QOOT Cluster organizes crisis management sessions

QOOT Cluster organized several sessions to discuss the different solutions to the different challenges faced by its members in times of crisis.

The members met to discuss the challenges faced in this critical situation, and brainstormed about common solutions. They also attended an inspirational breakfast session with Dr. Roger Van Hoesel, Executive Director of Food Valley NL, to talk about the cluster role in time of crises while emphasizing on some international agri-food companies resilience and the way they succeeded through rough times.

Cluster members worked together and focused on different strategies to overcome this critical period by mapping and prioritizing the key risk areas stressing on the importance of finding substitutes of raw imported materials and building collaborative projects between industries.

Learn more about the importance of Clustering and the Role of Agri-food in crisis with Dr. Roger Van Hoesel here.

Crisis Management workshop

Risk management workshop for QOOT Cluster members

Crisis Management workshop

QOOT - the agri-food innovation cluster, organized a workshop for its member on "Managing your venture's cash-flows during crisis and developing your crisis and risk management plan", presented by Constantin Salameh, senior coach and investment advisor at Berytech.

During the workshop, they focused on different strategies to overcome this critical period by mapping and prioritizing the key risk areas. Also, they focused on the importance of maintaining the quality of the venture's cash-flow and corrective actions to address the funding gaps.

Rani Azzi, Assistant technical director at Chateau Kefraya and QOOT's vice president commented: "Great interactive workshop, a must during this tough crisis. Left with concrete strategies, practical solution to survive and how to turn it into an opportunity”.

Following the crisis management workshop, members benefited from one on one coaching sessions with Salameh to get feedback on their crisis management plan and develop it further.

Read more about the 10 simple steps to survive the crisis https://berytech.org/crisis-management-10-simple-steps-for-all-entrepreneurs/

With a mission to accelerate innovation in the agri-food sector, QOOT, initiated by Berytech and the Embassy of the Netherlands under the Agrytech program, was launched in February 2019 and gathers successful Lebanese entrepreneurs and pioneers to collaborate, promote and develop smarter solutions in the sector. 

World Food Innovation Platform_web-01

QOOT Cluster members on World Food Innovations Platform

World Food Innovation Platform_web-01

Global cooperation and innovation are key to face the world’s challenges when it comes to feeding a growing population while maintaining a healthy and sustainable environment.

By unlocking AgFood related knowledge, resources and solutions, Food Valley, and through its platform World Food Innovations, aims to accelerate AgFood innovation worldwide in order to contribute to an optimal quality of life.

World Food Innovations is a unique platform to discover and share developments, insights and innovative solutions, helping in stimulating global cooperation, innovation and business.

Part of the objectives of QOOT as a cluster is to find opportunities to showcase Lebanese Agri-Food innovations worldwide. “Showcasing on this platform is an opportunity for our cluster members to increase their visibilities and to attract both European and international stakeholders, partners, and investors,” explains Jihane Chelha, QOOT Cluster Manager.

World Food Innovations: the global innovation hub and meeting place for innovators, companies, research organizations, universities, business clusters, investors, media, government and many more.


Trade mission

QOOT Cluster members on trade mission to the Netherlands

Trade mission

Eight companies, members of QOOT Cluster, participated in a trade mission to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, organized by the Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy in Lebanon, the Lebanese Dutch Business Association (LDBA) and Food Valley Cluster in early October 2019.

The objectives of the trade mission were to allow the QOOT Cluster members to gain a broader perspective of the agribusiness sector while creating a connection between Lebanese and Dutch enterprises.

The two-day program included a workshop to better understand the retail system in the Netherlands. Members were introduced to the different main players in the Netherlands as well as the different trends in the European processed food industry. The members attended a workshop on Responsible Business Conduct (RBC- Corporate Social Responsibility, and participated in B2B meetings and visited Food Valley, Wageningen University and FrieslandCampine.

Samer Sfeir co-founder of Hum’n Go stated: “the workshops allowed me to better understand the European market trends in the food sector specially regarding innovation, social and environmental responsibility as well as convenience of the product, in what relates to opportunities that our products can provide in European market.”

The program also included a networking reception at the Lebanese ambassador's residence in The Hague with key people from government and the private sector of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

QOOT Cluster members participants in the mission were: Agriplus, Colonel Beer, Hum’n go, Karma, Mr. Leaves, Natagri, Riachy Vineyards, and Smart Gourmet.

FAFS Exhibition

Qoot at the Agricultural, Landscape, Nutrition, and Food Industries Exhibition 2019

Qoot Cluster members participated in the Agricultural, Landscape, Nutrition, and Food Industries Exhibition 2019 at the American University of Beirut Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences Courtyard on October 3-5, 2019.

