Project Title: Strengthening Relationships between Higher Education and the Socio-Economic Environment (YABDA)
Project Reference: 586418-EPP-1-2017-1-MA-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP
Project Agreement Period: (2017-2020)
Yabda( يبدأ ) is the Arabic word to begin or to initiate. The Yabda project aims to respond to the strong need to strengthen the capacities of partner universities to promote the creation of Startup and Spin Off to match the high research and development potential of the Arab Maghreb countries and the rising youth unemployment.
Entrepreneurship training has long been recognized as a key component of regional growth and development (EU, OECD, UNDP). The role of higher education institutions can contribute to the economic development of their communities and national competitiveness. Universities around the world have expanded their mission beyond basic research and teaching to become places where knowledge fuels patent development, business collaborations, and incubators for start-ups.
Yabda realises that this requires the creation of an enabling environment that could break down the dominant cultures of universities and companies and help to develop strategies for new forms of cooperation. The success of long-term university-business partnerships depends on the willingness of the university management to develop a new vision and to introduce new core tasks. It also depends on the willingness of academic and administrative staff to accept this vision.
Yabda will therefore develop a comprehensive ecosystem that promotes entrepreneurship and innovation in higher education institutions and beyond. It will raise the level of skills and competences and mobilise all university resources, including academic, administrative and student staff, to transform universities into effective start-up platforms. In addition, the project will act as a ‘policy entrepreneur’, disseminating entrepreneurial ideas and skills through interaction with business, policy makers and society. This should strengthen its systemic impact.
Yabda will adopt a multidisciplinary approach promoting green growth and technological development, in line with the national/regional priorities of the three partner countries:
In 2008, Algeria chose to optimise its national innovation system by reorganising science, developing infrastructure, human resources and research, and strengthening scientific cooperation and funding. Since then, various measures have been taken to develop its innovation potential; in 2015, it created a national academy of sciences (www.aast.dz).
The Moroccan innovation strategy was launched in 2009 to a) develop domestic demand for innovation; b) foster public-private links; and c) introduce innovative financing mechanisms. These now include Intilak for innovative start-ups and Tatwir for industrial companies or consortia. Morocco has three techno parks, host companies specializing in ICT, green technologies and cultural industries. The Moroccan Spin-off and Incubation Network (www.rmie.ma) supports business incubation and technology transfer through university spin-offs. It provides start-ups with pre-seed capital to develop sound business plans.
The Science, Technology and Innovation system in Tunisia is strongly supported by the government. The new Tunisian Constitution (2014) expressly states in Article 33 that “the State shall provide the necessary means for the development of technological and scientific research”. The University Council is chaired by the Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Research and Information and Communication Technologies. In 2015, it approved a comprehensive reform of scientific research and higher education to be implemented over the period 2015-2025.
Yabda is in line with many EU initiatives related to learning and entrepreneurship creation (5). A strong synergy is expected to develop with the Startup Europe Comes to Africa initiative (expected soon).
Training and support for entrepreneurs can be a catalyst for innovation and development (EU, UNDP, UNESCO, OECD). The project aims to build the capacity needed in ten Maghreb universities to match the region’s high research and development potential with soaring youth unemployment. The goals of YABDA project are :
- Address challenges reagrding to companies and innovation in areas where partner countries have a competitive advantage: green technologies, energy and sustainable development,,
- Create a high caliber network of future entrepreneurs and thinkers that connects to the local/regional and international market ecosystem with a multiplier effect in the Maghreb region.
Yabda will stimulate an entrepreneurial spirit conducive to innovation throughout the Maghreb region.
- Create an entrepreneurial infrastructure and culture that responds to and based on the regional context.
- Addressing entrepreneurial and innovative challenges particularly in areas where partner countries are disciplining competitive advantages in green technology, energy and sustainable development.
- Build a high-level network of future entrepreneurs and thematicians who connect to the local/regional international market ecosystem.
Yabda will develop an innovative ecosystem that will promote:
- Guidance : an online guide will offer practical and personalised information for setting up a company; a targeted training programme, supplemented by personal coaching, will support the creation of new companies.
- Engagement: A university network will reach and engage teaching and administrative staff, researchers and students. Yabda-Innovate unit will orient students to the conceptual thinking process ; Business/marketing, engineering and IT departments will be at the heart of its activities. Through Yabda-Law unit, teaching staff, employees and students will support potential entrepreneurs and startups with patents/copyrights etc. Yabda-Student unit will provide basic entrepreneurship support group.
- Exchanges and sharing: the Yabda-Hub will be a center for the development of young start-ups in the fields of green technologies, energy and sustainable development; Yabda-Site twill provides all the information for the development and visibility of startups; Yabda community will connect all interested parties of the University for an exchange of experiences and ideas.
- Support: The Yabda-enterprise team will be responsible for supporting and advancing Yabda in the long term by a) developing expertise in the commercialisation of university knowledge and technology, b) establishing partnerships with external regional / national / regional partners. International entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Organisme coordinateur du projet
UNIVERSITÉ Hassan II de Casablanca (Maroc)
Coordinateur national du projet
Université de Mostaganem Abdelhamid Ibn Badis (Algerie)