“When there is a problem, I try to find a solution and apply it to concrete contexts. That is what applied research is all about.” Wesam Sarhan started her journey in science as someone who wants to solve problems. During her PhD in nanotechnology, she was acquainted with the concepts of entrepreneurship, which triggered her passion for applied research “with an eye on the market”. “It is different from basic science because I try to find practical applications of available scientific tools to develop scalable solutions to real life problems.”

Her very first trial, NanoEbers, consisted of an advanced wound dressing made from a variety of natural components such as nanofibers, honey and medicinal plants from the Sinaï Peninsula. “This is a product that was never fabricated in Egypt. It used to be imported but at a very high cost and this completely stopped during the COVID-19 crisis.” By developing a local alternative with some advanced properties, Wesam and her team managed to receive funding for the prototype and won a number of awards. “But it was still difficult because there is an entire infrastructure needed to develop such products that we do not have in Egypt.”    Far from discouraging her, this hurdle made her even more eager to find innovative solutions that could be more easily applicable.

In 2019, Wesam turned to hemostatic sponges, which she started making from natural biodegradable materials that could be found in the region. “These sponges are designed and optimised to instantly stop severe bleeding and have a vital use in dental and surgical contexts. By producing them in Egypt, we will be able to be much more effective and reach many more patients.” Whilst she never faced any issue being a woman in science, she says innovation is always a tricky path. “It is difficult to be innovative, especially when you combine two fields that can be precarious: science and entrepreneurship. But once you have the mindset, you just need the roadmap!”

THE NEXT SOCIETY

THE NEXT SOCIETY is an open community of changemakers, entrepreneurs, investors, corporates, NGOs, public and private innovation, research and economic development hubs from Europe and 7 Mediterranean countries: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine and Tunisia. THE NEXT SOCIETY aims at mobilising, promoting and reinforcing innovation ecosystems and economic development in the MENA region.

Women in Science

On the occasion of the International Day of Women in Science (February 11), the EU Neighbours South programme designed and launched a campaign to raise awareness about the inequalities faced by women in the field of science. The campaign started on February 11 and ended on March 8 to mark International Women's Day. In the frame of this campaign, a high volume of content was produced and published on social media and/or ...
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