Complex Made Simple

Oman meet sparks conversation about role of science and tech parks in GCC

A key technology hub in the GCC is calling for a fresh look at how science and technology parks can support technology innovators in the Arab world.

Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) welcomed government institutions, industry and academia to be part of an ongoing conversation following a recent International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP) gathering in Oman hosted by Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM). QSTP is hosting the first IASP World Conference in the Arab region next year in Doha.

“Science and technology parks have been around since the early 1950’s but all eyes are now turning to technology start-ups in the hyper-connected Middle East,” said Head of the IASP 2014 Organizing Committee and QSTP Managing Director Hamad Al-Kuwari. “In the GCC in particular, these hubs for innovation play a critical role in sparking meaningful collaboration between industry, government and academia. We are proud of the historic commitments made by several GCC countries to education and research and are focused on making them pay off in the form of intellectual property and viable businesses in our communities. Today, individuals have more tools at their disposal than ever before, so the need for what science and technology parks do has never been greater. The historic pace of knowledge creation is a call to action for us. Our challenge is not just to keep pace with the world’s most tech-savvy generation of innovators, but to support them further. Ahead of next year’s IASP World Conference in Doha, the science and technology park community is asking itself and innovators one thing: how can we help?”

The workshop in Muscat focused on the sustainable development of science and technology parks – from infrastructure planning to governance – while IASP World Conference in Doha will explore new models of technical, financial and administrative support that science and technology parks can offer entrepreneurs. In the GCC, science and technology parks work to ensure a return on historic investments made in education and research by aligning sectors to incubate commercialized technologies and intellectual property.

In Arab States in particular, effective incubation of science and technology-focused enterprises is a critical element of creating economic opportunity and diversification into knowledge sectors. While economic conditions, challenges and opportunities vary greatly within the Arab world, science and technology parks have a key role to play in the region. A United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Science Report 2010 found that linkages between academia and industry in Arab States were sometimes lacking and need to be strengthened. The report cited Qatar as an example of an Arab State tackling the issue by setting up a science park and implementing a national research strategy. Historically, the region has enjoyed bright clusters of innovation in places like Jordan. Great strides have been made more recently in places like Qatar and Oman which have taken leadership roles with respect to science and technology research. A 2012 survey by the renowned polling firm Gallup found that one in three Qatari nationals between the ages of 15 and 29 planned to start a business in the next 12 months, the highest proportion in the Arab world at that time.


Omneya Kilany
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