In this post we'll learn more about our Business Development Manager, Laura de la Court, as she shares her insight into the SaaS industry.
Our CEO Claire Burge often speaks at international tech conferences, but this week, she’ll be speaking at a particularly interesting one: BDL Accelerate in Beirut, Lebanon, which runs from 3-5 November 2016.
While all tech conferences are interesting and important, and offer a valued insight into the current state of techland, we thought we’d take this opportunity to share with our readers, and our team, a bit more about this conference. It’s not everyday that anyone we know gets to spend time in Lebanon, so in this post we’ll be sharing more information about the conference, speaker lineup and agenda, and some insights into the country and its local tech scene.
BDL Accelerate Insight #1: Background to the Sponsor and Conference
BDL stands for Banque du Liban, the central bank of Lebanon. The main function of BDL is to issue the local currency, the Lebanese pound, and to maintain monetary stability, regulate transfers, and maintain the banking sector in general. Banking is an important industry in Lebanon, with over a hundred different banks operating in the country.
The importance of banking in Lebanon, and the prominence of BDL, explains why the central bank would be a main sponsor for this kind of event. In addition to banking, tech startups are also a prominent part of the Lebanese economy, evident in projects such as the Beirut Digital District, which aims to create a hub of creative and technological development, and reduce the brain drain that Lebanon experiences (as in many other countries).
BDL Accelerate is now in its third year, with the first conference taking place in 2014. In just two years, the conference has grown from an initial 1,600 attendees to 20,000 this year. The conference continues to be the largest and most influential conference in the Mediterranean and MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), and will bring innovation and ideas through onstage talks, as well as a competition and the region’s first HealthTech Hackathon.
BDL Accelerate Insight #2: What’s so Interesting About Beirut?
As with many cities around the world, perceptions and reputations can be misleading. Although the country has a turbulent history (which country doesn’t?), Beirut and Lebanon are now positioning themselves as a hub for economic development in the MENA region.
In a country with a diverse cultural heritage, Beirut is one of the world’s oldest cities, settled over 5000 years ago. Over that time, the city has been governed by different cultural powers, from Hellenic and Roman to Arabic and Ottoman, and most recently came under French control after the Ottoman Empire collapsed after the First World War in 1918.
The city has seen its share of conflict since then, with a civil war in the 1970s and subsequent conflicts destroying many parts of the city. However, the city is now a thriving and cosmopolitan metropolis, know for its food and nightlife, and its drive to build a hub for tourism and economic activity in the region. According to current UK government travel recommendations, Beirut has been given a Green rating, and all surrounding areas are considered safe too.
BDL Accelerate Insight #3: Who’s Speaking at the Event?
Our focus for the conference will of course be on Claire, who will be speaking this Friday about Chaos and Meaning: The Future of Work. As in her many other onstage appearances, Claire will be advocating the need to embrace how chaotic the world is becoming, and to see the future of work through not one, but three lenses: Humans (People), Technology and Space (Workspaces).
Her and our approach is that in order to thrive in the future workplace, we need to rethink all aspects of work, including the skills people will need in the future, what technology we’ll be using (and how to use it effectively), as well as the workspaces we’ll be doing all of this in, with a focus on virtual reality.
We’re excited to hear the response to Claire’s talk, but even more excited that she’ll be sharing the stage with two well-known leaders in the tech industry: Steve Wozniak and Tony Fadell.
Steve Wozniak is one of the two Steve’s who founded Apple, along with Steve Jobs, and is a world-famous computer engineer who was instrumental in the launch of the Apple I and II, which completely shifted the world’s view of how computers could be used on an individual scale. Known for his engineering skills, Wozniak is also a philanthropist, and is involved in educational programmes that give school students the ability to enhance their computer capabilities and their creative skills.
As current Chief Scientist at Primary Data, Wozniak has made regular television appearances and is considered an icon in contemporary popular culture, so having him as a headline speaker will no doubt bring a wealth of interesting, and entertaining, insights into the current technology landscape.
Tony Fadell is another one of the headline speakers at BDL Accelerate, and interestingly, has Lebanese cultural heritage. Fadell is credited with being an inventor, designer, entrepreneur and angel investor, and after serving as the Vice President of Apple Inc., is considered “the father of the iPod”. Fadell went on to found Nest, which develops Internet of Things (IoT) applications for homes, and has also been involved in the development of Google Glass.
A computer scientist, systems architect and an entrepreneur with a range of development and design experience, we’re looking forward to what Fadell has to say about the current state of technology, and how innovations in technologies like IoT and virtual reality are going to shape our experiences in the future.
What are your thoughts on the current tech startup space? Share your thoughts in the comments below: