UAE is leading from the front on innovation

Creative thinking and projects in different sectors make the country a hub of excellence for the future

In today’s fast-paced business world, the concept of innovation holds a powerful association.

Canadian historian Benoît Godin has extensively researched the topic of innovation and has found that it was not always viewed as something positive.

Only in the 19th century did innovation start taking roots as a term associated with science and industry, with several factors helping establish it in a positive light, including the rise of consumer culture, increased numbers of patents, and strong government focus on building labs for research and development.

Undergoing this veritable transformation, innovation is today among the most frequently used words in boardrooms around the world, and has become synonymous with finding creative solutions to unmet challenges and unknown market demands through new technological advancements and cutting-edge products, services and business models.

In fact, innovation is now considered a key driver of progress. While this holds particularly true within the life-sciences sector, we see almost every sector of the economy investing in innovation in one way or another, spurred by the hope of a brighter future in terms of advancement, connectivity and a healthier and happier life.

The UAE’s visionary leadership has been quick to embrace innovation in a number of ways and has successfully applied it in nearly every aspect of modern life across the emirates – from healthcare, transportation and education to policy-making and infrastructural developments.

In November 2014, the UAE Government reinforced its commitment to innovation and declared 2015 as the ‘Year of Innovation’, accelerating the country’s journey to global leadership in its field.

Shortly thereafter, it went a step further and introduced the ambitious National Innovation Strategy, designed to position the UAE among the most innovative countries in the world within a seven-year timeframe, targeting sectors such as renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space.

Since 2010, the government has implemented a series of innovation-focused initiatives. A prime example is UAE Vision 2021 that sets out specific goals to facilitate the country’s transformation into an economic powerhouse that promotes innovation, research and development in its quest for economic diversification.

In line with its commitment to innovation, the UAE declared February as Innovation Month in 2016, making it an annual commemoration ever since.

The initiative encourages entities from the public and private sector to showcase their innovative products, services and projects. Throughout Innovation Month 2018, we will see a host of thought leadership events take place across the seven emirates, encouraging discussion on the importance of innovation.

Innovation is now ubiquitous in the UAE, and there is no greater proof of its uptake and impact than in the local energy sector. Inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the Dubai Municipality launched the Dubai Lamp initiative. The unique research partnership with Philips Lighting resulted in the development of the world’s most energy-efficient lamp that reduces energy usage by 90 per cent in comparison with conventional lighting. The initiative aims to replace 10 million lights in the city with the Dubai Lamp by 2021, spearheading the global journey to a sustainable future.

Healthcare is yet another sector that has greatly benefitted from innovation. Owing to its dedication to fostering the development of innovative medical solutions, the UAE is on track to become a leading healthcare destination that boasts world-class patient care, the latest technologies, highly qualified medical professionals and state-of-the-art facilities.

In line with the nation’s innovation mandate, Dubai Science Park (DSP) continues to foster an enabling ecosystem that supports in their active pursuit of innovation in the fields of life sciences, energy and environment.

We are keen to promote innovative solutions that originate in our community. Examples of recent innovations by DSP-based companies include the first wheeled waste bin made of 100 per cent plant-based materials developed by Plastic Omnium, and building paint that generates solar power marketed by Euka International.

Innovation is inextricably woven into our overall business strategy and is a key business priority. In addition to collaboration with the government, industry and academia as well as Tecom Group’s incubator in5, we are proud to be chairing the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Equipment Taskforce of the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 in partnership with The Executive Council of Dubai. In 2017, DSP and its taskforce partners identified five prime opportunities for innovation in the local healthcare sector – next-generation sequencing, super generics, 3D printing, blood plasma and nutraceuticals.

Innovation matters, and our unique business ecosystem is committed to enabling our stakeholders to crystallise ground-breaking ideas and develop creative solutions to the most pressing challenges of today.