Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Entrepreneurship and Venture Development Program

The Center of Excellence for Energy recently concluded a successful three-day event within its Entrepreneurship and Venture Development program at Ain Shams University’s Faculty of Engineering. Launched in October 2023 and led by Dr. Brent Sebold, Arizona State University’s director of Entrepreneurship + Innovation in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, the program aimed to foster an entrepreneurial culture at the center’s Egyptian partner universities and drive innovation in the energy industry.

The three-day event took place from February 25 to 27, kicking off with the University Entrepreneurship and Venture Development Seminar. Participants from Ain Shams, Mansoura, and Aswan universities, alongside industry professionals, convened for an engaging conversation with Dr. Sebold preparing them to navigate and contribute effectively to university entrepreneurship and venture development ecosystems. The two-part session covered the importance of cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, key strategies for innovation management, and examples of successful venture development models. Before the day was over, participants learned how to design, manage, and scale startup mentoring programs, innovation spaces, and funding competitions tailored to any university ecosystem.

“The innovation is there and so are the students and their ideas, but a few dots still need to be connected. Being here today and learning from what they have already accomplished at Arizona State University and customizing it to our university environments helps us connect these dots,” said Dr. Ahmed Fikry, director of the Technology, Innovation, and Commercial Office at Mansoura University.

Day two was exclusive to six student and faculty teams from the three Egyptian partner universities whose proposals were selected for the Venture Development Workshop in October 2023. For months, they have been going through virtual incubation and mentoring, and this was their last session with Dr. Sebold to refine their pitches before they competed for seed grant funding the following day.

Venture Demo Day or competition day was the culminating event, during which the six venture teams presented their innovative energy initiatives in a Shark Tank-style showcase. Technology startup fans watched as the teams pitched their fully developed business proposals for clean energy solutions to a distinguished panel of judges, and the winning ventures received a share of $8,000 each in seed funding, powered by USAID, to further develop their ventures.

The first-place winning venture, Carbonless ($2,000), developed a renewable energy solution to decarbonize the maritime industry by capturing and repurposing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. In second place, AgroVisioners ($1,500) uses artificial intelligence in agriculture to control water and oxygen and improve crop quality, in addition to benefiting from fog in agriculture. In third place, BiAswan ($1,500) utilizes agricultural and solid waste in the production of clean energy and fertilizers. Eco Drive ($1,000), in fourth place, uses solar and wind energy to power vehicles by installing power generation units on top of the car. Solar Heater ($1,000), in fifth place, harnesses solar energy in homes, using new technology to maintain water temperature in heaters, and the sixth-place venture, ThermalSync ($1,000), uses artificial intelligence to select solar power plant locations, optimize plant efficiency, and manage solar photovoltaic systems.

Mohanad Ahmed, a senior at Ain Shams University and a member of the Eco Drive venture team, shared his enthusiasm for the program, stating, “If you had asked me a few months ago what I wanted to do after graduation, I would have said seek employment at a company. But now, I want to develop my own startup. Maybe even more than one. For me, this workshop changed the way I think.”

Dr. Brent Sebold commended the teams for their dedication to addressing pressing energy issues, saying, “We don’t know if any one of these ventures is going to solve the climate crisis in the next six months or six years, but we do know that we’re chipping away at these individual problem statements in a novel way. So, I’m very excited about the founders and the technologies being developed within these three partner schools.”

Learn more about the Venture Development Workshop here.

The Entrepreneurship and Venture Development Program embodies the collaborative efforts of USAID, Arizona State University, and Egyptian partner institutions in advancing innovation and competitiveness in Egypt’s energy sector. Through unique initiatives and programs like these, the Center of Excellence for Energy is advancing Egypt’s goal of achieving 42% renewable energy by 2035.

Meet Dr. Sebold

Meet the University Entrepreneurship and Venture Development lead: Arizona State University’s Brent Sebold, PhD

Previous Program Sessions

Foundations of Entrepreneurship Seminar (Virtual): October 23, 2023

In the Foundations of Entrepreneurship Seminar, faculty participants were introduced to key organizational capacity development constructs as well as technology transfer-related concepts and models. Workshops included lean startup and evidence-based entrepreneurial methods to discover problem-solution fits and readiness for product-market fit.

Venture Development Workshop Kickoff (Virtual): October 23, 2023

Participants catalyzed the first three Cs of the Entrepreneurship + Value Creation methodology: Care, Curiosity, and Customer Development. After collaborating to identify market needs, create an outline of their concepts, develop value propositions, and complete competitive analyses, teams met individually with Dr. Sebold to further advance their concepts.

Incubator and Mentoring (Virtual): October 2023 – February 2024

Selected teams participated in virtual seminars and mentoring, catalyzing the final four Cs of the Entrepreneurship + Value Creation methodology: Contextual Connectivity, Creativity, Creating Value, and Cash. With mentor guidance, teams developed second and third drafts of their proposals. In February 2024, all teams should have a fully developed business venture plan to utilize and the tools to continue to develop and market their business venture.

If you have questions, please contact [email protected].

Professor speaking with video board behind him

Dr. Brent Sebold
Director of Entrepreneurship + Innovation
Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering
Arizona State University

Dr. Sebold is an expert faculty designer and administrator of university-based entrepreneurship and innovation programs at Arizona State University. Brent’s expertise also includes the design and leadership of impactful collegiate engagement programs for universal learners. (More)