UAE-UK tech partnership can make the world a better place

The UK will work through global fora like the OECD and will be appointing Tech Envoys to create the world’s largest tech diplomacy network – promoting the UK sector overseas and leading the global conversation

By Patrick Moody

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Published: Mon 17 Apr 2023, 11:17 PM

Technology is one of the key pathways for global prosperity and security. From climate to health, from financial services to agriculture, tech is creating exciting new opportunities.

The UK is already a world leader in research and development, innovation and cyber security. Our tech sector is booming – we are Europe’s top tech investment destination and home to the fourth largest number of tech unicorns in the world.

But we want to do more. The UK’s new International Technology Strategy sets out our path to tech superpower status. But it is about more than our own national ambitions. It is about tackling the fragmentation of the global tech market, providing leadership and shaping the global tech market – with the right principles and in the right sectors and with the right partners. To solve our common challenges and to boost global opportunity, we need to work together.

So our strategy sets our four guiding principles – to be open, responsible, secure and resilient. These are the backbone to shape the future of technology and to enable the UK to build partnerships with the international community.

The strategy focuses on five critical technologies – AI, quantum, engineering biology, semiconductors and telecoms with data as an enabler of them all.

Outreach is at the heart of the strategy. The UK will work through global fora like the OECD and will be appointing Tech Envoys to create the world’s largest tech diplomacy network – promoting the UK sector overseas and leading the global conversation. They will be backed by a new Technology Centre of Expertise, bringing together the best tech minds from across government, the private sector and academia.

The UAE is already on the same journey. I saw for myself how Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week gathered together exactly these types of expertise to face the global challenge of climate change. And the UK and the UAE share the aspiration both to be knowledge-driven creative economies, and to help developing economies meet the challenges of today and tomorrow through technology.

There are already many exciting examples of the UK and UAE partnering on tech:

· The University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre is working with Khalifa University to pioneer innovative applications of 2D materials such as graphene in areas like clean water and decarbonisation.

· The University of Birmingham Health Data Science Team are working with the newly formed Dubai Health Corporation focusing on two significant health-related challenges: type 2 diabetes and rare genetic diseases, using advanced machine learning algorithms and methods to develop more targeted and effective treatments.

· UK start-up Oxford Immune Algorithmics is collaborating with MBZUAI in Abu Dhabi, the World's First AI University, to use the best of both human and machine intelligence to create a revolutionary and sustainable impact on global health.

· Fera Science is working extensively across the Middle East, supporting government and industry in delivering food safety and plant health services, and innovative research. They are currently collaborating with TP Bennett, an internationally renowned architectural design practice, and WAGTech Projects, an award-winning manufacturer and supplier of specialist water and environmental equipment and services, to support Silal Food and Technology research and development activity in the UAE to aid the growth of the horticulture and farming sector in the country.

· UK company Winnow is helping the food service and hospitality industries in the UAE cut down on food waste by making the kitchen smarter. Winnow’s artificial intelligence-enabled tool detects the type and quantity of food items thrown away. The data allows commercial kitchens to pinpoint where waste occurs. Typically kitchens using Winnow see food waste cut in half.

But there is more that the UK can do and want to do in partnership with the UAE because we have a shared vision of using technology to make the world a better place.

- Patrick Moody is the United Kingdom's Ambassador to the UAE.

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