MENA startups capable of providing fast solutions for COVID-19 crisis

Lebanon’s Berytech Fab Lab is offering up to a $10,000 grant to five heathtech startups working on a solution that can help combat the current coronavirus pandemic.
By Ahmed El Sherif
10:37 AM

Credit: Chokniti Khongchum

A Lebanon-based business innovation centre is calling for healthtech startups based in the country to work on solutions that can respond to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Berytech and its Berytech Fab Lab announced this week that it is ready to support five projects with up to a $10,000 grant each to cover materials required. Solutions can include test kits, respiratory devices, or mobile apps capable of responding immediately to emergency needs.

Startups that already have a practical solution but need to protype can benefit from Berytech Fab Lab’s available equipment, it added.

Wael Khalil, Berytech Fab Lab coordinator and lead on the Berytech’s HealthTech Solutions Initiative in Lebanon, told Healthcare IT News that the Middle East and North Africa region has the potential to produce viable solutions to combat COVID-19 “very quickly”.

“Some are already starting to do that,” he said. “Many local companies have already started producing safety and protective products that could help against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Adding to that, there are initiatives in the Arab Region where many are already teaming up; sharing valuable information, designing, prototyping, and testing equipment, machinery and applications that could assist in combatting COVID-19.”

Khalil stresses that collaboration between entities is key.

“We would like to see an agile and collaborative approach to problem solving, bringing shared knowledge to find efficient and scalable solutions quickly,” he added. “We expect more collaborations and partnerships to happen with key players in the medical industry in the region. I believe that we will convince everyone that the local skills are as good as the rest of the world.”

WHY IT MATTERS

At the time of publishing, data by the World Health Organization shows that confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the MENA region. The three most affected countries at present are Iran (17,361 cases / 1,135 deaths); Qatar (442), and Bahrain (256 / 1).

In comparison, the global top three countries affected are China (81,174 / 3,242), Italy (35,713 / 2,978) and Iran.

Lebanon has seen 133 confirmed cases so far, with four deaths.

While MENA figures are at present not high compared to other territories, the region has been taking swift action against fighting transmission, undoubtedly spurred on by the rapid speed the coronavirus has spread in countries such as Italy and Iran, for example.

ON THE RECORD

“Berytech has been shaping the tech and innovation scene in the region using Lebanon as our launch pad for close to two decades. We have extensive experience in mobilising the right talent by offering the right ecosystem for innovative entrepreneurs to create and develop their own startups and SMEs,” said Khalil. “[This can be] through research, incubation, business support, networking, mentoring, funding, access to markets, company hosting, and acceleration.

“It is our duty to put that experience, and our extensive network of experts, entrepreneurs, developers, coders, and scientists, at the service of the healthtech community to not only find solutions to the coronavirus crisis, but to produce them locally, quickly and efficiently.

Interested startups can connect with Berytech Fab Lab via email.

 

More regional news

(Top row: left to right) Dr Charles Alessi, HIMSS, Dr Peter Gocke, Charité in Berlin (Germany)

(Bottom row: left-right) Dr Afzal Chaudhry, Cambridge University Hospitals (UK), Dr Jan Kimpen, Philips (Netherlands)

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