New science, technology and innovation observatory

Egypt has inaugurated an observatory for monitoring progress in science, technology and innovation, as part of its efforts to promote the development of a knowledge-based economy through higher education and research reform.

The Egyptian Science, Technology and Innovation Observatory, or ESTIO, was launched on 3 February.

Mahmoud Sakr, acting president of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology and executive director of the Science and Technology Development Fund, told University World News:

“The observatory will inform policy-making, strategies and resource allocation through data collection, analysis and reporting and disseminating information on the development of national science and technology capacities and converting them into socio-economic output.

“We have observed that some of the higher education and scientific research performance indicators mentioned about Egypt by international bodies are not recent and occasionally not correct, which harms the international and regional ranking of Egyptian higher education institutions and scientific research centres,” Sakr added.

“Thus, ESTIO will be the official source for information and data about science, technology and innovation to all international bodies such as UNESCO, the OECD and other international organisations.”

ESTIO’s website says it will be a repository for science, technology and innovation data and a source of policy analysis, to support evidence-based policy-making in Egypt.

University-industry links will be promoted in order to move technologies closer to the market, the performance of research centres, researchers and programmes will be evaluated, and ESTIO will conduct foresight exercises for specific challenges, providing up-to-date information on global scientific and technological trends.

The observatory will review the science and technology sector, and collect, manage, analyse and publish information on the sector as well as connecting institutions to a national network for decision-making.

ESTIO will measure research, development and innovation activities using indicators such as R&D expenditure, number of researchers, patents and published research papers in Egypt and other countries. It will also develop a composite index for R&D, innovation and institutional performance.

Mohamed Ramadan, director of ESTIO, said it would seek to cooperate with other national, regional and international observatories such as the African observatory of Science, Technology and Innovation, UNESCO’s Global Observatory on Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Instruments, and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia’s Regional Science, Technology and Innovation Observatory.

“The observatory will serve as the major destination and as an accurate and comprehensive source for anyone seeking precise information and indicators about science, technology and innovation in Egypt,” Ramadan told University World News.

Expert’s view

Egyptian scientist Farouk El-Baz, director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University in the United States, said the initiative came at an opportune time, as Egypt looks to encourage its young generation of science and technology workers in the post-revolution phase.

“The initiative is expected to have a visible impact on the value of innovation in the economic development of Egypt, which was missing during the past decades.”

El-Baz, who was science advisor to the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, told University World News that providing accurate information on innovation would both encourage local workers and help international organisations evaluate the results.

“Evaluation of innovation indicators would also help other countries in the Arab region to follow the same steps for regional benefits to all,” El-Baz concluded.