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Spotlight on Sharjah

Joe Hepworth – 07 Nov, 2018 – Middle East perspective

Over the last couple of months, the BCB has been working on a pioneering project in Sharjah, UAE supporting the UK Future Cities Catapult’s cooperation with American University of Sharjah Enterprises (AUSE). The aim of the project is to help Sharjah distinguish itself as a unique research, entrepreneurship and industry innovation leader in the region and to establish UK businesses as being integral to the delivery of that vision.

Following the likes of Oxford, Cambridge & Imperial who all now have ‘ventures’ arms to take smart ideas spawned in academia out into the commercial world, AUSE has a similar mandate to bring the concepts grown in the wider University City campus in Sharjah (approx. 12 different institutions), out into the business world.

You only need to visit the University City area to see the investment afforded on this by Sharjah’s ruler, HH Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi for whom education is a matter of great personal interest; he even possesses two PhDs himself!

Unique in the Middle East region, Sharjah is home to a real ecosystem of research & development organisations that are recognised on a global scale and it is this quality academic hinterland that AUSE is looking to tap into with the launch of the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP). SRTIP gives aspiring international companies the opportunity to collaborate with the brains, science & cutting-edge developments coming out of Sharjah’s universities and harness these academic skills into commercial application.

The Catapult’s Sharjah engagement lasts for 6 months from August 2018 and features a report on Sharjah’s current positioning relative to a number of global peers on its innovation ranking and appeal, with recommendations on areas that can be improved further still.

Last month, we supported the Catapult’s recruitment of eight quality UK SMEs in the tech sector whom we brought to Sharjah to showcase their innovative products & services with a view to becoming part of SRTIP when it launches in 2019.  Feedback was positive on both sides with Sharjah’s very real interest in incorporating the SMEs’ technologies into the projects they are developing; the British companies were likewise keen to engage with the emirate and a number are already progressing with MOUs and specific project delivery plans.

This project marks the beginning of a long-term formal UK-Sharjah cooperation around science, technology, research & innovation. If you are a UK company looking for more information on the initiative visit www.bcbuae.com