Jihane Chahla, Qoot agri-food cluster manager, discussed how an innovation cluster is helping agri-food businesses in accelerating growth. As part of Qoot agri-food innovation cluster, more than 30 MSMEs and large companies are gathering to collaborate and increase opportunities for the country’s food sector, promoting it to a new level of innovation and global recognition.

Agricultural, Landscape, Nutrition, and Food Industries Exhibition

In its second edition, the AUB FAFS Alumni Chapter organized the Agricultural, Landscape, Nutrition, and Food Industries Exhibition, under the patronage of AUB President Dr. Fadlo Khuri. The event gathered attendees from agri-research institutes, NGO’s, farmers, ago-food industry members and included as well educational and scientific lectures presented by specialists of participating and exhibiting companies.

Next society FELIX

QOOT Cluster at FILEX France Forum

Next society FELIX

QOOT Cluster and cluster member Robinson Agri , participated in the first International Business development mission organized by THE NEXT SOCIETY in Paris as part of their Cluster Booster Track, for clusters in the MENA region and their members.

Lina Zgheib Business Development Manager at Robinson Agri joined 18 clusters and companies, benefitting from THE NEXT SOCIETY, from 7 different countries from the MENA region, and took part in the workshops organized by France Clusters and focusing on inter-cluster cooperation to support economic development of companies and the Mediterranean area by exploring potential synergies that can lead to business partnerships between different organizations.

QOOT Cluster benefits from THE NEXT SOCIETY - Cluster Booster Track, a peer support and learning business opportunities and open new channels for collaboration between clusters at national and international level.

International business development mission at FILEX France Forum

THE NEXT SOCIETY, in collaboration with France Clusters, organized the first International Market Mission for MENA clusters and member companies during FILEX France Forum, the national forum of sectors of excellence and territorial ecosystems on 12-13 September 2019. The forum brought together 250 cluster managers, poles of competitiveness, accelerators, incubators , territorial decision-makers, directors of schools, universities and technical centers as well as innovation funders to exchange on key themes.

Launched by ANIMA Investment Network, THE NEXT SOCIETY initiated a four-year action plan (2017-2020), co-funded by the European Union up to 90% for a global amount of EUR 7.8 million, which impacts 4 levels of the innovation ecosystem: Improve policy frameworks, Foster startup successes, Promote and internationalize clusters, and Accelerate technology transfer towards the enterprise. The exclusive partner in Lebanon of THE NEXT SOCIETY is Berytech – co-founders of the QOOT Cluster.

Read more on http://www.animaweb.org/en/thenextsociety-clusters-mena-filex-paris

Bronze Label Certificate_Qoot cluster

Qoot Cluster receives European Cluster Excellence Initiative Bronze Label Certificate

Bronze Label Certificate_Qoot cluster

Qoot Cluster was benchmarked recently according to an approach developed and performed by the European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis of VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH.

By participating in this benchmarking, Qoot Cluster proved its interest in striving for cluster excellence and was awarded with the European Cluster Management Excellence label in Bronze.

The benchmarking took place on July 25th, 2019. The certificate expires on July 25th, 2021.


The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis (ESCA)

As part of the EU efforts to create more world-class clusters across the EU by strengthening cluster excellence, the Commission launched in 2009, under the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI). To continue the successful work of this pan-European initiative which involved 13 partners from nine European countries ESCA - The European Secretariat for Cluster Analysis was established by one of the partners, VDI/VDE Innovation + Technik GmbH, to offer practical advice to cluster management organizations. Today, ESCA is a network of cluster experts from more than 30 countries.


Benchmarking: Bronze Label of the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI)

Cluster management organizations that are benchmarked demonstrate their interest in striving for excellence. For being benchmarked under the ESCA benchmarking approach by one of the ESCA experts cluster management organizations are awarded with the Bronze Label of the European Cluster Excellence Initiative (ECEI).

Each cluster is analyzed based on an interview of the cluster manager conducted by an impartial ESCA benchmarking expert. The interview covers 36 indicators with regard to the structure of the cluster, the cluster management and the governance of the cluster, financing of the cluster management, services provided by the cluster management, contacts and interaction within the cluster and achievements and recognition of the cluster.

Results are presented by an individual report to the cluster management and include also recommendations for further improvement in line with the requirements of the cluster quality label that is currently developed by the European Cluster Excellence Initiative.

