At QOOT Cluster, our unwavering commitment to empowering Lebanon’s agribusinesses remains steadfast. Building on the success of our partnership with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in training agribusinesses on side stream valorization, we are thrilled to share the highlights of our recent training: “Development of R&D Strategies and Action Plans for Agribusinesses,” which is one of a series of training dedicated to R&D Management in Agrifood Businesses. This event was a significant step towards equipping representatives of agribusinesses in Lebanon with the knowledge and tools needed to thrive in a dynamic industry.
Our agenda for the day was meticulously designed to address the specific needs of agribusinesses and foster a deep understanding of R&D strategies and their practical application:
Welcoming Our Agribusiness Community
The day commenced with *Mr. Khalil Dinguizli, Head of Lebanon Resident Office, EBRD, extended a warm welcome to the eager attendees. His message underscored the importance of collaboration and knowledge-sharing in driving industry growth. Ms. Therese Maalouf, Senior Coordinator at QOOT Cluster, reinforced our commitment to advancing innovation in the agribusiness sector and set the stage for the day’s enlightening discussions.
Unlocking Key Elements of R&D Strategies
Dr. Mohamad Abiad, Professor of Food Processing and Packaging and Director of the Laboratories for the Environment, Agriculture, & Food at AUB, provided valuable insights into the fundamental elements essential for crafting effective R&D strategies.
R&D was thoroughly discussed at the strategic level and its importance in a company’s growth. As much as R&D is soundly tied to scientific technicalities, R&D must also reflect consumers’ needs and understanding of their ever-changing behaviors.
According to Dr. Abiad, an effective R&D strategy spans between 1 and 2 years to have the needed time to test, assess, and pivot if needed. Dr. Abiad stressed the importance of testing as the main component of R&D and most of the investment-requiring. The latter also advised attendees to thoroughly design a funded R&D project considering the lifespan of the project, available funds, and assigned experts, who must be able to apply research to industry challenges.
R&D requires key elements:
- Effective Mindset
- Funds and Investment
- Market Insights and Data
R&D does not necessarily guarantee the marketability of the product. From an investment perspective, as much as the R&D process is an evident scientific one, it is also a risk. Based on the available statistics, for every 60 product ideas, 1 makes it to the market and succeeds. The experts leading the R&D process have additionally an instrumental role in directing the process on the right track coupled with the right R&D mindset among the company’s management (which entails understanding that R&D is strategically embedded in a company’s growth plan and required investment).
Introduction to R&D
Dr. Hussein Hassan, Director of academic compliance at the provost’s office and associate professor of Food Science and Technology at LAU, opened the floor by shedding light on the importance, challenges, and best practices in R&D for agribusinesses.
Dr. Hassan explained the scope of R&D:
- Enhancing Nutrition values
- Increasing Value proposition
- Enhancing Process Optimization
- Increasing Food Safety and Hygiene
- Valorising waste and by-products
- Supply chain management
Transforming Insights into Action
The afternoon session featured practical insights from both academia and industry, complete with case studies showcasing successful R&D implementation in agribusinesses.
Navigating Funding and Support Mechanisms
Dr. Hussein Hassan and Dr. Mohamad Abiad* reconvened to delve into the intricacies of funding opportunities and support mechanisms available to agribusinesses in Lebanon, offering a roadmap for financing innovation.
The culmination of the day’s events was marked by a dynamic Q&A session, where representatives of agribusinesses had the invaluable opportunity to engage directly with our esteemed speakers and explore the nuances of the topics discussed throughout the training.
Dr. Abiad emphasized the pivotal role of R&D, stating, “In today’s fast-evolving agribusiness landscape, research and development are not just advantageous but essential. Through innovation, we can address challenges and unlock opportunities for sustainable growth.”
Dr. Hussein added, “R&D isn’t only about product development and the latest technologies. It extends to investigating the production process and aspects like side stream valorization. Innovation could be hidden within your current business.”
For QOOT Cluster, this event exemplifies our dedication to nurturing Lebanon’s agribusiness ecosystem. By providing the representatives of agribusinesses with the knowledge and tools needed to embrace research and development, we are sowing the seeds for a brighter, more sustainable future for the sector.
Technical Writer: Samar Yammine
Samar Yammine is a Senior Program Officer at Berytech and leading the SME Department’s Programmatic Support Unit. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and is pursuing her studies in Energy Management. She is a passionate researcher in the subjects of water, wastewater, and energy management. With solid foundation in engineering principles and problem-solving, her interests expand to processing, innovation, digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and artificial intelligence.