British Council Creative Economy

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17 June 2014

Culture Shift: Egypt

We brought together some of Egypt’s leading software developers and designers to stimulate the creation of new technologies and entice some exciting experimentation within the cultural sector.

It's important that for our Culture Shift programme we engage with local communities to attract the right participants.  In Cairo in 2012, we worked with Kijamii, TEDxCairo, Startup Weekend Cairo, Eventtus, Cairo Hackerspace and Darb 1718 to help us bring together over 60 participants (from business, digital, creative & cultural backgrounds) to the project.

Social Innovation Camp designed and delivered our programme, while Snook and Firstport provided prototyping and investment ready workshops beforehand.  Our participants were asked to think about what challenges and opportunities faced the creative and cultural sector in Egypt and put into teams to design solutions around each theme. 

After 48 hours of idea crunching and prototype building, digging into the problems of the cultural sector experiences, the teams then pitched their unique solutions to our panel of judges.  Our judges, made up of  Sarah Drummond (Snook), Ramy Habeeb (Kotobarabia), Tarim (Pervasive Media Studio) and Karen McGregor (Firstport), were then tasked with choosing the leading ideas and granting teams up to £5000. 

In first place, with project funding of £3,000: Meshabbek.

This is a platform to help creative people find the right talent and skills to make their projects come alive – from mash-ups (I’d like a musician to make a soundtrack to my book) to collaborators to agents and skilled technical specialists, this platform allows you to find the collaborator you need for your project.

In joint second place, with project funding of £1,000 each: Torathna and Tour Story.

Torathna will build tools for communities of readers to find the next book to read – from coordinating offline meetings to online discussion forums, they are targeting high-value readers. They’re working with the Cairo Hackerspace who are working with the open-source DIY Scanner project to get out-of-print and hard-to-find Arabic language texts scanned as well.

The Tour Story team built a working prototype of their app, which will be a location-aware information tool providing information about architecture, art, and public spaces. Tour Story will be a free app over the web, but provide paid-for downloadable content for tourists to access offline information.

Intangible Outcomes

These are the additional golden nuggets that come out of bringing so many talented people together.  Moataz Nasr el din, the founder of Darb17/18, was so compelled by the level of idea generation and possible digital solutions that he decided (on the spot) to organise a second pitching session at his venue to enable teams to speak with other potential funders. It's links like these that can really make the difference between an idea and a reality.

Find out more @UK_CE