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CLIENT: AMERICAN EDUCATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS
April 6, 2001: Norfolk Daily News
American Educational Telecommunications (AET), which was founded by Norfolk physician Dr. Keith Vrbicky, has signed an exclusive contract with Misr University for Science and Technology in Egypt.
AET will provide the university with for-credit course content, training and consultations, a deal worth $5-10 million, Vrbicky said. Founded in 1999, AET is a worldwide company that provides telemedicine, distance learning and health-care administration to hospitals and physicians via its private telecommunications network. The company has offices in Omaha, Norfolk, St. Louis, and Cairo, Egypt.
Misr University for Science and Technology (MUST) was founded in 1996 in Sixth October City, a city constructed in the 1990s by the Egyptian government near Cairo. With 150 professors and 7,500 students, MUST is Egypt's largest private university. It has seven colleges and a non-profit teaching hospital.
MUST Chancellor Souad A. Kafafi said in a press release that the university's goal is to expand its services to all of Egypt, the Middle East and the world so that it becomes not only an Egyptian university, but also an international university.
"With AET, we will be able to offer our instructional programs and resources to a much wider audience," he said.
AET's business efforts have focused on the Middle East, primarily Egypt, which is the home country of one of AET's co-founders. The company plans to expand to other Arab countries in the Middle East, then to Asia, Europe and other regions of the world, Vrbicky said.
The deal with MUST came about because of previous work AET has done in Egypt. The company has been operating a telemedicine suite in the Cairo University Hospital that allows physicians there to perform operations while physicians at American universities communicate with them. Physicians from Omaha's Creighton University Medical School have participated in these telemedicine activities, Vrbicky said.
In February 2001 in Cairo, AET was one of two sponsors of the Golden Jubilee Congress of the Egyptian Society of Cardiology, an annual conference of leading cardiologists in the Middle East. Vrbicky said company exposure at this conference significantly boosted Middle Eastern interest in AET.
At the conference, AET set up an interactive audio/video link on its private network between the physicians in Cairo and physicians at Creighton University and Washington Hospital where medical procedures were being performed. Physicians on both sides of the link could communicate with one another regarding the details of the procedures.
Because of the conference, Vrbicky said AET has been approached by pharmaceutical companies and other Arab countries. AET also has been asked to sponsor next year's conference that will be held in Alexandria, Egypt.
"It was our first big blast into the market, and it went well," Vrbicky said.
Up to this point in time, AET has been involved in providing its telecommunications services to the medical field. But Vrbicky said the company plans to branch into other fields, such as agriculture, business and governmental services.
When the Daily News first reported on AET in June 1999, the company employed 10 people in the United States and Egypt. Since then, the company has set up an office in downtown Cairo and employs 12 people there. It now has 20 employees in the United States.
Vrbicky said he is optimistic the company will go public within 12-18 months, at which time shares of his company would be traded on a market such as the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ.
Return to: 2001 Feature Stories