Mohammed praises Higher Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation

Sheikh Mohammed interacts with students ahead of the UAE Innovation Week. (Wam)

On the occasion of the adoption of the Higher Policy for Science, Technology and Innovation, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: "Planning a higher policy for the UAE in the fields of science, technology and innovation that includes scientific initiatives, legislative recommendations and clear financial investment is a strategic decision that aims to change the national economy equation to drive it away from depending on limited oil resources.

“Our aim, as my brother His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, has said, "is to celebrate the last oil barrel we export because we will be prepared for that day when it comes."

The Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy has involved the work of the members of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Committee, and their teams over the past year.

It comprises over 100 initiatives, a number of legislative innovations and policies in investment, technology, education and the financing of the development of a knowledge economy.

The policy includes the establishment of funds for science, research and innovation in the UAE in addition to refocusing investment legislation to encourage technology transfer, support innovation and establish global contractual industrial partnerships.

It also includes targets to increase investment on research and development (R&D) in the UAE by three-fold and increase the percentage of knowledge workers in the country to 40 per cent by 2021.

The national investment related to Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy is more than Dh300 billion, distributed across investments in clean energy projects amounting to Dh128 billion; Dh72bn investments in the renewable energy sector; Dh40bn in aviation research, development and manufacturing; space sector investment of some Dh20bn and Dh31bn allocated to investment in enhancing R&D across a range of national initiatives targeting priority sectors.

Added to this, Dh6bn has been allocated to establish innovation incubators and Dh6bn to develop and establish research centres attached to academia.

The Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy also includes a set of educational and scientific initiatives that aim to prepare leaders to align with the developmental changes anticipated for the UAE.

Stem

The policy aims to redouble the focus on 'Stem' (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in all UAE educational institutions.

The policy will establish research centres in all UAE universities, focusing on innovation as the main factor in evaluating both public and private schools.

The policy establishes offices for technology transfer in all universities in the UAE to facilitate the transfer of advanced knowledge.

The policy will also establish programmes for graduates in basic and applied research and drive cooperation between universities and the private sector in the fields of science, technology and innovation.

The initiatives stemming from the Science, Technology and Innovation Higher Policy also include providing national strategic support to various advanced industries, including space research and specialised aviation industries.

The policy provides a number of investment and legislative incentives to attract global pharmaceutical industries to the UAE by facilitating contractual partnerships with local factories.

The technological and scientific initiatives also include establishing centres for energy storage solutions, expanding solar energy research programmes and launching a national programme for water desalination using advanced technologies.

In addition, the policy establishes specialised innovation complexes in technology, auto industry techniques and spare parts, as well as building national R&D programmes in the fields of robotics and genome research. The policy also re-stated the UAE’s commitment to the promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

The policy includes new legislative frameworks to protect intellectual property and copyrights, attract scientists and researchers to the UAE’s academic and research institutions and facilitate the easy movement of advanced scientific equipment and resources into the UAE.

Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Chairman of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Committee said, "The direction of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in establishing the Committee was to plan a comprehensive strategic framework to achieve a quantum leap in science and technology in the UAE.

"His clear guidance was to establish KPIs for ministries and government bodies to effectively execute these initiatives and follow up on their progress."

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, member of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Committee, stressed the vital role of academia in applying the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy by developing specialised R&D infrastructure and supporting SMEs in developing innovations in science and research.

He added that the Ministry has presented several initiatives to support the Policy including the launch of courses on innovation in all national universities, the establishment of scientific and technological complexes at these universities and an increased focus on scholarship programmes in the main fields of the Policy, including the promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Auto District

Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy and a member of the National Innovation Committee, pointed out that the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy supports the government’s efforts to adopt innovation across UAE society, contributing to the success of the Policy and meeting the UAE’s Vision for 2021.

The Minister added the Ministry’s work supporting the policy included the launch of a specialised Automotive Technology incubator, ‘Auto District’ as well as initiatives in aviation manufacturing, spare parts and maintenance, as well as building programmes linking the aviation sector with UAE universities.

Finance

Obaid bin Humaid Al Tayer, Minister of State for Financial Affairs, pointed out that the Ministry’s role in stimulating and fostering an environment for innovation, science and technology through the development of legislation and regulatory frameworks.

This involves legislation in line with international best practice, support for inventors and innovators, the ongoing modernisation of financial legislation and support for funding scientific research, R&D and support for SME’s in the innovation space.

Education

Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education and member of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Committee stated that the Ministry will play a vital role in curricular development focusing on the development of analytical skills and defining a central role for innovation throughout the UAE’s academic institutions and policy forums.

Defined areas, such as robotics sciences, would be the subject of particular focus.

Health

Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed Al Owais, Minister of Health and a member of the National Science, Technology and Innovation Committee stressed that the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy places the health sector as a key priority, with a focus on the development of intellectual property through innovation and partnerships with other global players in the sector.

He also emphasised a renewed focus on the development of technologies in healthcare such as stem cell research and bio-technology and outlined a number of initiatives to provide international industry leaders incentives to establish points of presence and invest in building R&D resources in the UAE.

Energy

For his part, Suhail bin Mohammed Faraj Faris Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy said that the Ministry’s initiatives related to supporting the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy include investment in a number of fields, including  Masdar’s desalination programmes, innovations in cloud seeding and in water resource preservation, network management and re-use.

Masdar

Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, pointed out that applying the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy requires launching a group of initiatives and establishing innovative incubators to support the growth of clean energy sector in the UAE.

He stated, "We will expand Masdar’s solar energy centre and will establish and develop energy storage complexes, as well as establish incubators for clean energy technology complexes. Additionally, we are working on legislation to organise, facilitate and expand sustainable systems and apply green buildings standards as well as defining power consumption, efficiency and sustainability standards for a range of electronic appliances.

TRA

Mohammed Ahmed Al Qamzi, Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, confirmed the Authority will support the Science Technology and Innovation Policy through developing technological infrastructure, secure services management, developing the UAE’s information networks and the national customer relations management system, as well as single sign-in and big data research projects.

He said, "Some of the Authority’s initiatives in this field are supporting students studying technology and communications and investing in incubators at Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, Zayed University and Khalifa University."

UAE Space Agency

Dr. Khalifa Mohammed Thani Al Rumaithi, Chairman of the UAE Space Agency, confirmed the Agency will play a key role in the implementation and success of the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.

Al Rumaithi said, "In the space sector a set of projects and initiatives will be launched including introducing degrees in space sciences and engineering at national universities at both the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels, introducing teaching training specialising in building awareness and focus on space sciences across the curriculum.

"Research projects carried out at the International Space Station (ISS) and the launch of the Space Innovation and Research Center at UAE University form a part of our comprehensive plan for the development of the UAE’s space sector."

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