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Bio & Life Sciences Global Tech Startup Culture

Lebanon’s Unlikely Hydroponic Farmer Wants to Change Local Agriculture

Ali Makhzoum thinks his hydroponic farming system can increase farmers’ yields, decrease the labor needed to harvest and reduce the water requirements by up to 90 percent. His Life Labs systems, developed in Beirut, are automated, self-contained, and, Makhzoum hopes, “smart”--with the ability to govern themselves.   More

Global Tech Startup Culture

Forget Bubble Talk—Beirut Tech Is Accelerating

Recently called "the Silicon Valley of the Middle East" by CNN, and "the Middle East’s Tech Hub" by TechCrunch, Beirut’s tech scene is the darling of international media of late. (Though Techonomy first wrote about it over two years ago.) The tech scene here has turned a corner, going from fledgling to now officially on the map. Among the reasons: the launch of various funds that will bring over $100 million in investments to Lebanon’s startup economy over the next five years, and the ongoing efforts of Lebanon’s Central Bank to decrease the risk of investing in startups. But now three new companies that specifically aim to foster tech startups are setting up. Two of them are accelerators, and one will invest and nurture slightly more mature companies. In a city of 2.2 million, some are wondering, is this a bubble? And if so, when will it burst?   More

Global Tech

Lebanon’s Serial Entrepreneur Bets on Online Acceleration

Samer Karam has been a war photojournalist, a banker, an entrepreneur, and a PhD student. But these days, the Gen-X techie is focused on enabling the success of others. His online accelerator Alice, based in London, welcomes startups from anywhere in the world to apply for mentoring and funding. Karam, who also founded and recently closed Beirut’s first accelerator, Seeqnce, is known as one of Lebanon’s most prominent tech mentors.   More

Global Tech

The Middle East Shows It’s Ready For Online Dating

When online matchmaker et3arraf closed its second round of funding this week, CEO Cedric Maalouf was ecstatic. The Arab “marriage-oriented” dating website attracted attention from angel investors and venture capital firms, and received term sheets from investors who weren’t even pitched. Calling it a “good problem,” Maalouf is waiting for his lawyers to weigh in, but thinks he’d prefer angel to VC financing: “We still decide everything about the site and I am not sure if I want to share it with someone yet.” Et3arraf lays claim to being the first Middle Eastern dating platform, “for Arabs, by Arabs, in Arabic.”   More

Global Tech

Beirut’s Coders Convene for Community and Social Progress

AltCity is a co-working space tucked away from the hustle and bustle of one of Beirut’s busiest neighborhoods, Hamra. On a Friday summer night, a mostly male crowd is settling in for the second in a series of Programmer Talks hosted by LebGeeks, an online forum and community for Lebanese technophiles. The room is filling up fast and buzzing with Arabic chatter, before the English-language presentations begin. The small space boasts typical techie décor: bean bag chairs, neon painted pipes, concrete floors, white boards galore   More

Energy & Green Tech Global Tech

Power Outages and Military Roadblocks? In Lebanon, There’s an App for That

The hassles of day-to-day life in Beirut, Lebanon, where tech entrepreneurship is growing, have led to some innovative apps. Daily electricity cuts are standard in the capital. Some families have backup generators. Moustafa Baalbaki’s does not. That led him to his breakthrough local app, Beirut Electricity, which tracks the rolling three-hour outages and predicts when the power will be on days, weeks, months, or even years in advance. “My dad used to have a manual [power-outage tracker] on the refrigerator made from paper. I thought, ‘I can do better. I am a software engineer,’” says Baalbaki, who works for KnowledgeView, a UK cross-platform publishing company.   More