Ministry of Communications and Information Technology
11 September 2020
ICT Minister Witnesses Signing Agreements with Int’l Tech Companies to Implement AI-Powered Health, NLP Projects

The Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat has witnessed the signing of a number of agreements with international technology companies to enhance cooperation in implementing Research and Development (R&D) projects, capitalizing on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in health, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and automated information extraction.

This comes in the keenness to enhance cooperation with major international companies specializing in AI, to keep pace with global developments and make optimal use of such technologies in different sectors.

The signing ceremony was attended by Egypt's Ambassador to France Ihab Badawi. From the Egyptian side, the agreements were signed by the Advisor to the ICT Minister for AI Golestan Radwan, at the premises of the Egyptian Embassy in France.

The ICT Minister witnessed the signing of a Letter of Intent (LoI) between the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and TheraPanacea French company. The aim is to implement a joint project to develop applications based on the use of AI in radiotherapy for cancer patients, through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), and the evaluation of immunotherapy protocols for the early prediction of response rates to treatment, including breast, head and neck cancers, and others.

The applications rely on AI and data science techniques in processing medical images to help patients and medical teams through providing high-resolution radiotherapy, thus improving all stages of cancer treatment.

TheraPanacea is a French medical technology company that uses AI to develop programs to improve the diagnosis, prediction and treatment of cancer and other complex diseases. From TheraPanacea, the LoI was signed by the Chief Operating Officer Catherine Martineau-Huynh.

The ICT Minister also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between MCIT and InstaDeep. The aim is to implement a joint project to develop an Arabic NLP platform capitalizing on AI, to help develop applications in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and different dialects, in text or speech. This is in addition to leveraging the supercomputing infrastructure in Egypt, building human capacity and developing skills.

According to the MoU, the two sides will discuss cooperation in AI and data science applications to find solutions to development challenges in different sectors. This includes virtual support, predictive analysis, developing ideas from unstructured data, data mining research, chatbots and monitoring and analyzing social media content. This is in addition to responding to unique free-text inquiries that require the synthesis of multiple data sources, relying on NLP techniques, involving interactions between computers and human language, in particular, how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural Arabic language data.

Moreover, the two sides will collaborate to leverage the supercomputing infrastructure in Egypt and implement a number of training programs in AI and data science for various groups, including school students, university graduates, field experts, Small And Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and others.

InstaDeep is a London-based company, established in 2014 in Tunis. It contributed to developing and implementing AI projects worldwide. The company has partnerships with international companies specializing in this field, such as NVIDIA, NetApp, Intel, Google, and DeepMind, and has seven branches around the world.

From InstaDeep, the MoU was signed by InstaDeep CFP Isabelle Levard.

Furthermore, Talaat witnessed the signing of an LoI between MCIT and Teklia French company. This is to enhance cooperation in AI through carrying out a joint project to develop Arabic-supported applications for automated information extraction, semantic processing, indexing of scanned documents, and automatic identification of handwritten and printed old documents, as well as historic and modern manuscripts.

The applications of automated information extraction, semantic processing, and indexing of scanned documents rely on Machine Learning (ML) and deep learning techniques, enabling Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR), resulting in significant improvements to large-scale digitization of documents and texts with reduced errors. ICR helps digitize documents and images that used to represent a challenge to old Optical Character Recognition (OCR) systems, such as handwritten letters, historic manuscripts, books and old documents, in addition to the automatic classification of documents (content and images) and the automatic extraction of entities, such as names, places, dates, etc., and the ability to search the content of these texts.

Teklia develops automatic document understanding  solutions, based on ML, deep learning and NLP technologies. The company also carries out joint research projects in France, Europe and Canada to increase access to written knowledge and cultural heritage. Teklia CEO Christopher Kermorvant signed the LoI.

The ICT Minister highlighted that the agreements entail working in different areas to capitalize on AI in different sectors, which represents a big step towards building Digital Egypt. He commended the efforts made by the Egyptian embassy in Paris to have these agreements.

Talaat referred to the areas of work, including serving cancer patients and NLP, which helps achieve one of the most significant objectives of MCIT strategy, represented in achieving leadership in NLP, especially the Arabic language. He stated that a project is to be implemented to maximize the role of technology in recognizing the content of ancient manuscripts and languages, thus promoting a deeper understanding of culture and history.

He added that he looks forward to witness the fruit of the cooperation with the three companies, in the next meeting.

For his part, Badawi expressed his pleasure to attend the meeting, during which partnerships are established between MCIT and three companies operating in France, representing the result of the ICT Minister’s successful visit to Paris, last year. There is a strong friendship between Egypt and France, in light of the pioneering role that each of them plays at the regional level, he added.

Badawi said that there is huge potential for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in all fields, especially AI, given the high priority that MCIT attaches to it. He stressed his full readiness to contribute to any efforts made by MCIT and any role requested from the embassy.

Radwan thanked the Egyptian Embassy in France for the effort it made to establish a strategic partnership between the two countries in AI. She said that the agreements represent an important step in implementing the national strategy for AI, adding that the areas of cooperation entailed in the agreements include the Arabic NLP platform, which will represent an important base to develop Arabic-supported applications in Egypt and the Arab world.

This is in addition to a project in OCR for ancient manuscripts, which can be used in the Egyptian digital heritage platform project, as well as a project for treating cancer patients, that will save time and effort in analyzing MRI.

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