Last year, Rasha Tantawy traveled to the Startup Nations Summit in Tallinn, Estonia, to meet a multi-sector, international team that would help her hack a solution to address barriers that provide challenges for agri-tech startups to scale.
Via the Startup Nations Policy Hack initiative, Tantawy – who is the head of entrepreneurship and development department at the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center in Egypt – worked with a team of entrepreneurs, startup support organization representatives and policy leaders from countries around the world. They worked to solve the problem of a growing number of African agri-tech entrepreneurs that have found innovative solutions to problems – but find a gap in market expansion knowledge and opportunity.
Through the Startup Nations Policy Hack, Tantawy’s team developed the idea of the “Twinning Open Farms” –the creation of two open lab farms, with one residing in the European Union and the other in Africa or the MENA region, to enable matched agri-tech entrepreneurs to validate their products in the different markets.
Eight months after the policy hack at SNS 2017, the policy is under implementation at the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. Tantawy is working with her government and its counterpart in Greece, Lamans to set the bases for the Twinning Open Farms.
The implementation of the hacked solution began shortly after Tantawy’s return from the Startup Nations Summit in Estonia, with efforts to secure funding to develop a database of startups to then enter the phase of B2B matchmaking. As they start connecting people, the offline platform becomes as important as the online platform, Tantawy said. For this reason, matched startups will meet during the Techne Summit in Alexandria, Egypt, on September 30, 2018, where the startups will be coached and offered multiple services to see through the partnership between them. The farms will be introduced at this stage upon the startups request.
As with policy innovation, implementation of the design solution faced operational challenges that weren’t foreseen. For example, in this pilot project, the government of Egypt found that it is more difficult to work with early-stage startups that are in the minimum-viable-product (MVP) phase, than with growth startups. For the former, involving farmers developing solutions has proven difficult.
“It’s the little details and daily operational matters that can make or break the success of a policy,” said Tantawy. To address these challenges, her team continues to use the Public Policy Lean Canvas provided to teams at the Startup Nations Policy Hack, as a lean and agile tool for fine-tuning the program before scaling.
GEN and its Startup Nations policy network will continue to support the Egyptian effort to move this policy tool from proof-of-concept to implementation and then impact measurement.
About the Startup Nations Policy Hack
Disruptive technologies pose opportunities and challenges for both traditional industries as well as governments in grappling with unexpected and unfamiliar regulatory issues. In response, GEN and its partners developed the Startup Nations Policy Hack to help both public and private sector leaders from entrepreneurial ecosystems explore a new approach to policymaking– one that is based on dialogue, and sandbox-type idea exchanges.
If you are interested in addressing a policy hurdle in your ecosystem via this approach, the Startup Nations Summit 2018 in Surabaya, Indonesia, will feature a global edition of the Startup Nations Policy Hack. Learn more about this opportunity, here.
If you are interesting in organizing a policy hack in your ecosystem, please find the guidelines, here.