Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi

Vice Chancellor | Galala University

“Innovation, for me, is not only thinking outside the box but also applying ideas to change and impact the community and our lives. It’s about doing things the right way in an innovative manner, but most importantly, seeing the impact, improving our lives, solving the problems we are facing, and making the community and lives much better.”

Key Points:

  • Galala University’s identity is built on preparing students with the skills needed for the local, regional, and global market, linking research to be applied and commercialized, and impacting the community through sustainability and achieving the SDGs.
  • The university ensures maximum impact of research by linking with industry partners, involving them in student projects and curriculum development, and establishing the Galala University Knowledge and Innovation Hub to connect research outcomes with industry needs.
  • Galala University has strong international partnerships, notably with Arizona State University, which goes beyond dual degrees to include branding, student-focused initiatives, academic collaboration, and bringing ASU’s experience to the region.
  • The university is involved in various research projects, including genomics, AI in healthcare, cultural heritage, smart waste management, sustainable development, and environmental impacts, in collaboration with international partners.

AfricaLive: What makes up the DNA of Galala University as an institution?

Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi: Our DNA focuses on different aspects. One of our main priorities is linking and preparing our students with all the needed skills to be ready for the market, not only locally but regionally and globally. In higher education, especially in our region, we were teaching students very well academically and theoretically, but we were missing the link to the market, its needs, and the required skills.

In research, we are doing some basic research, but our strength is linking our research to be applied and trying to reach a higher Technology Readiness Level (TRL), targeting TRL 6-9. The commercialization of this research is one of the most important things for us.

The third mission of universities is our impact on our community and our role in the environment and sustainability. We look at the needs within our community and how we can contribute, plus our role in sustainability and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In less than three years, we have had around 750 publications covering 16 out of the 17 SDGs.


AfricaLive: How do you work to ensure that the research in the institution can be applied and have the maximum impact possible within the available resources?

Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi: We ensure this by linking to the industry and the community around us. When applying for projects, especially those with a higher TRL, we always have an industry partner, whether in engineering with factories around us, applied economics with banks, or architecture with sustainability changes in buildings.

When our students are doing graduation projects, we always involve the industry as part of the evaluation, so any of these projects can be leveraged or taken further with the industry’s support. Even when looking for funds, we try to find those that will help us achieve a higher TRL, like the PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) initiative.


AfricaLive: What are the building blocks of a successful industry partnership, and how do you work to bridge the gap that sometimes exists between industries’ understanding of what a university is there for and what it can provide?

Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi: This is one of the challenges we often face in academia. Sometimes, as scientists or academicians, we look at things from an academic perspective and miss the industry’s viewpoint. There is also mistrust from the industry towards academia. We are trying to bridge this by doing a lot of memorandums of understanding, bringing the industry to teach with us, be part of our curriculum, and sending our students to internships in the industry to see the real problems.


We call industry professionals who teach with us “professors of practice.” They come and become part of our DNA. We share with them the available resources in the university, and at the same time, we send our professors to the industry to see the problems and how we can solve them. This link is what we are trying to achieve when they share in our curriculum.


AfricaLive: Can you give us some insight into the dual degree programs you run with Arizona State University?

Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi: Our partnership with Arizona State University (ASU) is built on different pillars, not just dual degrees. It includes branding, as we are powered by ASU, and we incorporate their experience in being student-focused through co-chairing master classes, ASU English immersion, global signature courses with an alliance of more than 22 universities and 75,000 students worldwide, global classrooms, faculty training, and faculty mobility.

In our non-ASU degrees, we have 47 ASU courses, 65 courses with adopted ASU content, 16 global signature courses impacting over 1,000 students, more than 1,000 students with ASU innovation certificates, and 700 students impacted by master classes. We have three projects doing incorporation together, two students in short-term mobility, and 105 students in dual degrees. 100% of our students are impacted by ASU.

We also have academic collaboration in faculty appointment, investing scholars, marketing strategy, and structure. There are ASU contents, certificates, career catalyst for professions, and certificates for students. It’s a real partnership that doesn’t stop at dual degrees but brings ASU into the region and our country.


AfricaLive: Are there any specific research projects or innovation-focused initiatives underway or completed at Galala University that you would like to share with our audience?

Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi: We have a genomic project in breast cancer, but it doesn’t stop at the genomic change. The continuation is the clinical validation of artificial intelligence and neural network technology. This is what we are trying to do – to be interdisciplinary.

We have a project with Nottingham Trent University about students as changemakers, defining the role of future universities. Another project, which is absolutely Horizon Europe, is implementing technology to transform the archaeological areas of cultural heritage projects in the pyramids and the Grand Egyptian Museum. It’s about creating an engineering curriculum for the 21st century.

We also have projects on smart waste management, sustainable development, and the production of innovative dairy foods with new properties and socially relevant issues in agriculture. Another one is about the environmental impacts on the northwestern part of the Red Sea, with emphasis on pollution in the Gulf of Suez area.

