Between March 23rd March and April 8th, 2021, selected attendees from the MENA region and Africa came together to learn, discuss and exchange ideas in the field of innovation during COSIMENA’s Winter School on Entrepreneurship 2021.
Organized by the DAAD Regional Office Cairo in cooperation with the Arab Academy for Science, Technology & Maritime Transport (AASTMT), this digital event aimed to train young researchers in the challenges of science and technology transfer and to support and coach them on their exciting journey from new ideas to innovations and eventually start-ups or university spin-offs. Structured in five modules, including the topics of Academia overlapping Entrepreneurship, Higher Education Institutes, Managing Innovation, Business Literature Basics and Growth-Seeking steps, the Winter School was able to bring together scientists and practitioners from higher education and the economy sector in Germany and the MENA region, building on the research that has already been raised in the past years and adding to the current discussions.
As a result, the ten-day event allowed all participants to receive numerous inputs to further develop their innovative projects and engage in fruitful exchange beneficial for their successful entrepreneurial journey. Each session involved a variety of activities, namely theoretical explanations, dynamic workshops, success stories, mentorship sessions and dedicated time for questions and general discussions.
After a precise introduction of the speakers and the nature of the event in the first day, Prof. Dr Michael Stephan from the University of Marburg took under analysis major global economic challenges and the necessity to address them with innovative entrepreneurial solutions in the second day. He also offered a detailed explanation of IP Management protection and management, detailing the different kinds of tools for the protection of rights.
The third day offered dynamic sessions to understand how to transform research into entrepreneurial enterprises. As in other sessions, the day concluded with a success story, introducing the exemplary journey of Mr. Mohammed Obiaa from Egypt in building the Egyptian wind energy start-up Askova. Participants greatly benefited from these stories, as they represented a reminder to believe in their projects and to consistently work on the realization of their dreams.
The COSIMENA Winter School on Entrepreneurship 2021 proceeded in the fourth, fifth and sixth day with detailed presentations on the topics of innovation management, technology management, technology transfer, agile methodologies, entrepreneurship education and the role of universities. This part was followed by sessions on entrepreneurial marketing, economics of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance during the seventh and eighth day. In general, lectures were accompanied by interactive workshops like the two “Ideation Workshops” by Ms. Khansa Elhag from 249startups and the “Actionable roadmap workshop” by Dr Wael ElDesouki, Head of the Centre of Entrepreneurship at AASTMT. The ninth day analysed further central subjects, such as the fundraising and investment aspects of the entrepreneurial building process.
Using the inputs and advice received from the mentorship session offered throughout the ten-day event, participants concluded the Winter School with the presentation of their entrepreneurial group projects. The jury expressed high appreciation for the quality of the pitches. The projects presented included a variety of topics, reflecting the multiplicity of backgrounds and ideas of participants and their awareness for social responsibility in a global context.
Overall, this conclusive time showed the positive outcome of the COSIMENA Winter School on Entrepreneurship 2021, which provided participants with both theoretical and practical tools useful to successfully engage into their entrepreneurial journeys. As Prof. Dr Stephan highlighted in a successive interview, the value of the COSIMENA Winter School was to combine the theoretical and the practical part, while making the link between science and technology, research and academia and entrepreneurship, as well as covering both the social and business aspects of entrepreneurial ventures.