Energy, space, ICT and smart city technologies are all areas in which Egypt could join forces with the Skolkovo Foundation, Egyptian Ambassador to Russia Ihab Nasr said during a visit to the Skolkovo innovation city on Monday.

Egyptian Ambassador Ihab Nasr said what he had seen and heard at Skolkovo had given him "a lot of food for thought" about the prospects of cooperation between his country and the innovation city. Photo:

The ambassador met with representatives of three Skolkovo clusters – IT, energy and advanced industrial technologies – and heard about Skolkovo’s smart cities project, and expressed keen interest in applying some of those technologies in Egypt, which is currently building a smart city as its new administrative capital.

“This is a lot of food for thought,” said Nasr. “I left my last posting in Moscow when Skolkovo was just an idea. I’m glad to see it functioning in such an effective work structure. Every field presented today has big potential for bilateral cooperation.”

The Egyptian ambassador said there were major opportunities for cooperation in the energy sector.

“We are transforming Egypt into the largest regional energy hub,” he told the meeting, adding that the plan is about more than simply exporting raw materials, and involves working closely with the petrochemical industry and refineries, as well as electricity companies.

Mikhail Tykuchinsky, development director of Skolkovo's energy cluster. Photo:

"It’s a huge project. The deal announced with Israel [for an Egyptian company to buy $15 billion of Israeli gas last week] is only a small part of it. So I see big opportunities there,” said Nasr.

Mikhail Tykuchinsky, development director within Skolkovo’s energy efficiency cluster, said Skolkovo energy startups had a lot to offer and are very open to cooperating with Egypt, both on the Egyptian market itself and as a platform to the Gulf region. Six Skolkovo startups took part in the Egypt Petroleum Show in Cairo earlier this month, he noted, and many of the foundation’s energy startups have offices in Gulf countries such as Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Another key Egyptian initiative right now – and one in which there is plenty of scope for cooperation with Skolkovo – is the creation of a smart city.

“We are building a new administrative capital,” Nasr told the meeting.

“Practically it’s part of Cairo, but it will be completely different: it will be a smart city. So again, there is big potential for cooperation with this city,” he said, after hearing about the practices in place at the Skolkovo innovation city, which was conceived from day one as a smart city.

Egypt’s space agency, which was formally established last year, would also be interested in developing the Arab nation’s space industries together with Russia, said the ambassador.

Egypt has already launched a satellite made by Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation into space, and another is due to be launched by 2019, said Ivan Kosenkov, a senior project manager within Skolkovo’s industrial technologies cluster.

Skolkovo has two companies that make low-cost earth observation satellites: Dauria Aerospace and Sputnix, said Kosenkov, inviting the Egyptian side to extend the cooperation with Russia in space to small, private space startups.

The delegation from the Egyptian embassy also heard from Sergei Khodakov, director of operations within the IT cluster, about Skolkovo startups working on smart home technology, face recognition and other biometric verification methods, online payment protection systems, and education platforms, among other areas.

Nasr said that the Egyptian government is currently building 10 technoparks and a huge smart village in which such technologies are in demand. There are also plenty of companies in Egypt interested in cooperating with Russian enterprises, both in terms of hardware and software, he added.