Developing an entrepreneurial culture at Arab universities

Prof. Mona Bahr from Egypt, TWAS Scientist of the Year 2011 for her research in the field of nanoscience, © UNESCO

UNESCO’s Network for the Expansion of Converging Technologies in the Arab Region (NECTAR)









Launched by UNESCO’s Regional Bureau for Science in the Arab States in Cairo (Egypt) in June 2011, the Network for the Expansion of Converging Technologies in the Arab Region (NECTAR) was born of the realization that Arab countries would only be able to embrace the knowledge economy and sustainable development if they strengthened their capacity for innovation.

The UNESCO Science Report 2010 had revealed that university research in the Arab world often served purely academic purposes, even though the higher education sector was considered the ‘Arab world’s engine room for discovery and innovation’. Innovation was further hindered by the weak linkages between academia and industry. Nor were universities equipping graduates for the knowledge economy. The authors observed ‘a dire mismatch between the skills companies are seeking and what most universities in the region are producing.’

By developing a partnership between academia and industry in the field of converging technologies, NECTAR plans to reorient academia towards problem-solving and remove the barriers between disciplines that currently hinder innovation in the Arab world. Nanotechnology, for instance, is at the crossroads of a broad range of disciplines that include biology, chemistry and physics, materials science, engineering and computer science. Nanotechnology is one of the fastest-growing fields in science, with applications ranging from health care to microelectronics, renewable energies and water purification, yet nanotechnology research is still in its infancy in the Arab world.

Read about the achievements of NECTAR

  • More on NECTAR
  • Read about the findings of the UNESCO Science Report 2010, which updated the status of science around the world
  • Press release (AR, EN), entitled Even oil-rich Arab States need Innovation
  • Summary of the report's findings (AR, EN) and
  • Chapter on the Arab States (EN)

For details, contact the project coordinator in Cairo



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