QOOT, which means food and sustenance in Arabic, is the first Agri-food innovation cluster in Lebanon. It was officially launched at the Lebanon Agri-Food Innovation Day 2019, an event organized by Berytech, with the support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and under the patronage of H.E. Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Back on the world food innovation map
QOOT’s vision is to be the leading Agri-Food Innovation Cluster in the MENA region, placing Lebanon at the center of the world food innovation map. It is driven by the mission to accelerate innovation in the agri-food sector by bringing innovators, knowledge providers, investors and support institutions under one umbrella, creating the right environment and offering the services required for collaboration, sustainable growth and internationalization of the Lebanese agri-food sector.
“The launch of the QOOT cluster took its roots in Lebanese and international companies based in Lebanon, believing in the potential of Lebanon, believing in collaboration, believing that innovation is core to their DNA and can change the way they grow and the way they expand,” comments Maroun N. Chammas, Chairman and CEO of Berytech. “I have high beliefs that this cluster, with the support of the private sector and the international community, could be an example for Lebanon, for the region and beyond.”
Setting up the cluster
Successful Lebanese entrepreneurs and pioneers have joined forces to tackle the challenges in the Agri-Food sector, building on collaboration, promoting and developing smarter solutions, and combining assets and efforts to shape this clustering concept.
Championed by Berytech and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Lebanon under the Agrytech Program, QOOT is being implemented in Lebanon with the support of Food Valley NL, one of the leading food innovation clusters in the world. Indeed, Berytech had solicited the expertise of Dr. Roger Van Hoesel, head of Food Valley NL and a member of the Agrytech Program Advisory Board, to help in developing the cluster.
“This cluster is the first of its kind in the country and will help Lebanon to be leader in that aspect regionally. It can also gradually help the agri-food sector to be competitive and enable enterprises to innovate,” comments Van Hoesel.
Current board members of QOOT are representative of Berytech, Shuman Farms, Teknologix, Biolicious, GoBaladi, Chateau Kefraya, Brasserie Almaza, and Robinson Agri.
During her speech at the launch ceremony, QOOT president, Nadine Khoury – COO of Robinson Agri, explained that the cluster is armed with ambitious goals. “Building an economy for the 21st century – one that is greener, more innovative and more effective, QOOT is presented as a factor to drive the growth of the sector through innovation, competitiveness, and support networks, to help protect and increase employment, improve efficiencies and linkages, and foster development.”
Among the cluster’s immediate goals is to establish closer relations between small, medium and large enterprises in order to provide added value to the overall market. Members will have the opportunity to exchange accumulated experience and to access valuable knowledge and business opportunities locally and internationally.
QOOT will ultimately strengthen the position of the Lebanese Agri-Food sector, attracting talents, developing new products and services and promoting Lebanese cuisine and agro products as among the most innovative and healthy in the world, while also attracting foreign investments.
The cluster is open for innovation-driven agri-food organizations and providers of smart agri-food services and products including multi-nationals present in Lebanon, large agri-food businesses, SMEs and startups. Innovation in the agri-food sector can be defined by, but not restricted to, the business model or concept, agricultural and processing technique, new product variety or breed, new packaging, as well as technology and automation.
Current QOOT members include 26 Lebanese and International companies in Lebanon: 209 Lebanese Wine, Al Rifai, Arcenciel, Bioland, Biolicious, Brasserie Almaza, Chateau Kefraya, Colonel Beer, Crown Flour Mills, Daher Foods, Eshmoon Holistics, Go Baladi, Gout Blanc, House of Zejd, Hum’n go, Karma, Libanjus, Riachi Vineyards, Robinson Agri, Shuman Farms, Smart Gourmet, Teknologix, The Good Thymes, Unifert, Unipak, and Zakka Technologies.