Oman targets innovation and R&D to enhance national capability and competitiveness in a transformative vision centered on its human resources
Oman is a small country with a great vision, a country with relatively few natural resources but which has progressed through investing in the development of its people. For Dr. Hilal Ali Zaher Al Hinai, Secretary General of The Research Council (TRC), “human resources constitute the capital of Oman” and he sees the work of TRC as key in the next step, one of investing in innovation and research and development so as to allow the potential of the country’s human genius to flourish and through that to foster national economic prosperity.
Dr. Al Hinai sees two main building blocks in this process, the first being “research, the generation of knowledge”, and the second being “innovation, the capturing of value from that knowledge”, focusing investment on areas where Oman has either particular needs or strengths that can be built on.
A key next stage is the development of Innovation Park Muscat (IPM) to provide a catalyzing, dynamic and productive environment for researchers and innovators, combined with strong links to academia, business and industry.
His Highness Dr. Fahad Al Julanda Al Said, Assistant Secretary General for Innovation Development, calls IPM “a cornerstone in Oman’s innovation ecosystem” that will “serve the innovation support programs that are being developed to provide the framework and a sense of innovation culture in the sultanate.” IPM will be a place “where researchers can develop new ideas while investors seek out opportunities to collaborate within this community.”
Focus on specific areas often produces a cascade of related research. For example, enhanced oil recovery (EOR) techniques, important to Oman and with tremendous commercial potential worldwide, require a great deal of treated water which leads on to research into seawater desalination, also a market with very great potential. Steam injection is used in EOR and so research into using solar energy to power that process may also be commercially fruitful. Investment is thus being cleverly targeted to achieve a maximum multiplier effect.
Dr. Al Hinai emphasizes the partnership philosophy underlying IPM’s concept, saying, “If you work with partners to capture the value from the knowledge and provide a platform for those technologies, then it is always a win-win situation.”
Dr. Abdulbaqi, Director of Science and Technology Parks within TRC, confirms this, saying, “we are creating the ecosystem to support and produce ideas and products for commercialization within a future knowledge-based economy” – a key part of Oman’s Vision 2020.