A headline in Forbes Middle East last month read, ‘MENA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem has the potential to flourish’. It commented, “Development of a sustainable startup ecosystem can help the region create a system which is valuable to entrepreneurs and investors alike. The ecosystem itself needs to ensure that entrepreneurs and startup companies can get the help they need to build scalable businesses.”
This is one of the ambitions behind Techne Summit 2017 taking place in Egypt at the end of this month, which is in its third year. It aims to bridge the gap between investors and potential entrepreneurs by capitalizing on the crucial role of the technology and communication sectors in the development process.
Improving the investor ecosystem is a challenge in the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Europe region, according to Tarek El Kady, an angel investor in the region and the man behind the summit. He says, “Doing a startup is now a chosen route for many young entrepreneurs, but there aren’t enough experienced and sophisticated investors aware of what’s going on in the region. Hence we’ve been evolving Techne Summit over the years and a key theme this year is our investment track.”
This sentiment is echoed by Hicham Amine, Head of Growth at Hidden Founders, writing in The Next Web. He says, “That momentum [of recent mega transactions in the region] is needed because a huge gap still remains between the resources available to startups based in MENA and those based out of Western countries. The MENA Private Equity Association lists 34 VCs across functions and stages in the region, which remains a ridiculously low number compared to Europe or the US, at around 500 and 800 firms respectively. Without outside interest, local demand for funds cannot be met. It’s also worth noting that the investor profile in the MENA region is quite different from that of Europe or the US. Sovereign wealth funds, high-net-worth individuals and government-backed initiatives are all options that an entrepreneur in the region might consider, even though they might not all be adapted to his or her needs.”
The Techne Summit event helps startups grow in the Middle East & North Africa region by connecting them with investors and the resources needed to showcase their innovations, increase their products’ visibility and ultimately acquire funding for their businesses. The featured tracks of Techne Summit 2017 are namely: retail and e-commerce, fintech, marketing and media technology, investment, startup academy, tech disruption and women empowerment.
The investment track aims to promote direct investment in MENA startups by bringing together international investors, angel investor groups, venture capitalists (VCs), economic development organizations as well as business accelerators and incubators through capacity building master classes and workshops as well as dedicated panels for investors.
Participants, who will be entry level investors as well as established private and institutional investors, will gain valuable insight into investment strategies, hands-on growth tactics in the region, and access to up-to-date economic trends and resources. The two-day investment program is supported by The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and will feature business executives, government officials, and thought leaders.
Techne Summit 2017 will include a number of startup competitions with over $1m in total prize value – including the Seedstars Alexandria 2017 Startup Competition; the winning startup will join have the chance to be considered for the global Seedstars summit and compete for over $1m in investment.
MO4 Network and its entrepreneurial platform, Startup Scene ME are the sponsors of the media technology track at Techne Summit 2017. Through their competition they will support media startups by giving them the chance to pitch ideas in the realms of utilizing virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and social media for innovative storytelling, content marketing, entertainment and media communications. The winning startups will join the MO4 media incubation program that offers prizes up to $10,000 in the form of services and mentorships.
Techne Summit founder, Tarek El Kady, says, “Over the past two years we have been experiencing inspiring growth figures. The number of participants have doubled, so have the numbers of startups and international speakers involved. This astounding growth is a clear indicator of the thirst that existed for an event like Techne Summit, one that was the first of its kind in the region. The knowledge sharing, networking opportunities, panel discussions, 1-to-1 meetings, fund raising possibilities, and international educational opportunities through startup competitions, that Techne Summit has created are unique to this event given its international nature and role as a leading event in the technology industry in the region.”
His Techne Summit co-founder Mohamed El Dallal adds, “We have moved from thinking of Techne Summit as a single event to positioning it a brand that produces a highly positive impact on the technology industry in the region through spreading to various cities within Egypt as well as other countries in the region.”
Techne Summit 2017 will take place from 30th September to the 1st of October 2017 in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, Egypt, at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, a symbol of innovation and development built to represent the ancient Alexandrina Bibliotheca burnt in 391 AD. Since its launch in 2015 the event has grown, to include more than 1600 attendees, 80 speakers from across 20 countries, and now has extended across the Mediterranean to The Adriatic, where Techne Summit Croatia took place in Dubrovnik on in May 2017 and was supported by Her Excellency, The President of Croatia Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. For information and registration for the Techne Summit, click here.