CAIRO: Egypt will receive ?20 million from the European Union in 2010 to stimulate research and innovation, Marc Franco, ambassador of the European Delegation in Egypt, said Wednesday.
The funds will go to the Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Program which was established under the 2007 Science and Technology Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Egypt.
The European Union has already provided ?11 million to support the program.
“Innovation is key to recovery and to building more sustainable economy and society after the crisis, Franco said at the Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Marketplace, which took place in Cairo January 26-28.
The event was organized for the first time by the RDI Program, under the patronage of Prime Minister, and also hosted the Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Exhibition and the Euro-Mediterranean Innovation and Research Forum.
“With more than 200 exhibitors and 50 speakers representing diverse organizations from about 18 European and Mediterranean countries, the Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Marketplace offers a valuable platform for major science and innovation players to meet, network and further develop business ideas, projects and partnerships, “Abdelhamid El-Zoheiry, coordinator of RDI, said.
Hany Helal, minister of higher education and scientific research, said, “The Euro-Mediterranean Innovation Marketplace complements the strategy of the ministry to foster the culture of innovation in Egypt and strengthen cooperation channels with European and Mediterranean counterparts from both research and business sectors.
Helal and his ministry are responsible for the management of the RDI Program and its funds.
The key position of innovation in economic and societal development was underlined repeatedly at the conference. Yet, innovators in Egypt face quite a few difficulties in developing their ideas.
“We have a patent, but it’s local, said Tarek El-Bagory and Mohamed El-Sayed, two inventors who were presenting a new testing station for national gas pipelines at the exhibition. “The guarantee for this patent is only in Egypt, not international, like in America
They explained that they are careful when presenting their invention in papers not to give too many details so that their idea is not stolen.
Another issue inventors face is lack of management training. “In our faculty we study about business engineering and management, but nothing specific for inventions. We need training in invention marketing, they said.
El-Sayed added that after two or three years of trying to market their invention, some people give up and scrap the idea altogether.
On the other hand, Dr Bahaa Shawky, professor of microbiological chemistry at the National Research Center, said that the government should be more active in searching for ideas and supporting them.
Shawky invented a solution which helps release biomass energy from cellulose-rich plants, key to the development of clean renewable energy.
“We should start a pilot plant which needs only half a million Egyptian pounds. I am waiting for these funds, he said. “I am a scientist; that means that I am in my lab. All this [research] is on the internet, he said, explaining that the government should be more aware of existing research which can help development.
Through the Seventh Framework Program for Research and Technological Development (FP7), the EU’s main instrument for research funding, the Egyptian government will have even more opportunities for acquiring money for research.
The FP7’s budget for the next seven years is ?53 billion. Egypt has access to cooperation projects in the fields of health, agriculture, ICT, nanotechnologies, energy, environment, transport, socio-economic science and humanities, security and space.
Additionally, Egyptian scientists and researchers are eligible for funding through fellowships for foreign researchers established by the EU.