Beirut Digital District where a bubble of hope is created
Interview with Mouhamad Rabah, BDD’s CEO
Beirut Digital District (BDD) is a unique cluster of innovation designed for the digital & creative community in Lebanon.
Providing the ideal business environment, BDD combines value added services and state-of-the-art infrastructure so that companies can increase their productivity.
¶ How do you perceive the knowledge economy and tech ecosystem in Lebanon?
The knowledge economy and tech ecosystem in Lebanon has been evolving at a good pace due to the great efforts of key ecosystem players. We have witnessed consiredable growth of accelerators, VCs and funding organizations due to the introduction of circular 331 by the Central bank and we have some great companies that are scaling regionally, all of which have positively contributed into our ecosystem being ranked as "advancing" by the WorldBank in 2017. However, we still have a long way to go and a lot to learn from more developed ecosystems especially through more collaboration between entities and by having the private sector play a bigger role in the funding scene.
¶ What about the challenges?
The sector is facing multiple challenges that can be summarized as follows:
-Dependency of startups on circular 331 for funding and limited availability of other sources of funds to date.
-Sub-optimal regulatory framework with multiple outdated laws hindering any international VCs from funding Lebanese companies or increasing their investments.
- Lengthy processes of doing business.
- Challenges in accessing regional and international markets, which is highly important for companies to achieve scale and growth.
- Sub-optimal hard infrastructure (including ICT, basic electricity, roads, etc.); that play a big role in the ability of companies to serve markets out of Lebanon as well as attract and retain talent Limited R&D efforts that could highly contribute to innovation.
-Some shortages in the required talent and technical skills that meet the needs of the new job market, mainly due to outdated curriculums and limited STEAM education.
¶ How can BDD support the entrepreneurs in Lebanon?
BDD is built on the belief that Lebanese talent is the backbone of the Lebanese Economy and that by providing it with the right support system, it can flourish and boost our economy with it, by transforming Lebanon into a production hub.
BDD is a one stop shop where we help the companies focus on their core ideas and we take care of the time consuming so that they can become more productive and grow. BDD aims to create the most productive business environment for companies to thrive in whereby we handle most of the non-core shared services including state of the art ICT infrastructure, facility management services, timesaving services, business setup, HR services, legal, etc. In addition, BDD is committed to support talent development and the whole ecosystem through various initiatives and programs including the BDD Academy that we recently launched to develop tech talent starting from school throughout their professional journey.
¶ Can you Provide a detailed plan on how you will be supporting the entrepreneurs?
Our Key priorities are currently:
1- Further grow our impact through the BDD Academy to bridge the gap between Academia and Business.
2- Help our companies more and more in attracting the best talent that Lebanon produces.
3- With the right legal reforms, try to attract regional and multinational companies who would hire in Lebanon and sell to the world.
All of the above will help us grow our current community of 1500 members, to achieve our vision of attracting 10,000 digital and creative talents who will be working, living and playwith their Children at BDD, an innovative tech enables self-sustainable smart neighborhood.