On December 11th 2015, the second BDL Accelerate with the theme of “Emerging Startup Ecosystems” was held in Beirut with more than 7000 participants from all around the world. BDL Accelerate is an annual event organized by the central bank of Lebanon to boost and promote the Lebanese startup ecosystem to the world. Lebanon’s startup ecosystem has seen tremendous growth to itself in the past few years. The central bank of Lebanon and other ecosystem stake holders are working hard to create an investment ready landscape by creating a strong knowledge economy, and by create the necessary elements for Beirut to become a regional startup hub.
In 2013, the central bank of Lebanon or Banque du Liban (BDL), issued Intermediate Circular 331. The aim of this initiative is to inject $400 Million into the development of Lebanon’s knowledge economy, and to provide the required funding the country’s startup ecosystem needs. Lebanon startup ecosystem began to flourish back in 2012 with the launch of its first startup accelerator Sequence. Following the circular 331 initiative back in 2013, a rapid growth in this ecosystem was witnessed. BDL accelerate is the best tool to showcase the growth of Lebanon’s startup scene in the past two years. Other initiatives likes Startup Megaphone led by Samer Karam, have also worked hard to promote the Lebanese startup ecosystem to the world by holding events in all corners of the world such as New York and Singapore.
At The Event
100 speakers from more than 9 emerging markets were present at the conference. The speakers shared their unique insight and experiences in building vibrant ecosystems, focusing on investment strategies, emerging trends and opportunities and challenges. With these influential speakers, 200 exhibitors and startups from around the world gathered at Forum du Beyrouth. The 7000 attendees that came from over 50 countries, were scattered between 2 stages, 2 startup competitions, 2 hackathon grounds and in 2 workshop spaces. Though we must say not all 7000 attendees were present at one time during the 2 day event, still massive crowds could always be seen in every corner of the conference.
Stage B of the conference was mostly dedicated to the two startup competitions, and panel discussions. BDL Accelerate 2015 also hosted an early stage startup competition and also one for idea stage startups. The aim of these 2 startup competition was to educate and provide proper tools to aspiring entrepreneurs to succeed, and to also find the best startup in the local and regional startup scene.
The social space in the middle of the main hall provided an excellent networking space. Small groups could be seen until the very last hour of the conference, exchanging thoughts and business cards.
The Idea Stage Startup competition had a series of educational workshop to get the the startups’s engine rolling. The finalist in this sections were: Bingo, Mrabba (Game Jam) and Medsuite.
The winner was no other than Medsuite, an app that finds a doctor surrounding health facilities to ease the process of getting healthcare. The winner got $5,000 courtesy of BDL and Daher Capital.
The theme of the two hackathons were in the wearables which was powered by Innovo and the other hackathon was in Web & Mobile. In Web & Mobile, Coordonate came first winning the $3,000 prize followed by Edupath in second, and in third place Green Lab. The seconds and third teams got $2,000 and $1,000 respectively. In The Wearbles, Dream Team came first and got the $3,000 prize. LAGG came in second place winning $2,000 and Tennis Core 3rd taking $1,000 home.
Building the Future
BDL Accelerate 2015 finished off by Marianne Hoayek Closing speech, thanking the organizers, the governor and the speakers, and promised them a much brighter future in the development of the Lebanese ecosystem. We are sure to see much more from Lebanese entrepreneurs in the near future.
Tell us what you think about the Lebanese startup ecosystem and the initiatives run by BDL in comments below.