American University of Cairo
The School of Business and School of Sciences and Engineering at The American University in Cairo (AUC) have collaborated to jointly hold the 2012 AUC Research Conference titled “Entrepreneurship and Innovation: Shaping the Future of Egypt.” The conference covers topics such as social entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship education, green innovation and sustainability, as well as the role of civil society in encouraging small businesses and community innovations. It will be held from April 17 to 19 at Moataz Al Alfi Hall, AUC New Cairo.
“Although this is the first large-scale collaboration between the School of Business and the School of Sciences and Engineering at AUC, this conference builds on existing collaborations among faculty members and students from both schools,” said Hassan Azzazy, co-chair of the conference and professor at the Department of Chemistry. “These two schools are natural partners that have the potential to develop best practices in entrepreneurship and innovation.”
The conference brings together business leaders, national and international scholars in innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as various stakeholders from national universities and nongovernmental organizations. It will include presentations of academic papers and panel discussions involving both academicians and practitioners. The conference will serve as a platform to discuss current entrepreneurial challenges and to formulate new strategies that support and enhance entrepreneurial practice and innovation in Egypt and the region.
“This is a critical time for Egypt and, indeed, the region,” said Nagla Rizk, co-chair of the conference and associate dean for graduate studies and research at the School of Business. “More than ever, an entrepreneurial spirit and innovative mindset will be pivotal for building the nation’s economy on solid foundations. The conference offers a platform for organically laying out a national strategy for entrepreneurship and innovation in Egypt, in true fulfillment of the role of knowledge for development.”
Sharing the same viewpoint, Azzazy added, “A competitive economy thrives on innovation and entrepreneurship. Discussions, recommendations and success stories presented during this conference will be invaluable in bringing innovation and entrepreneurship to the center stage for the Egyptian economy to become globally competitive.”
One of the main pillars of this year’s conference is raising awareness of the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation in rebuilding Egypt. It will also nurture collaboration between academia, industry and the community within Egypt, across the region and globally. Ultimately, the conference seeks to create success stories within the country’s entrepreneurial framework.
“Entrepreneurship is considered the most critical engine for economic growth in Egypt and the region,” said Ahmed Tolba, assistant professor at the Department of Management and a member of the conference’s organizing committee. “There are various initiatives that focus on promoting entrepreneurship and supporting entrepreneurs. Further, entrepreneurship is an interdisciplinary field and a key focus area for AUC at large.”
The conference is based on a strong belief in the role that successful startup companies can play in attracting and encouraging potential entrepreneurs, innovators and investors, as well as universities, NGOs and governments, to take risks and become more innovative. It seeks to contribute positively to Egypt’s economic development by promoting a knowledge-based economy and society, as well as address Egypt’s pressing economic concerns.
The event also includes a student competition, highlighting the role of youth in shaping the future of the new Egypt. Through the competition, graduate, undergraduate and high school students will share their ideas on entrepreneurship and innovation. Themes for the contest include innovative technologies with high potential for commercialization, the entrepreneurial ecosystem, policy and development issues, social entrepreneurship, as well as entrepreneurial education. All submissions were evaluated in two rounds by a number of experts prior to the conference. In the final round of the competition, which will take place on the last day of the conference, finalists will present their ideas and projects, and winners will be announced. The top three finalists will receive cash awards.
“The conference offers a vehicle to channel the wealth of knowledge that exists among our youth,” said Rizk. “At this juncture, novelty and originality should be fostered to guide this creative energy in Egypt.”