PepsiCo, in collaboration with Plug and Play, PepsiCo Foundation, and The Arab Youth Center, recently hosted a prominent competition aimed at driving innovation and sustainability across the Middle East. The series of events spanned from the 22nd of September to the 12th of November, covering multiple countries including Egypt, the UAE, Lebanon, KSA, and Jordan. This initiative brought together young entrepreneurs and startups to collectively address climate change challenges and promote sustainability in various industries.
At PepsiCo, we are committed to playing a vital role in fostering innovation with tangible and measurable impact. We actively create opportunities, like the Arab Youth Hackathon, that bring industry leaders, policymakers, and young visionaries together. Our collaboration with like-minded partners is crucial for success, as we believe in the power of large-scale entities working hand-in-hand to uplift and provide a platform for the youth, offering the space and tools they need to inspire and drive impactful change in their communities.Rachel Hayek, Sustainability Lead at PepsiCo
The Arab Youth Hackathon
One of the key highlights of the competition was the Arab Youth Hackathon, which was organized in five countries in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the hackathon took place on October 28, 29, and 30 of 2023 and was a three-day event focused on generating business ideas to combat climate change. The themes of Water, Climate, Circular Economy, and Agriculture guided the participants as they developed innovative solutions.
A total of 48 startups participated in the hackathon, and after the second day, 12 were shortlisted. By the end of the hackathon, three startups – PulP, LUXEED, and Green Taqa – had secured a place in the final phase of the competition at the COP28 event in Dubai. Throughout the Hackathon, Berytech played a crucial role as a strategic partner, and Beirut Digital District (BDD) served as the venue partner for this impactful event.
“The Arab Youth Hackathon was a commitment to empowering the next generation of innovators and inspiring change. It was an unforgettable, dynamic journey, where the team brought together bright minds, passionate mentors and partners not only to showcase solutions but to spotlight the potential of Lebanese and Arab youth to drive sustainable transformation in the region.”Elise Sfeir, Accelerator Manager at Berytech
COP28 – The Grand Finale
The final phase of this competition took place during COP28, the critical climate event of the year, held in Dubai, UAE, from October 2nd to 5th, 2023. The three finalist startups from the five participating countries—KSA, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, and the UAE—gathered at the conference to present their final pitches in front of a panel of expert judges.
The three winners of the PepsiCo Arab Youth Hackathon were announced at COP28 after their final pitches in front of a panel of regional expert judges. All the startups displayed remarkable creativity and commitment in addressing climate change and promoting sustainability, but three stood out ultimately emerging as winners in the competition.
- Green TaQa: Claiming the top spot, Green TaQa specializes in harnessing biogas from crop and animal waste using cutting-edge anaerobic digestion technology. This Berytech alumnus offers farmers an eco-friendly energy alternative, boosting profit margins while curbing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Their commitment to responsible farm waste management shapes a cleaner, more sustainable future. Green TaQa’s prize was a $30,000 grant to be spent on transforming the winning idea into a startup, in addition to one month of online incubation by Plug and Play.
- Cropsense: The runner-up was Cropsense, a startup from Saudi Arabia with their AI-generated system designed to provide farmers with essential insights, allowing them to make decisions based on data. Cropsense’s prize was a $10,000 grant to be spent in transforming the winning idea into a startup in addition to a one-month online incubation by Plug and Play.
- Luxeed: In third place, Luxeed, another proud Berytech alum, pioneers a chemical-free weeding robot named Ultron. This innovation eliminates herbicide usage post-planting, elevating crop quality and yield while championing environmentally conscious farming practices. Luxeed’s prize was a $10,000 grant to be spent on transforming the winning idea into a startup, in addition to a one-month online incubation by Plug and Play.
Initiatives that Promote Sustainability and Innovation
The PepsiCo Competition and the Arab Youth Hackathon collectively demonstrate the transformative power of collaboration and innovation in addressing global challenges and inspiring sustainable solutions. By providing a platform for young entrepreneurs to showcase their ideas, PepsiCo and its partners contribute actively to building a more resilient future for the Middle East. The success of the three winning startups at COP28 signifies the tangible impact of these initiatives in fostering positive change and inspiring the next generation of sustainability leaders.