Arab Science and Technology Foundation
The Arab Science and Technology Foundation (ASTF) was launched in 2000 to enhance the productivity and quality of Arab research by pooling the talents of Arab scientists living in both the Arab region and beyond through the combination of a connectivity network and collaborative research in strategic areas. Although water desalination is an area of obvious interest, the Solar Water Desalination Project launched by the Foundation in 2004 with funding from the National Bureau of Research and Development in Libya has proved to be the first collaborative research of its kind in the region.
The Foundation provides financial and technical support for innovative research projects in the form of direct grants or fundraising on their behalf. The Foundation's budget originates from various sources, including an annual $1 million endowment from Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Ltd for scientific research in the Arab world under the supervision of the ASTF.
A founding member of the Arab Union of Venture Capital and of the Gulf Venture Capital Association, the Foundation seeks to forge the missing link in the Arab world between the research community and business. To this end, the Foundation organized the first Investing in Technology Forum in April 2004 and a second six months later. With the slogan of 'Innovating locally, competing globally', the Forum acts as go-between for start-ups within the Arab scientific research community and the corporate business and investment sectors.
The Foundation has also organized three Scientific Research Outlook symposia in 2000, 2002 and 2004, to catalyse and support development-oriented collaborative research among scientists from 22 Arab countries.
In 2003, the ASTF conducted a needs survey among more than 400 scientists in Iraqi universities within 12 sectors of priority importance, namely: health; water resources; environment; engineering; energy; agriculture; veterinary sciences and livestock; biotechnology and genetics; communication; applied material science; basic sciences (including the training of mathematicians); and information technology. The findings of the survey were published in a 2004 report entitled The Priorities of the Iraqi S&T Community.
The Board of Directors is made up of the ten elected members of the ASTF. All are Arab scientists hailing from the institutional, business and academic sectors of countries in the Arab world, the USA and UK. One of the founders, Dr Abdalla Abdelaziz Alnajjar, is also President of the ASTF, in parallel to his functions as Director of the Research Centre at the University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. A driving force behind the ASTF, his vision became reality thanks to the early financial backing of H.H. Sheik Dr Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, ruler of Sharjah.
Source: UNESCO Science Report 2005