Berytech celebrated the relaunching event of its ACT Smart Innovation Hub Initiative on March 16, 2023, at the Sursok Museum in Beirut. Since its renewal last December, new programs have been launched under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub, building on four years of impact and momentum since its conception in September 2019.
Co-funded by Berytech and the Embassy of The Kingdom of The Netherlands in Lebanon, the initiative has been enabling the Lebanese entrepreneurial ecosystem and stimulating innovation and startup creation in the agriculture, food, and clean technology sectors.
For the upcoming four years, the ACT Smart Innovation Hub plans to advance agri-Food and clean technology innovation by supporting 350+ startups directly and indirectly, 150 SMEs, and five innovation support organizations in the Lebanese ecosystem.
A Vision for Innovation in Agri-Food and Clean Technology
In his opening note, Berytech Chairman and CEO, Maroun N. Chammas emphasized the relevance of the initiative: “This initiative and every program launched in the last 20 years fall under Berytech’s vision to support innovative companies to start, grow, and scale while shaping innovation in Lebanon and the region to create jobs and grow sustainable economies.”
Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Lebanon, Mr. Hans Peter van der Woude, expressed: “Entrepreneurship is not only about starting a business, but also about creating value, solving problems, and making a difference in people’s lives. Entrepreneurs are the backbone of the productive sector, driving innovation and creating jobs. To unleash the full potential of the entrepreneurship ecosystem, we need to address the challenges that lay in front of us: The lack of access to finance and the lack and arbitrary legal framework.”
Advancing The Ecosystem Through New Programs
With the purpose of capitalizing on the previous years of impact and further advancing the cleantech and Agri-Food sectors, three new programs were introduced into the ACT Smart Innovation Hub.
“We are extremely proud of the joint successes and the lessons learned, gathered by the mentors, coaches, innovators, and the team that has paved the way for this next chapter. The effort that was done coupled with the generous funding of the Kingdom of the Netherlands made this possible. The combination of the hard work and successes that started six years ago with the Agrytech Accelerator, moving forward to the first installment of ACT Smart, and translating all the lessons learned into the design of this new installment of the ACT Smart Innovation Hub. We are moving forward from supporting idea stage startups to supporting scale-ups, and clusters, and growing and enabling the Lebanese ecosystem,” said Lara ElKhoury, ACT Smart Innovation Hub Director.
The Partner Growth Program aims to empower 250 idea-stage startups by enabling five innovation support organizations across Lebanon.
ScaleSmart is an investment readiness and scale-up program that aims to support 20 seed and pre-seed startups across four cycles to start their investment journey, connect with potential investors, and scale.
In the Cluster development track, Berytech continues to support the QOOT cluster while two new clusters as set to be created, a renewable energy cluster and a waste management cluster, with the aim to strengthen the waste and renewable energy sectors by increasing innovation practices and international competitiveness.
“Most early-stage startup founders often find themselves asking the same three questions when looking for pre-seed and seed investment; What is the most suitable way to find funding, where can I find the right investors, and how much is my startup worth? What’s promising about this Scale Smart Program is that it does a great job in addressing these three pivotal questions,” stated Investment Advisor, Constantin Salameh.”
Capitalizing on Existing Programs
While three new programs have been added, the accelerator programs as well as the QOOT Agri-Food Innovation Cluster still remain a vital part of the ACT Smart Innovation Hub.
The Agrytech and Clyntech Accelerator Programs will continue to support entrepreneurs in their journey to develop their solutions into scalable businesses; aiming to support 250 startups across 5 cycles.
The QOOT Agri-Food Innovation Cluster has worked on promoting Lebanon’s agrifood sector and Agri-Food innovation. Currently hosting 100 members, QOOT aims to double its members to 200 SMEs over the next four years.
The Way Forward
As the event concludes, the renewal of the ACT Smart Innovation Hub continues to stand not only as a symbol of Berytech’s growth but also as a testament to the renewed trust and faith between Berytech and the Kingdom of The Netherlands, a partnership that by 2026, would have extended towards a decade.