Mubadala Development Company, the Abu Dhabi-based investment and development company; the Dubai Future Foundation; and GE Additive are uniting their collective expertise behind the establishment of the first microfactory in the region.
The project seeks to accelerate revolutionary additive design, customer innovation, digital manufacturing technologies and access to global problem solving within the UAE, said a statement.
Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, today witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit in Abu Dhabi by Mohamed Abdullah Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs and vice chairman and managing director of the Dubai Future Foundation; Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, group chief executive officer and managing director at Mubadala; and Beth Comstock, vice chair, GE. The event was also attended by Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Interior of the UAE; and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, UAE.
The goal is to build both an Abu Dhabi-based microfactory focused on serving industrial companies, as well as a Dubai-based microfactory focused on serving consumer goods and services companies.
The microfactory is expected to play a crucial role in the upscaling of design and manufacturing capabilities in the UAE and the broader region, allowing for the merger of innovative and forward thinking ideas with the ability to use cutting edge additive manufacturing technology in the production of specialised components, the statement said.
Coupled with the use of open innovation and on-demand crowd-sourcing aimed at solving key regional challenges, this MoU serves an integral role in the lead up to the realisation of UAE’s Vision 2021 of diversifying and supporting the advancement of industrialisation, localisation and manufacturing.
The microfactory is able to bridge the gap to production through small batch manufacturing and would support ecosystem development, customer co-creation and unlocking new growth sectors, it said.
“As a nation, our remit is a clear one: identify and act upon unique and sustainable partnerships that provide significant advancements across all sectors, in line with Vision 2021,” said Al Gergawi. “The leadership of the UAE is a firm believer in the exceptional opportunities presented by a proactive and future focused strategy, enabling individuals, companies, sectors and the nation to progress through the use of innovative and collaborative tools and platforms. These microfactories are a glimpse of what the future represents, combining innovation and educational ecosystems with fast, efficient and sustainable manufacturing capabilities. The possibilities are truly limitless.”
Education and capability-building are vital elements behind the success and sustainability of the microfactory, with heavy emphasis being placed not only on the ground by providing access to engineering and innovation consultants, but also the around-the-clock ability to interact and collaborate with some of the brightest minds in the field through the uniquely incorporated crowdsourcing platform.
“Manufacturing across many sectors has contributed to the diversification of our economy, and a number of Mubadala’s portfolio companies have made great strides in using collaboration and innovation to deepen manufacturing expertise,” said Khaldoon Al Mubarak. “This partnership with the Dubai Future Foundation and GE on these innovative micro-factories has the potential to further this expertise and enhance the country's competitive edge.”
The ability to continuously originate products will help to burgeon the UAE’s already expanding innovation ecosystem, driving new and unique collaborations aimed at supporting the nation’s drive toward its Vision 2021, he said.
“The ability to partner with both Mubadala and the Dubai Future Foundation – two entities which enjoy an amazing track record in advancing emerging technologies and levelling up innovation platforms within the region – is truly exceptional,” said Comstock. “We share a significant history of working toward projects that advance the region, and these microfactories continues that rich tradition. It will support the growth of entrepreneurs and SMEs in the digital industrial space, building a local ecosystem and community of suppliers across the key industries. GE is thrilled to partner once again in accelerating the use of this game-changing technology.”
Members of GE Additive’s engineering team will also be working closely with companies from the region across several industrial sectors, offering best practices in how to design and manufacture components using the additive process, whilst GE’s Fuse team will recruit the expert community and coordinate the collaboration on innovation missions.
“The opportunities in the UAE – and, of course, the broader Middle East markets – are abundant, and it is incumbent upon us, in collaboration with our partners, to work together to advance opportunities for inclusive and sustainable progress,” said Mohammad Ehteshami, vice president of GE Additive. “The microfactories are a concrete example of the results that can be achieved when innovation can take transformative and tangible form. We are phenomenally proud and optimistic about what it can deliver against UAE’s Vision 2021 and the country’s economic goals."
GE is a leading end user and innovator in the additive manufacturing space, and has invested approximately $1.5 billion in manufacturing and additive technologies at GE’s Global Research Center (GRC), developed additive applications across six GE businesses, created new services applications across the company, and earned 346 patents in powder metals used for the additive process.
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