Meet and learn

Academia meets Industry: potential joint R&D projects

Meet and learn

During the first Meet and Learn Networking event, Qoot Cluster brought together Lebanese enterprises and SMEs, knowledge providers and support institutions to meet, learn and check opportunities for joint R&D projects.

Last week, more than 60 professionals and institutions joined the first Meet and Learn Networking event organized by Qoot - the Lebanese agri-food Innovation cluster, supported by Berytech and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The event combined speakers from academics and professionals working on joint R&D projects with companies, allowing the attendees to explore the opportunities present through potential collaboration between universities, academics and public R&D agencies for the development of innovative solutions in the Agri-food sector.

Dr. Maya Kharrat, director of École Supérieure D’ingénieurs D’agronomie Méditerranéenne from University Saint Joseph, Dr. Marc Bou Zeidan and Dr. Emilio Mouannes, respectively positioned as the Head of food Engineering Department and Project international relation coordinator at the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, along with two international speakers from Spain, Mr. Diego Teruel, Business director at Fundacion Tecnova, and José Manuel Durán Cuevas, Chief Representative of the Spanish Agency of Innovation CDTI for Middle East and North Africa,  were invited to talk about the different projects related to R&D their universities have been working on with private companies on one side, and how the private sector is also benefitting from technology transfer.

The attendees had the opportunity to explore potential collaboration and learn about different opportunities for joint R&D projects as well as to find out about funding opportunities for their innovation projects.

Qoot: the agri-food innovation cluster

Ramy Boujawdeh, Berytech's Deputy General Manager and Agrytech Program Director, welcomed the attendees to the first edition of the Meet & Learn Networking event. He was then joined by Rani Azzi, Qoot Vice president and Vineyard Manager - Assistant Technical Director at Chateau Kefraya, who presented the cluster which is working toward accelerating innovation in the Lebanese Agri-food sector by bringing together innovative companies, knowledge providers, support institutions, and investors working on new agricultural processing techniques, automation, business model concept, new packaging, technology, new product, variety or breed.

The cluster is composed to date of 34 members from which 19 are SMEs and 15 are large companies working on innovations in the agri-food sector.

In light of supporting the members with their business innovation, Qoot Cluster works on the company’ needs, organizing workshops and seminars, linking companies and knowledge institutions. Azzi explained that one of the major aspects to look at was the importance of collaboration between the private sector and the universities. Both can benefit as the companies can share their challenges with the universities so that the students can help, and the universities get the chance to personalize their curriculum to the market needs.

Technological development and innovation through technology transfer

Diego Teruel explained how technology transfer can improve agro-industrial sector between using Fundacion TECNOVA as a case study. Fundación TECNOVA is a technology center for the ancillary industry for agriculture, post-harvest and food production packaging, comprising over 120 companies. TECNOVA has been working in connection with R&D&I, training, company promotion and internationalization, to offer quality services tailored to the needs of the sector whilst always seeking continuous improvement for its companies. They have been on R&D&I projects and technology transfer through providing training plans, prototype design, consultancy and feasibility plans.

As for José Manuel Durán Cuevas, he presented the CDTI program as an opportunity to fund innovative bilateral projects. CDTI fosters the technological development and innovation of Spanish companies. It is the entity that channels the funding and support applications for national and international R&D&I projects of Spanish companies. They aim at increasing the competitiveness of the companies by raising their technological profile based on technological excellence and by easing them to provide innovative solutions to the market.

The two international speakers presented the different opportunities that Lebanese companies can benefit from and the two Lebanese universities working on R&D with the private sector presented how universities and companies can work hand in hand to solve some challenges

From Bench to Business

Dr. Maya Kharrat explained how ESIA-M is linking research through their curriculum. ESIA-M has for mission to contribute to the development of the food value chain sector in Lebanon and the region through education, research and technology transfer. They have been working on applied research with companies working on innovations and solutions, for no fees. Some of their works includes helping private companies with their projects such as Master Chips, Gout Blanc, Ethel Chocolate, Chateau Kefraya, Natagri and Gandour. In addition, ESIA-M is also offering community service through its lab analysis expertise for food analysis, soil and water analysis and fruit and vegetable analysis.

As a great example on how universities can benefit the private sector while benefiting their own students through R&D, Dr. Emilio Mouannes and Dr. Marc Bou Zeidan, talked about the approach of innovation as a tool to bridge the gap between academia and the agri-food Industry. USEK has been working on several challenges such as the development of a processed spreadable goat cheese, implementation of local sourdough in the production of bread, and producing brewers spent grain cereal bars from beer waste.

