“The digital revolution has transformed our lives and societies with unprecedented speed and scale, delivering immense opportunities as well as daunting challenges. New technologies can make significant contributions to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals, but we cannot take positive outcomes for granted. We must urgently improve international cooperation if we are to achieve the full social and economic potential of digital technology while avoiding unintended consequences.”

António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations

Never before has the digital agenda been so necessary and vital. It is not just an immediate response to the impact of the COVID-19, but it also makes the drive for research and innovation indispensable. The current economy models are out of breath because of the speed with which changes occur. We are in the era of globalisation, climate change, pandemics, digital transformation, collaborative economy, urban concentration and depopulation of the rural world. Numerous changes that governments struggle to regulate. However, they also imply new divergences and polarisations between mechanisms and societies. Therefore, new responses are necessary.

It is time to react in a coordinated way to new challenges, because innovation and digitisation are here to stay. Its implementation has accelerated and there is no turning back. The way we work, learn, buy or communicate has changed. We must be prepared for the so-called ‘new normality’.

Innovation is the way to development and survival. The model for the promotion of a company or country. Technology is already here, but by itself it is not the answer. It is a facilitator and accelerator of new ways of being and doing. Being able to create wealth and secure a future makes innovation not an option, but a necessity.

Today’s digital technologies are transforming almost every sector of the economy by presenting new business models, introducing innovative products and services – and, ultimately, changing the way countries around the world harness socioeconomic development. Digital technologies, and the benefits that they bring, can connect citizens to services and opportunities, and help them build a better future. However, for markets to function effectively, they must be accompanied by an enabling policy and regulatory environment.

Digital transformation is here to stay. In the last few years, it has upended industries from retail and media to transport and business-to-business commerce and is now sweeping the financial services industry. Something inevitable, as ubiquitous computing power, pervasive connectivity, mass data storage, and advanced analytical tools can easily and efficiently be applied to Mediterranean economies.

As a consequence, the Mediterranean region will have to create hundreds of millions of new jobs over the next three decades. This challenge presents an opportunity for the region to transform its economies and harness both the creativity of its large youth population and the new business models. Innovative models that are redefining workers and consumers’ relationships with companies, making today’s executives take notice of these significant changes. Entrepreneurship should also be encouraged and entrepreneurial efforts of the youth should be applauded and supported. Workforce development and job creation continue to be one of the major concerns for all governments.

The biggest change is that the digital economy is happening and it has brought with it all sorts of new sets of entrepreneurship and digitally disruptive businesses.  In this context, experts from the Digital and Innovation sectors will meet to explore the challenges and opportunities linked to digital technology innovations and discuss the latest economic and market issues. In this summit, participants will learn more about the future of technology and practical applications across leading industries.

Digital technologies have already started to proliferate across industries, sectors, platforms and processes. Therefore, the adoption of new technologies such as big data analytics, AI, automation and robotics, together with connectivity enabled by the IoT and 5G, are set to modify the way we work and live dramatically. The benefits are all-encompassing: productivity boosts, lower costs, new channels, fresh techniques, leaner business models, faster market access, etc. the list is endless.

On the other hand, how government and economies are functioning are being reshaped, bringing huge assets and creating a global willingness to embrace this new era. Statistics prove that economies can gain significant competitiveness and productivity from digital products and services. For that very reason, the Mediterranean region has all the ingredients in place to dive into its digital ambitions, building the maturity of the ICT sector, and fast-track this way the Mediterranean’s digital revolution.


There is a great need for a new collaboration platform that brings governments together with companies and other stakeholders interested in Mediterranean public-private cooperation, which also facilitates a progressive dialogue that understands and respects the values and culture of the region.

We need to invest in young people to unlock the demographic dividend in an area where the interests of governments, the private sector and international organisations are fully aligned. This requires joint action by all today to secure a prosperous region tomorrow.

The digital potential is unlimited, which represents an opportunity for the Mediterranean. A large market with rapid growth. A hub of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, where resources are found in youth to find solutions to pressing problems.

Leaving the Mediterranean behind in digital transformation is not an option. The pace of the fourth industrial revolution will not wait for anyone. As the US and Asia move forward, Europe and the Mediterranean need to forge their own identity. Today the imbalance is obvious, and everything that prevents improving innovative capacity is conditioning the future.

