Training for Innovation – How science and technology can contribute to a better life for all
Innovation has long been recognised as a driving force of multidimensional development. Cutting-edge research, scientific progress and original ideas in the domains of science, technology and industry constitute advancements that can widely improve the well-being of our societies.
Innovation results from linking fresh perspectives, the latest methods and the will to address the leading questions of our time. In the context of international and multilateral cooperation and in consideration of these pressing issues, innovation in key thematic areas of the region, such as water, health and energy, can address environmental problems, alleviate social inequalities, and significantly contribute to sustainable development and inclusive growth.
In line with COSIMENA’s goal to tackle today’s global challenges by fostering scientific collaboration, the DAAD Cairo Office in cooperation with the Arab Academy for Science Technology & Maritime Transport have organised the first “COSIMENA Summer School” under the title “Training for Innovation – How science and technology can contribute to a better life for all”. The Summer school aims at training young researchers to become experts on the topic of innovation in their respective fields.
30 young researchers and experts participated in the two weeks summer school from 10 different countries among the MENA Region and Germany; Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Morocco, Jordan, Libya, Syria and Lebanon.
The Summer School was divided into 3 main clusters, Innovation, Water and Health in addition to a “Self-Marketing” DKA Module provided by Dr Heba Salama, Alexandria University.
Participants were divided into 5 working groups to share their experiences and get introduced to the different methodologies, policies and strategies adopted in each country. A common presentation was always presented at the end of each cluster as a wrap up of what each group has learned and what could be taken back to their home countries. It is worth mentioning that each cluster was introduced by different trainers as follows: Innovation and Energy by Dr Annika Arnold, Water by Dr Ing Stefan Panglisch, Dr Ashraf Hilal and Dr Meike Lenzen while the Health cluster was tackled by Dr Mohamed Nour.
By the end of the Summer school, participants gathered new information and international knowledge by understanding the concept of innovation in the Multi-Level-Perspective context, insights about membrane technology, wastewater treatment and in Nexus.
The working groups have presented different innovative projects with respect of water solutions that could be implemented in the MENA Region: New Ceramic Filter, Integrated Micro-System for grey water processing, Green Village, Integrated wastewater treatment system and Smart City for Sustainable Community.
Ms. Louise Sarant, an environment and science journalist and moderator of the closing session gave the participants the advice “think big but start small”. The participants should have the main vision of developing innovative projects but by the implementation they should start with the small ideas that could be executed based on the reality givens.
They came out with the conclusion that each country has its own challenges and opportunities in terms of its innovation progress, however, most of the participants agreed that there are common challenges in the MENA countries, such as the high unemployment rate, low investments in R&D, high population growth rate and lack of good infrastructure, etc.
Challenges are not only faced in developing countries, but also developed countries like Germany. Germany is facing other kind of challenges; as it has a lower level of digitalization than other leading countries and slow adaptation process in the educational sector.
One of the best outcomes of the COSIMENA Summer School is the social network built among participants. Having 30 participants from 10 different countries enriched the interdisciplinary part during the Summer School. In order to sustain this developed network among participants, they are connected through the social media channels that will be used to continue sharing their experiences and maintain the cooperation.