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BDL Accelerate 2015: Lebanon's 2nd International Startup Conference

Lebanon’s 2nd international startup conference, Banque du Liban Accelerate 2015, took place on Thursday, December 10 and Friday, December 11 at the Forum de Beyrouth.  Under the leadership of Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s startup ecosystem has greatly advanced in the past few years and the successful Banque du Liban Accelerate 2015 aided in developing it further. The conference, under the theme “Emerging Startup Ecosystems,” was host to over 7,000 attendees, 100 speakers, 200 exhibitors, 100 startups from around the world, with 2 stages, 2 competitions, 2 hackathons, and 2 workshop spaces.

Speaking to an audience of over 3,000 attendees from over 50 countries, Marianne Hoayek, Director of the Executive Office at Banque du Liban gave a powerful opening speech stating “Today, our small country stands shoulder to shoulder with giants and we can tell our youth to stay. We have it all here. Today we build more than an ecosystem. We are building an economy, a country, a region, a future.”

In his opening speech, Governor of Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh highlighted that Banque du Liban has several upcoming plans and aims to succeed the launching of electronic trading platform. Banque du Liban’s aim is to create a synergy between the banking and knowledge economic section.
BDL Accelerate 2015
Chairman of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, Dr. Joseph Torbey,  and the newly appointed French Ambassador, in Lebanon, Emmanuel Bonne continued on the same promising and encouraging rhythm with their opening speeches.

The conference showcased 100 influential high profile speakers from 9 emerging startup ecosystems  including Ahmad Ashkar, the founder of Hult Prize, Loic Le Meur, a serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Le Web; Leila Janah, a the Founder of Sama Group and Laxmi, and Mark Haidar founder of Vinli. They engaged the audience on 2 stages. The speakers shared and provided their insights on building ecosystems, focusing on emerging trends, disruptive innovation, investment strategies, opportunities and challenges more topics.  

Banque du Liban Accelerate 2015 hosted 2 startup competitions dedicated to idea stage startups and to early stage startups. The aim of these competitions is to educate and provide tools to aspiring entrepreneurs and to assist them in succeeding, as well as to find the best startup in the local scene.

The Early Stage Startup Competition received dozens of applicants from which 5 early stage startups reached the finals: Altitude, ChefXChange, Krimston II, Concepts, and the winner ReAble who ended up with a $10,000 cash prize thanks to Banque du Liban and Chivas – The Venture.

Aspiring to educate and inspire youth, Banque du Liban hosted an Idea Stage Startup workshop series and competition themed Reimagining Lebanon. Inspired by youth driving change in Lebanon, the series of design-thinking workshops offered by SETT, a think tank focused on enabling emerging startup ecosystems, empowered applicants with the entrepreneurial skills to develop solutions for a better Lebanon. The Idea Stage Startup Competition finalists were: Bingo; Game Mrabba (game jam); and Medsuite
. The judges voted for MedSuite,an app that finds a doctor and surrounding health facilities to ease the process of getting healthcare, who ended up winning a $5,000 cash prize thanks to Banque du Liban and Daher Capital.

BDL Accelerate 2015 also hosted 2 hackathons, the Wearable Hackathon powered by Innovo, a DNY Group company, and the Web & Mobile Hackathon. The 2nd runner up of the Web & Mobile Hackathon and winners of $1,000 were Green Lab; the 1st runner up and winners of $2,000 were Edupath; and in first place winning $3,000 Coordonate.

The finalists of the Wearable Hackathon were Tennis Core who came in 3rd place winning $1,000, in 2nd place winning $2,000 were LAGG, and the winning team, Dream Team, took home $3,000, created a wearable device that corrects gym exercises and helps gym trainings.

Marianne Hoayek closed BDL Accelerate 2015 by thanking his Excellency the Governor Riad Salameh, the speakers, and the organizers and by promising the audience that by working together, the Lebanese ecosystem will develop and thrive much further.

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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 18th December 2015.

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