By Doaa Farid
The European Union delegation to Egypt organised on Wednesday its second innovation seminar, hosting researchers, industry experts, academics, entrepreneurs, and financial institutions from Egypt and various EU member states to network and share knowledge.
“The European Union is very aware of the vital importance of the science, research and innovation in the relationship between Europe and Egypt,” said EU Ambassador to Egypt James Moran in the opening speech of the seminar.
Moran added that this seminar would deepen bilateral relationships and act as a platform for exchanging ideas between experts and stakeholders from Europe and Egypt.
The seminar, titled “Research and Innovation as Engines for Economic Development: Paving the Way to Prosperity”” focused on supporting research in institutions and industrial organisations to “boost their capabilities and enhance their absorptive capacity to imported technologies, as well as their capacity to conduct research, diffuse technology and innovate.”
Mohamed Jawa, the vice president of the French University in Egypt (Université Française d’Égypte), gave a presentation on the importance of scientific computing capacities to assist development. “Numerical simulation has become a key tool in any industrial application,” he said. “Developing countries only need educated people, skills in mathematics and computing, and computers to use computing capacities.”
The digital gap, Jawa said, is easier to fill than the industrial gap. He went on to stress the importance of a sustainable supply of scientists to share in the development of societies, and to include research projects in the public policy, since “politicians alone have failed to achieve development.”
Other presentations by international experts covered such areas as the pharmaceutical industry, renewable energy.
Innovation has been placed at the heart of the Europe 2020 strategy for growth and job creation. The EU believes that innovation can create sustainable economic growth “as the experience with emerging and developed economies has proven.”
The European Commission and Egypt signed a science and technology agreement in 2005. Through the Research, Development and Innovation programme, also known as RDI, the European Union supports the government’s actions to boost the performance of research, development and innovation in Egypt.
Egypt has the highest participation in Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development among Mediterranean countries, which is EU’s main instrument for funding research in EU countries. Egypt has participated in more than 101 projects in areas such as health, energy, food security, and agriculture.
The chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, Ahmed El-Wakil, announced earlier in September the launch of eight new regional projects valued EGP 260m funded by the EU, which aim to support the sectors of food industry, tourism, textile, solar energy and environment, as well as the construction and modernisation of schools. These projects gather 76 partners from the chambers of commerce of Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Portugal to exchange experience and develop partnerships.
El-Wakil noted that these new projects are integrated with the “EU Invest-in-Med” program, where several projects have been implemented in the past two years in the sectors of industry, commerce, tourism, transport, agriculture and small and medium enterprises.
During her two-day visit in October, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton reiterated the EU’s support for Egypt through its ongoing transition, stressing that the EU and Egypt are “important” and “strong” partners.