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UAE leads Middle East in Global Innovation Index 2013

Research and development spending levels are surpassing 2008, local hubs thriving

Gulf News

Dubai: The UAE still leads the Middle East in the Global Innovation Index 2013 (GII), according to a report published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait ranked in the top 50 while Switzerland kept the top spot.

“Despite the economic crisis, innovation is alive and well. Research and development spending levels are surpassing 2008 levels in most countries and successful local hubs are thriving.” The report said.

The UAE ranks top in four pillars — institutions (political, regulatory and business environment), human capital and research (education, tertiary education, and research & development), infrastructure (information & communication technologies, general infrastructure and ecological sustainability), and business sophistication (knowledge workers, innovation linkages & knowledge absorption).

“Worldwide, innovation is increasingly seen as a powerful tool to strengthen the competitiveness and global relevance of corporations and nations,” said Bruno Lanvin, the report’s co-editor and Executive Director of INSEAD’s European Competitiveness Initiative.

In the Middle East and Northern Africa, he said the recent political and social changes have also underlined the importance of addressing the needs and expectations of populations in terms of growth and job creation, especially for the young.

“The creation of an environment that could unleash the potential for innovation for all in a sustainable manner is the way to unlocking the true, tangible potential of value creation; it will lay the groundwork for societal change and develop a framework for cohesive synergies through collaboration. The unprecedented socio-economic momentum that has been created in the last few decades in the UAE makes this country very well positioned to continue to play a pivotal role in this exciting journey as a regional hub for innovation,” said Osman Sultan, Chief Executive Officer of du.

This year’s report shows that performances in the region remain uneven, but innovation is becoming a visible and pertinent instrument for economic diversification, enhanced competitiveness and global integration in an increasing number of Mena countries.

“In the Middle East, we are seeing governments focus on building innovation capabilities as a means of catalysing the growth and diversification of their economies. For instance, many MENA countries are establishing innovation hubs in which large state-owned enterprise champions, whose business goals are aligned with the objectives of the innovation hub, are acting as the critical drivers of hub activities,” said Rasheed Al Tayyeb, Principal in the Public Sector Practice at Booz & Company.

“These state-owned enterprise champions have the talent pools to stimulate innovation, the financial resources to bridge the gap between research and commercial success, and the scale to create markets for innovative products.”

The GII 2013 looked at 142 economies around the world, using 84 indicators including the quality of top universities, availability of microfinance, venture capital deals — gauging both innovation capabilities and measurable results.