On 27 May 2011, Georg Schütte, State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, together with the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Research Amr Salama, opened a conference in Cairo on “The Role of Science and Technology in the process of democratic reform in Egypt.” Over the two days, scientists from various disciplines gathered to exchange ideas. The German-Egyptian conference was the highlight of diverse events initiated by the BMBF in order to support particularly Egypt and Tunisia, but also other countries in the Arab world, with their reform processes.
Scientific and technological cooperation between Germany and Egypt is based on the intergovernmental agreements of 1979 and 1981 as well as on various individual/project agreements concluded between 1981 and 1985. The most recent development was the introduction of new subject priorities. In particular, bilateral projects were made more application-oriented and industry-relevant. At the same time, new university and non-university partners in Egypt were included in order to give the partnership a broader basis.
The current priority topics are materials research, environmental research and climate research. Further areas of cooperation are physical and chemical technologies, biotechnology, aquaculture and health research. The so-called Lake Nasser Project is a thematically wide-ranging and extensive project of scientific and technological cooperation (STC) with Egypt. Its aim is to find ecologically acceptable ways of developing new settlement and economic areas for approximately 1.5 million people in the region of the Aswan dam. Several preparatory workshops have already taken place. The project is to be continued under the future BMBF funding priority Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
A further aim in the future STC with Egypt will be to increase the involvement of companies (particularly SMEs) from both countries in bilateral research projects and to investigate the possibility of joint EU projects, for example under the Mediterranean countries programme.
The German University in Cairo (GUC) is one of the largest single projects within the Federal Government’s programme to export German study programmes to other countries. The project is sponsored by the Universities of Ulm and Stuttgart and Baden-Württemberg’s Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts. The Universities of Tübingen and Mannheim are further important partners in the field of research. STC measures are in place in order to improve the GUC’s involvement in Germany’s research cooperation with Egypt, for example through workshops and bilateral scientist exchanges. Research capacities and laboratories for joint research work have been systematically expanded in the last two years. For example, the GUC’s materials testing laboratory, which was opened by Federal Minister Annette Schavan in June 2006, offers excellent opportunities for research under Germany and Egypt’s STC.
Another project that is very important for the region’s future was the introduction of the Digital Media Campus, in which a digital TV and radio station was set up at the GUC’s campus, in close cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (IIS), the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg’s Chair of Information Technologies (LIKE) and Deutsche Welle (DW). Thanks to this development, new subjects are being offered at the GUC (media and communication technology) and new interdisiplinary research priorities are being defined. In this way, a large-scale transfer of knowledge and technology to an emerging country is taking place and international research and teaching cooperationin the field of digital media is being strengthened.
The German-Egyptian Year of Science and Technology 2007, which was a bilateral initiative of the German and Egyptian Ministries of Education and Research, gave scientific and technological insitutions and educational establishments from both countries the opportunity to intensify their research cooperation and to strengthen specialist and subject-specific scientist exchanges, especially in forward-looking subjects.
Six research networks formed the core of the Year of Science: materials sciences, water, renewable energy sources, biotechnology, health research, and social sciences and the humanities. Special emphasis was put on supporting young scientists from both countries and integrating them in research networks in a targeted way. During the course of the year, German and Egyptian scientists carried out numerous workshops and conferences on specialist subjects in order to identify areas in which there is a need for further research and initiate bilateral collaborative projects.
At the official closing event of the German-Egyptian Year of Science, which took place in Berlin on 6 December 2007, Federal Minister Annette Schavan and Hany Helal, the Egyptian Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, signed an agreement on the establishment of a German-Egyptian research fund, which will receive €300,000 per year from each country. Its aim is to enable the continuation and intensification of scientific cooperation between the two countries beyond 2007.
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