Posted on November 2, 2021
Seven startups have completed the incubation phase of the Regional Innovation Factory program. The teams received incubation support from Berytech and THE NEXT SOCIETY partners available in each country and a grant of 10,000€ to turn their research project into a scalable business.
The Regional Innovation Factory was built following 3 successful programs in Lebanon accelerating applied research projects to market in partnership with ANIMA Investment Network and in collaboration with partners from THE NEXT SOCIETY Mediterranean network.
21 teams from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia initially joined the program starting with a 3-day entrepreneurship bootcamp, while 7 were selected by a jury to receive incubation support from Berytech.
The 7 teams composed of researchers, innovators, engineers, and professors worked to develop their research or technological innovation in multiple sectors into a practical and commercially viable product or service.
Sabrine Chennaoui from Tunisia speaks of her startup, MonSapo, and her experience in being part of the incubation phase: “MonSapo is a brand of sustainable cleaning products that uses waste as raw materials. Our goal is to help professionals like hotels, restaurants, guest houses, and common households integrate ecological products into their cleaning process with high efficiency and at the best price.
The Innovation Factory bootcamp was an amazing experience and opportunity for me. It has helped me launch my range of products that were essential for me to prove the product-market fit. During the incubation, we have developed the MONSAPO website, the graphic charter of the brand, funded the incorporation and the legal procedures, and sustained our first sales. So far, a co-founder joined the team as a Production Specialist, we grew to a team of 5 people, we have a CFO, a digital customer acquisition manager, and a community manager. Since September 2021, we have secured 50 orders and we brought up 8 distribution partners, we also have more than 2000 views on our website.
We are aiming to launch the ready-to-use range of products that are using waste as raw materials at the beginning of 2022, as we are still waiting for a patent for our formulas besides the funding of the industrialization.”
Larbi Meddoun from Morocco, co-founded FinKeys, a solution that helps users build up savings to fulfill pre-set goals. Savings can also be used by banks, insurance companies to extend their products’ reach, or by retailers to propose more appealing offers. He explains that “The solution is was created to bridge the gap for our users in terms of financial empowerment, but also to allow banks to reduce the mis-sales, and retailers to increase their profitability through cross and up-selling, through the data provided by the solution.
Since the Innovation Factory Bootcamp, we worked on our solution’s enhancement, design, and algorithm, and also on building relationships with various partners, in the banking and non-banking sectors. We are currently in talks with major corporates in morocco to implement our solution and raise funds. The 10,000€ grant was highly beneficial to us because we used it to hone our solution, both in terms of design and development. Now, our solution has a friendly and intuitive design but also a more robust algorithm.”
In her turn, Yamina Bouchikh from Algeria talked about TANMU, a biotech startup that is fabricating in an innovative way a new generation of materials, using bacteria to replace animal leather: “Our vegan leather is plastic-free, chemical-free, and uses less water to be produced. Our team’s objective is to contribute to stopping animal slaughter and limiting water pollution coming from the toxic leather industry.
“As scientist-founders, the bootcamp helped us to develop our project on a business level, by mastering some tools like BMC, making a good pitch, and presenting our startup in the best way possible. The incubation phase helped us to create better visibility for in the market, by branding our material, and being present on social media channels to better communicate our innovative vision of the future fashion and the aesthetic of our product.”
Atef Shkokani from Palestine, is the founder of CVISION, a visioning solution creating a semi-autonomous driving experience for predicting and tackling bad drivers’ behaviors to help increase safety, save lives and reduce accidents. “The solution targets fleet vehicles for companies like UBER, or companies that have large fleets like DHL, in addition to also targeting licensed drivers. It detects and tracks the driver and the road to reduce accidents and save lives. The hardware starts sending warning messages and sound alerts to the driver when detecting obstacles and when noticing any distractions while driving in-cabin.
During the bootcamp, I did a market validation using the advanced tool and the results were promising. I partnered with an expert in developing dash cameras who is also great in product design to work on product development.
Since then, we determined the hardware specifications and features, selected the main components of the hardware and fabrication, worked on product design, branding and packaging. We also received pre-orders from the largest companies locally: Coca-Cola, Al Juneidi, Sinokrot, and EPS, totaling 249 devices.”
Jad Assaf from Lebanon talked about founding OCT Analysis, a software that integrates into the OCT machine of the physician and automates patient assessment and evaluation using Artificial Intelligence. “The project started initially as research work. The team then realized that the software can be further developed and used by all ophthalmologists around the world. We then decided to initiate it as a startup.
As a technical and non-business team, we applied to the Innovation Factory seeking to learn how to turn a scientific project into a successful business. We learned the fundamentals of business and financial planning, pitching, and raising investment. We transitioned from having a purely academic mindset to one that takes into consideration financial and business feasibility.” Read more about his journey here.
Hassan Azzazy from Egypt co-founded NanoEbers, a startup that has developed highly effective hemostatic sponges: “These sponges have superior mechanical properties and can absorb up to 60 times their weight of blood and are able to stop bleeding instantly. Such performance exceeds that of imported hemostatic sponges with a lower production cost due to local manufacturing.
Following the incubation phase, we have filed a provisional patent application to protect technologies used for manufacturing hemostatic sponges with the USPTO. We have also signed a license agreement with the American University in Cairo to gain exclusive license of a number of patents to strengthen our IP portfolio in the field of wound care products.
We have also developed key expertise from the Innovation Factory Incubation phase which enabled us to be selected by two highly prestigious regional accelerators and win critical financial awards. We have been selected to receive a soft-landing package from Innovation Factory and will work with Factory 319 to secure a toll manufacturer of hemostatic sponges in Europe and obtain a medical device CE mark approval.”
Read more about his journey here.
Berytech is the exclusive project partner of The Next Society in Lebanon, working since 2017 on the initiative, which gathers a large network of over 300 business and innovation, research and investment organizations, 2500 international SMEs and entrepreneurs from 30 countries.
The Next Society is an open community of changemakers, entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, NGOs, public and private innovation, research, and economic development hubs from Europe and 7 Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Tunisia. It aims at mobilizing, promoting, and reinforcing innovation ecosystems and economic development in the MENA region.
Launched by ANIMA Investment Network, The Next Society initiated a four-year action plan (2017-2020), co-funded by the European Union up to 90% for a global amount of EUR 7.8 million, which impacts 4 levels of the innovation ecosystem: improve policy frameworks, foster startup successes, promote and internationalize clusters, and accelerate technology transfer towards the enterprise.
“The Next Society is more than just a project; it is a movement building the next generation of innovators.”