With the UAE’s 2021 vision focusing on developing a knowledge-based economy, entrepreneurs have called upon authorities to setup incubators to promote relevant innovative industries.
“Government and private sectors should encourage entrepreneurs for innovation to facilitate the shaping of a knowledge-based economy,” Hazim Al-Hajjaj, CEO of Micro Automation Industries.
Micro Automation Industries is a Dubai-based manufacturer of a wide range of cost effective, microprocessor-embedded products, power protection, electronic controllers.
All its products are made in the UAE, using technology and manufacturing process that have been developed in-house.
Hajjaj added that the government partnership with private sector should be focusing on areas such as education, research and development, technology to develop innovative businesses and create a hub for electronic industry in the UAE and the region.
He also highlighted that among of the challenges they face in the electronics industry, most range from a lack of practical scientific environment, proper marketing and identifying the right product in the market. “There is no attention to harness the talent and creativity of start-ups or small and medium enterprises [SMEs] in the technology and electronics businesses,” he added.
“The government should set up to this challenge and establish the right incubator to nurture the innovative talents across the emirates and support innovative businesses.”
Micro Automation was ranked number one in innovation for 2011 by Dubai SME 100. It was also recognised as the Technology Company of the Year at the Arabian Business Achievement Awards 2008 for its achievements in the field of engineering design development.
However, the company faces a number of obstacles. “We can’t grow with our business the way it should be. There are a lot of obstacles that we can’t avoid easily and we do need government support,” Hajjaj said. He added that funding innovation helps such businesses remain competitive during less buoyant times, which can significantly push them ahead when the economy improves.
However, there no proper financing channels to support SMEs, especially in the technology and electronic fields, he added.
Dubai was traditionally recognised as a trading hub for the region. However, this perception has changed today. Innovation across all industries is being fostered in line with UAE Vision 2021.
By 2021, the knowledge-based economy aims to contribute by five per cent to the country Goss Domestic Product (GDP), according to the UAE Ministry of Economy. This cannot be achieved without serious support to the innovative businesses and ‘Made in UAE’ products, according to Hajjaj.
“This shift to a knowledge economy can only be accomplished within an entrepreneurial environment that harnesses the talent and creativity of Emiratis. A new class of entrepreneurs will be nurtured and supported with the help of practical programmes such as start-up incubators,” he said.
According to the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Hajjaj said, SMEs should be supported to produce highly sophisticated technology products with excellent quality and specifications to reflect the market Made in Dubai on an international level. Thus, the ‘Made in UAE’ products should be supported and be given priority in the market instead of the monopoly of the international products, he felt.
Highlighting the availability of the need for infrastructure to grow in tandem with innovative businesses, Hajjaj said Dubai Internet City has provided an avenue for young entrepreneurs to build technologies that are applicable to regional requirements. However, this is not enough and the government and private sector should come together to support research and development activities that foster innovation and offer a gateway for expanding horizons beyond the UAE.
“The Dubai Internet City Excellence Series is a step towards this direction as an initiative that nurtures and nourishes the exchange of concepts and best practices,” Hajjaj said.
SmartCity is a conglomerate promoted by Tecom Investments to develop and manage knowledge industry townships worldwide.
SmartCity has a significant impact on the economies in which it is established and creates vibrant knowledge economy communities, which are anchored by leading global, regional and local names in the industry to facilitate knowledge transfer and job creation. “The government is committed to attract expertise to support economic development by focusing on the introduction of advanced technologies as well as to well trained national talents,” he said.
“The government and private sector should work harder on promoting a culture of innovation and research and development,” Hajjaj added.
Going forward, a nation’s productivity and competitiveness will be a result of investment in science, technology, research and development and will form the fabric of the UAE economy, Hajjaj said.