Meeting with Dr Atef Elshabrawy, coordinator of the Safir team in Egypt-Japan University, Alexandria, Egypt.
Can you briefly introduce your university?
Founded in 2010, the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology is a public Egyptian university, established on the basis of a bilateral cooperation agreement with Japan. Specialized in applied scientific research, it aims to create an innovation environment and become a benchmark for the Egyptian and African countries in education, research and innovation.
In order to become one of the leader of innovation, EJUST whishes to create a strong innovation ecosystem, connecting E-JUST staff members, students and researchers with national and international businesses and the scientific world.
What were the steps in the construction of EJUST innovative space?
As a way for creating innovation space, E-JUST has created the CINTECH in 2012 to support pre-incubation activities of E-JUST students and professors. CINTECH holds the “Young Inventor Competition” twice per year where students are given the chance to present a new innovative idea in front of a multidisciplinary judging committee. The winning ideas are given an award to develop their prototypes.
In 2020, E-JUST established its incubator to give E-JUST students and academics the systematic assistance they need to move from a prototype to a product. Even though E-JUST’s incubator is relatively young, it has succeeded in giving valuable technical, legal, and business consultancy to multiple projects.
What are the main challenges that you faced in setting up your university incubator ?
During the process of setting up our university incubator, we noticed that
E-JUST needs to hire adequately qualified staff to be able to properly manage the incubator and to train our academic members on "business thinking" and market approaches.
Moreover, we required expertise in licensing intellectual property rights to become an established company and set up a “spin-out” company to develop and commercialize a specific package of intellectual property.
Do you have any partnerships with civil society organizations ?
Realizing the importance of a strong ecosystem for the success of innovation cycles and the creation of promising startups, E-JUST has been building strong relationships with the ecosystem stakeholders since early on.
We have been working with the ASRT, the GIZ, Misr Elkeir foundation, the ABA and many others to support innovative ideas and are now working on establishing new partnerships with other organizations.
What added value can a project like Safir bring to your university incubator ?
E-JUST applied to Safir to open new horizons of collaboration, have more exposure and establish links with other universities form different cultural background.
We hope to raise the awareness on SDGs issues, to strengthen our incubator and to promote synergies between our university and other universities in the MENA region, in order to spread a culture of citizenship and responsibility among our students.
This project will benefit our university and its incubator by bringing together new partners and new experiences and by creating sustainable and innovative research projects and startups.
Safir will support our incubator in promoting the university-industry collaboration activities which will contribute to the community development in supporting SMEs in Egypt.
Safir, through our incubator activities, will help students inside and outside E-JUST to reach the best needed standards to go into the market.
During the diagnostic phase of the project and the discussions with the Safir experts, the team decided to be more involved in society problems, especially that E-JUST vision encourages the services dedicated to the community.
That’s why the first Safir activity dedicated to students is a social entrepreneurship camp that aims to propose innovative and technological solutions to the problems that summer resorts are facing, especially in Alexandria.