Success story: Prime Ministry pays tribute to co-founders of Instadeep startup

A tribute was paid Saturday at the Prime Ministry’s headquarters in La Kabash to young Tunisian entrepreneurs Karim Beguir and Zohra Slim. The latter are the co-founders of Instadeep, an artificial intelligence (AI) startup which was recently acquired by German BioNTech lab for 680 million dollars. This is the biggest AI deal ever made across the globe, Beguir said.

“Today, we are here to celebrate the success story of Instadeep which successfully achieved its internationalisation and proved once again that Tunisians are able to make huge strides forward on the way of entrepreneurship and innovation,” Prime Minister Najla Bouden said.

The ceremony was attended by ministers, representatives of funding agencies and incubators as well as young startuppers and students.

“The story of Instadeep is an exceptional one; it is even a model of success and excellence to be followed by young people. It is also a concrete example of Tunisian intelligence and the capacity to innovate and a testimony to efforts made by the State to foster a business climate conducive to entrepreneurship, ” Bouden added.

The PM laid emphasis on the role of Tunisian schools and universities in human capital formation and the promotion of research so that it serves as a vector of economic development. Technopoles are also a bridge between universities and enterprises.

Bouden laid emphasis on the effectiveness of the regulatory framework governing startups (the Startup Act introduced in 2018) which, she said, encourages innovation and creation. The government adopted a participatory approach to further improve it and launch the Startup Act 2 as soon as possible.

“A message of hope” for young Tunisians

The adventure of Karim Beguir, polytechnician, and Zohra Slim, selftaught in computers and design, started in 2014 with modest means (only two laptops and TND 4,000), Beguir said. Today, the startup is in the top 100 promising AI businesses in the world.

The startupper conveyed “a message of hope” to young Tunisians and said there is an opportunity to build Tunisia of tomorrow by tapping into the country’s international visibility after the announcement of the acquisition by the German laboratory.

“What is missing for the Tunisian entrepreneurial ecosystem was achieved,” he said. He urged youth, officials and all stakeholders to “seize this opportunity to make of Tunisia a Deep Tech leader in Africa and the Arab world.”

The young entrepreneur said to be optimistic as Tunisia boasts talented youth who are able to forge ahead and create “other InstaDeeps.”

To ease the flow of activity of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunisia, Karim Beguir and Zohra Slim proposed to include two high-profile measures in Startup Act 2.

The first measure provides for entitling startups to hire foreign experts to train scores of youth in Deep Tech, robotics, AI and bioinformatics.

This would help create wealth and attract experts to create the Tunisian Deep Tech hub in such a way to “change the country’s history as it is clear today that wealth can be generated through the digital industry and scientific reseach.”

The second measure, Zohra Slim said, provides for liberalising foreign exchange regulations to pay staff partly in foreign currency, ease the mobility of entrepreneurs outside the country and allow young Tunisian startuppers to tap into services provided online (courses and training).

Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia Marouene Abbassi said the liberalisation measure is included in the new foreign exchange code submitted to the government.

“Once this draft code is adopted by the government, the measure will come into effect.”

“This will reverse brain drain,” Instadeep’s Zohra Slim highlighted.

Beguir and Zohra Slim said they are ready to help young Tunisians launch their own start-ups and support them through training and technical assistance or funding, in partnership with other investors “so as to push for the creation of high-quality projects in Tunisia.”

The German laboratory BioNTech announced last January 10 the purchase of the Tunisian startup in a bid to consolidate “the large-scale development of next-generation immunotherapies by making use of artificial intelligence technologies and machine learning.”

BioNTech said this purchase fits within ongoing collaboration between the German company and London-based Instadeep startup. They already cooperated on the development of an early detection system of Covid-19 variants.

The 240 highly-qualified startup staff will join the German laboratory’s global network of research partners in artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science.

BioNTech will make an initial payment of nearly £362 million (EUR 409,921,560), in cash and BioNTech shares, to acquire 100% of the remaining shares of InstaDeep. The purchase is scheduled to be finalised in H1 of 2023.

Source: Tap News Agency

Recent Posts