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Connected digital and physical infrastructure is the key to driving innovation in the UAE

The inaugural Innovation Live! Summit, an official anchor event for UAE Innovation Week, is designed to facilitate growth in the UAE economy through Innovation. To deliver this, MEED (the organisers) and the Advisory Board have created a unique initiative which involves the event being preceded by 28 workshop sessions across seven sectors, of which the first three sector challenges have been now been identified.

The sessions have been created to identify and solve specific sector based challenges that create barriers to innovation across the government and private sector. These are known as ‘Watercooler’ Challenges and include The City Challenge, The Industrial Diversification Challenge, The Transport Challenge, The Start-up Challenge, The Sustainable Energy Challenge, The Education Challenge and The Healthcare Challenge.

Innovation Live! is an initiative by MEED in collaboration with key government and private organsations to enable innovation by aligning government and businesses.

The workshops are hosted in various exciting locations across the UAE and aim to solve challenges identified at the first meeting of each group, the conversations are in line with the UAE’s ambitions of having the ‘smartest’, ‘happiest’ most ‘efficient’ and most ‘connected’ cities in the world. The Watercooler outcomes will be revealed at the Summit and will also be presented to key government entities in December 2016 as part of a whitepaper report in order to take forward to implementation.

The Watercooler Challenges were attended by representatives from the Roads and Transport Authority, Dubai Land Department, Smart Dubai, DEWA, Health Authority Abu Dhabi, Etihad Rail, Masdar Institute, Ministry of Energy, Etisalat, Dubai South and industry giants such as Honeywell, General Electrics, Siemens, PwC, Hitachi and many more. The first round of Innovation Live! Watercoolers enabled highly-informed discussions on the key challenges facing the region and distilled this into one single challenge which the group will endeavour to solve over the coming months.

The UAE’s ‘National Innovation Strategy’ is progressing rapidly and as a result, the focus groups identified the succeeding steps to ensure that the strategy is successful, which involve developing connected frameworks and reaching out to the next generation to place the evolving ideas into the implementation phase.

Richard Breeden, CEO of MEED commented saying: “The UAE’s National Innovation Strategy is focused on ensuring that the UAE is sustainable and dynamic long-term to ensure economic resilience and global competitiveness. MEED is delighted to curate an independent platform along with our Advisory Board members where industry leaders and government officials have the opportunity to align ideas and opportunities in key sectors to make the UAE one of the most innovative countries in the world.

The conclusion drawn from the first three sector focused Watercooler Challenges suggested that investing in more connected digital and physical infrastructure, reducing energy costs and improving the overall quality of life are the game changers to ensure that the UAE is at the forefront of innovation.”

Key findings from the Watercooler Challenges include:

The Transportation Challenge

At the first Transport Watercooler Challenge, senior industry representatives from the government and private sector, agreed on the following challenge –

“How do we develop an integrated, future-proof “smart” masterplan for the UAE transport system which removes silos, manages new interfaces, incentivises innovation, is resilient and flexible?” Innovation in transport remains a fundamental building block of an urban environment and with the country evolving as a key business hub in the Middle East region, the need for safe and efficient infrastructure is more vital now than ever before.

The City Challenge

The core discussion during the City Watercooler embraced the need for a seamlessly connected city and country.

Mohamed Al Dah, director of the technical affairs department at the Dubai Land Department and a member of the City Watercooler group, commented: “Dubai is a lot of cities at the moment, a collection of very different cities and communities which were set up to encourage growth in very specialist fields. We would like to see them more connected and this is the challenge that our City Challenge Watercooler Group has set ourselves. We want to answer – “How do we efficiently and seamlessly connect city services to make individuals happier and more productive?”

Pete Costa, vice president, Honeywell Building Solutions, Middle East, added: “With advanced urban planning being led by the government and various industries, it is clear that the UAE is already on the path to achieving its smart, happy and efficiency goals for cities. Investing in the National Innovation Agenda paves the way for stakeholders to align and help shape the future of the UAE.  It is crucial to make buildings and cities smarter and more connected to improve the quality of life for the inhabitants of the UAE.”

The Sustainable Energy Challenge

The first session of the Sustainable Energy Challenge focused on the UAE’s need for a more innovative, sustainable and engaged electricity supply system to demonstrate the UAE’s leadership in the sector regionally.

Dr. Steven Griffiths, Vice President for Research and Professor of Practice of Masdar Institute and member of the Sustainable Energy Watercooler stated: “The question we want to answer is: ‘How can innovation help create a secure, affordable, sustainable electricity and water system in the UAE?’ We were able to conclude that because water and energy efficiency are foundational to sustainability in the country, innovation efforts need to be directed toward achieving impactful levels of energy and water savings through approaches that include not just technology innovation but also innovation in policy, collaboration and consumer awareness.”

Watercooler Challenge Output

Post the first session, the groups will continue to convene for three more sessions with the aim to solve the challenge identified. The sessions of the Watercooler Challenges are being conducted in line with the UAE National Innovation Strategy and UAE Vision 2021 and as a result, all key findings will be published in seven green-papers to be showcased at the Innovation Live! Summit on 21 November, 2016. These green papers will devise policy and define implementation plans on key sectors based on the solutions formulated in the sessions. The sector-led papers will then be collated into a single whitepaper, which will be presented to key government entities in December, 2016 to be taken to into implementation.

Innovation Live! Summit is an official anchor event during UAE Innovation Week. The event is run in partnership with Masdar (Official Sustainable Energy Partner), Federal Transport Authority (Official Transport Partner), Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (Strategic Partner), Hitachi (Social Innovation Partner), Bentley (Platinum Partner), Honeywell (Platinum Partner), Current, powered by GE (Platinum Partner), Visa (Gold Partner), Esri (Silver Partner) and Elevision (Media Partner).

For further details on Innovation Live! Visit www.innovation.live 

*Source: Gulf News

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