UAE Innovation Week: 800 activities, hackathons, labs, and workshops

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Dubai ranked second globally in government procurement of advanced technology products (Images via GE Hewar blog)

From November 22-28, the United Arab Emirates hosted Innovation Week. A nationwide celebration of innovation it was the result of concerted efforts by government, private sector and individuals.

The initiative, comprised of 800 activities including events, exhibitions and workshops, was held in different Emirates of the UAE. The goal was to further a culture of innovation in the UAE and strengthen its position as a global hub for innovation.

And it’s a boom time for the Emirates. Innovation Week was held shortly after it was ranked, by the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2015-2016, as second globally in government procurement of advanced technology products, and seventh globally in the availability of scientists and engineers.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, launched Afkari, a government initiative to encourage, support and fund the innovative ideas of more than 90,000 federal government employees, and to improve their organizations’ work systems.

“Changing the government system requires courage, ideas, and support for innovation, and we consider our employees as leaders,” Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement.

More than five hackathons and labs, a dozen competitions, shows, and discussions were organized throughout the week. Conferences focused on green leadership, developing innovation strategies, and presentations from research groups and students.

Brainstorming sessions focused on innovation policies, opening innovation clubs, and holding an innovation laboratory for developing and improving the Ministry of Labour’s services.

GE: Knowledge sharing

General Electric took part of the UAE Innovation Week, and among the key activities organized, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOoU) with the Ministry of Economy to strengthen localized innovation.

“As we transform into a digital industrial company by integrating software with heavy machinery, we are even more inspired by the UAE, which is focused on building a culture of localized innovation,” said Rania Rostom, chief innovation officer of GE in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, in a statement.


GE and the Ministry of Economy signing the MoU.

Per the MoU, GE will organize leadership speaker sessions, which will be led by experts at the GE Ecomagination Innovation Center in Masdar City. They will address the areas of FastWorks, GE’s new initiative to promote a startup culture and its emphasis on lean manufacturing and agile software development.

“With a focus on sharing best practices, the MoU will help provide deep insights into the newest trends in innovative thought processes, manufacturing, and technologies among the government staff through high-caliber workshops,” said H.E. Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Shalleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry.

GE also opened the doors to the GE Garage experience at the Dubai Design District (d3), and participated in the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) Innovation Week by highlighting its digital industrial solutions for a sustainable, productive and efficient energy sector.

The company is participating as a strategic partner with DEWA highlighting innovations related to the Industrial Internet, water, energy, efficiency and latest technology.

Further, GE is nurturing innovators with Global Education Management Systems (GEMS) through a five-session, four-week robot-building program for girls aged 9 to 11, teaching them about advanced manufacturing and coding.

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