MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab holds final award ceremony and conference for the 12th Arab startup competition in Beirut, Lebanon
- 65 semifinalist teams of MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition underwent 2 final rounds of judging, which determined 9 final winners (3 from each track).
- MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition is held in partnership with: Main Partner Community Jameel, International Partner The World Bank, Strategic Partner Touch, Governmental Partner Investment Development Authority of Lebanon (IDAL),
- MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab launches its inaugural annual impact report titled “Twelve years of the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition: Unraveling the Entrepreneurship Maturity Index&rdquo
- The conference was attended by several world-class panelists, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and innovators.
Sixty-five semifinalist teams of MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition went through the second round of judging, where they had to pitch their startups, ideas, and social enterprises to a judging committee of investors and industry experts, who provided a fair and transparent evaluation for each team.
Before presenting to the judges, all semi finalists had gone to Amman, Jordan, on February 26-27 for a 2-day preparatory bootcamp training, learning the fundamentals of starting, running, and scaling a business in the Arab world.
Later during the day on March 28, semifinalist teams sat for two hours with mentors, who gave them guiding points on fundraising, enhancing user-acquisition, legal frameworks, marketing/branding, and social impact. After the mentorship activity, twenty-nine official finalists were publicly announced, and these finalists proceeded to the official competition line-up.
On March 29, the 29 finalists underwent one final round of judging (in front of another judging committee than the day before). At this point, the judging committee selected (without publicly announcing) the 9 winners of the competition, 3 winners for each track: Startups Track, Ideas Track, and Social Entrepreneurship Track.
Starting 2 PM on March 29, registration for the conference, held at Hilton Habtoor Grand (Sin Elfil), kicked off alongside the semi finalist’s exhibition. During the exhibition, the entrepreneurs showcased their innovative projects and innovations to the public, allowing them to pitch and present their businesses in an open environment.
Afterward, the official conference kicked off with welcoming remarks from Hala Fadel (Chairperson of MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab), Ferid Belhaj (VP of The World Bank MENA), Nabil Itani (Chairman and General Manager of IDAL), and Minister of State for Information Technology Adel Afiouni representing his Excellency Mr. Saad Hariri.
The conference featured three discussion panels, titled: “Role of Governments in Fostering Growth of Digital Economies”, “Building on AI in Education to Prepare Tomorrow’s Workforce”, and “The Role of Fintech in Advancing Digital Economies”. The discussion panels brought speakers and action leaders from all over the world to share the latest on data, research, and industry trends.
Also, the conference featured a keynote address by Huma Abidi (Director of Machine Learning/Deep Learning Software Engineering at Intel Corp.) titled “How Deep Learning is Shifting Digital Economies”. Moreover, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab Chair Hala Fadel had a fireside keynote chat with Prof. Charbel Farhat titled ‘Vision For the Future of Aerospace: A New Transportation Landscape’.
Moreover, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab launched its inaugural annual impact report, which aims to look the impact of Arab Startup Competition on job creation and Arab macroeconomy over the past 12 years. You can view the Impact Report here
Lastly, the presentation of the awards to the winners was done by Hala Fadel (MITEF Pan Arab), Emre Gurkan (Touch), Ferid Belhaj (The World Bank Group), Nabil Itani (IDAL), and a representative from Community Jameel as follows:
- STARTUPS TRACK: 1st Place Mashvisor (Palestine), 1st runner up Repzo (Jordan), 2nd runner up Furnwish (Egypt)
- IDEAS TRACK: 1st Place Quadra (Lebanon), 1st runner up ADDENDA (UAE), 2nd runner up DLOC Biosystems (Lebanon)
- SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP TRACK: 1st Place Compost Baladi (Lebanon), 1st runner up Ahmini (Tunisia), 2nd runner up CanBank (Egypt)
Commenting on the competition, Hala Fadel (Chairperson of MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab) said: “Our 150 semifinalists from 12 different countries, and many women among them show how entrepreneurs in our region will lead the way towards change. This year we published for the first time an impact report and our competition has contributed to the creation of 14,000 jobs in our region, contributed 415 million dollars to the Arab world’s GDP, and shifted the mindset of thousands of Arabs.
We are grateful to the many partners who supported this initiative.”
Fady Jameel, President of Community Jameel International, said: “We are proud of our involvement for all twelve years of this competition, powering innovation, technology and hundreds of success stories and job opportunities in the Arab world. At today’s final, we celebrate a new generation of young Arab entrepreneurs and creative talents, coming from the Arab world or living in Europe, Africa and South East Asia. We also commend the work of the MIT Enterprise Forum in conducting training and mentoring programs for entrepreneurs participating in the competition to build their skills and ability to manage their businesses.”
“The Middle East and North Africa will have 300 million young people looking to enter the job market by 2050. We need to start now to address structural impediments to growth and implement policy reforms that would help integrate these young women and men into the labor markets and turn them into drivers of economic growth MENA,” said Ferid Belhaj of the World Bank.
“The region is full of young talent and creative entrepreneurs, many of whom are among us today. All they need is for policymakers to give them the opportunity to excel.”
Mr. Emre Gurkan (CEO of touch) said: “touch’s collaboration with MITEF complements our own efforts in building a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, especially that Lebanon is among the top attractors of investors in the region. The MENA’s startup and youth-driven entrepreneurial ecosystem are growing and promising – paving the way to a bright digital future. We are proud to see that 19 teams from Lebanon have made it to the semifinals this year! This goes to show how our country’s innovative and creative minds can make Lebanon grow economically. Furthermore, MITEF has not only opened doors for these driven, young entrepreneurs but has helped them unleash their innovative ideas.”
In this context, Gurkan stated that “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 that aims to contribute to the digital and innovation startup space 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”.
Mr. Nabil Itani of IDAL said: “We are very excited that the main ceremony for the MITEF Arab Startup Competition is happening in Beirut after 12 years. It is no coincidence that 19 of the 66 Arab teams competing are Lebanese; we pride ourselves in our talented youth and their entrepreneurial spirit and we are confident that their presence at the competition will be of value add. IDAL, as a governmental partner is very keen on showcasing the Lebanese talent and reiterating its supportive stance towards Lebanon, its youth, and its thriving business environment”
With this, MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab culminates another successful Arab Startup Competition, alongside its partners that have long believed in the impact and importance of such initiatives in actively enabling the Arab entrepreneurship ecosystem. MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab thanks, once again, all its partners as follows: Main Partner Community Jameel, International Partner The World Bank, Strategic Partner Touch, Governmental Partner IDAL, Innovation Partner King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), CMA CGM, Beirut Digital District, and Roland Berger.