UK Announces £2.5M Investment in Lebanon’s Knowledge Economy

British Ambassador to Lebanon Hugo Shorter on Tuesday announced £2.5 million ($3.2 million) towards a new International Research Center (IRC) in Lebanon, the British Embassy said in a statement.

Shorter was speaking live at the ArabNet Beirut conference, held under the patronage of President Michel Aoun.

The International Research Center will act as “the bridge between the abundant knowledge capability in Lebanese universities and the global tech industry, partnered with GREAT British Universities,” the Embassy said.

“It aims to position Lebanon as the Middle East’s R&D hub, acting as a catalyst for economic growth, stability and job creation and a gateway between east and west,” it added.

The IRC will serve as a portal for multinational and local companies of all sizes to undertake research and develop new solutions in these areas through a collaborative environment where commercial gain can be achieved for all.

Its first project, a collaboration between the Lebanese University and the Geneva-based CERN European Laboratory for Particle Physics, amongst others, is already underway.

The collaboration aims to produce the world’s first Fiber Optic Sensors System designed to measure parameters such as temperature, humidity, concentration of pesticides, fertilizers and enzymes in the soil of cultivated fields. This will empowers farmers by allowing irrigation that will result in water saving and increased crop yield, and cut the cost of watering farmer’s fields from $500 per hectare to under $80 per hectare.

“The Tech Hub is not about taking the most talented to global markets. It is about bringing global markets to them. It is about returning Lebanon to being the gateway to the MENA region, a bridge between East and West as it always was. Lebanon’s people are its most coveted resource,” Ambassador Shorter said.

“This partnership, the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, is about harnessing the potential of that resource. This partnership is about creating 25,000 jobs in Lebanon by 2025. The UK is not just supporting Lebanon’s security and stability, but it’s leading the way in investing in Lebanon’s prosperity too,” he added.

Former telecom minister Nicolas Sehnaoui, the Chairman of the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, said “Lebanon’s real strength is in its brain power, reflected in its world-class education and its stellar diaspora.”

“The hub’s R&D center will bridge Lebanon’s academic strengths and knowledge capabilities with the global industry. Retaining our best talents is a game changer for our economy. Investing in our talents will harness their enormous potential to turn Lebanon into a globally recognized innovation hub all while creating jobs for our youth,” Sehnaoui added.

He noted that from the very beginning of the UK-Lebanon Tech Hub under two years ago, the British Embassy Beirut “has been closely involved, providing the expertise, matched talents and helped Lebanese entrepreneurs expand their footprint in global markets through London and the British ecosystem.”

“With new technological approaches to traditional sectors we can find innovative solutions to help bring people out of poverty, create a more inclusive society, and enable economic growth,” the ex-minister added.

The International Research Center is a key recommendation of the recent flagship report by the UK Lebanon Tech Hub, which outlines a plan to create 25,000 jobs by 2025.

The report’s findings followed the examination of Lebanon’s knowledge economy, mapping its strengths and weaknesses, assessing global trends, and comparing its ecosystem development experiences with countries of a similar profile.

The UK Lebanon Tech Hub (UKLTH) is a joint initiative by Banque du Liban, Lebanon’s Central Bank, and the UK government through the British Embassy in Beirut. It aims to support the growth of the knowledge economy in Lebanon through the development of tech companies in the country and create opportunities for the brightest Lebanese talent to access international markets.

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