IN IT TO WIN IT

UAE, Dubai 2015 | ECONOMY | FOCUS: NATIONAL INNOVATION STRATEGY

Dubai's National Innovation Strategy aims to foster innovation across both the private and public sectors through primary industries with key indicators to measure its success.

In mid-October 2014, HH Sheikh Mohammed launched the National Innovation Strategy, which aims to make the UAE among the most innovative nations in the world within seven years. The strategy will stimulate innovation in seven sectors: renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water, and space. Its first phase includes 30 national initiatives to be completed within three years. These include new legislation, innovation incubators, investment in specialized skills, private-sector incentives, international research partnerships, and an innovation drive within the government.

The strategy works along four parallel tracks. The first track will anchor a stimulating environment for innovation in the form of supportive institutions and laws. The second track will develop government innovation by institutionalizing innovative practices with the support of an integrated system of modern tools. The third track will encourage private sector innovation by stimulating companies to establish innovation and scientific research centers, to adopt new technologies, and to develop innovative products and services. The fourth track will qualify individuals with highly innovative skills by concentrating on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including the creation of educational material for schools and universities.

The National Innovation Strategy includes 16 indicators to measure progress. Government-sector indicators include the percentage of innovative ideas and the proportion of budget allocated to innovation. Private-sector indicators include R&D investment and the knowledge profile of the workforce. Global indicators include an overall measure comparing countries' innovation capabilities, as well as indicators of the protection of intellectual property, the creation of patents, and the availability of scientists and engineers.

The strategy contains practical initiatives in each of its seven priority sectors. In the field of renewable energy, the strategy will establish a new organization to facilitate decentralized power generation projects such as small-scale solar installations. In transportation, the strategy will stimulate innovation in air and sea travel as well as logistics.

In education, the strategy will establish innovation labs in schools and universities as part of a drive to equip students with targeted skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, perseverance, and adaptability. In health, the strategy will promote advanced technologies in healthcare services. On the topic of water, the strategy will seek innovative solutions to the challenge of water scarcity. Finally, the strategy will support space technology for the purpose of exploration as well as satellite communications and specialized research on terrestrial applications.