Saudi Arabia, desperate for knowledge
The 5th Annual Saudi International Technology Incubation Conference opened by Economy and Planning Minister Muhammed Al-Jasser in Riyadh on Tuesday, is focusing on the need to develop a knowledge-based economy.
Speaking on the importance of transforming the Saudi economy to a knowledge-based economy driven by creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, Al-Jasser said such a development would bring an economic renaissance in the Kingdom.
He explained that with the knowledge-based economy, countries such as Japan, Korea and Singapore have made tremendous economic progress without having natural resources.
This year, the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Badir have teamed up with the Technopolicy Network to organize the 5th edition of the conference, which has incorporated the networks of the 10th International Annual Conference.
Its aim is to provide stakeholders and practitioners in the entrepreneurship and incubation industry the opportunity to contribute to discussions with international and local expertriates about the importance of science and technology-based businesses within the Kingdom and to consider the latest developments in technology entrepreneurship, innovation and the role that incubators should play.
The conference will help develop knowledge and understanding between policy makers, incubation practitioners and stakeholders about the importance of science and technology-based entrepreneurship and its role in the creation of a knowledge-based economy and a diversified technology industry base, while providing networking opportunities that support the development of the Saudi incubator industry.
The minister pointed out that the spending on research and development in the Kingdom has increased from 0.4 percent to 3.4 percent, which is a remarkable achievement at the regional level. He stressed that the Kingdom has topped in such spending among the Arab countries. At global level, he said, the Kingdom has been ranked 33rd among 139 countries in spending for research and development.
KACST President Mohammed ibn Ibrahim Al-Suwaiyel said scientific research and technological advancement were pivotal elements of the progress and prosperity of nations in various developmental areas as developed countries striving toward progress, had long understood.
In fact, he said, the developed countries have spared no expense on research and development (R&D), dedicating a considerable portion of their GDP (gross domestic product) to this purpose, which has led to the phenomenal scientific and information revolution we witness today. It has also led to the fierce competition, which effectively relies on financial and economic power, as well as the possession of novel and information technology.
“Realizing that any developmental effort has to be based on a solid scientific foundation, our government has dedicated great attention to science and technology. Thus came the conception of KACST in 1397H, to promote and support applied scientific research that contribute to development in the Kingdom, supporting and coordinating the tasks of scientific institutions and research centers in that area, according to the developmental needs of the Kingdom.”
KACST has supported many scientific research projects aiming to serve developmental issues in various sectors. These research projects have yielded good results which have benefited various parties of both the private and public sectors. KACST has also provided scientists, researchers and students in Saudi universities with considerable support and services.
It is also in the process of implementing many research projects in its labs and research centers, which are well equipped. KACST research helps in solving many developmental problems that the Kingdom encounters in different areas of both the public and private sectors.
The studies, consultations and services of KACST reach most of the government's ministries. Including the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense and Aviation.
At the lead of the large institutions which deal with KACST are Saudi Aramco, Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Saudi Pharmaceutical Industries & Medical Appliances Corporation (SPIMACO), (the Advanced Electronics Company (AEC), Saudi Electricity Company (SEC), Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Maaden), National Agricultural Development Company (NADEC), Saudi Oger and Almarai.
Nawaaf Al-Sahhaf, CEO, Badir Program for Technology, said KASCT was successful in setting up 11 incubators in major cities, including Makkah, Madinah, Riyadh, Jeddah, the Eastern Province, Qassim and Al-Kharj, which play an important role in supporting the process of economic development.
The other speakers included Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Gov. Abdul Latif Al-Othman and Technopolicy Network Chairman Richard Bendis.
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