Consensus at University Leadership Council Media Roundtable on Adequate Capacity Building to Make UAE True Knowledge Economy
Abu Dhabi-UAE: 24 April, 2012 – The right mix of support, investment, policy and incentives can make Abu Dhabi and the UAE a true knowledge economy and an R&D powerhouse, according to experts at a media roundtable in Abu Dhabi.
Organized under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan bin Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research, the media roundtable titled ‘Creating an R&D Culture in the UAE’ was held at Masdar Institute campus. It was attended by University Leadership Council’s Executive Council members, select members of the media and representatives from other universities.
The media roundtable served as an appropriate forum to discuss the white paper titled ‘Establishing a Research and Development Culture to Create a Knowledge Economy’. The paper was developed by the University Leadership Council, a platform for academic leaderships to share creative ideas, foster common interests and spearhead new initiatives for innovation and technology transfer in the region.
Moderated by Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President of Masdar Institute, the panelists included University Leadership Council’s Executive Council members Dr. Peter Heath, Chancellor of American University of Sharjah (AUS), Dr. Tod Laursen, President of Khalifa University, and Dr. Rory Hume, Provost of the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU).
Panelists agreed that the wise leadership of the UAE with forward-looking and business-friendly policies has deftly steered the country’s economic progress. But they added that the country has now reached a critical stage from where it has to have an even broader perspective towards building knowledge capabilities for stable long-term growth. The University Leadership Council Executive Committee members also announced that a high-level workshop on R&D, innovation, entrepreneurship and intellectual property rights will be held in the near future as a logical course of action to inform stakeholders on the road ahead.
Moderating the discussions, Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh said: “Education, from primary school level to specialized technical and creative disciplines will be the core requirements as they help facilitate in fostering a strong culture of research and development; creativity; and rigorous testing of new ideas. And once we have regulatory a system conducive to the local development of new knowledge industries, the growth in entrepreneurial activity is sure to follow and the UAE leadership deserves to be commended for creating the right environment for long-term social and economic progress.”
Dr. Peter Heath said: “With basic, applied and development research, the right intellectual environment is required to create new ideas that may lead to innovation. The academia has an important role to play and we believe the white paper is one of the instruments that can offer us the roadmap to chart our progress. With these ingredients, the academia can collaborate with industry and the government to make way for a new era and gradually usher in the R&D culture in the UAE.”
Dr. Tod Laursen said: “Part of the entire process also calls for the industry to embrace change, invest in new ideas and build on human capability. This can be achieved by providing funding and engaging academic institutions in areas of interest to specific sectors, which will lead to businesses adapting or providing better and smarter products and services. Funding in my opinion is pivotal to the community adopting the culture of innovation.”
Dr. Rory Hume said: “The government has to remain the leading driver and the primary force behind the creation of the research culture. It can do so through setting up the right regulatory framework and providing incentives. The likelihood of positive and productive outcomes of funded research is much higher when competition for funding is kept open. And because it has the power to streamline and facilitate the market penetration of the results of research, we need the government to be actively involved in this endeavor.”
Representatives from the media agreed that the University Leadership Council’s white paper has correctly pointed out the components required to ensure the UAE remains on the long-term growth path. They also commended the University Leadership Council’s media roundtable initiative as well as the ‘Bridging the Knowledge Economy’ forum that was held in February earlier this year.
The media roundtable and the forum were part of the University Leadership Council’s endeavor to advance research and innovation, while promoting economic development in the UAE.
Acting as a link for faculty and students to interface with both the public and private sectors, the University Leadership Council aims to seek industrial, government, and private individual financial support for the academic and research activities of the universities. It is also mandated to advance the educational goals of the UAE-based universities and align their policies with the government with regard to meeting the requirements of the economy and the industry.