants to entrepreneurship and identify and interview over 100 applicants working on innovations in the agrifoodtech or cleantech sectors.
Each partner implemented different types of outreach activities tailored to their region to identify potential entrepreneurs in the agrifoodtech or cleantech sectors. They also worked on establishing and strengthening relationships with relevant stakeholders. Through these efforts, the partners aim to foster innovation and support the growth of promising ventures in these sectors.
The ACIE team organized three info sessions to highlight the benefits of the IdeaLab program for entrepreneurs and innovators. At USEK, the team conducted a comprehensive info session, visited classes, and set up a booth to provide passing students with more information about the program. At AUT, a specific information session was held for faculty members and students to familiarize them with the program.
Furthermore, an online information session was conducted to reach out to individuals who had not been previously contacted, giving them an opportunity to learn more about the program.
To foster idea generation and preparation for the IdeaLab program, an Ideathon was organized at USEK. This event allowed entrepreneurs to form teams, develop ideas, structure their value propositions, and prepare their applications for the IdeaLab program. This served as the foundation for the brainstorming session, where participants actively engaged in discussing and quickly validating their ideas. An important aspect of the event was the opportunity for participants to network and form groups based on their interest in specific ideas.
A total of approximately 53 startup applications were received for the IdeaLab program. 19 startups pitched, and 10 startups were selected to progress further in the program.
Farah Social Foundation
Farah Social Foundation (FSF) conducted three main outreach activities: four roadshows, an Ideathon, and a social media campaign. The roadshows were held at universities across Beirut, including AUB, BAU, LIW, and AUST. During these roadshows, the FSF team introduced the IdeaLab program, explaining its objectives, benefits, and target audience. They also delivered presentations on the entrepreneurship mindset, the needs within the agrifood tech and cleantech sectors, and the concept of innovation to inspire and encourage youth to apply.
FSF also organized meetings with various stakeholders, such as AUB’s Ipark and FAFS Career Center, Lebanese American University’s Makhzoumi Innovation Center, and the Order of Engineers and Architects, among others. These stakeholders play a crucial role in sharing the Call for Applications with their networks, expanding the program’s reach.
In total, FSF received 87 applications, and after careful assessment, 21 startups were selected to participate in the Ideathon. The two-day Ideathon aimed to support the selected startups in developing their ideas in the cleantech and agritech sectors. The event had the participation of 26 applicants, and 10 were selected to join the IdeaLab program for the validation phase.
INJAZ Lebanon focused on offline outreach activities to establish a direct connection with potential candidates. In the first cycle of the program, two info session activities took place. One of these activities was the “Talk Green, Talk Smart!” info session, which provided a casual and informal environment for potential candidates to learn about IdeaLab, meet the team, and gain insights from guest speakers and alumni.
Universities in the North region played a crucial role in the outreach efforts. INJAZ Lebanon collaborated with these universities and requested their support in sharing information about IdeaLab with their students and alumni.
INJAZ Lebanon successfully engaged with potential participants and generated a pool of qualified applicants. These efforts were instrumental in ensuring the success of the selection process and ultimately choosing the most suitable startups to participate in the IdeaLab program.
A total of 78 applications were received for IdeaLab. Only 19 startups were given the opportunity to present their ideas, and 10 startups were selected to join the IdeaLab program.
Michel Daher Foundation
The Michel Daher Foundation (MDF), covering the Bekaa region, organized a series of information sessions to introduce the youth in the Bekaa region to the IdeaLab program. Four info sessions were conducted, three of which took place offline at LIU Khiara, LIU Rayak, and the Red Cross, while one session was held online. These sessions aimed to familiarize participants with the program, provide them with essential information, and outline the criteria for applying.
Over 140 applications were received for the hackathon, and 21 teams were selected. The hackathon included a session on design thinking and two full-day boot camps held at MDF premises. On the final day, a jury evaluated the startups, and nine were chosen to advance to the incubation phase. Monetary prizes were awarded to the top four pitches, and 9 startups were selected to join the IdeaLab program.
Park Innovation, covering South Mount Lebanon, organized five information sessions at NDU, MUBS, Shouf Biosphere, BAU University Campuses, and the Agricultural Center in Baakline, attracting a total of 234 attendees. These sessions provided an overview of the startup incubation program, outlining its objectives, benefits, and structure. The sessions also highlighted the advantages of participating in the program, such as access to resources, mentorship, funding opportunities, and networking.
Following these sessions, an Ideathon took place, where 46 participants pitched their startup ideas to a jury. Three winners were selected, receiving cash prizes. The startups then had the opportunity to apply to the IdeaLab program, receiving a total of 61 applications. Through assessment, 20 were chosen for the final pitching day, and 10 were selected to join the IdeaLab program.
IdeaLab: Validation Phase
In the upcoming period, the five partners will implement the IdeaLab Program for the selected five batches, carrying out five cycles of two-month Validation Training. They will support the selected entrepreneurs with mentoring and linkages to help validate their ideas and organize networking activities for startups in the ecosystem.
About The ACT Smart Innovation Hub
The Partner Growth Program is under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub, a comprehensive initiative launched by Berytech and co-funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to enable the Lebanese entrepreneurial ecosystem and stimulate innovation and startup creation in the agriculture, food, and clean technology sectors.