Fact #1– “Technology employment market is very narrow, when you are in one company, you can count the geeks in other companies, when you stay for more than 4 years, you are almost stuck, and it is not easy anymore to move to another competitive employment market”
The Employment market in technology innovation is very narrow in The Middle East
We have in Egypt, around 11 working small businesses taking a stream line of technology innovation as number one line of business, namely: ” New Port Media (Dr. Nabil Rene), SySDSoft (Dr. Khaled Ismail), Silminds (Dr. Hossam Aly Fahmy), ICT (Dr. Hesham Kamel), Swiftronix (Dr. Ayman Wahba), Silicon Vision (Eng. Tarek ElEsseily), Consultix Egypt (Eng. Amr El Gazzar), Tietec (Eng. Essam Abdrabou), MEMS Vision , Varkon SemiConductors (Dr. Ahmed Shalash, Dr. Hesham Hamed) , and Cloud9ers (Eng. Ahmed Kamal) which is sited in ElMansoura, and I cannot find a website for it”
6 Medium Enterprises: “AsgaTech (Eng. Aly Helmy, Eng. Maged Shaker), Si-Ware Sytems – SWS (Dr. Hisham Haddara), Orange Labs (Eng. Hussein El Gueretly), ElSewedy Electrometer (Eng. Yasser Abdelbary), Valeo, Mentor Graphics)
In addition to some IT and Telecom infrastructure companies like Linux Plus, IBM, Orange Business Services, EMC2 Egypt, IT Worx, IT Synergy, IT Soft, Bayan Tech, Giza Systems, Link Development, RDI, EME IT, GlobeSoft, Zad Solutions, Future Soft, Egypt Soft, Egypt Soft Commerce, Global Brands, Oracle Egypt, Microsoft Egypt, Etisalat Data, Raya, Vodafone Egypt, MobiNil, Etisalat, Satyam, TE Data, FingerPrint, Advanced Computer Technology, HP, Nokia Siemens Networks, Ericsson, Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent, Link Dot Net, Delta Telecom, Sakhr, Harf, and others that are many, but they are not necessarily setting an edge in technology in Egypt or The Middle East, because they do not provide solutions that are necessarily based on Innovation, Research and Develolpment, however, they are more considered either Solutions Integrators, Software Firms, Service Providers, or Operators, which is a concept in Leadership that is basically different than what is intended as a concept of Technology Innovation. However, they can have what is considered a pool of available employment opportunities, competing with the Employment Market of the Technology Innovation. Specially that each company may have a handful of innovation based positions, mostly in System Integration and software development.
Besides these we can find the government owned research centers, of NTI, and Universities, which we know all of its performances in the R&D and the projects they are handling and how narrow they are and also not revenue making.
Besides Egypt Market, there is Dubai Silicon Oasis, which is facing problems in growth, and by far did not meet the expectation of the investors and the media, as it was not able to attract the techie minds from the region in one place, and most of the innovation companies which opened there, rolled back, or made a freeze to their growth
Also in Saudia Arabia, the first shining light in technology innovation comes from KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology) which is still in the start up phase, and most of its innovation projects are outsourced to companies in the region, but of course, if proper leadership is placed there it is a very promising place for techies
In Jordan, Tunisia, and Morocco, there can be a single hand count of similar companies, until now I do not have informations about them
Other countries in the region of Middle East (Meaning the Arab Countries, excluding Turkey, Iran and Pakistan), we have no information there are similar attempts to enter the technology market
There are facts to know about this, as we counted 17 Innovation based companies, that offer an average of 160 different engineering innovation positions, and 36 other companies offering possibly an average of 150 other Engineering Innovative positions
Knowing the fact that the Engineering graduates and Computer Science Graduates who are available to work in these fields coming out of the Egyptian universities alone are average of 3000 yearly from all over Egypt (including private universities, and public government owned universities), and the available Engineers since 15 years are almost above 40,000 who choose to work in different Engineering Services Sections, Solution Integrations, being specialized in certain products maintainance, sales and support, so the employment market for innovation only is available for less than 0.7% of the total Engineers and Developers of Egypt.
