The workshop was inaugurated by the Industrial Research Institute’s general manager Mr. Bassam el Frenn.
The workshop, entitled “Building the Lebanese Software Cluster – Networked Success on Export Markets” was held on May 29th 2007, conducted by 2 German experts especially selected by ELCIM for their expertise (Mr. Lucas von Zallinger and Claus Traeger) and attended by a number of key players in the local software community.
The workshop’s first half discussed case studies & examples of successful countries exporting software (for instance Russia, Bulgaria and Croatia) as an inspiration for the Lebanese agenda of export. Furthermore, the second half focused on the cluster’s “mission to Europe” whereby the companies agreed on a road map defining an organizational structure, a marketing strategy, a business plan, in addition to elaborating internal regulating statutes designed jointly with ELCIM until the end of the year.
When asked if Lebanon stands high chances in becoming a European offshore destination Claus noted: “The Lebanese software companies enjoy great assets enabling them to win European bids. They have qualified manpower, a west-oriented flexible mentality that facilitates contact with eclectic markets and most importantly they enjoy geographical proximity vis-à-vis the European markets. Moreover, some of the Lebanese software companies have already gained strong credentials by servicing international companies of size such as German Siemens” .
For his part, Lucas stated the reasons behind the clustering explaining that it is only by joining forces that Lebanon can gain the visibility it needs. Individually, the companies will fragment their chances. And to add “the reason behind Lebanon’s delayed entry into foreign markets remains purely political as the Lebanese products and services are deemed excellent. In addition, the lack of proper marketing & branding hasn’t helped. Together with ELCIM & through this cluster, we will help Lebanon get all the visibility & branding it needs”.
The President of ALSI, Mr. Joe Abi Aad underlined: “We were able to attain the workshop’s main goal which is the nomination of a group in charge of defining the mission and vision of the cluster, as well as the first version of the statutes”
“The software markets of Germany, Britain and France are expected to substantially grow (more than 6% in 2006 and 2007) and they lack a serious number of internal resources (20 000 more IT specialists are needed in Germany, for example). The IT off shoring market is expected to grow by 16.5% per year until 2009! We need a solid marketing strategy coupled with a clearly defined “cluster regulating constitution” & we are currently working on it. In fact, an increasing number of Lebanese software companies are already exporting their products & services to France and other European countries.”
Abi Aad added that the cluster represented just one activity in their vast ALSI-ELCIM agenda: “ELCIM fosters the kind of networking that is crucial for us. Through ELCIM, we are building structured partnerships capable of addressing further foreign market needs. It is undeniable that ELCIM’s support will render the Lebanese companies a strong branding image in European markets thus doubling our chances in winning”.
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