What we took away from the UAE Innovation Week
Innovation should be a collaboration between public and private as it is in the interest of the public good
The first ever UAE Innovation Week was launched on the 22nd of November, along with the implementation of the Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy. The seven year innovation strategy launched by Sheikh Mohammed, sees an investment of 300 Billion in various public sectors to ensure a bright future for the country when the oil runs out.
ACT was invited by the Dubai FDI to participate at the ‘City as a Service’ discussion that brought together the best and brightest minds from the worlds of corporate, social and government. The friendly debate focused on two major questions that ventured into the possibilities of an innovation driven private sector.
The two hour long discussion was insightful, however the major thing that the ACT team took away from this was that innovation will have to come from a joint effort on the parts of both the public and the government. And the question remains, are we as the public ready to assist the government on its vision?
What are the innovative trends, technologies and opportunities that will advance service delivery and quality of life?
The Innovation Higher Policy, is aimed at developing the sectors of education, health, water treatment, renewable energy, transportation, technology and space science. The discussion opened with the various guests sharing their opinion on what sector requires the most amount of development to lead the UAE on the path of innovation.
Speaking from their expertise, each individual had different and convincing arguments for the sectors they believed required most work. While some believed that education sowed the seeds for a more innovative work force of the future, Muhammed Mekki of Astrolabs raised an important point that it is essential to develop an encourage the current innovators through effective incubators and mentorship programs. Mohannad Nasralah of Arcadis Design and Consultancy further stressed on the immediate need for better water treatment facilities that would reduce wastage of the precious resource, further working on harnessing renewables sources of energy.
What role does innovation play in the development of public-private investments?
Hassan Mohalal, Director – Policy & Studies of FDI, started this section of the discussion by stating that innovation is a joint effort between the public and private sector. Although this was agreed unanimously by the room, they believed that the partnership between public and private may not be possible presently. An interesting point raised was that the methodology of the businesses in the UAE still followed a rather archaic system and their adaptation to a more innovative and technology driven practice was a rather slow process.
ACT as consultants to several businesses in the industry can say with certainty that there is still a reluctance in the business owners to shift to online portals, even though they provide better service at lower costs. Phillip’s CEO Arjen Radder, brought to light that although shifting to green lighting solutions can reduce costs by 80%, the local market is still slow to adopt technologies like LED. This again shows, the mind-set that we as the public of the UAE will have to change. By making ourselves aware of the unlimited newer possibilities, we open our minds to further innovative thinking.
An incentive like the UAE Innovation Week could not have come at a better time, with the lead up to the Expo 2020. And through the awareness generated, the public surely feels motivated to jump on the innovation train. Since leaving the discussion, the ACT team has been pumped and is constantly working on how we can assist innovators and start-ups in setting up and bringing their ideas to life. And we urge you to adapt and work on your version of innovation, for the development of your organisation and of the UAE as well.
IMAGES FROM THE EVENT