AUC professor's startup wins Japan's JICA NINJA Business Plan Contest

Ahram Online , Friday 11 Jun 2021

AUC professor Wael Mamdouh's startup wins Japan's JICA NINJA Business Plan Contest

Wael Mamdouh with chief representative of JICA Egypt Omura Yoshifumi while receiving the award (photo credit of AUC)

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) launched the Next INnovation with Japan (NINJA) competition in July 2020 for businesses emerging during the COVID-19 outbreak to discover innovative business models and technologies that provide prescriptive solutions to the current pandemic and respond to the expected radical changes in the post-pandemic socio-economic reality.

NANO-Fib-TECH, the startup company of Wael Mamdouh, associate professor of nanotechnology at The American University in Cairo (AUC), was selected as one of the winners on 9 June.

It is a new company that focuses on developing nanotechnology-based solutions for disinfectants and antimicrobial materials in different biomedical, healthcare, food, and industrial fields.

"I feel overwhelmed and excited to win such a reputable competition through my startup company," Mamdouh said. "JICA is a well-known organization focusing on assisting governments in their development projects. NINJA is the first funding call directed to the private sector. Moreover, participating with our innovation and discussing it with the Japanese side was very exciting. Winning this competition is another proof of our ability to compete at the national and international levels."

The unique edge of NANO-Fib-TECH is the ability to produce eco-friendly disinfectants and hand gel sanitizers (in liquid, gels, and powder forms) without using any alcohol or harsh chemicals, which are some of the main causes of health issues. NANO-Fib-TECH disinfectants also exhibit unique properties that fight bacteria, fungi, and viruses compared to conventional disinfectants.

Mamdouh emphasized that the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year increased exposure to conventional disinfectant. Therefore, he said, the world is looking for alternative disinfectant solutions with minimum harmful side effects.

"Interestingly, we had started initial testing against COVID-19 and we got very promising results, and we are aiming at moving forward with our innovation," he added. 

The greatest advantage of NANO-Fib-TECH antimicrobial materials is that the materials can be made in any form: liquid sprays, creams, hand gel sanitizers, and powders. Thus, our material scan be added to food, beverages, animal feed, fertilizers, cosmetics, agriculture sprays, prebiotics, textile, sport ware, and more.

"The applications are endless," Mamdouh noted.

JICA will provide support for each selected startup with $30,000 to cover the costs for Proof of Concept/pilot studies associated with their innovation. This fund will help the company in fine-tuning materials and preparing more formulas, as well as running more tests on materials to be more powerful in fight-resistant bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

"By the end of this funding, we will certainly be in a much better situation that is closer to the industrial stage and hopefully we will start the registration of our products at the Egyptian Ministry of Health," Mamdouh disclosed. "We will be very happy to give back to the community a product that is safe and eco-friendly, with no side effects on us, and more importantly is powerful against microbes. NANO-Fib-TECH is the future of hygiene."

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