Last April The School of Business and the School of Sciences and Engineering jointly organized this year's Research Conference under the theme "Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Shaping the Future of Egypt". The objective of the conference was to closely integrate the AUC community, local practitioners, students from other Egyptian universities and international scholars and experts, promoting Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Egypt by formulating national strategies. Indeed, the conference welcomed over 250 attendees; scholars, professors, entrepreneurs, and students from inside and outside the AUC Community, who initiated very active and fruitful discussions with the conference speakers.
At this pivotal time in Egypt, the focus on Entrepreneurship and Innovation as drivers for Economic Development is greatly increasing, where an entrepreneurial spirit and an innovative mindset need to be capitalized on and fostered to rebuild the country and the region on strong sustainable foundations. As such, this year, the conference hosted two Distinguished Keynote Speakers; Professor Shailendra Vyakarnam, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, who talked about “Entrepreneurship as a Catalyst for Positive Change”, and Professor Andrew David Penaluna, Chair of Creative Entrepreneurship, Swansea Metropolitan University, who discussed “Understanding Creativity and Enterprising Behaviors”.
The event gathered renowned academic speakers and panelists including, Dr. Zuhayr Mikdashi, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Business and Economics University of Lausanne who presented his perspective on “Entrepreneurs as Economic Heroes” in the session on Social Entrepreneurship. The effect of entrepreneurship on growth and development was also the subject of a panel discussion moderated by Dr. Michael Luger, Director of Manchester Business School, University of Manchester. In addition, a panel on Innovation included academic speakers and local entrepreneurs like Dr. Jeremy de Beer, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa and Principle Investigator, Open Africa Innovation Research Project, and Wael Amin, President of ITWorx.
The conference also presented important topics relating entrepreneurship to education, such as the role of universities in green innovation and entrepreneurship in a session featuring discussions by practitioners as Dr. Ibrahim Abouelish, Chairman SEKEM Development Foundation, and Richard Lindberg, Founder and Chairman of the Congress for Environmental Advancement. In addition, Dr. Ghada Amer, Vice President of Arab Science & Technology Foundation, moderated and chaired a session on entrepreneurship education, and was joined by Tarek Sadek, Enterprise Development Manager at McMaster University and Bernard Paranque, General Delegate for Euromediterranean Affairs.
The conference also presented entrepreneurship and innovation activities at AUC through a session that was moderated by Chemistry Professor and Conference Co-Chair Dr. Hassan Azzazy and that included professors from the School of Business and the School of Sciences and Engineering. The session also included Mr. Omar Soudoudi, General Manager of Souq.com, who talked about university-industry partnership, highlighting his experience in collaborating with AUC School of Business on Entrepreneurship related initiatives.
An overview of Entrepreneurship as practiced in Egypt was presented in a panel under the title “Entrepreneurship Eco-System”. The panel encompassed renowned Egyptian Entrepreneurs like Abdelrahman Magdy, Founder and CEO of Egypreneur, Dalia Helaly, Deputy Director of Injaz, and Ahmed El Daly, CEO of Dale Carnegie Training in Egypt and Gulf.
Additionally, the conference hosted a student competition that was open to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from all over Egypt. The conference also included an entrepreneurship and innovation exhibition featuring the products of NGOs and start-ups.
One major outcome of the conference was initiating an open discussion between academics, practitioners and NGOs on how schools and universities can supply the market and the Egyptian community with educated and innovative entrepreneurs who are socially responsible and who can use their education to build a new Egypt.
A number of initiatives and collaborative agreements have also emerged from the conference. These included the “50 Junior Enterprises (50 JE)”, a Global EuroMed Management Schools student initiative taking place in Europe and North Africa. This fall the initiative will be launched for the first time in Egypt through the School of Business. In addition, the School of Sciences and Engineering has received several offers from NGOs and other international organizations for future collaborations for the development of NanoDiagX nanoviotech tests. This is a vital tool for cancer and the hepatitis C preemptive measures, and marks as a new innovative and entrepreneurial product, and an initiative introduced by Dr. Hassan Azzazy in a presentation titled “NanoDiagX: A Bioentrepreneurial Venture”.
Similarly, the conference played an important role in spreading awareness and generating interest in collaboration on research projects related to Access to Knowledge and open innovation already taking place at AUC’s Access to Knowledge for Development Center (A2K4D). Directed by Dr. Nagla Rizk, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research at the School of Business and Conference Co-Chair, A2K4D is the northern hub within the Open African Innovation Research (Open AIR) Project, which was represented at the conference. The conference helped in expanding the network of researchers working on Open Innovation, which will be pivotal to Egypt at this juncture.
Last but not least, the conference hosted the initiation of future collaboration between AUC School of Business and School of Sciences and Engineering on the one hand, and the University of McMaster, Canada, on the other, in educational initiatives in the area of entrepreneurship, which will complement the agreement regarding student exchange already in place between AUC and McMaster.