Teams from Lebanon win first place in two tracks at the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Startup competition
• Event reaffirms local talent at the forefront of digital innovation
• touch committed to nurturing the entrepreneurial startup community in Lebanon
Beirut - April 4, 2019: touch, the leading mobile telecommunications and data operator in Lebanon, managed by Zain Group, partnered with MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) Pan Arab Association for the 12th edition of the startup final award ceremony and conference, that was also held in collaboration with the World Bank as an international partner and the Investment Development Authority of Lebanon “IDAL” as a governmental partner.
MITEF Pan Arab Chair Hala Fadel and touch’s Chief Executive Officer Emre Gurkan announced and presented the awards to the two Lebanese teams that won the Ideas Track: 1st Place – Quadro and 2nd runner up – DLOC Biosystems. As for the Social Entrepreneurship Track, another Lebanese team, Compost Baladi took the 1st place title.
The final award ceremony took place at the Hilton Habtoor Grand Hotel (Sin El-Fil) on March 29. The occasion was led by Hala Fadel, Chair of MITEF Pan Arab, and saw the attendance of Minister of Telecommunications, Mohammad Choucair and Minister of Information Technology, Adel Afiouni as well as investors, entrepreneurs, technology enthusiasts, innovators, media, and invitees from across the Arab region.
Emre Gurkan, CEO of touch commented, “touch’s collaboration with MITEF complements our own efforts in building a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly as Lebanon is among the top attractors of investors in the region. The MENA’s startup and youth-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem is growing and promising – paving the way to a bright digital future. We are proud to see that 19 teams from Lebanon made it to the semi-finals of the MITEF Pan-Arab Startup competition this year, which goes to show how our country’s innovative and creative minds can make the country grow economically. Furthermore, MITEF has opened doors for these driven, young entrepreneurs, helping them to unleash their innovative ideas.”
Gurkan added, “As part of touch’s responsibility to the entrepreneurial community in Lebanon, we established the touch Innovation Program (TIP), a hub for the independent workforce, which aims to contribute to the digital and innovation startup ecosystem and provide promising entrepreneurs with benefits to further their ideas and businesses. TIP is a manifestation of our efforts to nurture the entrepreneurial community in Lebanon.”
On March 28, 65 semi-finalist teams underwent a round of judging, where they pitched their startups, ideas, and social enterprises to the judging committee of investors and industry experts. The teams then met with mentors and received guidance on fundraising, enhancing user-acquisition, legal frameworks, marketing and branding, and social impact. After the mentorship activity, 30 finalists were publicly announced to participate in the official competition line-up.
On March 29, the semi-finalist exhibition commenced with the 30 finalists undergoing the last round of judging, where they pitched their ideas and showcased their innovative projects and advances to the public. These pitches were divided into several tracks as applied for by the participants, and which extended to the Startups track, Ideas track, and Social Entrepreneurship track.
There was a conference held after the final pitching session, with three panel discussions hosted that revolved around the following topics:
• The role of Governments in Fostering Growth of Digital Economies
• Building on Artificial Intelligence in Education to Prepare Tomorrow’s Workforce
• The Role of Fintech in Advancing Digital Economies
Keynote speeches and fireside chats were also included in the program.
Held in Beirut, the final competition and awards ceremony places Lebanon firmly at the forefront of developing the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem and provides entrepreneurs with great opportunities to have their ideas exposed internationally.