Experts Believe Early-Stage Technology-Based Companies Bridge Academia with Industry

bu Dhabi-UAE: 22 April, 2014 – The UAE should provide more assistance to early-stage technology-based start-ups that serve as a “crucial bridge” between academia and industry, according to recommendations offered by UAE innovation experts.

The recommendations are part of the summary and recommendations report from the “UAE Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship” that was held in Abu Dhabi in April 2013. The event was jointly organized by Masdar Institute and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). More than 200 distinguished speakers, panelists, and invited guests whose diversity mirrors the complex ecosystem for innovation in the region, participated in the Forum.

The Forum resulted in nine recommendations to provide a strong foundation for innovation in the UAE. They include strengthening each  stakeholder group in the UAE innovation ecosystem, establishing a unique “brand” of innovation in the UAE, designing industry-specific innovation policies to accelerate innovation, developing new innovation hubs modeled on free zones, building on the strength of the country’s diversity, modifying rules and regulations as needed to ensure that they do not dampen innovation, establishing a greater UAE Government role in research funding, promoting the formation of small technology companies to serve as the crucial bridge between university research and commercial products and services, and improving stakeholder coordination within the UAE innovation ecosystem.  A copy of the full report is available on-line at http://www.masdar.ac.ae/research/research-centers/icenters-research/cise. 

Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said: “The recommendations convey the need to urgently tackle the challenges to innovation currently being faced by countries such as the UAE. In order to build a knowledge-based economy and create new wealth as directed by the UAE leadership, a different style of entrepreneurship will be needed. We hope these recommendations will play an important role in facilitating the development of a community that thrives on innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Dr. Lita Nelsen, Director, Licensing, MIT, said: “Small companies provide a critical bridge for transferring technology, developing university intellectual property to the point it becomes useful to large companies. Large companies play an important role in sponsoring university research, giving vital direction to R&D. But even in such industry-directed research programs, product development still takes place in small companies.”

A survey of the Forum’s audience found 72% believed that universities should advise their graduates to be entrepreneurs, while 76% believed that lack of success of a technology-based start-up would not hinder future job prospects for an entrepreneur. At the same time, participants expressed their willingness to pay higher prices in order to encourage innovation, with 61% expressing willingness to pay more for petrol and electricity to encourage alternative energy.

Masdar Institute in collaboration with British Petroleum and MIT will host the 2014 UAE Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship as a follow-up to last year’s successful Forum. The 2014 Forum will focus on three key industries – higher education, energy and aerospace – to provide an industry-based perspective to innovation and entrepreneurship.