The Agrytech Accelerator launched its first phase of its year-long program with 20 ventures on May 6th. The “Bootcamp” phase will run until July 12th, 2017, concluded by a Demo Day showcasing 18 startups.
Over 20 leading experts and executives in the entrepreneurship, technology, and agri-food sectors interviewed 48 shortlisted candidates for entrance into the Agrytech Accelerator Program, and 21 of the most promising teams were selected into the acceleration program.
“Food sector startups in Lebanon are in dire need of capacity building and help. Agrytech is the shot in the arm at the right time,” said Dr. Bijan Azad, Director of Darwazah Center for Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship at the American University of Beirut; who has worked with the finalist teams on their business value propositions.
Business ideas in the Agrytech Accelerator tackle agri-food challenges with varied methods of intervention: (a) hardware products for agricultural practice optimization and food automation aiming to improve quality and accessibility of authentic and staple Lebanese food products like hummus and manouche, (b) marketplace models to improve market inefficiencies from farm to fork, and (c) proposed agriculture and food production traceability and post-harvest treatment, to name a few.
The Lebanese value chains in focus range from boutique wines (209 Lebanese Wine) and honey (Atelier Du Miel, SmartHive, and Na7le), fresh fruit and vegetables (Souk Baladi and FreshExpress), homemade confectionaries and foods (Mother’s Cooking and the Mountain Bite), and invariably, international favorites like hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and manouche (FreshReady, SmartGourmet, MekaPrep)
“Agrytech’s first cohort is diverse and bent on taking their ideas to the next level. The fact that we have teams working on novel type vegan protein from bees while some are releasing a pesticide via drone service, is really exciting. Marry that with the training they are receiving and the wide gap for such products in the market, I think the teams will definitely be making a splash,” remarks Lilian Abou Zeki, Business Designer and trainer at the Agrytech Bootcamp.
The acceleration is headquartered in Berytech Technology Pole located inside the Campus of Sciences and Technology of the St Joseph University (ESIB), in Mar Roukoz, Mkalles. The teams are receiving dedicated incubation throughout the duration of the bootcamp, bi-weekly trainings, and a $3,300 USD grant over the first phase of the bootcamp to catalyze their businesses. Up to 15 teams will compete to advance to the four-month acceleration phase worth $16,000.