MITEF Pan Arab announces agenda for upcoming Virtual Conference and Awards Ceremony

We are only ten days away from the Virtual Conference and Awards Ceremony for the 14th edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition.

There are over 600 people from all over the world who have registered to attend our event on March 25, and we promise every one of them an unmatched virtual experience where they will get to network, learn, and engage with MENA’s most promising tech entrepreneurs.

The final round of judging of this year’s semifinalist teams will occur during a closed judging session with some of the MENA region’s experts in innovation and entrepreneurship. We will be disclosing the names of this year’s judges very soon.

The content for this year’s conference was particularly challenging to put together, especially with so many events and ongoing changes shaping our reality. However, we managed to narrow it down to three main topics: ESG reporting and sustainable innovation; the future of the global innovation economy; and the potential of 5G technology in the real-time economy.

This year’s speakers all have impressive credentials and experience in their respective fields. We are excited to announce the agenda as below:

Our event will kick off with a fireside chat between Fiona E. Murray (Associate Dean for Innovation and Inclusion at the MIT Sloan School of Management) and Dina Sherif (Executive Director of the MIT Legatum Center) on the subject of ‘The Future of the Global Innovation Economy: Inclusive, Diverse, Equitable?’

The future of a truly inclusive global innovation economy depends on investing in people, cultivating the conditions that empower entrepreneurs to experiment, and reducing the systemic barriers to innovation.

In recent years achieving an inclusive innovation economy (rather than simply an innovation economy with no regard for inclusion) has taken on greater significance, with governments pledging inclusive growth strategies – from considering who might become an entrepreneur, the focus and mission of innovation and the redistribution of tech-generated wealth.

Nonetheless, the challenge of inclusion is a significant one requiring coordination and collaboration across stakeholders: entrepreneurs, risk capital providers, large corporations, universities, and of course, government.

It is only with a system-wide perspective that we can create policies that support innovation that is inclusive, more equitable, and is capable of addressing the long-held challenges of inequality. This keynote conversation explores the importance of inclusion throughout the entire innovation economy.

Afterward, we will have keynote address from Dr. Alain Daou titled ‘Sustainable Innovation and ESG Reporting: The Need for Better Standards’. Dr. Alain Daou is an Assistant Professor in entrepreneurship at the Olayan School of Business (OSB), and director of the Nature Conservation Center at the American University of Beirut. Before joining academia, Alain worked for 10 years with several not-for-profit organizations in Canada, Central America, Middle East and Africa.

In 2020, he was chosen as part of the #thinklist of racialized thinkers in responsible business, by the University of Bath’s Centre for Business, Organisation, and Society (CBOS)

His keynote address will discuss what ESG innovation and reporting is all about. Second, it will provide a counterargument to the idea that sustainable businesses are, by default, less-profitable and therefore require a certain ‘tradeoff’ with more traditional business drivers. Also, he will be joined by Maya Rahal, MD of MITEF Pan Arab, to enter into a candid conversation about the state of ESG reporting and its impact on the broader tech ecosystem in Lebanon.

Furthermore, his keynote address will highlight the increasing rate of greenwashing ESG credentials among corporates and startups alike. This issue has been mostly attributed to the lack of standards that define the reporting requirements and obligations.

Amid a highly globalized market, this keynote address will tackle the topic in order to:

  • Reduce the level of noise in measuring specific ESG categories such as labor treatment, carbon emissions, and product safety;
  • Understand the effect of ESG-driven investment flows on stock price and firm behavior;
  • Develop smarter ways to aggregate ESG factors into composite indices;
  • Reliably assess investor preferences to enable ESG indices to be more customized and attuned to investors’ values.

Lastly, before the announcement of the winners, we will have a discussion panel bringing industry experts in telecom and strategy. Namely, the discussion panel titled ‘5G and the Real-time Economy: Opportunities and Challenges’ will bring together Malek Hammoud (Zain Group Chief Investment & Digital Officer), Hesham Al Ghamdi (Group Chief Data & Analytics Officer at Abdul Latif Jameel), Jawad Abbasi (Head of MENA - GSMA).

This discussion will address how 5G presents a new investment cycle, one where monetization requires making calculated bets on platforms, tech, business models, partners, and consumers.

This generational leap will open the way towards new applications in a multitude of industries such as healthcare, education, and mobility, which all require operators to readjust their strategies and current architectures.

Ultimately, 5G promises to reshape the way communities and enterprises adopt the digital transformation, though at what cost?

More specifically, this panel discussion will shed light on the following themes:

  • Rethinking the value for customers, beyond traditional communications services -- addressing the needs of various strategic verticals such as manufacturing, agriculture, space exploration, healthcare, and more
  • How are MENA enterprises, consumers, and entrepreneurs preparing for the new wave?
  • What impact, positive or negative, could 5G have on the startup ecosystem?
  • We have 5G in the MENA - now what?

Finally, towards the end of the conference, we will be announcing the winners of the 14th edition of the MITEF Arab Startup Competition, who will win a wonderful bundle of prizes provided by our partners.

Register today to attend the Virtual Conference and Awards Ceremony on March 25 starting at 3 PM Beirut time.

MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab would like to thank Community Jameel (Main Partner) and Zain Group (Strategic Digital Partner) for the support of the competition and the entire startup ecosystem.

Also, the MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab team would like to thank the teams at Microsoft for Startups Middle East (Technology Partner), Oracle Middle East (Technology Partner), Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (Accelerator Partner), Roland Berger (Knowledge Partner), and GrowIN Portugal (Prize Partner) for the tremendous support throughout the competition.

Stay tuned for all new announcements #ASC2021 #MITEFArab

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