The 3rd MENA Innovation and Technology Transfer Summit, as reported by Al Arabiya English, is on this fall in Sharjah, UAE.
A galaxy of business leaders, innovators and techies will take the centre stage at the 3rd Middle East Innovation and Technology Transfer (MITT) Summit, the region’s biggest specialized event in technology transfer and innovation, to be held at the SRTI Park, Sharjah, on October 13, 2022.
3rd MENA Innovation and Technology Transfer Summit to be held at SRTI Park in Sharjah
The 3rd Middle East Innovation and Technology Transfer (MITT) Summit, the region’s biggest specialized event in technology transfer and innovation, to be held at the SRTI Park, Sharjah. (Supplied)
Leading experts from the region and across the globe will discuss how to best shape the future of innovation while creating sustainable impact, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, covering topic like Water Technology, Renewable Energy, Environmental Technology, Digitization, Industrial Design 4.0, and Mobility and Smart Cities.
The participants in the one-day summit will include R&D institutions, technology transfer experts, global investors, government and private sector representatives, entrepreneurs and academics and other stakeholders, presenting an immersive experience of knowledge sharing, business showcasing and networking in an intimate setting.
The summit comes at a time when the world is witnessing the fourth industrial revolution characterized by the penetration of emerging technology in a number of fields, including robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and autonomous vehicles.
Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park, said: “The MITT Summit 2022 assumes huge significance as the Middle East has become the world’s fastest growing market in business and technology transfer. As proven globally, the knowledge and technology transfer model has been responsible for rapid advancements in every field. By bringing together global experts and highlighting the role of academic institutions in R&D, the MITT Summit serves as a perfect platform for ramping up technology transfer trends in the region.”
The summit will discuss patterns of technology transfer in the Middle East and North Africa region, existing opportunities as well as challenges, and tips on how to achieve set goals and use knowledge sharing to boost the region’s economic growth and long-term stability.
Technology transfer has been the main driver of global economic growth over the last 40 years. Companies are increasingly relying on open innovation to develop intellectual property (IP) more quickly and economically, to stay ahead of competition. Universities, research organisations, and SMEs play a crucial role in supplying intellectual property, and supporting research that will build the innovations of tomorrow.
Many countries around the world have passed their own national legislations and policies to spur innovation. The UAE issued its own National Innovation Strategy in 2014, which seeks to make the country the region’s top innovation hub by developing the right regulatory framework, infrastructure, and ensuring availability of investment.
Localising technology and digital manufacturing are major opportunities for economic growth and greater supply chain resilience
Economic diversification is imperative for the Middle East. The region’s overdependence on petrochemicals in manufacturing is a widely acknowledged risk that weakens resilience and could impede future economic growth. The industry contributes 24% of GDP in Saudi Arabia and 16% in the UAE in terms of oil rents, compared with less than 1% in the U.S. and China.
Middle East governments need to decide which tech segments within the vast technology universe—and even which product families within segments—they want to pursue with large-scale projects, and provide ample support to attract global tech companies as occupants.
In recent years, some Middle East countries, chiefly in the GCC, have launched ambitious programmes to diversify and expand their manufacturing. These countries seek to meet national and regional demand, and position themselves as export platforms. Typically, these projects are part of a state-led master economic development plan.
Countries are prioritising technology for localisation because of its growth potential and strategic importance. At present, high-tech manufacturing is concentrated in a handful of countries (none in the Middle East), whose companies function as providers to the world.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the region’s susceptibility to supply chain disruptions and tested its resilience, making it sometimes difficult or impossible for companies to secure the technology on which they depend.
In response, governments and regional authorities are accelerating their localisation initiatives, as are large, global tech manufacturers with similar interests.
Three categories of manufactured tech products, with a combined Middle East market size of roughly $125bn, are well-suited to Middle East localisation opportunities. These are:
Advanced materials such as nanomaterials, smart materials, and bioplastics;
Advanced components such as electronic semiconductor components, and battery components; and
Advanced finished products such as general-purpose robots, space systems, IoT [Internet of Things] devices, and 3D printers.
Some of these products are disruptive and innovative; others are mainstream but satisfy the pressing needs of regional companies in numerous sectors.
