Regional Network Tackles IT Policies

A Microsoft research grant funds the Regional Academic Network on IT Policies (RANITP) to promote high-level multidisciplinary research in IT-related areas focusing on policy and impact.

Through this partnership with AUC, Microsoft will offer the School of Business a two-year research grant to support the school’s work to establish and manage RANITP to foster high-quality research in IT-related policies. According to Nizar Becheikh, associate dean for graduate studies and research at AUC, RANITP is a joint initiative to set up a community of regional and international researchers to promote multidisciplinary, high impact, “glocalized” research in IT-related areas. “More specifically, RANITP aims at promoting and supporting research that would help understand the current state and set the future direction of the IT industry in the Middle East and Africa (MEA), and explore how IT possibilities could help solve diverse economic and sectorial problems the region is currently facing,” Becheikh explained.

According to Ashraf Abdelwahab, Microsoft's corporate affairs manager, Legal and Corporate Affairs, Egypt and Gulf, "Microsoft is partnering with different reputable academic/research organizations all around the world to explore new research directions, suggest adequate policies, and to foster innovation." Abdelwahab further explained that RANITP is focusing on engaging regional institutions on the topic of cloud related policies in different sectors like education, SMEs and government services. “AUC is one of the very well known academic institutions in Egypt and the expertise available in the School of Business in particular fits very well with the topics of this initiative,” Abdelwahab added. “Cloud computing is becoming the future of ICT services everywhere. Still, we need to explore the effect of different policies related to the adequate usage of cloud computing in different domains to foster innovation, promote service delivery and maintain the privacy and data security requirements of different users.”

RANITP research will generate evidence-based recommendations to assist decision-makers in private and public organizations in integrating IT solutions into their activities, services, and sectorial policies. “The impact that new information and communication technologies would have on concepts such as entrepreneurship, innovation, public services and the economic development in MEA is at the heart of RANITP research priorities,” said Becheikh. “This is aligned with the School of Business research strategy of promoting MIG (multidisciplinary, high impact, glocalized) research.”

According to Becheikh, this partnership will better position AUC on the global research map since RANITP allows members to connect and work on collaborative research projects with researchers from all around the world. “The research produced will be mainly on the MEA region, which reinforces AUC's School of Business positioning as the best business school specialized in the Arab region and the gateway between the region and the world,” he affirmed.

Local and international researchers from all disciplines are invited to join the RANITP community by registering through the website: www.ranitp.net. Registered members will benefit of the many advantages such as financial support for research, access to a large international network of researchers on innovation and IT policies, direct access to first-hand information from Microsoft research centers and laboratories, as well as access to research reports and findings produced by various academic networks established by Microsoft.

The launch of RANITP was officially announced in an event held on June 19-20, 2014 in the Microsoft Innovation Center in Brussels, Belgium. The event was attended by researchers from the AUC School of Business, Becheikh and Amr Badr El Din, associate professor of management of information systems, and from South Africa, Kenya, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, as well as top executives and researchers from Microsoft.

"We definitely trust AUC’s capacity and expertise in delivering value to the society through thorough research and policies recommendations, that will help promote business, entrepreneurship, and innovation,” said Abdelwahab. For its first year of operation, RANITP granted $20,000 for two collaborative research projects in the education and transportation sectors. The second round will start soon around SME’s. The progress and initial findings of all projects will be presented in February 2015.

It is worth noting that the AUC School of Business has recently been accredited by the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), making it one of only 70 business schools worldwide — out of nearly 14,000 — as well as the first in the Arab region to achieve triple-crown accreditation from EQUIS, the Association of MBAs (AMBA) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).