Strengthening innovation through supporting cluster cooperation and start-up ecosystems in the South Neighbourhood countries

Project Duration
48 months
8,000,000 EUR

Countries covered:

  • Jordan
  • Lebanon
  • Palestine *
  • Tunisia


SPARK together with two of its regional partners IACE (based in Tunisia) and Ruwwad (based in Jordan) have joined forces to implement a comprehensive regional project to improve the effectiveness of the start-up ecosystems in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia to grow and create jobs to contribute to the economic prosperity of the region.

It will strengthen the capacity of already established business development organizations and business incubators to enhance and diversify their services.


The project aims to build on existing success (rather than to create parallel support structures), accelerate the current development trend towards scaling, equipping the ecosystem with long-lasting multiplication mechanisms.


Furthermore, the project aims to enhance the start-up environment in the four selected countries through advocacy and regional exchange with relevant stakeholders on all levels (private sector, local governments etc.).

Overall Objective

  • To strengthen the local start-up ecosystems and its actors in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Tunisia in order to support innovation, employment and economic growth.
  • To enable start-up ecosystem actors to play an active role in changing the policy and legislative framework, based on best regional and EU practices. In order to enhance the effectiveness of the start-up ecosystems in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Tunisia.

Main targets

  • At least 40 organizations with enhanced capacity to deliver diverse and innovative services to support start-ups and businesses to grow and create sustainable employment.
  • Increased competitiveness, internationalisation and financial resilience of at least 350 start-ups, scale-ups and innovative SMEs.
  • 40 business support organizations receiving at least 32 trainings, benefitting at least 70 trainers. And directly supporting high potential and innovative start-ups and scalable SMEs with 48 grants.
  • 70 policy events at local, national, regional and EU level and fostering a regional network active in advocating for the start-up ecosystem.

Actions in brief

As such activities are aimed at both strengthening competitiveness and the ability of local SMEs to generate more employment and faster growth, but also by influencing and improving the current business environment making it more conducive to an innovative and knowledge-based economy.

Focusing on start-up ecosystem development across the region will increase the capacity of innovation support organisations in advancing, maturing and scaling innovations. This will be done by a coordinated action, combining capacity development, technical and financial assistance, and networking and partnering among peers in order to stimulate regional cooperation, exchange and peer pressure.

Also, the action will go beyond current practice by promoting opportunities for internationalisation, better economic integration to EU trends and markets, and strengthening access to finance from established initiatives.

In addition, it will strengthen the voice of the start-up community; establish its communication channels and improve its influence on policy and decision-makers in order to advocate for alleviating existing hurdles to growth imposed by existing regulations.

In doing so, the action will seek to promote entrepreneurs and innovators, especially women and youth, to embrace innovative practices and to send a clear message on direct causality between innovation and growth, supported by all actors and stakeholders comprising the start-up ecosystem in the region.

Employment & Entrepreneurship