In the post-pandemic world of work, the Middle East region's innovation districts are well-positioned to thrive. With businesses and organizations co-located in physical space for complex supply chains, they can provide flexibility, enable serendipity, and foster innovation for decades to come, according to top management consultancy firm Arthur D. Little (ADL).
However, innovation districts must first focus on particular success factors before their full potential is realized, stated ADL in its latest viewpoint entitled 'The Future of Innovation Districts.'
The publication explains what property owners, municipalities, policymakers, and potential corporate tenants should look for when creating and choosing a world-class innovation district, elaborating on essential fundamentals and presenting executives with valuable sustainability insights.
"How organizations innovate and their location when pursuing new projects have both changed significantly in recent decades due to convergence and disruption," explained Dr. Raymond Khoury, Partner and Technology and Innovation Management Practice Lead at Arthur D. Little.
"Rather than closed innovation models, more and more companies have begun opting for open approaches involving cross-industry partnerships and engaging ecosystems. This trend has instigated an underlying need for suitable physical locations where innovation can transpire, ultimately leading to the birth of the Innovation District concept," he noted.
Typically located in urban areas, these innovation districts are focused on driving inter-firm linkages, collaborations, and networks that are enabled and sustained by a wider ecosystem for innovation.
They include a wide range of businesses, from startups to large corporates, and are more physically compact than potentially sprawling innovation clusters.
Crucially, the Middle East is home to several Innovation Districts that have delivered successful business outcomes.
The UAE, which has maintained its rank amongst the top 20 countries on the Global Competitive Index over the last five years, has developed many innovation centers that provide the required services for entrepreneurs and businesses to innovate, grow, and become successful, stated Arhur D Little in its report.
Prominent examples include Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (DTEC), which has attracted 800 startup companies from more than 70 countries since its establishment in 2015.
Managed by Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority, DTEC runs no fewer than five different programs and events to encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, working with many local, regional, and global partners to ensure efficiency and effectiveness.
Similarly, in Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) funds technology development and product commercialization, while Riyadh Digital and Innovation District (RDID) is a planned development to foster a future-centric ecosystem of digital entrepreneurship.
The Saudi Data & Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) also aims to build an AI Village in line with National Strategy for Data & AI (NSDAI) objectives.
The AI Village will act as a catalyst for NSDAI, providing innovators and researchers the proper infrastructure, services, and network to succeed. It will enable the activation of data and AI startups, facilitating valuable knowledge sharing while complementing existing initiatives and assets in the kingdom.
Meanwhile, Kuwait has been considering a Kuwait Innovation Centre that could drive entrepreneurship and support the country’s transition to a more diversified knowledge and innovation-based economy.-TradeArabia News Service