< Read Before: Lebanon’s food producers: Snapshot of the industry
Established in 2002 by Saint-Joseph University, Berytech is an entity that provides a dynamic environment for the creation and development of startups, fostering innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. In 2017, a new platform was launched in Lebanon called Agrytech. Marking the country’s only agri-food innovation hub, Agrytech is jointly funded by Berytech and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
Keen to find out more about this promising new initiative, HN sat down with Ramy Boujawdeh, deputy general manager of Berytech, program director of Agrytech and an angel investor who actively advises early-stage startups in Lebanon, to find out more.
Lebanese agri-food innovations
Boujawdeh explained that the Agrytech program aims to source the leading startups with disruptive innovations in the agri-food sector and provide them with adequate technical and business resources, as well as community support, to scale their ideas into successful businesses with a global impact. The four pillars for activate entrepreneurship and industrial innovation are: the Accelerator; the Cluster; the Resources Platform; and the Berytech Fabrication Lab.
QOOT and its members
Officially launched at the Lebanon Agri-Food Innovation Day (AFID) 2019, organized by Berytech, QOOT is the first agri-food innovation cluster in Lebanon. Its vision is to be the leading agri-food innovation cluster in the MENA region, placing Lebanon at the center of the world food innovation map. QOOT’s mission is to accelerate innovation in the agri-food sector by bringing innovators, knowledge providers, investors and support institutions under one umbrella, creating the right environment and offering the services required for collaboration, sustainable growth and internationalization of the Lebanese agri-food sector.
“The launch of the QOOT cluster stemmed from Lebanese and international companies based in Lebanon believing in the country’s potential, believing in collaboration, and believing that innovation lies at the core of their DNA and can change the way they grow and expand,” commented Maroun N. Chammas, chairman and CEO of Berytech. “I truly believe that this cluster, with the support of the private sector and the international community, could be an example for Lebanon, for the region and beyond.”
Setting up the cluster
Successful Lebanese entrepreneurs and pioneers have joined forces to tackle the challenges in the agri-food sector, building on collaboration, promoting and developing smarter solutions, and combining assets and efforts to shape this clustering concept. QOOT is being implemented in Lebanon with the support of Food Valley NL, one of the leading food innovation clusters in the world. To that end, Berytech solicited the expertise of Dr. Roger Van Hoesel, head of Food Valley NL and a member of the Agrytech Program Advisory Board, to help develop the cluster. “This cluster is the first of its kind in the country and will help Lebanon to be a leader in that aspect regionally. It can also gradually help the agri-food sector to be competitive and enable enterprises to innovate,” commented Van Hoesel.
One of the cluster’s immediate goals is to establish closer relations between small, medium and large enterprises in order to provide added value to the overall market. Members will have the opportunity to exchange accumulated experience and to access valuable knowledge and business opportunities locally and internationally. QOOT will ultimately strengthen the position of the Lebanese agri-food sector, attracting talents, developing new products and services, and promoting Lebanese cuisine and agro products as among the most innovative and healthy in the world, while also attracting foreign investments.
Agri-food cluster members
The cluster is open for innovation-driven agri-food organizations and providers of smart agri-food services and products including multi-nationals present in Lebanon, large agri-food businesses, SMEs and startups. Innovation in the agri-food sector can be defined by, but is not restricted to, the business model or concept, agricultural and processing technique, new product varieties or breeds and new packaging, as well as technology and automation.
Deputy General Manager | Program Director
Berytech | Agrytech
QOOT’S consists of 26 members: 209 Lebanese wine, Agriplus, Al Rifai, Almaza, Arc en Ciel, Bioland, Biolicious, Château Kefraya, Colonel Beer, Crown Flour Mills, Daher Food, Eshmoon, Go Baladi, Gout Blanc, Hum’n Go, Indevco/Unipak, Karma, Liban Jus, Riachy Vineyards Winery, Robinson Agri, Smart Gourmet, Teknologix, The Good Thymes, Unifert, Zakka Technologies and Zejd.
AGRYTECH STARTUPS AT HORECA LEBANON 2019
AgriEats: a social empowerment initiative and an online source of authentic food products that are made exclusively by women and rural dwellers. It directly supports local food production, while preserving traditional food practices.
CubeX: a household wastewater and food waste treatment system that empowers users to move toward sustainable living. CubeX is the only decentralized personal sanitation and treatment system that requires no de-sludging, produces compost and has no slurry discharge.
Mushtic: a biodegradable alternative to Styrofoam, based on agricultural waste and mushrooms. It shares the same properties as Styrofoam, yet is also ecofriendly and only requires one month to fully decompose in natural surroundings, compared to Styrofoam’s 500 years.
Digimart: a company that connects retailers directly to distributors, allowing them to promote their products instantly, and provides them with the necessary tools to do so.
FoodCheck: monitors and tracks your product’s whereabouts in real time, all the while providing a stock management system.
IoTree: a network of smart electronic traps, it uses artificial intelligence to detect and identify harmful pests and send valuable agricultural advice via a mobile application about when, where and what to spray.
Quadra: provides optical fruit-sorting machinery, catering to the unique needs of fruit-sorting houses in the MENA and Eastern Europe. It serves as an automated solution for customers to sort fruits to international standards and penetrate new markets to generate larger revenues.
Rigino: an end-to-end traceability platform, allowing manufacturers to expand market access, generate business growth and improve brand perception, by complying with regulations.