icecairo is a technology and innovation hub aiming to accelerate Egypt’s economic growth by promoting market-driven and environmentally viable innovations. It is part of the icehubs network, which includes iceaddis in Ethiopia and icebauhaus in Germany.
The ‘ice’ stands for Innovation, Collaboration and Entrepreneurship. icecairo also helped to establish iceaswan in Aswan in the south of Egypt, and icealex in Alexandria on the Mediterranean.
“icecairo is a hub for individuals to come together and use innovative techniques to tackle Egypt’s complex social challenges”, co-founder Adam Molyneux-Berry in a video describing how the icehub works. “These can be basic things that affect ordinary Egyptians, such as high energy costs and water scarcity using green technology.”
In addition to the introduction video, icecairo’s YouTube channel has a variety of resources for those looking to learn more about the tech scene in Egypt. It has a variety of how-to videos, including how Egyptian startups can get funding, how to use the business model canvas.
icecairo also has videos from its fabrication laboratory, or Fab Lab, which explains how to use the 3D printer, laser cutter and 3D carving machine. The lab, which is managed by Rania Rafie, is part of MIT’s international Fab Lab Network.
“The fabrication lab is useful for rapidly prototyping the designs that icecairo members come up with”, Rania adds. “We are always experimenting with our tools to create new products that are environmentally friendly and socially responsible.”
icecairo has also developed the ‘ice protocol’, a systematic problem-solving flowchart. The protocol starts with prototyping a solution for the problem at hand, and building a business around the solution.
For those looking to create green businesses in order to monetize their environmentally friendly solutions, the ice protocol includes a rapid prototyping strategy for green ideas.
The ice protocol starts with identifying a need in the community, followed by the tools, knowledge and networks necessary for the people to solve the challenge identified.
“Products that don’t have a business model won’t have a place in the market”, Adam adds. “With this in mind, we started the ‘Build Your Startup’ entrepreneurship programme to equip our members with entrepreneurial knowledge so that they can build businesses around their innovations and get funding for their solutions. The programme includes workshops and networking events to enable startups to establish themselves and grow in order to attract funding from Egypt and elsewhere.”
As Mostafa Hussein, green tech manager at icecairo explains, the aim is to make green tech more mainstream.
“We are using low-tech appropriate solutions such as biogas digesters and solar water heaters to save money”, Mostafa adds. “These are easy to make, and they can be adapted to meet whatever the demands are.”
icecairo has had a series of solar hackathons started in 2015. One of these hackathons led to the assembly of a solar water heater from recycled parts that provides an adequate supply of hot water for the building they are located in.
icecairo has a sizeable community, with 22,000 people drawn from Egypt’s tech and maker communities. The space is used by startups, companies and university students.
“Last year we held over 80 events, ranging from the more technical ones at the Fab Lab with the laser cutter to more hands-on entrepreneurial trainings and workshops”, adds Mohamed Radwan, another co-founder at icecairo. “The members get access to resources and networks both within Egypt and outside the country, and this . To help them grow, the hub facilitates workshops for hard and soft skills.
icecairo’s aim, as Adam explains, is to focus on coming up with solutions. With this in mind, the hub offers the tools, knowledge and networks for Egypt’s tech entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life.
“We’re working together to give Egyptian communities the tools they need to solve their own challenges”, he adds. “We are helping in the formation of a green economy by enabling the creation of green businesses that are powered by and employing young Egyptians.”