Egyptian researchers to reach out to private sector

Published online 5 June 2011

Rehab Abd Almohsen

The National Research Centre in Cairo, Egypt.
The National Research Centre in Cairo, Egypt.

The Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) in Egypt plans to dispatch 'scientist ambassadors' to encourage the private sector to invest in applied research.'

The ASRT is the government umbrella organization for coordinating and funding Egyptian research. Working with the ministry of higher education and scientific research, the ASRT has recorded all research programmes across the country. Then the Egyptian ministry of industry and foreign trade identified industries that could potentially innovate any of this research.

The resulting database of research programmes and private companies will be available online on the academy's website. It is hoped that research—industry collaborations will result and spur scientific enterprise in Egypt.

"In order to make scientific research more practical rather than just theoretical, the government has to support industries to establish departments of innovation and science research," says Maged Al-Sherbiny, head of the ASRT.

The Egyptian national research centres will continue to fund scientific research. Al-Sherbiny hopes that once the private sector realizes the potential of investing in research, they will increase funding in R&D and help contribute to the interim government's aim of raising science expenditure from the current 0.24% of GDP to an ambitious 2% of GDP within the next five years.

"Our universities are full of research that is collecting dust on shelves and never used, while we import technologies and research from overseas," said Alaa Eid, chairman of the Scientific Office for Plastics and Rubber Technologies, 6th of October City, Egypt. "This project could help solve this problem by making our research available to the industries."

Eid adds that the project can help researchers invest time and effort into research relevant to the actual needs of the market.

Ahmed Abou Elyazied, a researcher and vice-president of the Union for Agricultural Development, Egypt, stresses that research can boost the private sector in Egypt. "We started our business manufacturing conventional fertilizer. However, through our research we are now one of the few producers of biological fertilizers in Egypt."