Uniting the Tunisian Innovation Ecosystem

INTERVIEW To encourage growth, Expertise France supports innovators. Since 2019, with the Innov’i – EU4Innovation project, the agency has been strengthening Tunisia’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Director of The Dot

How can innovation and entrepreneurship be improved in Tunisia?

Innovation has a decisive role to play in the shift from a centralized economy to a more open, knowledge-based economy. The government did decide on institutional reforms and innovation-friendly policies, but the lack of coordination among public organizations and cumbersome administrative requirements hinder their deployment. Besides, capital influx is decreasing, and access to financing in the private sector remains insufficient.

Therefore, the nascent innovation ecosystem in Tunisia needs to unite to better structure itself and grow. Inaugurated in June 2021 as a public-private partnership, The Dot is an anchoring point for all stakeholders in this ecosystem on which they can rely to build their development safely.

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The Dot is currently in its pilot phase. What kind of support does Innov’i – EU4Innovation, implemented by Expertise France, provide you?

Innov’i combines financial and technical support. It helps mobilize the financial and human resources needed to deploy our programs and activities targeting youth entrepreneurship and innovation. Thanks to this initiative, over 300 person-days of expertise have already been made available to Tunisian entrepreneurs in various domains: fundraising, accounting, tax law, sales management, marketing, law, and others. We also collaborate with business model and law experts to determine which form The Dot will take after its pilot phase.

Innov’i is boosting the dynamics of the entire Tunisian innovation ecosystem. In one year, The Dot hosted and guided 19 start-ups, supported over 100 innovation entrepreneurs through its various programs, and participated in the development of about 20 partner-support structures, such as entrepreneur associations, incubators, and accelerators.

Innov’i also contributes to improving the business environment in Tunisia. The project helps public authorities and private stakeholders navigate regulation and financing reforms of entrepreneurship and innovation. It also helps promote Tunisia as an innovation hub.

The Dot is supported globally, by the European Union, France, Germany, and Tunisia, as part of public-private partnerships with the assistance of the Tunisia Foundation for Development. This network gives us visibility beyond Tunisian borders. Exposure is particularly important for us: The greater it is, the more opportunities we have to attract investors for innovative Tunisian start-ups and companies.

Innov’i is boosting the dynamics of the entire Tunisian innovation ecosystem.

How does a project like The Dot foster economic growth in Tunisia?

The Dot develops and strengthens innovative start-ups and companies through five dedicated programs. They allow us to help create Tunisian “champions” that will go on to create jobs and value in the country. In addition, we are supporting 23 assistance structures for innovative entrepreneurship; we offer them a platform to collaborate and viably build their project together.

We also help accelerate the digital transformation of Tunisian private and public sectors through programs combining training, assistance, funding, and interaction. The overall objective is to facilitate sustainable mutual growth, leading to sustainable progress.

Interview conducted in May 2022

See project page

Achieving SDG 9

The Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure sustainable development goal particularly aims to support research, development, and technological innovation for economic growth. To help meet this goal, Expertise France is assisting partner countries in implementing economic policies seeking to strengthen the private sector and encourage entrepreneurship.

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