What is OST?

Open Start Up Tunisia is a national entrepreneurial competition in the heart of a pre-incubation program in collaboration with Columbia Engineering, Columbia Business School and Columbia Global Centers. It aims to develop ideas for innovative start-ups in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. This competition brings together teams of high potential students from multidisciplinary and multiregional Tunisian public and private institutions. The winning team gets a chance to discover Columbia University and pitch in Columbia Entrepreneurship festival.

OST Goals

Openness and cross-fertilization between different disciplines
(engineering, business, medical, law, design, architecture…)

Collaboration between
public and private institutions

Development public / private partnerships
(Ministry of Education, US embassy, Biat Foundation, Africinvest)

Columbia Entrepreneurship Festival

#StartupColumbia Festival is the University’s two-day event that brings together Columbia’s Startup Community in celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship.

130 alumni judges from Brooklyn to Beijing help narrow down a field of more than 150 Columbia startups to just 30 finalists.

Columbia’s Annual Venture Competition is a university-wide entrepreneurship competition open to Columbia’s students and recent alumni.

Last year and for the very first time Columbia hosted a special guest from Tunisia: The winning team of Open Start up Tunisia.

This year the adventure continues and once again Columbia Venture Competition will be open to the winning team of Open Start up Tunisia.

Previous Editions

2019 Edition

OST 2019 in numbers


Harissa factories create an environmental problem by throwing away over 3,500 tons of pepper seed every year, leaving it to rot and create bad smell and mosquitos. Tun-Up works on solving this issue by recycling this waste and transforming it into an oil used for the cosmetic industry.


Raed Ghanja

Winning team OST 2019

OST was a life changing program. When I first applied for it, I was expecting to find lessons and trainings that will help me improve my business skills, but I ended up finding that OST was bigger than that, it was a gate that took me into the entrepreneurship world, a world where you see everything in a different way!

I was lucky to work with an amazing team on a problem that everyone kept ignoring. That experience helped us enhancing our skills and scaling our network.

2018 Edition

OST 2018 in numbers


Over one billion individuals have no access to electricity which yields to poor education , communication and outdated financial systems. But what’s common about these people is that all of them have access to fire. InstaPower is a portable lightweight device that converts fire into electricity to charge up any phone or gadget and solve this problem once and for all! For more information please visit our website : www.instapower.org


Nidhal Abidi

Winning team OST 2018

« OST taught me to think of problems as opportunities. With my technical background , I knew how to build things but I did not know what to build, why to build it and to/with whom. I met people that I truly loved and we became a family, full of inspiration, belief and desire to drive a global change, people that I felt super proud and grateful just by looking at them or even thinking about them. People that worked all day night for the sake of goodness and for a better future , people that believed in us and have been always there for us! What I learned in OST worth far more than gold or anything more precious, we learned everything from business , to emotional intelligence to pitching strategies to market research to business setup to marketing to stress management to SDG … and countless stories of successes and failures, tips and tricks to reach success … Every word they say happens to be a key ingredient that unlocks a deep pattern that showed me the perfect road to take.
In one word, OST changed my life, and I promise to do my best to achieve a massive success to prove how grateful I am. »

Mirna Gharbi

Winning team OST 2018

« Working with my beloved team “Attach-Killa” is creative and passionate. Our team is a family where we learned how to throw our ideas back and forth, divide tasks and contribute on different perspectives . Our belief in our competences and our harmony were our winning carts that enabled us to win Open Start-up Tunisia 2018 and be nominated to represent our country, in Columbia Venture Competition in New York City. OST is the adventure that believed in our capacities and showed us that if we work hard, we can achieve great things and continue to gain incredibly great experience. Thus, I would definitely recommend Open Start-up Tunisia Competition to other young potentials. Be sure that OST will change your life for the better so don’t wait for change to happen, be your own change driver and take part of this adventure.
Proud to be OST ambassador, Proud to be an opener! »

2017 Edition


Chechia Team was looking to prevent health problems (back problems, backaches… after sitting for a long period of time). The team has developed a smart chair which indicates if the user is having a good posture. The sitting posture is analyzed and data is sent to your mobile phone. A prototype was developed and sold to specialized furniture store.


Khalil Say

Winning team OST 2017

« I enrolled in Open Startup Tunisia’s first edition and it was one of the most enriching experiences I had in my life. It is a short time program where you get to know and learn from many people coming from different educational backgrounds: engineers and business oriented students, coaches and trainers. It has broadened my network and allowed me to enhance many soft and interpersonal skills…Today, I am very thankful for this unique experience that was far beyond my expectations. I am also proud to be part of the OST community. »

Salma Barketallah

Winning team OST 2017

“OST’s impact on my development as a student and as someone who is trying to find his path in entrepreneurship is unbelievable. It was highly motivating to be part of this journey for many reasons, for instance having Columbia University involved in it was just unimaginable. The idea that I can go to New York to participate in Columbia Venture Competition is simply a dream. I am so glad the dream came true!.. OST has certainly  been a life changing experience in my career. If you have the chance to be part of the second edition, just do it and don’t waste your time on how, who and when! »

Narmine Ben Aissa

Winning team OST 2017

“OST, an entrepreneurship challenge, yet more than that. OST challenges you personally, morally and academically…  It was a complete immersion for me from an engineering background in the world of startups and business concepts…OST was an opportunity for me to make two big dreams come true: work with a team on a project, come out with a living, work on a prototype, and visit New York not only for tourism but also for a complete immersion in the entrepreneurial student life of Columbia University…I got to pitch my team’s project, in front of faculty members of a university I aspire and dream to study in one day. How cool is that?”

Zied Belghith

Winning team OST 2017

“I have participated in OST one year ago, but my brain is still full of vivid and unforgettable moments! …OST has affected me positively in all aspects. Participating is amazing, but winning is an unimaginable lifetime experience. Do not think twice before getting involved in this entrepreneurship battle, work in teams and may the best win!”


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