Innovation Lectures at AGU Discuss “Social Innovation in Times of Crises”

Dr Atef Elshabrawy, Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (EJUST), emphasised the significance of analysing big data and monitoring population changes and human behaviour patterns to stimulate social innovation in sectors such as education, health, social services and business administration. He also discussed practical applications of social innovation in addressing issues of poverty, unemployment, creative industries and crowdfunding.

This came during a lecture organised by the Department of Innovation and Technology Management at the Arabian Gulf University (AGU), where Dr Elshabrawy highlighted the importance of innovation and innovative thinking, especially during times of crises. He stated that with the escalation of challenges and the multiplicity of crises in recent years, new solutions are crucial to confront these crises. Furthermore, Dr Elshabrawy emphasised that innovations during these times play a crucial role in providing individuals, organisations and governments with the tools and technologies necessary to deal with complex challenges effectively.

Dr Elshabrawy presented various international experiences in innovation during times of crises, including India, France, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Egypt, the United States and the United Kingdom. He discussed social, collective and governmental innovation in the areas of social entrepreneurship, financial technology applications and mobile phone applications. He also highlighted concepts such as social innovation, innovations of the poor, community innovations and participatory and governmental approaches to solving societal, economic and environmental problems.

Additionally, Dr Elshabrawy shared examples of innovative approaches, including President Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression in the United States, where an elite team called the “Brain Trust” and the “Depression Planning Agency” were formed. He also discussed the application of behavioural economics theories, such as the “payment” theory, in financial transactions on mobile phones. Moreover, Dr Elshabrawy focused on climate change problems and initiatives to tackle issues such as obesity and food waste by providing information to citizens and allowing them to make informed decisions.

During the lecture, Dr Elshabrawy outlined the experiences of financial, participatory and governmental innovation laboratories in countries like Afghanistan, Denmark and Egypt. These laboratories aimed to find solutions for various challenges, such as facilitating access to government services in Afghanistan and achieving sustainability and combating climate change in Denmark. He also highlighted the United Nations Secretary General’s initiative in establishing an innovative initiative called “i4c” to address the challenges posed by the influx of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

Furthermore, Dr Elshabrawy discussed participatory innovative initiatives in India, Egypt, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. These initiatives focus on empowering individuals, especially women and youth, during times of crises.

“For example, in Bosnia, initiatives were developed to integrate the women who were victims of war crimes back into society. In Egypt, initiatives focused on empowering the poor through value chains in livestock production, with a special emphasis on women’s economic empowerment,” he stated.

Dr Elshabrawy added that innovative thinking and endeavours to find creative solutions should become a continuous lifestyle in all aspects of daily activities for individuals, organisations and governments. He emphasised that innovation is crucial for dealing with challenges and transforming crises and problems into opportunities for economic and technological development and societal advancement.

For his part, Professor Dr Odeh Aljayyousi, Acting Head of the Innovation and Technology Management Department at AGU, highlighted the importance of events like these in presenting developments to graduate students. He stressed the department’s commitment to fostering a culture of innovation, stimulating entrepreneurship and promoting digital transformation and artificial intelligence applications. It is noteworthy that the Department of Innovation and Technology Management has produced several influential and prominent postgraduate students in various sectors, including education, health, media, business administration and technology, adding that the university aims to support innovation in the GCC countries to achieve their national visions.

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