UAE seeks to lead the world when it comes to innovation: Top official

Country to organise the biggest event of its kind that aims to support talent



by

Lamya Tawfik

Published: Wed 25 Jan 2023, 5:15 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Mar 2023, 7:14 PM

This year the focus will be on innovation that leads to sustainability,

Throughout February, the nation will be in full innovation gear during UAE Innovates 2023 organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Center of Government Innovation (MBRCGI).

Launched in 2015, this year’s UAE Innovates promises to be the largest ever with participation from federal entities, the public sector and private sector and the community throughout the month of February.

The event which will be launched during the National Science, Technology and Innovation Festival on the first of February will include events and programs held throughout the nation, in all seven emirates.

“This is the biggest event of its kind in the world and this year the focus will be on innovation that leads to sustainability,” announced Huda Al Hashimi, UAE Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Strategic Affairs on Wednesday.

“This is in line with the directives from the UAE’s president who announced that 2023 will be the year of Innovation and in line with the UAE’s preparation for COP 28,” she said.

“The UAE seeks to lead the world when it comes to innovation in all areas of life in order to improve the quality of life of society and to boost its competitiveness and capabilities,” she said emphasizing the importance of inculcating the culture of innovation.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Abeer Tahlak, the Director of MBRCGI said that the UAE Innovates 2023 reflects the country’s direction towards implantation and impact. “We are beyond doing this just for awareness. This year we are heavy on implementation. We want to showcase implemented initiatives that are evidence-based. We are not just saying ‘we have good cool ideas, we’re the most innovative people in the world’. No, we want to show evidence and we want to show the world that the UAE has matured,” she said.

She said that the innovations demonstrate quality, impact and scalability. “We’re not just doing this because innovation is a buzzword, we’re beyond that it’s about how are you really adding value to your entity, user, customers,” she explained.

When it comes to the participation of government entities, she said that the understanding has really matured over the years. In the first three to four years, Abeer said, people were just familiarizing themselves with the concept of ‘innovation’. “They weren’t really sure what it meant. ‘What is it? Is it creativity? Inventions? What are you talking about?’ they would ask. ‘Do we have to do it on the side just to tick a few boxes?’ But now they get it and see the value of it,” she said emphasizing that innovation is at the core of business, services and it is why there are mandates in the different entities.

The private sector which will play a more important role in 2023 is also excited to collaborate with the government, according to Abeer. “The ultimate goal of these partnerships is to make people’s life easier in the UAE. It’s a reflection of the directions of the government. The leadership is very clear that government exists for the happiness of its citizens. All the innovation is all about how to make citizens life easier,” she said.

Partnerships with governments around the world must have a scope which is something she feels strongly about. “We don’t just partner for the sake of partnering. Implementation is important,” she said.

The UAE Innovates 2023 will witness a series of events, both virtual and in person, in all parts of the country aiming to support talent for innovation. One of these events is the UAE Innovates exhibition which will be held in collaboration with Global Village. It will also witness collaborations with the New Media Academy and NAS academy and community collaboration such as Ferjan Dubai, a community project focusing on neighborhoods in Dubai.

The UAE Innovation awards will also be held as part of the closing ceremony and will recognize winners in various categories. This year, a new category was introduced for innovation in the area of sustainability.

Other categories are: Most Innovative Use of Resources, Most Innovative Digital Transformation, Most Innovative Automated Government Procedure, Most Innovative Community Services, Most Innovative Government Process and Most Innovative Disruptive Project. Applications for this award will close on Feb 3. The judging criteria are novelty, impact, proactivity, replicability, rapid response and agility.

Pitch@gov is another initiative taking places during UAE Innovates 2023 and features a collaboration between MBRCGI and the Mohammed bin Rashid Innovation Fund. Participants will be required to offer solutions for challenges in two areas: transportation in collaboration with the Roads and Transportation Authority and health in collaboration with the Emirates Health Services. Winners will be provided support and funding to put their teams together and to create their business plans.

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