Lebanon – not the first amongst its neighbouring Arab countries – has been attempting to set up its own Silicon Valley. In fact, the Lebanese government is making available millions of dollars worth of money towards lebanese startups, mostly in the tech industry. Who would have thought? Serious money is spurting in all directions, innovation is everywhere and startups are popping up like mushrooms. Intermediaries in the form of funds such as Berytech (approximately $30M) and MEVP (approximately $50M), but also venture capitalists and Banks (as new Angel Investors for tech startups ) have been put in place to make these investments possible.
At the Banque Du Liban Accelerate 2014 conference on November the 21st and November the 22nd of 2014 in Lebanon (Lebanon’s first international startup conference), over 50 startup industry experts from different geographical regions were gathered to marshal plans for success for thousands of global entrepreneurs, investors and professionals.
Some of these industry experts included reknowned speakers such as Mike Butcher (Editor at Large of TechCrunch), Jambu Palaniappan (General Manager of Middle East & Africa at Uber) but also Lebanese speakers such as Jean Nehme (Plastic Surgeon, CEO and co-founder of Touch Surgery). The latter, Jean Nehme – young Lebanese-British Plastic Surgeon turned entrepreneur – founded Touch Surgery which is a surgical simulation application that doctors as well as patients can use to practice surgical procedures; a game-changing technology. The startup has been operating in partnership with global top-ranking institutions like Stanford University, Duke University and Imperial College.
This fundamentally proves that, despite turmoils, the Lebanese are a mixed bag of people who are both receptive and responsive to innovation and versatile ideas.
Image: Banque Du Liban (Lebanon’s central Bank)