American Univesity of Beirut

Darwazah Startup Accelerate 2018 winner takes top prize at the Arab Entrepreneurship Rally

​​​​DLOC Biosystems, 2018 Darwazah Startup Accelerate runner-up, won the first prize at the Arab Entrepreneurship Rally competition. More than 750 startups applied to the competition, but only eighteen, one from each Arab country, were shortlisted to attend the final event in Bahrain. The top three winning startups were “DLOC Biosystems" from Lebanon, “Smart Wheelchair" from Egypt, and “Gallah" from Saudi Arabia winning respectively $50K, $25K and $10K.

UNIDO offered 3 days of mentorship to the 18 finalists in addition to one-on-one sessions at its office in Manama. On the Demo Day, startups pitched their startups in front of an international jury. After the evaluation, the organizers recorded 40 seconds pitch videos for each of the finalists, and displayed them for investors at the 18th Arab Businessmen and Investors Conference and the World Entrepreneurs Investment Forum 2019 conferences that were held for 3 consecutive days following the demo day.

DLOC Biosystems is a startup that is developing a novel organ-on-chip devices where cells can be grown on an electronic chip that mimics the properties of the human body far more accurately than prior technologies. Inside the chip, the full 3D microenvironment of diseases such as breast cancer can be replicated, in order to test drugs to accelerate drug development, because the device enables the acceleration of the process of cancer drug testing by researchers and pharmaceutical firms by a factor of 10X to 20X.

DLOC Biosystems, was founded by Waddah Malaeb, an AUB mechanical engineer graduate with a minor in biomedical engineering, who developed the design and prototype for the DLOC as his capstone project. Waddah envisioned DLOC would be in demand within the pharmaceutical research field, and therefore decided to take it further by applying to the Darwazah Startup Accelerate​ competition held in 2018, and won the prize for the second year in a row.

On the same year, Waddah met his co-founder, Daniel Farhat, also an AUB mechanical engineer graduate with an experience in biotech. Both Waddah and Daniel enrolled to the OSB's graduate experiential hands-on entrepreneurship course, Venture Acceleration Practicum, where they started validating their idea while developing their business model. DLOC startup was mentored by Dr. Bijan Azad, Tarek Kettaneh, Chantal Abou Jaoude, Maher Loubieh, Grace Aoun, and Rodrigue Saab.

When asked about his experience, Waddah stated “The event was very constructive on a business level; I had the opportunity to get one-on-one mentorship and advising from experts and build plenty of connections with investors and potential partners. On the personal level, the experience was exceptional especially that it was a success. But most importantly, I got the opportunity to tell the world what we 'the Lebanese youth' are capable of, even during the hardest and most prominent times".

The Arab Entrepreneurship Rally is a competition powered by the AAST Center of Entrepreneurship in the Arab Academy for Science, Technology, and Maritime Transport for people who want to start their own business. It was held in partnership with UNIDO ITPO, AICEI, Union of Arab Chambers, and Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry.​​

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