Techdays Meet Up: Connecting Clusters and Innovators of the Mediterranean
Jul 13 2021
The Techdays Meet Up virtual event gathered clusters, researchers, SMEs, innovation partners, and entrepreneurs to share best practices, learn about the latest industry trends and explore business opportunities and partnerships to drive the Med forward.
The two-day event gathered more than 240 attendees from 22 countries, hosted 2 panels, 11 round tables with a total of 23 speakers from 9 countries. During the event, 150 meetings were initiated with an interest in networking, trading, and investment.
Techdays Meetup was organized by Berytech with the partnership of France Clusters, Anima Investment Network, and QOOT and designed by THE NEXT SOCIETY, an EU-funded project that supports innovators in the Med.
The event was strategically designed to target cluster managers and board members, policymakers, industry players, academia, and Technology Transfer Officers during the first day allowing them to exchange expertise and visions, develop cross-institution partnerships, explore market expansion opportunities and identify funding strategies.
The second day targeted cluster members, startups, SMEs, entrepreneurs, innovators & industry leaders to discover the importance of clusters, explore the latest innovations in the region, forge partnerships with others, and get the chance to access new markets and expand.
Ingrid Schwaiger, Deputy Head of Unit and Head of the economic section of the European Commission in DG NEAR
emphasized on the role of clusters in leading towards innovation: “The large participation in the event demonstrates the interest in clusters and innovation. Cluster cooperation and private initiatives are among the key priorities of the EU Commission when supporting the private sector in the southern neighborhood. COVID-19 has shown us that supporting clusters contributes to resilience, improves competitiveness, helps companies in key sectors, and is a framework to integrate companies in regional value chains. Clusters are best placed to generate cooperation in ecosystems and to lead to innovation by disseminating it among all the members, be it individual companies, or research centers as part of the ecosystem.”
Panel discussions focused on the role of cluster organizations in building the Mediterranean economy and the role of cluster members and how to set strategies to manage their engagement. Roundtables discussed topics including collaborations, improving performance, partnerships with different stakeholders, choosing new markets, navigating the ecosystem, and facilitating opportunities. Both event days ended with intent-based networking and matchmaking sessions.
Emmanuel Notary, General Delegate of the Anima Investment Network and the lead partner of THE NEXT SOCIETY project
focused on the importance of clusters for the future of the Mediterranean: “It’s important to support clusters because we think that they are evident poles to sustain SMEs. They act as openers to new markets; they also act as territorial actors that can connect companies and industries to the national framework and the national policy. After the COVID-19 sanitary crisis, there will be a movement for relocation, migration of companies from Asia to closer to markets. For that to happen we need to develop the work technology for capacity, to leverage the non-tariff barriers especially those related to exports, and marginally to make the administration simpler for companies especially for export, and finally to have a quick integration to the global value chain. These challenges impose innovation at each level including new policies, flexible and adaptive new visions, new instruments, and breaking the silos that isolate different actors from research to companies, to the public and private sector. Clusters are the definition of where this is possible, the place where this collaboration between the stakeholders should happen and is happening.”
Techdays Meet up is part of a series of events designed by THE NEXT SOCIETY to bring about collaborations among MENA innovators and with their EU peers, with clusters playing a key role in the value chain. Clusters, SMEs, startups, researchers, and industry experts from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and Europe took part in the 3 (Morrocco, Tunis, and Beirut) events to discuss common visions and explore potential partnerships.
“We see today a very promising potential for Mediterranean collaboration among stakeholders creating endless opportunities to expand and bridge markets. At Berytech, we’ve been working on the QOOT cluster, the first agri-food innovation cluster in Lebanon, which is a living example of the contribution of clusters in the growth of a value chain,” explained
. “Projects such as The Next Society are a great example for building regional networks of innovators and creating impact for the region, through bringing clusters together for peer-to-peer learning and exchange and opening new channels of inter-clustering collaboration at the national, regional, and international level, working on the enabling environment needed to nurturing Innovation and competitiveness.”