A New Cradle of Innovation is Born: the Saudi GE Innovation Center
A recent post on the Harvard Business Review blog suggests that the Middle East and North Africa provide just the right environment needed, perhaps, to produce the next big global innovation.
“As the region continues to use creativity to overcome its unique problems, and as long as access to inexpensive technology continues to spread, ‘made in MENA’ doesn’t seem that far off,” wrote US-based entrepreneur Christopher M. Schroeder.
He adds: “When I travel throughout the Middle East, I look hard for situations and experiences that could foster innovation on a global scale. Simply put, the Middle East is rife with potential.”
Such a statement comes as no surprise to much of the home-grown talent living across the region. After all, innovation across the Arab world is increasingly evident on university campuses, within entrepreneurial communities and incubators, in art districts, and within company R&D centers. In many places, you can find exciting examples of innovation, like the Arab World Social Innovators Program, which supports social entrepreneurs; the Wamda MENA entrepreneur’s website, ArabNet, the KAUST Entrepreneurship Center, and at the Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Center (Waed), which is supported by GE.
Adding to this region-wide renaissance in innovation is the just-opened Saudi GE Innovation Center in the Dhahran Techno-Valley. Aimed at fostering homegrown innovation, the 2,200-sqm Saudi GE Innovation Center is aligned with the Kingdom’s Vision 2020. This vision, in turn, aims to boost Saudi entrepreneurship, manufacturing and exports to accelerate diversified and sustained economic growth. The Saudi GE Innovation Center will collaborate with partners, customers, key think tanks and academic institutions to promote the country’s innovation ecosystem.
Crucially, the Center will support GE and KFUPM’s commitment to promoting localized innovation and strengthening the Saudi talent base through strong academia-industry linkages.
The Center has a dual focus on energy and healthcare. The focus on energy, including alternative energy, seeks to address the expectation that US$100 billion in fresh investment in the power sector is needed by 2020 to meet the 6 percent annual growth in power demand. Similarly, the Center will promote innovation in healthcare by partnering with the Kingdom’s leading universities to promote research and development to address the pressing requirements in the sector. GE has been working closely with the Ministry of Health to help build a sustainable healthcare model under healthymagination.
The Saudi GE Innovation Center represents the first milestone that is part of the US$1 billion investment commitment announced by the company last year. As well, it delivers on the strategic agreement signed in 2011 between GE and King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) to build the Centre in the Dhahran Techno-Valley.
Visit the Saudi GE Innovation Center website, here.