NUMA <3 the Middle East

NUMA: The World is our Playground!

Since 2014, NUMA has been working with the World Bank as an expert in fostering innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystems in (fast) developing countries.

In October 2014 Nathanael Sorin and Claudio Vandi were in Beirut with friends from Waag Society (Amsterdam) and Forum Virium (Helsinki) to spark the collaboration between local Lebanese universities, accelerators and institutions to co-create a tech hub in Lebanon and strengthen local initiatives : MIEP (Mobile Internet Ecosystem Project).
Our role was to present the NUMA example, our business model and our secret sauce for working with communities, startups and corporate enterprise. We discussed the evolution of our project from Silicon Sentier to NUMA, facilitated the workshops between local players and encouraged the movement!

Nathanael and Claudio: We found a great energy in Lebanon, there is no shortage of great people and great projects, the ecosystem is ready to bloom, what is needed is support from institutions, funding and collaboration between local accelerators, community spaces and fablabs.

In February 2015, Claudio was again in Beirut with Institute of Design at Stanford, MIT and CartoDB to participate in Open Innovation Week that launched the creation of a Tech Hub in Lebanon with a loan from the World Bank.
Our role was to coach local startups, help them prepare their pitches and participate in the jury that selected some startups to go further to an acceleration process.

Claudio: “Lebanon entrepreneurs are passionate, resilient, open-minded and internationally-minded.
I met some great people in Beirut that make me believe this country has a great future.
Fadi, from with whom I mentored the startups participating to the Challenge. Munir from, and Nelly from
Take these guys, their talent, their passion, put them together in a city by the Mediterranean Sea and you will have one of the most attractive startup accelerators in the world.
Europe beware!“

At the same time, Nathanael was in Cairo with Carlo Ratti Associati, Courage Ventures et Kineos Vision Estrategica to work with local institutions and convince them to embrace Open Innovation as part of a project aiming at opening a 30 000m2 innovation space.

Nathanael: “the Egyptian tech community is already mature, there are plenty of coworking spaces, incubators, accelerators, Tech communities, events …
The Egyptian government has already launched lots of initiatives to develop this ecosystem, like Tiec. Today they are launching a huge initiative to gathered all these actors in an ambitious program: the Maadi Technology Park”

In May, we will travel again, this time to Peshawar in Pakistan to participate in the Digital Youth Summit.

Above and beyond these one-off events, we are also involved, in conjunction with the World Bank, in the creation of a community of practice around the issues of open innovation in cities.

We have created this partnership with the World Bank as they seem to share some of our principles in their way of operating: open, messy, participatory… they are people after our own hearts!

As you have no doubt noticed, NUMA is treating 2015 as the year of taking it global, not just by opening up NUMA carbon copies, but by truly helping to structure emerging ecosystems, as we have done so effectively in Paris, and throughout France, over the past 15 years. It is in this spirit of sharing and independence that we see our development abroad taking shape.

We do not wish to force our services (co-working spaces, events, accelerators, open innovation laboratories) upon anybody, but rather to share our values and skills: starting with pre-existing systems, getting various actors working together on the same projects, making useful and innovative services available, iterating, openly sharing our models, knowing how and when to “kill” certain services if they become irrelevant in order to create new ones.

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