Competition among countries will be fierce as they stake claims on lucrative tech segments, gain first-mover advantage, and attract tenants. Already in the Middle East, Neom Tech & Digital Company, founded in 2021 as the first subsidiary to be established out of Saudi Arabia’s $500bn Neom city project, is building advanced digital infrastructure. Likewise, the industrialisation and innovation strategy of the UAE, led by projects by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Company, is focused on the localisation of high-tech products.
In this environment, Middle East governments must target first those localisation opportunities that have confirmed market potential and grant them the right to win. Experience elsewhere indicates that governments should select products that:
Have captive and sizeable national and regional demand;
Are in markets that are not yet highly concentrated;
Can be manufactured cost competitively in global terms; and
That could create potential network effects for additional manufacturing localisation opportunities.
Next, after identifying the right opportunity, Middle East governments must put in place a supportive ecosystem. Financial incentives may include direct subsidies to lower upfront capital expenditure requirements, and indirect subsidies such as tax breaks to reduce long-term operating expenditures. Governments will also need to ensure seamless integration into global supply chains, enabled by reliable and modern physical infrastructure for road, sea, and air transport, and by digital networking capacity.
Likewise, regulatory and policy reforms targeted at the technology sector can help lure potential tenants to the region. These could include support for technology adoption, ensuring data security, and protecting intellectual property. Similarly, pure water, enabled by investments in desalination plants if needed, and high-quality and stable electricity, are prerequisites for a successful ecosystem.
Choice of tenants
Finally, to bolster their chances of success, governments should choose tenants carefully, giving priority to those that hold leadership positions in their industries and that can attract other companies into their operating sphere by virtue of their prominence. Likewise, companies that invest significantly in research and development (R&D) warrant special consideration. These companies are more apt to retain their leadership position and remain viable over the long term, given the pace of change in the tech industry. Companies that can demonstrate a strong financial position and have prior experience with greenfield localisation projects are more apt to possess the capabilities and resources to succeed.
As competition intensifies to establish tech manufacturing and satisfy captive and global demand, Middle East governments must move fast. They need to select those areas – materials, components, or products – where they have a right to win, and create the ecosystems to enable companies to thrive.
This MEED published article was produced byAlessandro BorgognaandChady Smayra, partners, andMaha Raad, principal from Strategy& Middle East, part of the PwC network.
The Arabian Business tells us a story about the ongoing trends in high-tech businesses, technological innovation and the use of social media in the Emirate, wondered if Dubai can be the next Silicon Valley technology hub?
The emirate provides those in the Web 3 space with the ‘perfect balance of work and fun,’ making it attractive for talent, said the 26-year-old co-founder of interactive short video platform Vurse
Originally intending to stay in Dubai for only 12 days, Shadman Sakib ended up “falling in love” with the city and choosing it to launch his interactive short video platform Vurse from, set for the second half of 2022.
Vurse will be one of the first deep tech companies to come out of the Middle East and 26-year-old Sakib said Dubai “has so much potential and can become the next Silicon Valley.”
“We just have to fine-tune people’s mentality on a deep tech perspective and once that happens, the sky is the limit. For us people in the Web 3.0 space, we really want a nice balance between fun and work and Dubai really has the capability to provide both,” said Sakib.
“We are in the process of hiring our team members from across the world and it is actually much easier for us to attract them being based here in Dubai versus other cities because of the fine balance between work and life, plus the entertainment aspect. This is why we chose Dubai and we feel like it is going to be our long-term home,” he continued.
Sakib believes Vurse’s growth will translate into the growth of Dubai in the deep tech and Web 3.0 space, giving the example of how the presence of the big tech companies in San Francisco led to the development of the American state’s tech reputation.
“Dubai is one of the smartest cities in the world. You go to the airport and immigration is done in minutes, not many cities in the world can compete with that kind of technology,” explained Sakib.
“It is therefore high time we have a homegrown company that goes beyond the traditional businesses we have in this city. Traditional companies can only grow so far versus the companies in deep tech or Web 3 space – especially the ones with proper resources – where the sky is the limit; you have the whole world to play with,” he continued.
How Sakib got into tech and conceived of Vurse
Sakib grew up in Bangladesh and says he was “pretty much of an underdog,” for most of his life, recounting how he dropped out of his undergraduate studies in the US before moving to the UK where he again pursued his studies while working as a waiter on the side.
