The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has attended the graduation ceremony of the second round of the Startup Launchpad program. The program is co-implemented by the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) and the American University in Cairo (AUC) Venture Lab, a member of Babson Collaborative for Entrepreneurship Education, of Babson College, the world’s best educational institution for administration and entrepreneurship.
Startup Launchpad is aimed at boosting technology innovation in Egypt through building young people’s capacity in entrepreneurship to carry out innovation-driven projects.
The ICT Minister delivered a speech at the ceremony. He said that he is keen to meet with the participants and graduates of Startup Launchpad. It is one of the key initiatives launched by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) to support ICT startups to upskill and empower entrepreneurs to overcome challenges in local, regional, and global markets. He added that Babson College is one of the leading institutions in that field.
Talaat highlighted that MCIT has a strategy that stands on several pillars, including fostering innovation and startups. MCIT is currently establishing Creativa Innovation Hubs nationwide. Seven Hubs have been established in Upper Egypt, Delta, and Ismailia Governorate, with ten others still under construction.
The Creativa hubs provide training, innovation programs, brainstorming camps, business accelerators, and incubators for startups. They also host networking events, bringing investors together with entrepreneurs, he added.
Moreover, Talaat underlined that MCIT offers a wide range of training programs that aim to expand the talent pool in different ICT domains to work at startups. MCIT also launched a couple of initiatives for promoting freelancing to qualify young people for the freelance job market and help them start and expand their businesses.
During the ceremony, the first-place winning startups presented the innovative solutions and business models they developed throughout the program. The event included an open discussion between the ICT Minister, the second round graduates, and the third round participants. Talaat listened to the entrepreneurs' views on the benefits and impact of the program on their skills and business models. The participants praised the program, which is part of the state's efforts to support young entrepreneurs.
The participants explained the benefits of the program, the experience they gained, and the consultation they had from the program organizers, which helped further develop their skills in entrepreneurship, especially in marketing their ideas. The participants hoped that they would continue to be mentored and guided within the program for some time after graduation.
The ICT Minister called for launching a digital platform that would bring the program graduates together to exchange experiences, help follow up on their work and attend to their inquiries.
For their part, the entrepreneurs asked for opportunities to network with government agencies and engage in technology government projects. In this regard, Talaat highlighted that MCIT launched the Our Digital Opportunity initiative through which startups get to implement 10% of the projects that MCIT in implementing.
One of the participants had a query about the legislation related to the governance and protection of personal data, especially medical data. Talaat explained that the Personal Data Protection Law was enacted, obliging data holders not to reveal personal data unless the owner's approval is obtained. In addition, a body will be set up to monitor data holders and make sure they stick to the said Law.
The graduation ceremony was attended by the Assistant Minister for Strategy and Implementation Sherine El-Guindy, ITIDA CEO Amr Mahfouz, ITIDA Vice President and Chairperson of the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC) Hossam Osman, and Program Officer at AUC Venture Lab Lydia Kamiel. In addition, entrepreneurs and startup founders, graduates of the second round, and participants of the third round attended the ceremony via videoconference.
Startup Launchpad is an eight-week training program. Graduates receive a certificate of completion and specialization in entrepreneurship. The third round of the program kicked off on October 5 and is expected to conclude in December.
It is worth noting that 16 startups completed the second round of the program in different technology areas. The first-place winner was Chef's House, a food delivery website and application. The startup is a cloud kitchen, also known as a virtual restaurant, a business model that spread widely amid the pandemic. This type of business allows customers to order from different food brands using a single application.
Finishing in second place was Saknquare, a platform that showcases real-estate and provides virtual tours capitalizing on Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), 3D scanning, and 360 technologies. The third-place winner was Talent Network, a digital platform that brings together artists and talents in filmmaking, advertising, and fashion.