The rise in digital innovation in the MENA region has been coupled with a proliferation of new funding institutions in the past 6 years, with the number of investors increasing 5-fold since 2010. In particular, the Levant is home to strong investor communities with 30% of MENA investors located in Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine.
ArabNet Beirut 2016 seeks to answer such high demand, by bringing together digital communities from across the Levant and North Africa, on March 1,2 and 3, to discuss the latest in digital and showcase rising entrepreneurial talents. Three signature competitions have attracted countless startups, innovators, and hungry digital marketers throughout the years, while 2016 features yet a 4th competition, focused on tech makers in the region and offering them a platform to shine.
Demand for such opportunities/conferences only seems to increase given the ever-booming digital investment ecosphere. An ArabNet Business Intelligence Report on “the state of Investments” in the region, finds that over $700M were invested in tech startups in MENA between 2013 and October 2015, with Jordan and Lebanon hovering around 50-60 investment deals each.
Lebanon has climbed the MENA ranks with respect to its number of investments, from 5th to 3rd place behind the UAE and Jordan. It has done so in under 3 years, as cumulative investment in the Lebanese digital space since 2013 nears USD 50 M, representing thus 15% of total MENA investments.
In an effort to push this further, the Central Bank of Lebanon (Banque du Liban) announced Circular 331 in 2014, injecting the potential of over $400M into the Lebanese digital enterprise market, with the goal to assist Lebanon in growing its knowledge economy.
As Omar Christidis, CEO of ArabNet has previously stated: “The Levant possesses the human capital and talents necessary for the development of an important startup ecosystem, which we are dedicated to help grow through various initiatives”.
ArabNet Beirut conference competitions, such as the StartUp Demo and Ideathon competitions, are geared towards supporting and pushing through the most promising regional innovators, and matching them with the right investors. The Lebanon-based team goes one step further, training and preparing the most talented early-stage and idea-stage innovators to showcase their startup/idea at the conference, amidst industry leaders from across the region and abroad.
The ArabNet Creative Combat competition is designed to challenge the staunchest of marketers, with a USD 5,000 winning reward, while boasting a panel of industry professionals who judge and meet the participants. Innovation Avenue is the latest in the largest ArabNet competition array to date. This opportunity is offered to young engineers, tech geeks and makers, who wish to showcase their inventions and receive highly sought-after funding opportunities for their projects.
Previous ArabNet competition winner, Louay Kadri from Presella has stated that: “Thanks to our participation at ArabNet, we have found a suitable partner and started building contacts with potential clients… it was a success.” Another winner, Abdalaziz Alzhrani from Waki has also said that: “ArabNet is one of the greatest experiences that our project has been in. It doesn’t just expose Waki to the right people, it also got our idea to a new level of respect and value.” Over 40% of startups meet the right investors during ArabNet conferences, while 80% manage to meet and set relationships with key decision makers and the media. This year the ArabNet team has set its goal to 100%!
ArabNet Beirut 2016 will be held at the prestigious Habtoor Hilton Hotel, in Beirut, on March 1, 2 and 3. Past ArabNet events have notably attracted high-caliber speakers, tech-savvy participants, and corporate partners from across the region and the world, such as Google, Touch, Facebook, DMS, Alfa, Microsoft, Banque Audi, STC, Twitter, Starcom, Mashable, Criteo, LBCI, SkyNews, VISA, Deloitte, Uber, Vivaki, GE, MakerStudios (Disney), 500Startups, CNBC, International New York Times, and many more.
Stay tuned as Wheelers.me will be attending as well this year!