Lying on his couch one day and playing with his phone Sakib wondered why he was using someone else’s product instead of developing a product that people could use.
“I was 20 years old at the time and while my peers were focused on enjoying life, I was consumed with finding a purpose for mine,” he recalled.
“My philosophy was all about being determined that I would have a strong footfall by the time my friends finish university so that they would come to me and ask for a job,” added Sakib.
Having no background in technology, Sakib talked to a few of his friends and contacts in the app design space but was frustrated with the ideas they came up with as they were a copy of what already existed.
“I wanted to look at how I can wow the customer or my user not recreate the same thing – I wanted to build something different,” explained Sakib. As such, he taught himself coding before meeting the co-founder of Vurse who is a “coding genius.”
It is within this context that the idea of Vurse came about to take the social media experience into the Web 3 space and give content creators ownership over their content rather than having a platform control that.
“Our target is to make the content creators bigger because once they are a big brand themselves, a similar effect will happen to the company itself,” explained Sakib.
“My co-founder and I have been wanting to work on a consumer-facing product for some time now because that is where we think the main fun is. We want to understand the newer generations that are coming up and their culture. We also want to understand the music industry very well,” he continued.
As such, Sakib has delegated his other businesses to fully focus on Vurse, a business he self-funded. And while he declined disclosing much information about Vurse itself, he said it is built on three verticals: a content creator marketplace where people will be able to trade NFTs, a short video platform and the AI verse, a self-created metaverse within the platform.
“The metaverse will stay but the way we see and think of it will change. Currently, you have to have a specialised device to access the metaverse which restricts access somehow,” said Sakib.
“Once the technology catches up to the extent that it is easily accessible to anyone anywhere, then the real game begins,” he continued.
CallisonRTKL (CRTKL), a global cultural agency specialising in architecture, planning and design, has published a report forecasting the future of the built environment and the key factors that will shape the residential market and its BTR and senior living lifestyle developments in 2022.
According to the report, the brief for the home is changing. The need now is for productive living environments with the technological infrastructure to support residents. Consequently, a new era is driving hybrid lifestyles and hybrid working cities. Residents are working, exercising, shopping, learning and meeting in more unexpected ways, which are now being dictated by purpose and convenience rather than demand.
For example, coffee shops are popping up in offices, ghost kitchens in hotels and healthcare services in apartment buildings. As these lines continue to blur, a different set of residential amenities are emerging and bringing with them, buildings that will play a more active role in the health and wellness of those that inhabit them.
Obada Adra, Associate Principal at CRTKL, commented: “The residential market and the demands being placed on the home have changed. The need now is for places that are fluid, flexible and authentic. Across the region, people are demanding a more dynamic lifestyle offering that caters to new hybrid working styles and provides greater community and cultural connection.
“At CRTKL, we are developing a blueprint for new buildings that will be more hybridised with changeable systems, structures and modules that can be adapted to suit the evolving needs of the market,” Adra said.
According to the report, three new concepts are driving residential development:
* The Home of Things (HoT): This refers to the physical objects within the home that are embedded with sensors, processing ability, software and other technologies that connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the Internet or other communications networks. Innovative technology in a fully integrated HoT allows endless opportunities for improved home performance and convenience. Connected and controlled through a resident’s mobile device, the HoT could support amenities by tracking, measuring and improving personal energy usage and well-being. Biometric data gathered here could then be shared with in-house practitioners or resident nutritionists, counsellors, and other health professionals that could rotate through a new type of hyper-local medical office or telemedicine pods that are built into the offer.
* The Branded Residence – Residential meets hospitality meets healthcare: New attitudes about health, wealth, and family are transforming an industry that formerly defined by medical care and home equity. Seniors are delaying entering interdependent living, choosing to age-in-place and increasingly demanding more urban settings and connections to communities and culture. As residents, they want an inner-city lifestyle, impressive amenities, luxury services, superior care, varied culinary options, and resort-like experiences where they can grow and thrive as aging individuals. Spaces that allow their lifestyles, hobbies, and pets to move with them – where they can feel at home, host others, and gain access to improved convenience and care.
