Professor Amr Adly

President | Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology

“In Japan and South Korea, 80% of R&D capacities are in the industry, while in Egypt, Africa, and the Middle East, more than 96% of R&D capacity is in academia. This means there is a responsibility and role for higher education institutions to support national goals, which is an integral part of our strategy.”

Key Points

  • E-JUST was established in 2010 as a research-oriented university through a partnership between the Egyptian and Japanese governments to be a center of excellence in higher education and industry support for Egypt, Africa, and the Middle East.
  • E-JUST’s strategic plan was developed using a top-down approach starting from national goals, including Egypt Vision 2030, Africa Agenda 2063, and the UN SDGs, focusing on boosting value-added production and competitiveness.
  • The university works on three tracks to address the challenge of creating decent jobs for graduates: qualifying them for national job needs, international jobs, and empowering them with entrepreneurship skills to start their own SMEs.
  • E-JUST has an award-winning incubator that has spun out over ten startups, and the university helps industries boost their national value-added production, which is crucial for improving the national economy.
  • Flagship projects include developing advanced water desalination, treatment, and management solutions; establishing state-of-the-art clean room and graphene printing facilities for high-tech manufacturing; and supporting electric vehicle development.

AfricaLive: How would you summarize the identity of Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST)?

Prof. Amr Adly: E-JUST is a research-oriented university that was established in 2010 in full collaboration between the Egyptian and Japanese governments to be a higher education and industry support center of excellence for Egypt, Africa, and the Middle East. According to the agreement, E-JUST is a government-owned university, not a private one. The Egyptian government is responsible for the infrastructure, running costs, and employing all Egyptians, while the Japanese government is responsible for equipping the university with top-notch centers of excellence, advanced laboratories, and supporting all Japanese employees.


AfricaLive: Can you tell us a little about your vision for the development of the university and what you see as the key goals that match with the national development needs of Egypt?

Prof. Amr Adly: When we developed E-JUST’s 2021-2025 strategic plan, we used a top-down approach starting from the national goals, including Egypt Vision 2030, Africa Agenda 2063, and even the UN SDGs. To achieve economic prosperity, the competitive industrial performance index needs to be improved, which is very weak in most Middle Eastern and African countries. This can only be achieved by boosting the national value-added in all production sectors. In Japan, Germany and South Korea, about 80% of R&D capacities are in the industry, while in Egypt, Africa, and the Middle East, more than 96% of R&D capacity is in academia. This means there is a responsibility and role for higher education institutions to support national goals, which was an integral part of our strategy.

Another key issue is the employability of our graduates. According to global demographic expectations, there is a challenge to create the necessary jobs in Egypt and Africa because these countries have a higher percentage of young people. There is a challenge in creating the required future national jobs, but there are also opportunities to qualify graduates for international jobs. We can take lessons from India, where having expats leading international organizations is always a win for the nation.


AfricaLive: What does innovation mean to you?

Prof. Amr Adly: Innovation means fostering ideas that could eventually lead to something economically viable. At E-JUST, we offer mandatory courses in intellectual property rights and entrepreneurship for all postgraduates. We have an incubator that won the 2023 Best Incubator Entrepreneurship Impact Award from the International Council for Small Business in Washington, D.C. We foster ideas from students, faculty members, and even young people from society, and have established a virtual incubator to support their capacity building. We’ve had more than ten startups created out of these ideas.

Innovation sometimes ends with a patent or a very good publication, which boosts E-JUST’s international ranking and helps with graduate employability and attracting international students. Another crucial aspect of innovation is helping industries in Egypt boost their national value-added production, which is integral to Egypt Vision 2030. In many cases, we have to decipher the technical secrets of previously developed and patented technologies to help industries, which might not be classified as innovation globally but is crucial for supporting the national economy.


AfricaLive: What would you consider the flagship projects of E-JUST to be?

Prof. Amr Adly: We have numerous projects, but let me highlight a few. In the School of Energy, Environmental, Chemical and Petrochemical Engineering, we have a lot of work and research projects on water desalination, wastewater treatment, and water management, including fabricating membranes for desalination. These projects address national thematic priorities, and we have developed units that are currently being used in some municipalities.