This crisis will pass, but we must not forget that innovation and digitisation are the way for survival and development, the fuel for constant progress and the model for the rise of a company, a nation or a region.

18th November 2020

15.00 - 16.30


Actions, not words.

The aim of the Mediterranean Innovation and Digital Transformation Summit is to address one of the current main needs: the creation of a new collaborative platform that brings governments together with businesses and other stakeholders in private-public cooperation. By convening members of the public and private sectors and bringing new voices into the arena, such as Mediterranean start-ups, we hope to facilitate forward-leaning dialogue that understands and respects the values and culture of the region.

One of the main areas of interest of governments, the private sector and international organisations is investing in young people to unlock the demographic dividend.  This calls for joint action by all to urgently invest in the region’s youth to secure a prosperous future.

Large numbers of young people will work in occupations that do not yet exist as a result of the adoption of new technologies. This rapidly changing social and economic environment calls for new skills that are increasingly in demand, such as adaptability abilities. How well countries cope with the demand for changing job skills depends on how quickly the supply of those skills shifts within job training opportunities or the education system.

Mediterranean region is one of the most digitally connected in the world. Around 88% of its population is online daily, 94% of people in the region own a smartphone and digital consumption is similarly high in some countries. Nevertheless, Meridional and Eastern Mediterranean region has only realised 8% of its overall digital potential, compared to 15 % in Western Europe and 18% in the US. The region has its challenges, including legacy issues, such as difficulties in registering businesses, job protectionism or low investment in research and development (R&D). For example, the Southern Mediterranean countries generally spend less than 1% of their GDP on R&D, compared to the OECD average speed of 2.5%.

Despite that, the region is at the start of a new S-curve. The Mediterranean is experiencing a startling growth in both the number of successful start-ups and the amount of investment funding available to them. Start-ups are scaling by adapting their offerings and business models to serve local needs. Moreover, the number of investors in the region grew by 32% from 2015 to 2019, while total funding increased by more than 100% in the same period. Corporate venture capital funds (CVC) are also rapidly emerging in the evolving region investment ecosystem. The number of CVC assets under management increased by more than 2.4 times from 2012 to 2018, reaching 20% of total venture capital assets under management in the region.

Overall, the ecosystem supporting the growth of the region start-up landscape has been falling into place and distinct gaps remain for investors in properly identifying potential in new business models and scaling start-ups.


The Mediterranean Innovation & Digital Transformation Summit is focused on:

  • Analysing the digital initiatives in the region and their potential impact on society and businesses.
  • Becoming a digitally-enabled trade, innovation and investment hub through the use of digital technology from the fourth industrial revolution (4IR).
  • Accelerating innovation through AI, AR and robotics the region is aiming to become a global leader in the adoption and application of AI.
  • Making technological revolution both relevant and urgent. Relevant because we have a young, digitally-savvy population with some of the world’s highest levels of smartphone penetration, and urgent because the region suffers from high youth unemployment rates (nearly 30% in many countries).
  • Focusing on start-ups. The Mediterranean has great potential to build its start-up ecosystem to support the digitisation plan. The Mediterranean needs a technological revolution. Start-ups can lead the way.
  • Modernisation and digitalisation of the Mediterranean economy. The advent of 5G offers a major leap forward in communications quality, which is crucial for the region to develop a diversified, globally competitive communications network.


Mediterranean Innovation & Digital Transformation Summit Overview

ASCAME, in partnership with other relevant associations in the digital and innovation sectors, will bring together policymakers, entrepreneurs and academics from the Mediterranean region and beyond for a series of far-reaching discussions.  The Meda Innovation and Digital Transformation Summit will serve as a platform for international and regional companies, start-ups, innovators, entrepreneurs, and investors to display their innovations and inventions, discuss various topics and establish business relationships that ultimately will enrich the economy. In addition, it aims at being the Mediterranean’s largest gathering of innovations and innovators.

The event, which will be held within the framework of the 14th edition of MedaWeek Barcelona, will attract hundreds of participants to share their knowledge and best practices about the key topics in the Mediterranean innovation and digital world.