To attract the booming elderly population, development is moving in a new direction towards brand residences and a lifestyle product that blends residential operations with a hospitality approach that is based on a professionally managed rental model. These models will focus on holistic health, community integration and mixed-use opportunities, incorporating senior wellness programs across education, exercise (both instructor and technology led), health, nutrition and intergenerational connection.
* The Hybridised model or a ‘Universal Building’: There is a need for the new building typology to feature shared uses that come together to form a hub for a community of creatives, who blend living with working and socialising. The Universal Building allowing for flexible development strategies to take shape over time. With the ability to easily shift the program mix, this supports a city’s strategic goals in that it offers innovative housing and workplace options for an evolving and diverse community. It refers to a framework building with changeable systems, structure, and modules. This uniquely flexible platform can adapt program uses based on changing market needs. From the column grid to carefully considered floor-to-floor heights, the building will easily shift between residential, office and social spaces.
Leading scholar says region must place more importance on liberal arts, not just science and engineering, to build better societies by Anna McKie could be an unprecedented way of covering the recurring issue of underdevelopment not through traditional knowledge but by using the art and humanities knowledge. Let us see what is proposed as per the very words of a Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development.
Professor: ‘certification’ mania hobbles Middle East development
April 8, 2021
Students in the Middle East and North Africa are too often more interested in “acquiring” a degree than developing the understanding that should come with it, a leading scholar has warned.
Safwan Masri, Columbia University’s executive vice-president for global centres and global development, said too many young people were steered into courses focused on science and engineering when critical thinking and intercultural understanding were desperately needed across the region.
Speaking at Times Higher Education’s MENA Universities Summit, Professor Masri said future leaders being trained in institutions across the region were “not fully prepared to lead”, the product of “technocratic societies led by a global technocratic class”.
“Students – and the parents who bankroll them – are often more interested in acquiring professional certification than truly understanding the world and the role of an educated citizen within it,” said Professor Masri.
“Here in MENA, young people fortunate enough to attend university are almost unilaterally steered into STEM training.
“But STEM competency is only half of the equation. We need people who also know how to organise societies, articulate and secure alignment on political ideals, and build robust civil societies that expand rights and freedoms to historically marginalised groups.”
Professor Masri, an expert on the contemporary Arab world and the head of Columbia’s study centre in Amman, Jordan, said the solution had to be a greater embrace of liberal arts education across the region.
He acknowledged that this “won’t be easy” because generations of Arabs “have been indoctrinated with hyper-nationalist propaganda, exclusionary rhetoric and dogmatic religious discourse at the expense of critical thinking and questioning skills”.
“Progress cannot be achieved without deprogramming and reprogramming this mindset, to learn to coexist with different points of view and ways of life,” Professor Masri said.
“Unless liberal arts training is more highly valued in this region, the region’s ambitions will be thwarted. We must achieve balance. We must help students – and the parents who fund many of them – understand the crucial interplay between content [of academic training] and context [understanding of society].”
At the summit, held online in partnership with NYU Abu Dhabi, Professor Masri also argued that at a time of geopolitical turmoil and “historic levels of misunderstanding” between countries and the people within them, knowledge diplomacy led by universities “may be our last and best tool if we are to rebuild a broken world”. He highlighted Columbia’s decision to maintain its global centre in Istanbul even in the face of increasing persecution of academics.
“The solution wasn’t to give in, we contended, but to dig in – to support academics and students, to continue to share knowledge,” Professor Masri said.
But Professor Masri expressed concern about the “weaponisation” of knowledge, highlighting that while Gulf states’ attempts to exercise soft power by funding Middle East studies centres in Western universities ostensibly had “no strings attached”, there were “uncomfortable stories” of researchers at these centres coming under pressure after writing about issues such as human rights and democracy.
A better model of knowledge diplomacy, he argued, was that of the Covid vaccines, which were the result of thousands of researchers crossing the globe over decades, generating the knowledge that informed the vaccines’ designs.
“The Covid vaccine represents decades’ worth, perhaps even centuries’ worth, of university-generated knowledge – distilled down to little more than an ounce of liquid, all concentrated in a single shot,” Professor Masri said.
“This medical and scientific breakthrough will reconnect the people of the world.”
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