KU Affairs

Masdar Institute Enters the Year of Innovation with a Significant Head Start

September 21, 2018

Abu Dhabi-UAE: 23 December, 2014 – The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology is entering 2015 with a healthy profile of noteworthy contributions to the development of innovative human and intellectual capital in the UAE, including novel inventions and awards.

In this month alone, a Masdar Institute PhD student was selected from over 137,000 UAE Nationals to receive one of 43 Medal of Top Emiratis awards for his novel research in the extraction of high value compounds from algae naturally occurring in the Abu Dhabi desert. Days earlier, Masdar Institute was ranked among the ‘Best Arab Region Universities’ for research excellence according to the 2015 US News & World Report’s inaugural ‘Best Arab Region Universities’ list.

With four approved US patents, 42 patent applications pending and 69 invention disclosures achieved since inception, Masdar Institute also saw its novel research outcomes reach new highs. Patents and inventions are considered a key measure of innovative performance within a university, company or country.  These research-focused achievements are the result of Masdar Institute’s dedication to innovation, technology and development in the UAE.

Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said: “As we progress steadily, each year has brought tremendous growth in developing intellectual property, building human capital and creating a knowledge base. Crucial to our success is the support of the UAE leadership, for which we remain grateful. We believe our growth will multiply manifold in the future, laying the ground for Masdar Institute to increase its role as an innovation accelerator.”

The research-based institution’s faculty, post-docs and students have published over 500 papers in peer-reviewed journals as well as four book chapters and two full books, and participated in over 380 conference proceedings. These activities demonstrate the value and validity of Masdar Institute’s research in the international academic and scientific communities and contribute to Abu Dhabi’s global standing in R&D, innovation, and the related industrial sectors.

Masdar Institute had started off 2014 with the launch of its five Institute Research Centers (iCenters), which consolidate its research activities. The iCenters have since provided fresh momentum to Masdar Institute’s pursuit of solutions to real-world problems, with tangible research outcomes and academic and industrial collaborations. Throughout the year, each iCenter also hosted a number of international conferences, gathering experts in water and environment, smart infrastructure, clean energy, semiconductors and advanced technology.

The Institute Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (iInnovation) works to nurture promising research projects across Masdar Institute with guidance, support and funding towards commercialization, to help accelerate the pace of innovation and entrepreneurship in the UAE. As part of its mission, iInnovation organized several though-leadership conferences in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and partners including BP. Additionally, the inaugural BP Innovation Scholarships were awarded to two students to work towards creating new technology-based businesses. Four grants were also announced under the Masdar Institute and MIT Innovation Program (MMIP) to fund research projects run jointly by faculty members at both institutions. The MMIP is focused on achieving commercial applications from research performed across various iCenters.

An important global collaboration was signed during 2014 with NEST AS, a Norwegian company developing large-scale thermal energy storage (TES) technology, to build a pilot facility at ‘Beam Down’ solar concentrator – a 100 kWth concentrated solar power (CSP) pilot plant. Masdar Institute is transforming the ‘Beam Down’ facility into a platform for development of TES systems, concentrated solar power (CSP) components, and related activities.. The NEST project aims to develop a modular, scalable system for high temperature thermal energy storage, to demonstrate cost-effective, flexible and scalable solutions for the global renewable energy sector.

Among local collaborations, Masdar Institute signed a two-year research collaboration with Tadweer, the Center of Waste Management – Abu Dhabi, to improve the process for the production of biodiesel from waste cooking oil. Another partnership with Strata Manufacturing, an advanced composite aero-structures manufacturing facility fully owned by Mubadala Development Company, is focusing on developing novel and advanced non-destructive testing systems and methods for aerospace structures.

Masdar Institute diverse student body achieved placement among the top 10 finalists out of 652 entries submitted for the Telecom Italia Big Data and Trentino Open Data Challenge 2014. The competition entry titled ‘Misery Loves Company,’ presented by the Masdar Institute Social Computing & Artificial Intelligence Lab, investigated the relationship between communication between different geographic areas within an urban center and the ‘happiness’ levels in those areas, as measured by social media content production.

Locally, Masdar Institute also won three awards – an R&D Shield and two ‘R&D Research Top Ideas’ at the ADNOC Research & Development Academic Conference (ADRAC) & Exhibition 2014. These awards firmly cement the status of Masdar Institute as a leading academic institution that contributes to the UAE’s advancement in research of importance to key industry sectors in the UAE.

The Institute has played host to a number of dignitaries in 2014 through the continuation of the Masdar Institute Distinguished Lecture Series. Illustrious speakers at this year’s series have included: Her Highness Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister for International Cooperation and Development; His Excellency Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, President of Iceland; Badr Al Olama, Chief Executive of Strata Manufacturing; His Excellency Patrick Hennessey, Irish Ambassador to the UAE; and Dr. L Rafael Reif, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Masdar Institute also received approval for its ninth Master’s program from the Commission for Academic Accreditation of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research this year. The Sustainable Critical Infrastructure Program, launched in Fall 2014, offers learning in integrated sustainable infrastructure planning and development, with an initial focus on urban operations planning and transportation systems.

The 2014 year also saw the largest commencement ceremony to date, with 130 students from the Class of 2014 receiving their graduation certificates at Masdar Institute’s fourth annual commencement. A total of 491 students are currently pursuing studies at Masdar Institute, of which nearly half are UAE nationals.

Masdar Institute’s mission is to position Abu Dhabi as a knowledge hub and an engine for socio-economic growth. Its research-focused degree programs in clean energy and advanced technologies aim to produce the innovative human and intellectual capital required for the UAE’s high-tech competitive knowledge economy.

Masdar Institute currently offers nine Master’s programs and a doctorate in interdisciplinary engineering that impact areas targeted in the UAE National Innovation Strategy, including renewable energy, transport, education, health, technology, water and space.