Morocco’s Innovation Ecosystem: Breaking Silos, Building Collaboration 

Lital Eshel is a member of the Innovation Diplomacy team at Start-Up Nation Central, where she leads all partnerships and engagement efforts with Morocco. Lital brings over 15 years of experience in business development & partnership building in various industries. Prior to joining Start-Up Nation Central, she worked in executive positions both in startups and established corporations.

Lital holds a BA in Economics and Psychology from TAU and an MBA with a focus on Innovation and entrepreneurship from Imperial College Business School in London.

For an innovation ecosystem to thrive, it is essential for a state or market to not only possess technical know-how and encourage the establishment of startups but to also possess an infrastructure of diverse, but interconnected, components. These include access to funding, strong ties with academia, effective systems for tech transfer to commercialize intellectual property, innovation vehicles such as incubators and accelerators, the presence of multinational corporations, and, crucially, supportive governmental policies that bind everything together. By nurturing and harmonizing these vital elements, an ecosystem can truly flourish and drive sustainable innovation and growth. 

Morocco’s innovation ecosystem has been gradually maturing, driven by dedicated efforts from the government, academia, and private sector. This cooperation is nurturing the infrastructure needed to foster a growing entrepreneurial mindset. The country’s geostrategic position stands at the crossroads of continents. Together with its skilled tech talent (>10,000 fresh engineers every year) and strong R&D capabilities, Morocco provides a fertile ground for entrepreneurship to flourish. 

Recent initiatives such as the new investment charter for developing private investment in the Kingdom, and tax advantages aligned with international best practices, lay foundations to bolster the ecosystem even further. In regard to an entrepreneurial mindset, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2020 (GEM) report highlights a significant increase in entrepreneurial activity in Morocco, with the Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) rate reaching 18.4% in 2020. Furthermore, according to the Arab Youth Survey 2020, 85% of young Moroccans view entrepreneurship as a favorable career choice, reflecting the burgeoning interest of the younger generation in startups. 

Despite this acceleration, the current landscape in Morocco is often characterized by silos. Each constituent pillar tends to operate independently, with limited interaction and cross-fertilization of ideas. To fully unlock its potential in the years to come, fostering a spirit of collaboration and integration among all stakeholders and assets in Morocco’s innovation ecosystem will be the vital catalyst for continued growth and success. 

Developing synergies between the different pillars is vital for nurturing a dynamic ecosystem. Academia, with its research expertise, can collaborate with startups to transform cutting-edge research into viable products and solutions. The private sector, with its market reach and resources, can provide the necessary support and investment to scale up innovations. Meanwhile, the government can continue playing a pivotal role in creating an enabling environment through supportive policies, regulations, and targeted funding. 

Breaking down the silo mindset requires a collective effort. Encouraging open dialogue, fostering a culture of trust and collaboration, and organizing interdisciplinary events, are essential steps toward building stronger connections. Platforms and communities that facilitate the exchange of ideas, expertise, and best practices will be instrumental in fostering cross-pollination within and between different sectors. 

Furthermore, international collaboration plays a crucial role in Morocco’s journey toward an integrated innovation ecosystem. Partnering with other innovation ecosystems, hubs, and international organizations can bring valuable insights and opportunities.  

Following Morocco and Israel signing the Abraham Accords in 2020, we have seen significant advancements in collaboration between our two ecosystems that hold the promise for continued knowledge-sharing opportunities.  

Israel, renowned for its transformation into a knowledge-based economy, has a vibrant innovative ecosystem including more than 7,000 startups, nearly 900 investors, and more than 450 multinational companies. The Startup Nation is also home to an impressive network of academic, business, and technology stakeholders who can offer insight from Israel’s innovation ecosystem-building journey that encompasses both successes and failures.  

Through cooperation and knowledge exchange, both nations can forge lasting partnerships and collectively shape a new era of innovation and prosperity for the people of both nations – which was a core pillar in the signing of the Abraham Accords.  

This article was first published in Morocco World News on August 31, 2023.

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