Funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Berytech launched the A.C.T. Smart (Agri-Food CleanTech) Innovation Hub for entrepreneurs aiming to create eco-friendly solutions in the agri-food and tech industries, with hundreds of new job opportunities planned.
The program, which runs over 36 months, has started in September 2019 and will continue until August 2022, working “to create 200 direct and 400 indirect job opportunities with at least 50% linked to youth and 25% linked to women,” according to Berytech.
While the program has already started, the official launching of the A.C.T. Smart took place on January 15th, introducing this “new out-of-the-box approach by Berytech” that aimed at strengthening business advancement and economic growth.
The event was attended by H.E. Mr. Jan Waltmans, ambassador of the Netherlands in Lebanon, Mr. Maroun N. Chammas, chairman and CEO of Berytech, and various other personalities, and representatives from different ministries and associations.
Mr. Chammas stated that thanks to the generous funding from the Netherlands, “Berytech is now taking a sector-wide approach for economic growth.”
That involves “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 Lebanon,” he explained.
From his side, ambassador Waltmans pointed out that the program offers opportunities to youth from “different parts of Lebanon to work towards a better future for their country.”
He explained that “the current situation in Lebanon shows even more than before that innovation and job creation for youth are needed,” and that Agri-food and Cleantech are priorities to Lebanon, stressing that “it is important for Lebanon to be part of innovation and to provide opportunities to its youth to be part of this.”
The ACT Smart program includes two 3-phase accelerator programs: Agrytech and Cleanergy. The first phase involves selecting 24 applicants who will receive a grant to validate their market.
The second phase will involve selecting 12 startups and move them to the 4-month phase where they will receive a support grant and be tasked with building a minimum viable product.
In the final phase, up to 8 startups will be selected for a 5-month incubation program, where they will receive grants to grow their business.
The businesses will each receive up to $100K in funding, which will be “necessary to scale their ideas and grow them into an international business,” according to Berytech.
The program also offers prototyping facilities, business coaching, customer access, industry connections, and follow-up mentoring.
Last year, 51 startups were admitted to this program, 28% of which was co-founded by women. The startups received $724K in funding and they created 77 jobs.
Programs like this are important because they take advantage of the potential of the Lebanese youth and lead them towards creating environmentally-friendly solutions; something we so need in Lebanon.