Catalyzing Sustainable Development Through the UNDP Egypt Accelerator Lab

April 14, 2021

The launch of Accelerator Lab in Egypt

With less than 10 years left to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the world is set on reimagining development; tapping into collective intelligence, to pave the way for the green, resilient, and inclusive future. Minister of International Cooperation H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat joined the UNDP Egypt Accelerator Lab official launch event: “The Future is Calling, we are Answering” to discuss shifting mindsets and adopting reform plans.

“The Future is Calling, we are Answering” sets a great momentum for a glocal network for creativity to pave the way for a better future. “Innovation and resilience are essential to cope with the fast-paced changes in technology, calibrating people’s skills and businesses to fit in the dynamic economic sphere. To reach a sustainable future, we must keep pushing towards scientific research, global collaboration, and the pursuit of sustainable targets. Collective intelligence is key to reimagine the world we live in,” said Al-Mashat.

The event included several participants, including UNDP Resident Representative in Egypt, Ms. Randa Aboul-Hosn who gave introductory remarks. This was followed by a fireside chat on “Collective Action for Accelerating Development” by Al-Mashat and Team Leader of the Accelerator Lab Network, Gina Lucarelli.

Giving opening remarks, Aboul-Hosn said “we are approaching complexity in the world with learning.”  Aboul-Hosn also proudly explained that the Egypt Accelerator lab is led by women. “As part of a global network, we are asking how to find solutions, and how to tackle challenges to move forward. To be able to adapt in the face of challenges, collective action is needed, alongside innovation and learning,” said Aboul-Hosn.

The UNDP Egypt Accelerator Lab is part of a global network of 91 accelerators across 115 countries, and it serves as a platform for innovation, and for decision-makers and development partners to explore and experiment solutions that can address global challenges.

“The Accelerator Lab is part of UNDP’s drive to be an incubator for the future and to accelerate progress towards the 2030 Agenda and the achievement of the SDGs,” said Aboul-Hosn.

Lucarelli pointed out how the world has witnessed a boost in creativity during the pandemic across several fields. Al-Mashat elaborated that one of Egypt’s creative stories weathering the pandemic’s socio-economic challenges was the story of Kemema. While putting people at the core, Kemama, a community-based initiative in partnership with the UNDP and El Nidaa Foundation, engaged Egyptian women from Upper Egypt to produce medical face masks providing them with a source of income during the dire times.

The Minister added that the Accelerator Lab is integral for efficient cooperation, as it explores various areas of development , in experimenting with the UNDP, and in mapping successful innovations. Al-Mashat emphasized that innovation plays an important role in filling the development financing gap “by suggesting new ideas that are more cost  and time efficient; having a higher impact on the economy and society.” The creativity-led development framework is in alignment with Egypt’s tactics of education modernization, digital transformation, and private sector engagement  in the national agenda.

“Together with the Egyptian government, private sector, civil society as well as youth and actors in the innovation ecosystem, UNDP Egypt’s Accelerator Lab acts as a fast-learning network on sustainable development challenges and catalysts for change, providing partners with new approaches to address development problems unleashing the power of local innovations, collective intelligence and experimentation” added  Aboul-Hosn.

The Minister added that Egypt is the leading regional startup hub; “the startup scene has boomed during the pandemic showing an innovative generation of creators and trendsetters who are able to adapt to a challenging business and economic environment. Through the UN Accelerator Lab, we are able to encourage their dynamic force  further and allow more people not just to succeed, but also to explore new fields of potential growth,” she added.

The launch also saw a panel discussion among members from the Accelerator Lab network from countries across the region: Iraq, Lebanon and Sudan, in a discussion around development challenges and experiences in leading Accelerator Labs’ within their country offices.