Main topics of the Mediterranean Innovation & Digital Transformation Summit

 Digital economy:

  • How can build a diverse digital economy contribute to inclusive growth and job creation?
  • How can new technologies change the Mediterranean?
  • What will it mean for the Mediterranean region to become a leader on the world digital map?
  • Critical factors for achieving the Mediterranean’s digital economy development targets.
  • Potential role global technology companies could play in supporting governments’ digitalisation
  • How to better position the region as a favourable destination for foreign global technology companies.
  • Why international tech investors are turning towards the Mediterranean region?
  • Development of a robust investment environment that leverages local context.
  • How can we secure investment independence in governance to win the right talent?


Innovation & Digital Transformation:

  • Opportunities and challenges for the Mediterranean region.
  • Developing a comprehensive Digital Transformation Mediterranean Strategy.
  • Digital Transformation in the Mediterranean: What and How? Where to Start? Barriers and challenges?
  • Opportunities for digitizing the region’s industries.
  • Innovation Trends in the Mediterranean region.
  • Thinking outside the box.
  • New business creation and business model innovation.
  • Entrepreneurial, creative, sceptical. The truth about Mediterranean millennials.
  • From start to scale: Setting up your business is one thing, successfully scaling is another.
  • How to make start-ups a success in Mediterranean countries?
  • Can an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation be developed?
  • How can entrepreneurs, investors, and support institutions work together from key emerging start-up ecosystems across Europe and the Mediterranean region?
  • How can investors in the start-up space adopt best practices to unlock the potential of entrepreneurship in the region?
  • The need for capital to achieve business goals. Main avenues to raise capital (crowdfunding, angel investors, venture capital, etc.); identify key stakeholders and the best alternatives to market projects.

A. Mediterranean Start-up & SME’s Meeting

“Reviving the Mediterranean’s SME & Startups ecosystem”

The current pandemic has severely impacted the regional economies, with SMEs in the region feeling the brunt of the economic slowdown.

SMEs are a key and impact factor. They are the ones that generate the most jobs. As an example, it is calculated that for every million euros invested 14.7 jobs are created from an SME, compared to the 3.1 generated if the investment comes from a large company. SMEs contribute more than 40% to GDP in emerging economies. The private sector contributes 9 out of 10 jobs in developing countries, plays a key role in creating new jobs, fosters growth and has enormous potential.

SMEs in the Mediterranean are an inseparable part of its economy. The region has 25 million SMEs. All administrations recognise its importance and impact in creating wealth and diversifying economies, taking into account that these and informal companies represent 90% of the business fabric, 60% of GDP and 70% of employment in the region. But SMEs only receive 8% of total bank loans. However, this recognition has not led to effective solutions to the endemic problems suffered by these companies, but rather manifests itself tragically in each crisis.

This Meeting will be about:

  • How can we create a suitable environment for SMEs and Startups to grow and prosper even during the crisis?
  • What are the responses and policy measures that have been established to support the development of SMEs and Startups?
  • What is needed to do to help them growth?


Welcome and Opening Remarks

Baybars Altuntas

Executive Chairman, World Business Angels Forum (WBAF) - Turkey

Anwar Zibaoui

General Cordinator, ASCAME - Spain


Fadi Saab (moderator)

Business Ethics Commission, ASCAME and CG & SME Support, WBAF

H.E. Eduard Shalsi

Minister for Protection of Entrepreneurship of Albania – Albania

Roberto Croci

Managing Director, Microsoft for Start-ups, Microsoft – UAE

Hanane Ait Aissa

CEO of Welead & Local Leader at Founder Institute – Morocco

Feryal Nass

Chairwoman, Bahrain Entrepreneurship Organisation - Bahrein

Dr. Paul Doany

Serial investor in startups & SMEs & Rector WBAF Business School – Turkey

Andre Abi Awad

Founder, Entreprenergy – Lebanon

This conference will summarise a lot of the learnings and recommendations and provide valuable insights on the way forward for SMEs and Startups during their road to recovery, as well as provide SMEs with the necessary intelligence to innovate during the current climate.

Co-organised by:

Join us at the Meda Innovation & Digital Tranformation Summit and get to know the new trends,
find inspiration, and most importantly: do great business!


  • B2B Networking meetings between regional and global investors and entrepreneurs from the Mediterranean arranged in a speed dating format.
  • Showcase your innovation and technological skills.
  • Support entrepreneurs and start-ups to showcase their innovative projects to investors.
  • Join our list of Mediterranean Halal Industry Forum Sponsors & Partners.
  • Encourage and register team members who are interested in innovation to attend the Forum.

European Regional Development Fund              A way to make Europe