The online innovation hub for Egypt, "EgyptInnovate" platform has won the ITU Innovation Challenges 2020, in the "Ecosystem Best Practice Challenge" category.
The platform is part of Egypt's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) innovation support strategy where it's managed by the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) through the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC).
The platform's winning reflects the effective tools it provides for promoting innovation, learning, and availing networking opportunities to innovators and entrepreneurs, through a digital platform supported in both Arabic and English. It also provides an interactive map that embraces the key players in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt.
Projects from 26 countries, including Egypt, applied for the competition, where entrepreneurs, innovators, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) owners, policymakers, and ecosystem builders competed.
The ITU Innovation Challenges 2020 is a global open competition platform for innovators and ecosystem builders to present their ideas and projects, empowering them to transform their communities into thriving digital societies. The table below provides the details of the overall challenge timeline.
The competition comprised three categories: Digital Change-maker Challenge, for innovators with ideas that create a digital impact in their communities; Ecosystem Best Practice Challenge, for ecosystem builders with good practices that nurture an enabling environment for innovators in their communities; and Women in Technology Challenge, for individual women tech innovators and eligible startups with digital projects that create impact for women in their communities.
The overall theme of this year's challenges was "Rethinking the digital economy's value chains during the Covid-19 pandemic." The theme reflects the dire need for the digital transformation, more than ever before, to help global decision-makers and innovators build a digital economy and maintain economic stability for their societies. It also provides an opportunity for innovators and ecosystem builders to present their ideas and projects and enables them to transform their societies into thriving digital ones.
The challenge winners are qualified to join the virtual ITU Global Innovation Forum, in October, where they will participate in capacity building workshops, pitch their proposals to a global audience of experts, and network with decision-makers.
According to the GSER 2020 report, Cairo provides a perfect testbed for innovation and an attractive market for scalability. Egypt has seen a surge in technology innovation support programs and movements by the public and private entities that triggered an entrepreneurship boom and led startups business to thrive.
EgyptInnovate platform aims at exposing Egypt's innovators locally and globally, connecting nodes and building collaborative communities of Egypt's innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Besides, it aims at educating innovators, startups, and businesses about technology and innovation management.
The platform was built on open-source software, enabling free access to all its data. The number of registered users on the digital platform this year exceeded 50,000, and the number of registered entities on Egypt Innovation Map reached over 1,000 organizations, agencies, and startups.
The Information Technology Industry Development Agency - ITIDA has participated in the recent regular meeting of Global Technology and Business Services Council (GT&BSC) conducted to follow up on the progress made by its member organizations.
The meeting’s agenda included reviewing the efforts exerted to support and ensure business continuity and to deliver a global response to the challenges and changes brought about by COVID-19, and forming a clear vision for the future of the sector.
GT&BSC, which ITIDA joined last July as a founding member, is an alliance of twelve international associations representing the technology and business services sector across Bulgaria, the Balkans, Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, United States and Ukraine.
ITIDA’s Acting CEO, Amr Mahfouz said that the sector played a very positive role in lessening the pandemic impact, helping in avoiding service interruption as it enjoys the flexibility and speed response to crises while ensuring the safety of its employees.
Mahfouz underlined that Egypt has invested heavily in developing its ICT infrastructure and digital capabilities where this enabled the services sector to remain resilient and to meet the unprecedented demand and increased reliance on digital services in all areas.
According to a former statement by the council, the technology and business services sector was integral to supporting businesses across the world as they addressed the challenges of adapting to changes caused by COVID-19, demonstrating remarkable agility, commitment and resilience in responding to the crisis; ensuring business continuity for global clients and prioritizing safety of all employees.
The sector was central to the rapid deployment of work from home models and digital transformations, providing critical support and “essential services” to various sectors including governments through highly skilled professionals around the world. This is all referenced in the report being published today entitled: “A unified global response for the technology and business services industry”.
Globally, technology and business services will play a key role in evolving nations to the next normal, driving the global economy out of an inevitable downturn and reducing the impact of future economic and social shocks, transforming businesses quickly and making them more resilient moving forward.
