BEIRUT: The agriculture and energy sectors in Lebanon have been garnering increasing attention and support from entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial institutions dedicated to harnessing the country’s raw materials and solar power to produce tangible shifts in the structure of these sectors.
The latest initiative to be unveiled in the agrifood and cleantech sectors yesterday is the ACT Smart Innovation hub, which was launched by Berytech and funded generously by the Kingdom of The Netherlands. The hub is a new out-of-the-box approach by Berytech aimed at strengthening business advancement, economic growth and job creation in the agrifood 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 agrifood and cleantech sectors and encouraging them to develop local solutions to the environmental and food security challenges faced by Lebanon,” explained Maroun Chammas, Chairman, and CEO of Berytech.
Ambassador of The Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lebanon Jan Waltmans was also present. “The current situation in Lebanon shows even more than before that innovation and job creation for youth are needed,” he addressed the audience at Saint-Joseph University in Mathaf area. “ Agri-food and Cleantech are priorities to Lebanon in which we gladly invest.”
ACT Smart Innovation Hub Program details
The ACT Smart Innovation Hub program runs over 36 months from September 2019 to August 2022. It includes two accelerator programs – Agrytech and Cleanergy, which aim to create 200 direct job opportunities and 400 indirect job opportunities with at least 50% linked to youth and 25% linked to women.
The two programs offer the startups the resources, knowledge, support, and funding worth around $100K, necessary to scale their ideas and grow them into international businesses.
Through the innovation hub, Berytech continues its support of the QOOT Agri-Food Innovation Cluster, accompanying its members in their innovation strategies and competitiveness, ultimately leading to efficiency and quality exports from Lebanon.
Moreover, Berytech will work closely with Academia and research institutes on converting Intellectual Property (IP) into commercialized solutions.
Partnerships under the ACT Smart Innovation Hub
Deputy general manager at Berytech and director of the program Ramy Boujawdeh explained to the audience that new like-minded institutions will be brought on board to support the process of ecosystem development. For example, 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.
“Berytech is aware that it is not the exclusive player in ecosystem building and that a thriving entrepreneurship ecosystem around the agrifood and the cleantech sectors is key in the growth and sustainability of the intended operations,” commented Boujawdeh.
Finally, a set of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) 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 Berytech’s support.
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