Another fact to know is that these 300 lucky engineers are diversified in their specialities, among the different research specializations, i.e. Open Source Research and Development, Embedded Software Design & Development, Hardware Design, Digital IC Design, Analog IC Design, RF Design, Systems Design, Power Electronics, and Testing and QA
The experience dilemma in this market is that with this few number of companies, the engineers and innovators are not lucky to work in all the target products market, they are only confined in certain fields or domains, i.e. if we consider the target market includes: aeronautics, medical devices, consumer electronics, mobile devices, cloud computing, telecommunication equipment, robotics, manufacturing sector, media support devices, military applications, sensors, Electronic Design Automation, Radars and Detectors, Satellite Communications, Broadcasting , Measurements and Callibration, ..etc. I guess we are talking about three or four target product segments at most
The last dilemma which I consider normal in these conditions which is the fact that these companies are risky, they open and close so often
I recall since year 2000 there are at least 5 companies with promising research and development infrastructures that opened and closed in Egypt, I recall of them MEMSCAP, Ellipsis Digital, QuickTel, Arab Organization for Industrialization, Bahgat Group IEP R&D (I worked there and read it will happen), and there are others that I do not have exact information about, and it was evident that most of the ex-workers and calibers who worked in these companies, are the cornerstones of the current emerged companies, and some of them learned a lot from the mistakes of leadership that happened in the past, one of the most recognized hotshots success stories in this domain is AsgaTech, which I mentioned first in the medium sized corporates
Of course this risk puts pressure on a new graduate who is choosing a career market to work in, does he follow his passion to innovation in a very high risk market, that is not guaranteed? or does he go to an open secure market, with a defined future?
For me, when I graduated and was a freshman, I was personally passionate about working in the Technology Innovation Market, and when I had a job offer in Bahgat R&D, I was to choose between it with a lower salary, and working as a Service Engineer in a Mobile Operator with nearly double the offer plus benefits, and when I took peoples’ opinions, they all warned me then of the employment market of R&D, and when I chose my passion, I was cursed and labeled stupid then, because this was a high risk zone, and within less than a year I knew I had to change to the Telecom Service Industry because of this reason and most of the other reasons I listed, and I never regretted that decision after 9 years of taking it, but I know the dilemma and pressure that happens to passionate brilliant minds in making such tough choice
Of course this narrow employment market makes it very hard for the engineers and developers to find their growth opportunities inside the market, so they mostly either switch to the service market, or business market, like what I did earlier (almost 40% of whome I know started in R&D made the career choice like me), and around 10% traveled abroad for opportunities in Europe, Americas, and Malaysia, and the remaining are still struggling in the market.
I do not want to be pessimistic, but we need to understand that the dilemma of the employment market should be resolved by encouraging the opening of more and more R&D and Innovation Companies, and valuing the Innovation inside the Technical Based Businesses.
Besides the fact that governments have to take responsibilities in this, also there could be NGOs that are formed to support innovative ideas, and put a probation period, or provide incubators for these projects
I heard that there are incubators set by the Egyptian government, however, the target maximum investments per projects were really funny compared to the desired outcomes and investments needed for an innovation project, I learned the maximum is 200,000 LE that are awarded, especially that the expected Return On Investment from serious Innovative projects cash in after almost an average of 3 years, and with this number the owner of the idea will not even cover his personal needs during this period, besides the needed OPEX (Operational Expenses) and CAPEX (Capital Investments) of the project, so NGOs should put in some efforts convincing investors to put in some good cash into such selected projects, starting with all lessons learned from history of failed and succeeding companies.
Correction by Eng. Hossam Al Zomor:
“There are some fund programs from the government which offer better values than the incubator programs. for example ITAC program offer up to 1000000 LE for prototype development and up to 3000000 LE for product development.
also IMC have some good programs for funding established companies http://www.imc-egypt.org/ar/prgSCIENTIFICRESEARCH.asp, and it is upto 5M EGP.
These programs may have some drawbacks from my point of view, but I think they are steps on the right direction”
And I agree with Hossam, if these programs are real and available, then the government already put the first step in the right direction, it needs successful entrepreneurs to captive on these opportunities, and start successful research strategies and start to innovate products with the use of these funds
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Sharaf, I really admire your market information. It is really a pity that this market is that limited. But to tell you the truth, this segment of the market (technology innovation) is very limited world-wide, and it is always a small set of engineers that work in it. The point is that undergraduate students have to set their expectations about the market, so that they do not get frustrated with reality.
Thank you Hossam for your encouragement
I believe that the ratio is not fair compared to university graduates abroad in the first world, it could reach there 5-10% of possible working opportunities, you can imagine that they accept non EU citizens in similar jobs, because of scarcity of resources, as well as if this was your personal ambition, you will not get turned down because of similar reasons, the government and companies expenditure on innovations are totally different than our situation here in the middle east..
Nice essay Mohamed.
There are some fund programs from the government which offer better values than the incubator programs. for example ITAC program offer up to 1000000 LE for prototype development and up to 3000000 LE for product development.
also IMC have some good programs for funding established companies http://www.imc-egypt.org/ar/index.asp
These programs may have some drawbacks from my point of view, but I think they are steps on the right direction
Wa alaykom assalam dear Hossam
Thanks for the compliments 🙂
That is real deal information, I needed such information in my research, and actually, I only learned about programs with a ceiling of 200,000 LE
So I will add your comments tagged by your name in the core of the article
A good question will be: What are the drawbacks in your point of view?
Can you please give some reflections from your experience??
Thank you and have an outstanding day
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This is Ahmed Kamal from Cloud9ers. Just noting that our website is http://cloud9ers.com/
Thanks for collecting that list of hot Egyptian startups 🙂