18th November 2022 10:00 – 11:00

5th Mediterranean Entrepreneurship & Start-up Meeting

This meeting will bring together entrepreneurs, investors, experts and support institutions from key emerging start-ups ecosystems across Europe and the Mediterranean region. They will gather to share experiences, insights, techniques, methods and know-hows, dish out how-toss for newcomers, dos-and-don’ts for the up and coming and inspiration for the rest.

While there is a growing number of funding opportunities and resources for entrepreneurs in the Mediterranean region, there are still significant constraints to obtaining capital, including accessing larger funding sizes, diversifying funding sources, skills gaps and communicating with investors. This meeting adds to the larger conversation on the barriers and pathways to scale that entrepreneurs experience as they try to grow their companies in the Mediterranean. It is a unique opportunity, connecting start-ups with investors and with successful companies, both in the Mediterranean regionand globally.

The Mediterranean Entrepreneurship & Start-up Meeting introduces a more critical assessment of funding conditions in the region’s ecosystem while also helping to highlight focus areas for improving these conditions.

The meeting will provide an opportunity for Mediterranean start-ups and entrepreneurs:

  •  to display themselves to investors and the press
  • to access seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and experts
  • to unlock funding 
  • to discover key insights

Introduction

The world is looking for ways to recover from the impact of the pandemic and startups are the companies with the greatest potential to stimulate and accelerate economic recovery. In the last year, globally, they have grown by 4% in financing, some 300.000 million dollars.

This growth is equivalent to the GDP of a G7 economy, and reveals that, despite the economic, social and health crisis, there are great positive economic and social trends developing in the world and in the Mediterranean. Because the great energy of the region is its human capital: millions of young people who must be provided with tools to channel their enormous energy, creativity and abilities. However, today, the region has the highest youth unemployment rate in the world: 32%.

Mediterranean youth is exploring innovative venues to support its economy considering recent events. In fact, entrepreneurship has the potential to become a crucial engine of growth for the Mediterranean post-pandemic recovery and has been gathering attention from international governments and agencies.

History has revealed a strong relationship between economic development and innovators and accelerators who can seize opportunities and take risks as well as provide a helpful boost in business education.

By generating employment opportunities and developing tailored solutions to meet the needs of local communities, Mediterranean entrepreneurs are taking the driver seat in shaping their own future and their societies. The startup and entrepreneurship culture is encouraging development but turning the trend into the norm could bring a series of challenges and policy questions for business, government and civil society to address.

As the region’s entrepreneurship ecosystem gradually frees up more capital for young and growing enterprises, it needs to take a more critical look at its entrepreneurs’ and investors’ specific needs in order to enhance investment conditions.

Start-up: a sector that generates more and more jobs

When start-ups grow, they research, develop and therefore create jobs. Start-ups are no longer those small companies that we look at with curiosity, they have become full-fledged players.

An industrial renaissance

New industries are needed to diversify Mediterranean economies away from the single track of tourism or producing hydrocarbons. And by breeding new industries, businesses — and subsequently jobs — will presumably follow. It is here that many business leaders point to encouraging trends emerging from the region’s tech start-up and entrepreneurship scene.

Education is not enough

The basis of an education strategy must be the need for students to learn critical thinking and other skills relevant to the twenty first century, as opposed to policies that emphasize rote memorization geared toward passing national tests.

Key words

Economic development, creativity, education, inclusion and diversity, sustainability, technology, media and communications landscape, clusters, infrastructure, funding

Joan Laporta

President, FC Barcelona – TBC

Christiana Manzocco

Helping ecosystems, Dealroom

Rida Chahoud

Catalyst, Digital Innovation & Startups

Sarah Rebati Ait Hamou

Co-Founder, WomWork & Nissaa

Sana Khouja Laout

CEO & Founder, Zeena

Yassir Raïs

Founder chez, Syra Coffee

The Mediterranean DNA is rebellious, creative, traveller, curious. It is synonymous with innovation. It has allowed us to overcome many crises. In the “Mare Nostrum” there is constant trading, negotiating, sailing and fighting.

Changes are noticeable in university students and entrepreneurs from Barcelona, Beirut, Casablanca, Cairo, Istanbul, Marseille, Rome, Tunisia… Initiatives multiply, while accelerators and incubators ,investors and business angels appear. New sensitivities with renewable energies, robotics and other technologies come to the forefront. Large international companies are beginning to bet on the region. Turning trends into a norm is a challenge that companies, governments and the Mediterranean society cannot let pass.

