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[CAIRO] Islamic countries have created a forum for sharing technologies between nations and between private companies and countries.

The Technology Exchange Forum (TEF) was announced this month (10 April) by the Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH) of the 57-country Organization of the Islamic conference (OIC). 

TEF will help companies, research institutions and scientists within the OIC member states who are willing to offer homegrown technologies — in the fields of engineering, pharmaceuticals, medicine, agriculture, biotechnology, agro-food and energy — to transfer them to other OIC countries.

The terms of technology transfer will be mutually acceptable to both parties, and could include sharing royalties or setting up joint venture partnerships. Countries seeking specific technologies can also contact other member states with requests via the COMSTECH secretariat — who will help parties negotiate the terms of agreement.

COMSTECH are currently collecting information about available and requested technologies, which will be put online.

Atta-ur-Rahman, UNESCO Science Laureate and Coordinator General of COMSTECH, told SciDev.Net that future plans to enhance technology investment in Islamic countries will include the creation of an e-library entitled 'Scientific ideas for investors…Turn potential into profits' which will list potential scientific ideas that could be translated into viable breakthrough products.

Other initiatives include an online directory where science-based companies in OIC member states facing technical problems can seek assistance and an 'Ask the Experts' service to help potential investors and the science-based private sector to acquire, adopt and upgrade technology.

A database for scientists of OIC member countries who are working abroad will also be set up for promoting technology transfer from advanced countries to the Islamic world.

Technology must concentrate on poverty reduction, says Atta-ur-Rahman, so researchers need to develop easily adaptable technology in a cost-effective manner and the private sector needs to be encouraged to increase investment in technologies that will meet the needs of the poor. COMSTECH  will set up a database of technological innovation for poverty reduction in line with this aim.

Hassan Moawad Abdel Al, former president of Mubarak City for Scientific Research and Technology Applications in Alexandria, Egypt, says the forum is an "important step in the long road to establish science-based business".