To introduce the capability to move to more high-tech industries, we have a clean room where we are manufacturing small sensors and microelectronic equipment. We are also finishing a huge 600-square-meter clean room facility capable of fabricating devices that colleagues in other universities are designing and shipping abroad to be manufactured. Additionally, we have a Graphene Center of Excellence where we can print biosensors and supercapacitors. Our scientists, lead engineers, and graduate students have even registered patents for developing our own graphene ink at a very cheap price from national products.

In the Electrical Power Engineering division, we are developing electronic designs for electric vehicles and renewable energy systems. In our incubator, we have an undergraduate student who developed a small electric go-kart capable of driving up to 50 kilometers per hour with a 50-kilometer range per charge.


AfricaLive: What role does a university have to play in ensuring that human and societal considerations are at the center of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Prof. Amr Adly: Higher education institutions are key to facing the challenge of creating decent jobs for graduates from Egypt and Africa. At E-JUST, we work on three tracks. The first is qualifying our graduates for national job needs, not only posted jobs but also helping production entities and industries boost their national added value. 

The second track is qualifying graduates for international jobs by understanding what kind of jobs are needed in Europe, the United States, Japan, and elsewhere. We have modified our curriculum to take the Fourth Industrial Revolution into account. 

The third track is empowering our graduates with entrepreneurship skills so they have the possibilities to acquire a national job, an international job, or start their own SME. This boils down to how you design your curriculum and even teaching methodologies, which is the responsibility of higher education institutions.


AfricaLive: In your opinion, what needs to be done to bridge the disconnect between universities and industry, and how do you ensure that university research can be applied and have real-world impact?

Prof. Amr Adly: At E-JUST, we have Industry and Community Support clusters, and we cooperate with industries on four tracks. The first is our Consultation Center, where we have lots of contracts with industries to solve problems. Recently, when Egypt faced challenges with foreign currency, factories faced difficulties importing parts, so they started looking for alternatives to develop substitutes or minimize costs. Here, the responsibility rests on higher education institutions. We have faculty members with industry expertise who can talk to industries in their own language, and E-JUST can offer seed funds to demonstrate that they can solve the problem.

The second track is our incubator, which not only fosters ideas from students and faculty members but can also serve companies by bringing their products to be further developed using our lab facilities. The third track is offering measurement services for industries, given our advanced lab facilities. The fourth track is our Industry Training Unit, where we tailor courses for the top management of big industries in Egypt on topics like AI-based decision-making, supply chain decisions, and restructuring their companies to be more efficient.

Dealing with industry as a higher education institution means dealing with businessmen. If you can prove to them that paying one dollar will bring a return on the investment of that dollar, they will definitely work with you. It’s about convincing them and whether national circumstances make them seek national alternatives. 

Most factories in Egypt are imported turnkey projects without R&D divisions, so challenges can lead to good opportunities for the national economy. If there is a complete decoupling between industry and academia, it is – in my personal opinion –  the problem of academia – either they don’t know how to convince the industry, or their faculty and staff lack industry experience.


AfricaLive: How confident are you in the future of Egypt?

Prof. Amr Adly: I am very confident because I know the potential of Egypt is unbelievable – the potential of the young people, the infrastructure, and the expertise. When you have a wealth of young people, it can be a liability or an asset, depending on how higher education institutions capitalize on this to translate it into economic growth. What we are doing at E-JUST is being propagated not only for Egypt but for Africa. Through the TICAD7 and TICAD8 conferences organized by the Japanese government for African nations, it was decided that in collaboration with funding from the Egyptian government, 300 master’s and PhD scholarships would be made available for African students to study at E-JUST. We currently have 100 African students studying, and some who finished their master’s are now admitted for PhDs at top universities in the US and Norway. Last week, we received a very nice email from one of our African graduates who finished her master’s and started her own company based on what she learned at E-JUST. The potential of Africa is high if higher education institutions can capitalize on the wealth of young people and translate it into an asset, not a liability.


AfricaLive: Is there any final message you would like to send regarding opportunities that exist with E-JUST?

Prof. Amr Adly: Supporting national economies in Africa and the Middle East might require different methodologies than those adopted in Europe or the United States, again because of the different demographic expectations and the different percentage of R&D capacities in academia and industry. I believe Egypt, in particular, has very high potential, and we can easily be the talent repository for Europe and other parts of the world. The same can be applied to Africa. E-JUST is always open to be a bridge for  best practices transfer between Japanese and African universities.


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