Berkeley-AMENA to Establish Innovation Hub in Oman

Berkeley-AMENA to Establish Innovation Hub in Oman

The signing of this memorandum of understanding aims to achieve one of the key strategic objectives of the University City Project for attracting world-class universities and research centers to the Sultanate of Oman and is aimed at transforming the Sultanate into a regional destination for entrepreneurship and innovation by establishing a cutting-edge training center focused on artificial intelligence.

The vision of the innovation hub is to provide incubation and acceleration opportunities for start-ups and provide upskilling programs for employees from the public and private sector to equip them with 21st-century skills in areas such as artificial intelligence, critical thinking, intrapreneurship, and innovation. It is intended that some of the programs to be delivered by the center will grant academic credits that may be counted towards earning academic degrees.

For more information:



hack.SYRIA is a 27 hackathon bringing together Compter Scientists, MBAs, Educators,  and social scientists to develop web based platforms addressing the education, mental health, and economic security of Migrant Syrian populations around the world. Read More.

Building Innovation Economies

Building Innovation Economies

BIT-AMENA Roundtable on Hi-Technology Entrepreneurship

and Investment

Thursday, October 6, 2016,  6:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Banatao Auditorium -Sutardja Dai Hall


zahediDariush Zahedi, Director of the BIT-AMENA Center
for Building Innovation Economies in the Middle East

Since 2001, he has taught a diverse array of courses for the Departments of Political Science, Political Economy, and Peace and Conflict Studies as well as the Boalt Hall School of Law at Berkeley. Zahedi has also taught for the College of Letters and Science’s Discovery Courses Program. Teaching in the program is by invitation only, with invitations issued solely to instructors whose teaching record is stellar.


sarafanLily Safaran, CEO of Home Care Assistance

Home Care Assistance is one of the fastest-growing companies in America with more than 6000 employees across 100 markets. She is also an investor, advisor and mentor for startups and accelerators, including 500 Startups and StartX. Lily serves on the boards of several high-impact organizations including the Stanford Alumni Association, the BerkeleyHaas Center for Entrepreneurship and Development in the Middle East and Pars Equality Center. Lily has been recognized as one of Silicon Valley’s 40 under 40; she also holds an M.S. in Management Science and Engineering and B.S. in Science Technology and Society with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies from Stanford.

Nikki Iravani, Inventor of EyeXam Appiravani

Dr. Nikki Iravani is a renowned optometrist and Founder and CEO of Global EyeVenturesis as well as the inventor of the EyeXam app – the first and only patented self-administered vision screening test for mobile devices. The EyeXam app is the eye care industry’s leading app which has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times from the iTunes App Store and Google Play. She has been recognized as one of the successful women in the optical industry and is a globally sought after industry speaker and ophthalmic consultant.

Bahram Bahrami, Executive Scientist Entrepreneurbahrami

An executive scientist entrepreneur, who has integrated engineering, biology, and clinical translation with business principles. His work helped launch and advance four bio-tech and bio-pharma companies, two of which obtained regulatory clearance and introduced products into market, while the other two are in human clinical trial phases.

Deal Camp at Berkeley

Deal Camp at Berkeley

berkeleylogo berkeleylawstartup-logo berkeleyinnovators-logo 500logo

Deal Camp is a four-day course focused on the nuts and bolts of deal making for investors who want to improve their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early-stage investments. Participants will work with leading UC Berkeley faculty and 500 Partners to develop strategies to structure deals in order to maximize investment returns.

Program participants will attend the 500 Startups Preview Day in San Francisco on October 18 and then head to UC Berkeley for Deal Camp on October 19-21. Deal Camp will use a project-based learning approach in which participants will take part in a negotiation simulation with real companies which they will have seen pitch at 500 Startups Preview Day.


Angel investors, VCs, fund managers and attorneys looking to improve their ability to define, negotiate, and execute early stage investments.


The four day program of densely scheduled lectures and workshops take place on the UC Berkeley Campus. Participants will also be invited to attend the 500 Startups Preview Day in San Francisco.


The program fee is $7,800 and covers tuition, all course materials, most meals, and admission and transport to Preview Day. Travel and accommodations are not included. Discounted rate available for VC Unlocked and UC Berkeley alumni.


We accept qualified candidates on a rolling basis and space is limited, so we encourage you to apply early.

HiTech Summit, Baku

HiTech Summit, Baku

BIT-AMENA Roundtable on IT Entrepreneurship and Investment, Baku Azerbaijan, December 12-14, 2016



Roundtable details will be forthcoming October 2016.

Tech Entrepreneurship Course

Tech Entrepreneurship Course



A 2 Week Course on Hi-Tech Entrepreneurship and Investment at UC Berkeley and Silicon Valley

This event will take place between January 16-27, 2017 at Haas School of Business.

Rationale and Urgency of the Program

With one of the most youthful populations in the world, where, depending upon the country, between 50 to 70 percent of the populace is under the age of 35, the Asia, Middle East and North Africa region (AMENA) also suffers from one of the largest global youth and female un- and under-employment rates. Moreover, in an ironic twist, in a number of countries, those with higher levels of education also tend disproportionately to compose the ranks of the unemployed. An increasing number of individuals with college education still live with their parents because they cannot afford to get married, start families, or rent, let alone buy, their own houses. Youth disillusionment, disaffection, and exclusion have already contributed to large-scale regional instability and supplied recruits for populists, demagogues, and exponents of violent extremism.

Nor is this all. Advancements in automation, which appear to be accelerating at an increasingly rapid pace, are poised to make not just many of today’s menial jobs, but an increasing array of skilled employment, redundant in the not too distant future. Now more than ever, therefore, the region should strive to transform its demographic liability into an asset by, among other things, laying the foundations for the emergence of vibrant, competitive, modern, diversified, and innovative economies, capable of promoting sustained and inclusive growth as well as job generation. Such a transition is bound to be difficult, however, since, apart from a few notable exceptions, the productive and innovative capacities of Muslim majority countries in the AMENA region remain limited at best. Most countries are incapable of iterating and improving on existing technology, let alone inventing new products, services, and applications. Instead, extractive and rentier economies as well as dependence on government-led infrastructural investments, heavy industry, and low-end and low value-added products and exports are the norm rather than the exception. Even Turkey, whose economic success remains unmatched in the region, is still in the incipient stages of building an innovation economy.

Nevertheless, establishment and entrenchment of innovation economies and their merger with entrepreneurship is indispensable if the region is to attain the type of growth, job creation, middle class development, youth, female, and civil society empowerment, as well as private sector expansion that would enable it to successfully compete and thrive in the 21st Century. Promotion of entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial mindset, strengthening the private sector, and improving management and governance are essential. Indeed, without flourishing entrepreneurship, robust private sectors, capable management, and effective governance, AMENA countries would not be able to escape the vicious cycle of un-and under-employment, nor the baleful attendant consequences associated with such unemployment, with which they are currently plagued. Encouragement of entrepreneurship in particular is indispensable, as it will enable young people to take advantage of their innovation and creativity to create jobs, improve economic performance, and contribute to the uplift of their societies while promoting more dignified modes of existence. Otherwise, given the number of young people now entering the workforce as a result of the youth bulge, the private sector in its current anemic form, hobbled by the burden of bureaucracy, will not be able to create the requisite jobs.