The speeches ended with a great networking event where different academics, professionals, NGOs and people from the public sector got to meet and discuss potential collaboration for R&D projects.

The Next Society Benchmarking & Training_QOOT

Cluster Benchmarking and Training in Italy for The Next Society Program

The Next Society Benchmarking & Training_QOOT

Jihane Chahla QOOT Cluster manager participated in a 5-day benchmarking visit and training program organized by France Clusters and their partner Ceipiemonte in Italy - part of the NEXT SOCIETY program to promote and internationalize clusters in the Mediterranean region.


Clusters in South Mediterranean Region

During the five days, Chahla had the opportunity to meet and network with other cluster organizations and business networks in Italy and other South-Mediterranean countries. Through this trip, she brought to the QOOT Cluster the capacity to enhance, learn, exchange experiences, and potentially collaborate with other clusters from different countries, while promoting it among the cluster network from South Med and EU countries.


Chahla was joined by 7 other EU-Med cluster representatives including Numeric Cluster, MDC, Agrinova and C2TM from Morocco; innoventures and Borg el arab from Egypt, and North-west olive oil cluster from Tunisia. She also had the opportunity to meet with speakers and researchers from the University of Torino to share success case histories on project development with the industries and fundraising as well as had the opportunity to pitch the QOOT Cluster to other clusters for potential collaborations.


Training program

Chahla attended the training program involving keynote speakers from different entities and sectors, sharing their experiences from challenges and opportunities. They included Massimo Gargini - Lecturer and Ceipiemonte Expert in business model and business plan, who discussed the different strategies and project financing opportunities to promote and assist SMEs by customizing assistance. Gargini explained the design of business models and key elements to include when setting a proposal to customers, users and stakeholders.


The speakers also included Davide Damosso - Manager of Environment Park and Clever, a Cleantech Innovation Cluster, and Giulia Razetti also from Environment Park, who shared the case study of the cleantech cluster on business model and service portfolio.


Several workshops were offered by Michele Mannucci - Ceipiemonte Expert in Digital Communication, promotion and social media, to discuss the global digital marketing and business promotion trends including how to effectively manage the B2B and B2C process on digital media, how to build a web and mobile communication campaign for specific countries, targets and customers, useful tips to design and manage an international company or organization portal and how to increase visibility, social networks and conversational marketing in different countries.


The Next society Benchmarking Visits & Training

Benchmarking visits are one-week inspiration and learning tours in Europe designed to acquire new methods and tools with priority topics identified during the diagnoses. 4 inspiration and learning tours designed by France Clusters - the coordinator of the Cluster Booster Track, are planned between 2018 and 2020.


These 5-day tours combine training sessions and benchmarking visits and are hosted by regional agencies supporting the internationalization of enterprises in Catalonia (Spain), Wallonia (Belgium), Region SUD Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (France) and Piedmont (Italy). Each cluster manager can participate in 2 out of the 4 tours, according to their priority topics, so as to improve their practices and share experiences and potential business and innovation opportunities.


Training sessions involve cluster managers and cluster management experts who share their methodologies and tools and work on practical cases to foster exchanges and cooperation between participants. Benchmarking visits explore examples of successful cluster-related practices and projects in situ, in line with the topics addressed by the training sessions.


Launched by ANIMA Investment Network, THE NEXT SOCIETY initiated a four-year action plan (2017-2020), co-funded by the European Union up to 90% for a global amount of EUR 7.8 million, which impacts 4 levels of the innovation ecosystem: Improve policy frameworks, Foster startup successes, Promote and internationalize clusters, and Accelerate technology transfer towards the enterprise. The exclusive partner in Lebanon of THE NEXT SOCIETY is Berytech – co-founders of the QOOT Cluster.

Qoot at the Innovation in Grapes and Cherries Production Exhibition

Cluster Qoot

Members of Qoot Cluster met with several representatives of companies working on innovative solutions in the agri-food sector during the Innovation in Grapes and Cherries Production Exhibition, organized by NATAGRI in collaboration with the Faculty of Agronomy at USJ, the Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute (LARI) and the Chamber of Commerce, Agriculture and industry of Zahle and Bekaa.

The exhibition and workshop - held at ESIAM-USJ in Taanayel, was organized as a response to the Private Sector Development Program funded by the European Union and implemented by Expertise France, to create linkages between all the actors of the value chain of Cherries and Table Grapes in the Bekaa.

The 450 attendees and 250 representatives of the sector had the opportunity to attend several workshops on the best practices for plant protection, the use of growth simulating hormones in grapes, and learnt about the international specifications for fruit production.