The Council members highlighted “We are all incredibly proud of how well our industry responded to the challenges presented by COVID-19. Partnerships and individuals around the world worked tirelessly to ensure key services were delivered in really adverse conditions, remodelling and reinventing business processes literally overnight.
It is the Council’s firm belief that technology, collaboration and access to a global talent pool will be key to driving business and Governments out of the inevitable downturn. Sharing best practices, thought leadership and collaborating on new operating models on a global stage will accelerate recovery around the world. We are delighted that our entire industry is collaborating in this global way for the first time and believe this will provide significant value to l global governments, our members, their customers and their employees around the world”
The Global Technology and Business Services Council has an ambitious program of work, with immediate next steps including conducting a global body of research to better understand the industry’s global state and prepare a report showing directions of further development.
Founding members of GT&BSC (in alphabetical order)
ABSL, covering Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Bosnia & Herzegovina (Balkans), Latvia (Baltics)
AIBEST, covering Bulgaria and the Balkans
ASTRA, covering Russia and Belarus
BPESA, South Africa
GSA, United Kingdom
IAOP, United States
OM MALAYSIA, Malaysia
SLASSCOM, Sri Lanka
Egypt has recently been featured in a report by The Association of Business Service Leaders, ABSL, a leading international non-profit organization that connects global and local companies that set up their global service centers in Central and Eastern European countries.
The report, co-authored by Deloitte, JLL, and Randstad, profiles 18 carefully selected countries and covers the whole spectrum of business services location options in the EMEA region.
The report, titled EMEA’s Business Services Landscape, brings into focus a number of factors that strengthened Egypt’s position as a world-class destination for business services such as its very large, well-educated workforce, and the highly-competitive operating costs it offers.
The report highlights the availability of talent in Egypt as an edge allowing it to set itself apart from other nearshore destinations by offering companies the possibility to implement service centers on a large scale.
“I’m thrilled that Egypt is the only non-European country to be listed in the report, Hala El-Gohary; CEO of The Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), said.
The business services sector has recorded strong and consistent growth with high employment rates at a total of 174K people employed. “We have a solid plan in place that guarantees the next wave of growth targeting to reach 225k as total employment by 2022,” commented ITIDA’s CEO.
Egypt has established itself as a prime location for business and IT services for global operations serving 100 countries. The government pro-actively supports the sector, ranging from investments in talent and infrastructure to incentives and support to foreign investors.
The market in Egypt is experiencing a shift in its services portfolios, the report confirmed. The report throws light on the companies’ move from multilingual contact centers to high-value niche services such as product development and R&D.
“We are constantly observing the shared services sector in the EMEA region and are astonished at the pace at which some locations are developing. More and more centers where new investments are being opened increase year by year - this is Egypt in particular”, said ABSL Strategy & Business Development Director, Paweł Panczyj. With more than 100 centers, Cairo is the main location for the industry, but increasingly companies are also locating in Alexandria.”
“Egypt’s key strengths are its very large and educated workforce, which allows the country to set itself apart from other nearshore destinations by offering companies the possibility to implement service centers on a large scale. Access to qualified staff is a key factor in choosing an investment in our sector,” he added.
The report is perceived by its authors as a practical location handbook that gives a fair overview of the leading metrics considered important in the location evaluation process.
“Egypt is one of the next frontier GBS/SSC destinations in EMEA regions. It offers investors both the benefits of lower-cost offshore and convenience of nearshore locations. With a population of one-fifth of EU’s total, young and well-educated workforce it offers good opportunities in Finance and Accounting, IT and other typically outsourced functions.”, commented Vitaliy Lehkyy, Manager, Global Location Strategies at Deloitte.
According to the report, The US and UK account for more than 30 percent of the countries of origin of export-oriented business services centers in Egypt. The report revealed that software development (62%), customer service (29%), and IT helpdesk (24%) are the major types of services delivered by the centers in Egypt.
The report highlights Egypt as a top country in terms of availability or supply of talent pool with accounts payable role, only second to the UK. This emphasizes the potential for Egypt to host Finance shared services centers.
The report intentionally does not seek to profile specific cities or rank the locations in order of attractiveness but covering country snapshots with key macroeconomic indicators, human resources landscapes, payroll costs, and key labor code characteristics.