We have many Erasmus projects, one of which is about entrepreneurship and sustainable fashion. All of these are ongoing projects at Galala University. We are also introducing think-athons in collaboration with Jordan, emphasizing think-athons in breast cancer and some types of research.


AfricaLive: What role do you believe Galala University can play in developing innovation nationally and in the development of other innovative institutions in the country and your overall ecosystem?

Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi: Innovation, for me, is not only thinking outside the box but also applying ideas to change and impact the community and our lives. It’s about doing things the right way in an innovative manner, but most importantly, seeing the impact, improving our lives, solving the problems we are facing, and making the community and lives much better.

We are very keen to be part of the higher education strategy announced in March 2023, which is built on seven pillars: integration, interdisciplinarity, communication, active participation of the community, sustainability, international relations, and entrepreneurship.

We were one of the first to have what’s called Galala University Knowledge and Innovation Hub. The aim of this hub is to be really related to what’s happening. It has within it specialized scientific centers, a university center for career development, a medical engineering science consultation center, an integrated research center of excellence, a central lab, a graduate studies council, and a knowledge and technology transfer center.

All of these centers and units within the hub work in harmony. Students are trained and prepared, getting career development. Postgraduate studies are related to the market. Labs serve the hub. Integrated centers of excellence, consultation with the industry, and the knowledge and technology transfer center take all these outcomes and transfer them to the industry. The hub also takes the problems of the industry, brings them to the university, and tries to find solutions.

This hub is one of our unique points until now, and it’s working very hard to be linked to all the needs of the community. Our vision is to be an internationally organized and excellent innovative learning and research community to make the world a better place.


AfricaLive: Do you believe that the environment of your campus, for example, is going to look very different in five years due to AI?

Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi: Every time there is an industrial revolution, the main concern is that machines will replace human beings, but it never happens. Human beings are the most adaptable creatures on Earth. We adapt because we are the ones making these innovations. Some jobs will be replaced, but millions of new jobs will be created in areas like cybersecurity and software engineering.


As an educator and a university leader, what’s most important for me is to prepare our students for this revolution so that they are aware of artificial intelligence, how to use it, how to ethically use it, and how to be ready for these changes. Apart from academic teaching and learning, there are soft skills and skills they need to know, like problem-solving, resilience, adaptability, teamwork, financial issues, business, digital and data literacy. These are very important courses that we are trying to embed into our curricula.


We have what’s called university requirements for all students, whatever their major, on how to present, how to work in a team, how to know about artificial intelligence, how to be digitally oriented. These important skills are crucial for us so that our students are really capable and ready for the future.


Of course, our campus is changing with all the technologies we are using. We have the latest elements like CRM and other systems, and we are very well-prepared technologically with our digital infrastructure. The way we are teaching, enhancing active learning, and being student-centric will make our campus improve in the upcoming trials.


In these very critical ages between 18 and 22, when students are coming from schools and going to the market, we are building, reshaping, and resetting them. Ethically, we have to prepare them, teach them, and put ethics into their core on how to use technology and how to avoid misusing it, avoid misinformation, and avoid all unethical uses of the technologies around us. For me, this is very crucial and important.


AfricaLive: How vital do you consider increased internationalization to be for the university and Egypt as a country?


Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi: We are not only collaborating with Arizona State University but also with Hiroshima University in Japan, where we have 15 professors teaching with us in different areas like dentistry, architecture, engineering, and Japanese language. We also have cooperation with South Africa, student exchange with different universities in the UK, workshops with Germany, Romania, and Indonesia.


Internationalization is now embedded within our DNA, and it’s not only about dual degrees but about preparing a global graduate to be ready for working and adaptable according to worldwide needs. What’s more important is to widen the base, not only to be limited to a small group of researchers or professors doing this internationalization but to expand the base of those who are cooperating and participating in these international efforts and cooperation.


Egypt is a diverse country with a population of 110 million, more than 3.6 million students in multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary areas, and rich history spanning 7,000 years. It has many resources from gas, tourism, industry, and economics. The country doubled its number of universities in 10 years, from 23 universities in 2014 to more than 60 universities in 2024, and aims to increase the number of students from 3.6 million to 5.3 million by 2030.


Egypt is the number one country in Africa for publications, with more than 38,000. I’m very confident that Egypt will be stable and take the lead in the Arab and African world.


AfricaLive: How confident are you in the future of Egypt? Can you give us a confidence score between 0 and 10?


Prof. Mohamed El-Shinawi: I’m very confident. If you look at the data, Egypt had 23 universities in 2014 and more than 60 in 2024. The number of students in higher education increased from 2.5 million 10 years ago to 3.6 million now, and it’s projected to reach 5.3 million in a few years, with still more to come. Egypt is now number one in Africa for publications, with more than 38,000. Based on all this data, I’m really confident in the country’s future.


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