The third steering committee of Watermedyin was held on December 9, with participants joining online from Bari, Beirut, Ramallah, and Tunis.
After 12 months of frantic activities, the expected results have been achieved way beyond the targets assigned. The Project Management Units could present the achievements of a fast, exciting ride through the innovation ecosystem of their countries. A careful work has given us the chance to understand the situation much better than ever before, leading to a fine-tuned workplan, meant to strengthen more than 30 Innovation Support Organizations, and as many startups in Lebanon, Palestine and Tunisia, with a clear vision on a Mediterranean scale.
As highlighted by the International Project Coordinator, Alessandro Dessì, the project had to face an unprecedented change of scenario. Such a huge challenge required a proportionally great effort to head to the results, which were achieved through a combination of mutual confidence, positive mind-set, inclusiveness, flexibility, activity “tailoring”, a regional-scale vision … all this leading to shape a lucky, highly committed mix of experts, partners, managers and beneficiaries.
However, the meeting was all but a mere exchange of compliments. Since the welcome address, the Deputy Director of CIHEAM Bari Dr Biagio Di Terlizzi, and the representative of AICS Dr Ennio Antonetti acknowledged the excellent work done, stating that it would be advisable to capitalize the interest triggered among a large base of beneficiaries, by undertaking support actions within specific programs.
An open exchange of points of view on the strong and weak points of the action came from the members of the Steering Committee, including Dr Nasrallah from the Lebanese MoA, Dr Keilani from the Palestinian MoA and Dr Missaoui from the Tunisian INSTM. The National Coordinators, Dr Bou Khozam, Dr Jarrar and Dr Ben Salem enriched the discussion, too.
Summarising, while recognizing the success of WaterMedyin, the meeting stressed also that the innovation ecosystem of the target countries is still weak, and it requires at least mid-term actions, allowing a lasting support and follow-up of the target groups. The private sector should be involved and called upon, to contribute to the process. More resources are necessary to keep monitoring, understanding, and empowering the Innovation Support Organizations and the startups, and a greater involvement of the national institutions is needed to strengthen the ecosystem at national and regional scale. The topics should also be enriched, from water to the whole set of natural resources, as addressed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, therefore including also a renewed attention towards the weakest social groups and the marginalized areas.
We have simply done a lot, in a very short time – as the project videos and info-graphic deliverables show very well. Now is time to take stock of the lessons learned from both, success and pitfalls of the last months. According to all the partners it is advisable to value the process started by WaterMedyin and refine it, to plan for even more effective actions in the near future.
We’ll be back … Inshallah!