As the ecosystem continues to develop, the Mediterranean region is preparing itself to evolve into a hub for international outsourcing companies looking for the young and talented, for multilanguage content, for resiliency in innovation. In this session, we will explore the role of Development Finance Institutionsand the Private Sector in supporting the digital ecosystem in the region towards becoming the Silicon Beach for the Mediterranean region.

After all, when it comes to the Mediterranean’s start-up scene, it is clear that these varied developments have led to impressive numbers for the region’s start-up funding landscape.

Innovation-driven entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean is growing and the number of start-ups is onthe rise. In what we hope will be a post-pandemic economic boom, Mediterranean countries must work hard to ensure the right set of laws and regulations necessary to attract entrepreneurs and investors.They must also commit to creating the concept of a “Mediterranean Region of Start-ups”: the region of nations that not only support start-ups, but also think and act with the spirit of entrepreneurs who dare to create, shape, imagine and solve the problems that humanity continues to face.

Key points for discussion:
  • How can the “Mediterranean Region of Start-ups” concept be created and implemented?
  • Must we choose between complementarity or competition between the Mediterranean countries?
  • Within a potential digital ecosystem, how will the Mediterranean position itself to lead the way towards economic growth?
  • The future of the Mediterranean’s start-ups.
  • Regional Perspectives on Mobilizing Investments at a Crossroad

Technology holds the key to recovery through job creation and by enabling innovative start-ups and SMEs.

Technology start-ups and the venture capital ecosystem that transforms ideas and fledgling companies into disruptive businesses are growing globally. The Mediterranean enjoys a fertile environment for tech entrepreneurs due to the region’s youthful and growing population, rising internet penetration, and the application of emerging technologies that have the potential to improve access to healthcare, financial services, education and energy. As such, the number of Mediterranean tech start-ups experienced exponential growth between 2015 and 2021 and the number of Mediterranean tech start-ups receiving financial backing was nearly six times faster than the global average.

The start-up investment landscape continues to evolve, with the tech space being harder to navigate than ever. While early-stage investment will always remain a risky proposition, the possibility of finding and nurturing a tech start-up that has the potential to achieve a massive valuation and even transform the world as we know still remains.

COVID-19 has wreaked global economic damage and further exposed the digital divide. With itsestablished digital ecosystem, the Mediterranean will be positioned to lead the way towards economicgrowth. After all, technology holds the key to recovery through job creation and enabling innovativestart-ups and SMEs.

The pandemic has brought hundreds of thousands of businesses to the brink. Even more challenging, the economic impact of COVID-19 has disproportionally affected those who could bear it the least. Digital technologies have helped some avoid the worst, and even allowed many to thrive.

However, plenty of challenges remain. The region urgently needs to recover jobs and create new ones that are future-proof. That’s why some Mediterranean countries need to close the digital skills gap anddiscover and support ideas that will kick-start the economy – and the best places to find those are start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Key points for discussion:

  • Is it now a good time to invest in Mediterranean technology start-ups?
  • What are the challenges and structural barriers stymieing these firms’ further growth?
  • What are the policy recommendations to overcome these obstacles and develop the Mediterranean’s innovation hubs?
  • How can retail investors navigate this tricky landscape? Is it worth investing in regional or international tech start-ups to complement an otherwise more conservative portfolio?
  • Securing venture capital funding, is an important milestone for start-ups and is a crucial step that enables them to scale and develop novel products. But how can venture capital be secured?

The Mediterranean region as a hub: testimonials from international companies

The Mediterranean region is home to a vibrant and dynamic business ecosystem that has created local start-ups with a great capacity for international expansion and, at the same time, it is attracting increasing attention from international companies and investors.

This roundtable will bring together success stories across the Mediterranean to provide a first-hand insight into their experiences.

Salvador Illa

Ministry of Health, Government of Spain (Special Guest Speaker)

Enric Mayolas

Consulting Director, World Health Management (Moderator)

Gonzalo Fanjul

Policy Director, Institut Salut Global

Chakib Abouzaid

Secretary General, General Arab Insurance Federation

European Regional Development Fund              A way to make Europe