NU TechSpace is the first tech-focused incubator specialized in cognitive technologies in Egypt. It will be officially launching on April 15, Mariam Yassin, partnerships & fundraising specialist, at the Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Competitiveness Center of NU TechSpace, told Wamda.
These technologies include Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Deep Learning, and Blockchain, among others.
“With the rise of Blockchain applications worldwide, along with the supportive environment in Egypt that fosters entrepreneurship and innovation, this year, many startups started to grow in Egypt using cognitive and Blockchain technologies. That’s considered to be the third industrial revolution,” Yassin explained, revealing that the increase in Blockchain startups in the country has driven them to launch that incubator.
“We present a framework by which to explore where cognitive technologies can benefit in creating new business models.”
The space, which is an initiative by Nile University in cooperation with the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT) is located on Nile University premises in Sheikh Zayed City in Giza. It helps startups to improve their product and business model and prepares them to scale worldwide by enabling them to capitalize on the university facilities and research capacities. It also connects them with NU network including alumni, staff, mentors and investors. The program was co-funded by Nile University and a ‘national initiative’, but the overall budget can't be disclosed.
Yassin explained that each cycle of the incubation program is tailored to support projects from the proof of concept stage to the ready product stage over eight to nine months. During that period, potential startups can work in a risk-reduced environment to have their operational company and ready to market product/services. “During the first cycle, we will focus on financial technology in order to support in generating sustainable business model in high potential industries like banking, retail, insurance, corporate applications, etcetera,” she added. For the first round, 15 startups were shortlisted, and 10 will be incubated.
The space will offer product management sessions, operational management sessions, human resource management sessions, sales strategies sessions, as well as scaling strategies sessions. It will also bring in kind services that include the coworking space at Nile University, extensive business training by NU faculty members and industry experts, mentoring and coaching from NU network, including access to faculty as mentors and/or consultants for frequent consultations, networking events with industry leaders and ecosystem partners, and assistance with professional services such as HR and recruitment, communication, operations, marketing, governance and legal assistance. It will also allow startups to cooperate with faculty students in order to test their products, and pick interns.
In addition to that, the program will be providing each startup an operational fund up to 150,000 Egyptian Pounds (US$ 8,500), and a $120,000 IBM Bluemix Cloud Platform.
Every year, the program will open one cycle which will support 10 startups.
NU Techspace kicked off during Egypt Blockchain Day which took place last January. It was the first event on Blockchain applications in the country and in the MENA region, discussing the mechanism of the latest Blockchain development technologies, new business models, and opportunities, Yassin said. “During the event, our partner Novelari [an Egyptian accelerator] announced the first Extensive Blockchain development bootcamp in Egypt that will take place at NU, in cooperation with NU Techspace. Inaddition, our partner, zk Capital, a Blockchain investment fund, which helped with the bootcamp, shared their plans to connect developers and teams to leading Blockchain projects globally,” she said. Besides Novelari, NU Techspace’s community partners are: Wuzzuf (a job portal), IBM, and Consensys.
Yassin said that they plan on expanding TechSpaces all over Egypt and in the MENA region and increasing the talent pool of Blockchain and cognitive developers in Egypt.