Five One Labs, a startup incubator in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), hosted The Grand Opening of The Lab:Suli, Sulaimani’s first coworking space, on Thursday. The Lab is an innovative space for collaboration, coworking, and learning focused on tech, entrepreneurship and innovation. The space is generously funded by BMZ and sponsored by GIZ, and is managed by Five One Labs.
The Grand Opening included speeches by the Country Manager for Iraq of GIZ, Sebastian Ludtke, visiting investors and CEO’s, and the co-founders of Five One Labs, Alice Bosley and Patricia Letayf. Mr Ludtke noted, “The expertise and passion of Five One Labs for startup entrepreneurship has brought forward The Lab:Suli, the first incubator and coworking space in Sulaimani, and GIZ is proud to support this unique and brand new innovation hub.”
After the short remarks, attendees were welcome to browse an art show with the work of two impressive artists from Syria and Sulaimani. In addition, Five One Labs hosted a startup fair with members of its current cohort, where entrepreneurs showcased their business ideas and products to attendees and potential customers.
Attendees to the Grand Opening included representatives from local universities, nonprofits, UN Agencies, and businesses. A group of visiting investors and business executives from the United States and United Kingdom were also in attendance. The community of people gathered represent the diversity of those interested in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship as a new path for young people in Iraq.
The Lab:Suli is a collaborative 850 m2, two-floor tech and entrepreneurship hub located in the heart of Sulaimani, complete with a startup incubator, training rooms, and coworking space for young, innovative members of host and displaced communities. The Lab will support young innovators from conflict- affected communities who want to pursue their business ideas, build their 21st century skills, and rebuild their livelihoods to provide greater opportunities for themselves and their communities. Designed for collaboration and community-building, the physical space of The Lab:Suli includes co-working areas, classrooms, multipurpose rooms, and an area for events. The space will also include a makerspace in 2019. The overall mission of The Lab is to develop an ecosystem for entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation in Iraq and empower young people from diverse communities to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
“Coworking” refers to the concept of entrepreneurs or students paying a small monthly membership fee to work out of the space as if it is their office. They will be provided high speed wifi, comfortable work areas, phone booths and meeting rooms for meetings with their team, partners or customers. This non-traditional approach to work space has been rapidly gaining traction around the world; in 2017, 1.24 million people worked out of coworking spaces, with that number estimated to rise to over 5 million by 2022 (source:https://gcuc.co).
Five One Labs’ goal is to develop an inclusive network of displaced and host community entrepreneurs that have the support, skills, and connections to positively change their communities and countries. These entrepreneurs are provided with training, mentorship, community, and the opportunity to compete for seed funding over a three-month incubation program.
About GIZ Iraq
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been implementing projects and programmes in Iraq on behalf of the German Government since 2011. Since 2014, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ has been working with municipalities in Northern Iraq to provide support for displaced persons and refugees and improve living conditions for these groups and host communities. For more information, visit their website.
About Five One Labs
Five One Labs is a startup incubator in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) that provides displaced and conflicted-affected entrepreneurs with training, mentorship, connections and funding to launch scalable businesses. As the number of displaced people increases globally due to humanitarian calamities, we are proposing a solution that treats young refugees and IDP’s as agents of change rather than as burdens or beneficiaries. Our vision is to develop a network of entrepreneurs and innovators who have the support, skills, and connections to positively change their communities.