Business Voice (English)
FORTUNE FAVOURS THE BRAVE
How innovation is a way of life in Abu Dhabi and the UAE
Building an ecosystem that stimulates innovation is no longer optional, it is essential for countries to compete, succeed and fulfil their economic potential.” That was the message from His Excellency Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE’s Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, as he called for innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world to take advantage of the UAE’s attractive business environment to make it in the Emirates.
H.E. Dr. Al Jaber was speaking during the 2021 Pujiang Innovation Forum, held in China, recently. During his virtual keynote speech, the Minister pointed to the UAE’s remarkable success story and bold ambition.
“Pushing the boundaries of innovation requires you to be brave, to be bold and, dare I say it, to be ready to fail on the road to success,” said H.E. Dr. Al Jaber. “This is the spirit that turned a hydrocarbon economy into a centre of excellence for renewable and new forms of energy. It is the reason we were able to transform our fishing and pearl diving villages into world class logistical hubs that today transport millions of Chinese goods across the world. It is the vision that allowed the UAE to explore space and send the first probe from our region to Mars.
“And it is the driving force behind launching the first university dedicated to the pursuit of artificial intelligence – the Mohammed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence – that teaches young people from all around the world,” he added.
With the UAE and China celebrating 50 years of bilateral relations this year, the UAE was ‘Country of Honour’ at the forum, which was held under the theme of ‘ Innovation for A Better Life for Mankind’.
Detailing key collaborations between the UAE and China – including renewable energy partnerships behind the world’s largest solar power plants at Noor Abu Dhabi and Al Dhafra – H.E. Dr. Al Jaber said both countries had set the standard for cross-border collaborative innovation.
“Together we are proving that when countries collaborate to innovate, costs come down, economic opportunities go up and society benefits,” H.E. Dr. Al Jaber told the forum. “I see numerous opportunities to leverage our partnership for innovation across the traditional and emerging industries, in creative and commercially viable ways.”
Explaining how the UAE is applying this same progressive mentality to refocus its industrial strategy, H.E. Dr. Al Jaber added: “To create a culture of innovation means going beyond business as usual. We are establishing a more efficient ecosystem to turn ground-breaking ideas into marketable products, as we extend an open invitation to the world to join us on this journey of value creation and innovation.”
In Abu Dhabi, Masdar City – the UAE’s flagship sustainable urban development – is attracting regional and global innovation and technology giants. As Masdar celebrates 15 years as a leading innovation hub in the region, latest figures reveal it is home to over 900 companies, ranging from multinationals and SMEs to homegrown start-ups.
“These companies are developing groundbreaking technological solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges, across the key sectors of energy, water, artificial intelligence, health, space, agriculture and mobility,” according to state news agency WAM.
“The work being done by companies in Masdar City to develop transformative technologies is not only preparing for the future, but is creating it, while simultaneously supporting the UAE’s goals of driving sustainable and positive change,” said Abdulla Balalaa, Executive Director, Masdar City.
In May, the Advanced Technology Research Council and its associated bodies – the Technology Innovation Institute (TTI) and ASPIRE – set up in Masdar City.
The Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) is mandated to define Abu Dhabi’s research strategy across academia and industry, consolidate funds for efficient investment and drive policy and regulation.
“Our team is proud to have a new home in Masdar City among other pioneers in innovation and advanced technology, who share our commitment in addressing the world’s most critical challenges and creating a better future for everyone,” said Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of ATRC, at the time.
“Our world-renowned scientists and researchers will be working on delivering transformative science and disruptive technological innovations at TII’s seven initial research centres of excellence within our Masdar City headquarters. We will also be seeking to fund research projects and develop and launch international competitions and grand challenges through ASPIRE,” he added.
The Advanced Technology Research Council can count an impressive cluster of innovationdriven companies and entities among its Masdar City neighbours, including the Honeywell Innovation Centre, G42 Healthcare, the International Renewable Energy Agency, the UAE Space Agency, Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, Siemens Energy, Saint- Gobain, Tabreed and Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar).
“The City provides a very unique offering that includes education, R& D, technology and innovation, all within a strategic base through which companies can test new technologies and build their partnerships,” said Mr. Balalaa.
His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, visited G42 Healthcare’s Omics Centre of Excellence, in Masdar City, recently to take part in the Emirati Genome Programme.
An example of innovation in healthcare, the ground-breaking national genomics initiative – one of the world’s largest – seeks to understand the nature of the genetic diseases prevalent among UAE citizens, paving the way towards personalised and preventive healthcare delivery. The programme explores the genetic make-up of Emiratis using cutting- edge DNA sequencing and artificial intelligence technologies.
“Advanced sequencing technologies do contribute to achieving a quantum leap that will guide us toward a comprehensive understanding of rare genetic disorders,” said H.H. Sheikh Abdullah.
Diversifying its national economy by adopting innovation as a way of life through bold strategies and ambitious plans, the UAE is at the forefront of sustainable economic development.