Innovation must keep sustainability at its heart for a better future
New technologies, solutions, products, and approaches are the key to delivering efficient and agile work, while keeping sustainability at the heart of the process, says Dr. Dalya Al Muthanna, president for the UAE region and global chief of Strategy & Operations at GE International Markets.
In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, she noted that climate change action is a top priority for governments, such as the UAE, and that businesses looking to achieve their Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) commitments, must have breakthrough technology in sustainability as a central pillar.
Towards this end, GE is integrating the power of digitisation, and several path-breaking innovations are being rolled out, ranging from healthcare to resource management.
Al Muthanna revealed that the team at GE Research hosts over 1,000 researchers and innovators continuously engaged in “building a world that works.” Currently, she said that they are engaged in over 350 projects that will add to the company’s track-record of holding over 375 patents – with several added each year. The research is also supported by global partnerships that help entities innovate new solutions.
One of GE’s biggest area of research right now revolves around water scarcity. GE is tackling the challenge through its Additively Manufactured, Integrated Reservoir to Extract Water project – or AIR2WATER for short.
“Water is the lifeline of societies, and ensuring reliable water supply has been one of the tasks our technologies have delivered for over 80 years in our region,” Al Muthanna said. “Water supply in this region has primarily been secured through desalination, which, as you know, is an energy-intensive process. We need to look at renewable and sustainable solutions for assured water supply that meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal for Clean Water and Sanitation.”
“Our researchers, together with top scientists and engineers from the University of California at Berkeley, University of Chicago, and University of South Alabama are developing and designing a highly compact, portable device that can produce clean, safe water out of thin air. This innovative device is light enough to be lifted by just four people, and will utilise new material innovations, thermal processes, and additive manufacturing to produce enough daily water in arid areas,” she explained.
In addition, GE Healthcare recently announced that it had acquired Zionexa, a leading innovator of in-vivo oncology and neurology biomarkers that help enable more personalised healthcare.
“We plan to develop Zionexa’s pipeline biomarkers and other technology to achieve better outcomes for patients with recurrent or metastatic breast cancer,” Al Muthanna said. “Our researchers have also collaborated with academic partners to develop a novel, simultaneous multi-source Electrical Impedance Tomography (EIT) for non-invasive real-time lung monitoring and assessment.”
“Another exciting project is the ‘Digital Womb’, our mission to help infants grow and develop healthily by creating sensors that continuously monitor without obstructing them in any way,” she explained. “With this data, new parameters and insights can be developed to help improve the care neonatologists give for reducing pain, increasing sleep, and improving overall monitoring approaches. This is of great value for premature infants and its elements can be used to monitor patients of all ages.”
GE has also been playing an active role in tackling the challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company stepped up ventilator production, worked with clinics to increase their capacity, and built, assembled and distributed the ‘CT in a Container’ solution around the world – including in the UAE – featuring advanced Computed Tomography (CT) equipment by GE Healthcare that helps in diagnosing viral pneumonia attributable to Covid-19.
“Now, we are taking the next step with what we call the ‘Virus Hunters’ which are tiny sensors that are being developed to enable smartphones to detect the coronavirus,” Al Muthanna said. “A success could mean that, in the future, smartphones and smartwatches equipped with such sensors could help users detect not only the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing Covid-19, but also other pathogens and irritants. For this technology, our researchers are drawing on GE’s years of experience in developing industrial sensors that can detect minute amounts of gases and chemicals in the environment.”
“We continue to explore such opportunities for the near and far future because we believe that being a step ahead when it comes to technology and innovation is the only way to be,” she stressed. “That way, we can continue to work with our partners to support the needs of communities and transform the world.”
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