AUC Professor Startup Wins JICA Ninja Competition
The startup company of Wael Mamdouh, associate professor of nanotechnology, was selected as one of the winners of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Next Innovation with Japan (NINJA) Business Plan Competition.
JICA launched this competition in July 2020 for businesses emerging during the COVID-19 outbreak to discover innovative business models and technologies that not only provide prescriptive solutions to the current pandemic but also respond to the expected radical changes in the post-pandemic socio-economic reality.
NANO-Fib-TECH, which is set to be an AUC Spinoff soon, won on the basis of being a "promising emerging startup in Egypt." At a ceremony held for the award, Mamdouh was congratulated by Chief Representative of JICA Egypt, Omura Yoshifumi.
"I feel overwhelmed and excited to win such a reputable competition through my start up company," Mamdouh said. "JICA is a well-known organization focusing on assisting governments in their development projects. NINJA is the first funding call directed to the private sector. Moreover, participating with our innovation and discussing it with the Japanese side was very exciting. Winning this competition is another proof of our ability to compete at the national and international levels."
NANO-Fib-TECH is a newly established science-based (LLC) company. Its work focuses on developing nanotechnology-based solutions for disinfectants and antimicrobial materials in different biomedical, healthcare, food and industrial fields.
The unique edge of NANO-Fib-TECH is the ability of producing eco-friendly disinfectants and hand gel sanitizers (in liquid, gels and powder forms) without using any alcohol or harsh chemicals, which are some of the main causes of health issues. NANO-Fib-TECH disinfectant solutions exhibit unique properties to fight bacteria, fungi and viruses compared to conventional disinfectants.
"This NINJA call was directed to find the best possible means to fight COVID-19, so the main novelty of our invention is to make eco-friendly disinfectants and sanitizers that do not contain any alcohols or harsh chemicals compared to the conventional disinfectants in the market. Using alcohol-based disinfectants and the harsh chemicals inside them have negative side effects on human health, such as skin irritation, lungs problems and asthma," Mamdouh said.
Mamdouh emphasized that the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year brought with it an increased exposure to the conventional disinfectant. Therefore, he said, the world is looking for alternative disinfectant solutions with minimum side effects.
"Interestingly, we had started initial testing against COVID-19 and we got very promising results, and we are aiming at moving forward with our innovation," he added.
The greatest advantage of NANO-Fib-TECH antimicrobial materials is that the materials can be made in any form: liquid sprays, creams, hand gel sanitizers and powders. These can be added into food, beverages, animal feed, fertilizers, cosmetics, agriculture sprays, prebiotics and more.
"The applications are endless," Mamdouh noted.
JICA will provide support for each selected startup with $30,000 to cover the costs for Proof of Concept/pilot studies associated with their innovation. This fund will help the company in fine-tuning materials and preparing more formulas, as well as running more tests on materials to be more powerful in fight-resistant bacteria, fungi and viruses, as well as carrying out some animal testing.
"By the end of this funding, we will certainly be in a much better situation that is closer to the industrial stage and hopefully we will start the registration of our products at the Egyptian Ministry of Health," Mamdouh said. "We will be very happy to give back to the community a product that is safe and eco-friendly, with no side effect son us, and more importantly is powerful against microbes. NANOFiBTECH is the future of hygiene."