The UK Government are committing £2.5 million towards a new International Research Centre (IRC) based in Lebanon.The Tech Hub is not about taking talent to global markets, but bringing global markets to them Click To Tweet
The British Ambassador to Lebanon HE Hugo Shorter, made the announcement this week while speaking at the ArabNet Beirut conference, saying that the IRC would act as a bridge between the thriving knowledge base in Lebanese Universities and the global tech industry, fostering partnerships with British institutions. The aim is to position Lebanon as the Middle East’s R&D hub, acting as a catalyst for economic growth, stability and job creation and a gateway between east and west.
“The Tech Hub is not about taking the most talented to global markets. It is about bringing global markets to them. It is about returning Lebanon to being the gateway to the MENA, a bridge between East and West as it always was. Lebanon’s people are its most coveted resource. This partnership, the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, is about harnessing the potential of that resource. This partnership is about creating 25,000 jobs in Lebanon by 2025’ The UK is not just supporting Lebanon’s security and stability, but it’s leading the way in investing in Lebanon’s prosperity too,” said Mr. Shorter
The IRC will act as a portal for multinational and local companies of all sizes to undertake research and develop new solutions in these areas through a collaborative environment where commercial gain can be achieved for all. Its first project, a collaboration between the Lebanese University and the Geneva-based CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics, amongst others, is already underway. The collaboration aims to produce the world’s first Fiber Optic Sensors System designed to measure parameters such as temperature, humidity, concentration of pesticides, fertilizers and enzymes in the soil of cultivated fields. This will empowers farmers by allowing irrigation that will result in water saving and increased crop yield, and cut the cost of watering farmer’s fields from $500 per hectare to under $80 per hectareThe IRC's first project is a collaboration between CERN and the Lebanese University Click To Tweet
“Lebanon’s real strength is in its brain power, reflected in its world-class education and its stellar diaspora,” says Nicolas Sehnaoui, Chairman of the UK Lebanon Tech Hub. “The hub’s R&D centre will bridge Lebanon’s academic strengths and knowledge capabilities with the global industry. Retaining our best talent is a game changer for our economy. Investing in our talents will harness their enormous potential to turn Lebanon into a globally recognized innovation hub all while creating jobs for our youth. ”
The International Research Centre is a key recommendation of a recent report by the UK Lebanon Tech Hub – a joint international initiative by the Banque Du Liban – which outlines a plan to create 25,000 jobs by 2025. The report examined 339 ICT companies in Lebanon to map out the local knowledge economy in relation to global trends. It estimated that by focusing on key growth sectors such as FinTech, HealthTech and Online Retail the country could add USD 7 billion to its GDP by 2025.Lebanon’s real strength is in its brain power Click To Tweet Lebanon is well poised to become a regional FinTech hub Click To Tweet
The report finds Lebanon is well poised to become a regional FinTech hub for the MENA region. The total assets of Lebanese banks now exceed USD $175 billion and they have been able to meet international standards by working with several successful FinTech companies such as Bluering.The Wellbeing sector in the Middle East and Africa is expected to grow by 8.7% by 2018 Click To Tweet
In reference to the growing Lebanese HealthTech scene, the report highlights that the Wellbeing sector in the Middle East and Africa is expected to have the most rapid growth, at an estimated annual average increase of 8.7 per cent over 2014- 2018; an opportunity for the realization and adoption of local solutions to solve local problems. For example, CardioDiagnostics, a medical technology startup from Beirut, that was recently invited to the White House and praised by President Barack Obama, is the world’s first Cloud Based Cardiac Monitoring Solution accessible from any internet-connected device. It is a wearable heart monitor that checks the electrical activity of the heart, detects abnormalities and alerts the hospital or physician who can evaluate and respond accordingly in case of emergency.There is huge opportunity for Lebanon to be at the forefront of online retail industries Click To Tweet
The report also highlights the huge opportunity for Lebanon to be at the forefront of how retail industries are reimagining consumers’ shopping experiences via new channels of purchasing which leverage growing trends such as gamification. The global e-commerce market is expected to reach USD $1.5 trillion in 2018, with the MENA demonstrating the highest growth potential. At the same time, the percentage of Lebanon’s Internet users who purchase online is expected to increase, with a massive 20 per cent growth rate over the next five to seven years. Indeed, this is the highest growth rate worldwide.Lebanon's ambition is to become the Tech Gateway to the Middle East Click To Tweet
Lebanon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is indeed developing fast (even by tech standards), with the ICT sector in the country experiencing 8% annual growth over the past five years. According to a recent UK Lebanon Tech Hub report, this amounted to a market worth USD 400 Million in 2015, making it one of the top 20 entrepreneurial nations in the world. The country also boasts three of the top 20 universities in the Arab region – including the prestigious American University of Beirut – which support their ambition of becoming the “tech gateway to the Middle East.”
Also published on Medium.