ACT Smart Innovation Hub

As the name implies, the ACT Smart (Agri-Food & CleanTech) Innovation Hub is a new out-of-the-box approach by Berytech aimed at strengthening business advancement, economic growth and job creation in the Agri-food and Cleantech sectors in Lebanon.

With generous funding from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and their renewed trust, Berytech is now taking a sector-wide approach for economic growth by stimulating innovators and entrepreneurs to put their creativity and energy at the service of Agri-food and Cleantech sectors and encouraging them to develop local solutions to the environmental and food security challenges faced by the Lebanese and refugee communities.

The Pillars

Berytech has articulated four pillars under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub, all with the support of like-minded organization from the Netherlands.

  • Incubation/acceleration programs for startups in the Agri-food and Cleantech (Energy, Waste, Water and Wastewater) sectors;
  • Supporting and expanding QOOT – Lebanon’s Agri-food Innovation Cluster, initiated and supported by Berytech;
  • Initiating three Cleantech working groups on Energy, Waste and Water working as think-tanks to lobby for an enabling environment for innovation and growth; and
  • Encouraging the generation and commercialization of Lebanese intellectual property in partnership with leading academic and research institutions.

The Approach

The novelty of Berytech’s ACT Smart Innovation Hub approach is fourfold:

  • The Cleantech and the Agri-food sectors are not necessarily the most attractive sectors for innovators and entrepreneurs who are otherwise drawn to other sectors or opt for emigration. Bringing their creativity and energy into the ACT Smart Innovation Hub will open new horizons and will prove that things can be done differently.
  • The enabling environment around the Cleantech and the Agri-food sectors is quasi-inexistent, with various actors working in silos despite the obvious added value of collaborations. Creating policy lobbying and business development platforms for these actors to exchange and work collectively under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub will help Berytech in its objective to improve the enabling environment from a sector-wide perspective.
  • The economic policies of the Lebanese government have historically privileged the tertiary sector (provision of services) at the expense of agriculture and industry but are now counting on a “Knowledge Economy” to address the socio-economic problems of the country in the future. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is one of the champions of this knowledge economy and the exchange of experiences with them under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub will inspire the various Lebanese actors to do things differently.
  • There is a growing trend around the world to address systemic social, economic and environmental problems from a “nexus” perspective that accounts for the interrelatedness and interdependencies between different sectors, particularly Food, Energy and Water. Berytech designed ACT Smart as a way to examine this interrelatedness and the interdependencies from a pragmatic hands-on perspective and brings all concerned stakeholders under one broad collaboration umbrella.

The Program Details

The ACT Smart Innovation Hub program will run over 36 months from September 2019 to August 2022.

It includes two accelerator programs

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.

Berytech will work closely with Academia 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 and Dutch know-how and expertise throughout the process.

QOOT_RGB_LogoThrough the program, Berytech continues its support of QOOT Cluster – Lebanon’s Agri-Food Innovation Hub, supporting its members in their innovation strategies and competitiveness, leading to efficiency and quality exports.

The Startup Accelerators

Berytech supports startups with innovations across the Agri-Food sector through the Agrytech Accelerator (2 batches) and the Clean Technology sector through the Cleanergy Accelerator (2 batches) in 2 yearly 3-phase programs. The two programs offer the startups the resources, knowledge, support, and funding worth around $100K, necessary to scale their ideas and grow them to penetrate international markets.

     

 

The Partnerships

     

New like-minded institutions will be brought on board to support the process of ecosystem development: the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs of the American University of Beirut will be in charge of hosting the working groups on Waste, Energy and Water, as well as developing a paper on Sustainable Agriculture.

The Euro-Lebanese Centre For Industrial Modernisation (ELCIM) of the National Industrial Research Institute will be in charge of mobilizing Academia and Research institutions to work on commercializing IP for Industry.

A set of Memoranda of Understanding will be signed with major universities and professional bodies in view of creating synergies with the different ACT Smart Innovation Hub components, beyond the strict boundaries of the acceleration component. For example, universities will be encouraged to direct final year students in STEM degrees to design their final year projects to benefit from ACT Smart Innovation Hub support.