Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, announced that its Institute Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (iInnovation) will contribute to developing and maintaining a leadership role for the UAE in technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship.
iInnovation is mandated to initiate measures to adapt best practices from world-class innovation hubs to the UAE, while working with UAE stakeholders to improve the local innovation ecosystem. In addition, it will support the translation of technology research into innovative commercial products, services and processes. As part of its mission, iInnovation will be hosting the ‘UAE Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship 2014’ on 28 April in Abu Dhabi, co-sponsored with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and BP.
Dr. Fred Moavenzadeh, President, Masdar Institute, said: “The launch of iInnovation forms part of our mission towards creating and developing human capital, especially in clean energy innovation and entrepreneurship. With the support of the UAE leadership, Masdar Institute continues to implement initiatives and host international forums to raise awareness of the importance of technology start-ups. We hope iInnovation will develop capabilities, encourage youth to launch start-up companies and facilitate government support for young entrepreneurs.”
Headed by Dr. Bruce W. Ferguson, Professor in Engineering Systems and Management, iInnovation will operate in three thematic areas – establishing the commercial viability of research, further advancing technology entrepreneurship among the youth in the UAE and strengthening the innovation policy framework in the UAE.
iInnovation will design and implement new programs in collaboration with other UAE stakeholders across a broad range of industries. In this area, it will initiate an open technology entrepreneurship lecture series to be hosted at Masdar Institute and create a funding program for late-stage faculty research that shows commercialization potential. In January 2014, iInnovation announced a $7m, multi-year Technology Innovation Collaboration Agreement with BP to develop novel ways to speed development and adoption of new sustainable technologies. More recently, a two-year, fully-funded merit-based BP Innovation Scholarship Program was launched to help students develop the business potential of their own sustainable technology ideas or ideas they adopt at Masdar Institute.
The UAE is currently ranked 25th in the world on the ‘Innovation and Sophistication’ scale by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI). According to the Emirates Competitiveness Council (ECC), the UAE is continuously upgrading its capabilities, research institutions, as well as its human resources, in order to foster the innovation that competitive SMEs and large businesses across the UAE require for success.
Dr. Ferguson will work with various stakeholders to further drive technology-based innovation and entrepreneurship in Abu Dhabi and the UAE. Masdar Institute already leads in several areas including knowledge generation through research and development (R&D), and collaboration with major industries and government particularly in energy sustainability, water and nanotechnology, according to the ECC.
Dr. Ferguson is a co-founder and former Chief Operating Officer of Orbital Sciences Corporation, a space technology company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and a co-founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Edenspace Systems Corporation, a plant biotechnology company developing new renewable energy and environmental products. He is also a Trustee of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
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