Innovation Policy (Science and Technology)

Subject: Industry
Pages: 9
Words: 2500
Reading time:
11 min
Study level: PhD

Document: Introduction

The Saudi Arabian government is under the Royal leadership of King Abdulla Bin Abdul-Aziz. Through the royal declaration of the Two Holly Mosques King Abdulla, the Saudi Arabian National Strategy Implementation Plan of 2012 emanates. The intended national strategy aims at transforming Saudi Arabia into a knowledge-based economy (KBE) through the emerging technologies and innovations.1 This national strategy contains a national strategic action plan developed to aid the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) in addressing knowledge challenges, and achieve the vision of converting KSA into a private sector knowledge-driven economy with adequate diversification. The Saudi Arabian government understands that knowledge is prerequisite.

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By advocating for a problem-solving strategies in this strategic action plan, the proposal offers a strategic national roadmap that indicates the manner in which Saudi government should demolish status quo and implement the vision. The strategic plan advocates for a vision that fits the Saudi national context. There are three most outstanding components of the strategy that makes it exceptional.2 The foremost aspect is that through building a plan that exceeds the prevailing strategies and plans of Saudi, the action plan provides a comprehensive, holistic and an easily implementable plan that tackles and explains broad programs and policies across KBE sectors.

The second most important component of the strategic action plan is replenishing the effective macro knowledge factors. Whereas the prevailing strategies are currently focusing on the micro components of the knowledge-based economy such as Information Communication Technology (ICT), human capital and Science and Technology (S&T), the proposed strategy focuses on the macro components of KBE.3 The intended national strategy puts equal emphasis on macro issues such as labor, reforms on public sector institutions, corporate welfare. The proposed national strategic action also tackles the most important long-term and short-term challenges expected by the Saudi government in its transformation agenda towards a knowledge-based society.

The foremost third aspect of the national strategic action plan hinges on the fact that while prioritizing on policy development issues, it is important to give attention to the institutional frameworks and capacity building of human capital. The national strategy believes that human capacity building and institutional frameworks are important part of the process of enhancing the implementation mechanisms.4 Moreover, to spearhead effective implementation would also require establishing an effective Supreme Council of knowledge-based society that the chairman of the Supreme Economic Council (SEC) of Saudi Arabia would oversee. The Saudi Development Institute (SDI) under the Ministry of Economy and Planning would spur policy research.

Science, Technology and Innovation

Chapter Executive Summary

In the first stage of the KBE project, the responsible team assessed the prevailing innovation-associated programs and unveiled a stable policy priority for the prospective innovation and the associated essentials for increased investment. In the process, the KBE team discovered that there were pending and unaddressed challenges that confronted the prevailing innovation systems in Saudi Arabia. There was a lack of proper coordination of diverse incentives such as the finance used for funding research at King Abdul-Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Saudi universities. 5Additionally, the technology incubation programs, the national programs intended for industrial clusters and the economic city initiatives were haphazard.

The most daunting fact is that the current performance does not correspond with the amount invested in the innovation-associated initiatives and the activities meant for technology transfers hardly meet the anticipated outputs. Research programs at KACST and the Saudi universities are just of academic form rather than professional standards. The capacity of innovation within the private sector has remained limited to a few large organizations such as the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) and the Saudi Aramco.6 The strategy for indigenous technology has remained underdeveloped. Considering such an evaluative background, the KBE strategy team imposed two strategic directions in the second stage.

The first strategy included formulation of a detailed action programs and then conducted an in-depth investigation for supplementing the suggested policies of the planned action programs. These action programs of the STI module comprised:

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  1. the need to amplify the instruments for innovation activities.
  2. The essence of having a modified technology transfer approach for single techno-valleys.
  3. Enhancing or developing new long-term approaches for corporate research sectors and incubation initiatives.
  4. Enhancing performance appraisal meant for STI programs.7
  5. Develop new business chances via the governmental corporations and similar units.
  6. Begin a national industrial program meant for technology advancement.

Synopsis of the STI Proposed Action Programs

STI Action plan 1: Amplify the instruments for innovation activities

One of the major components of the strategy report was an indication that the harmonization mechanism that existed between the diverse innovation initiatives meant for Saudi Arabian government seemed considerably fragile.8 Individual initiatives successfully operate with their own communication system or apparatus, but there is a considerable lack of a higher national coordination system. The action plan proposes an integration of a national mechanism to enhance better coordination of innovation-associated projects predominantly in the Industrial Cluster Program among others.

STI Action plan 2: Develop a technology transfer for every techno valley

The prevailing set-up of techno-valleys within Saudi Arabian universities hinges on the conventional innovation transfer system based on academic research rather than on the commercial focus.9 Additionally, the differences in industrial technologies have remained unconsidered. The proposed action plan advocates for formulation of customized strategies that would improve each techno-valley through consideration of local research and industrial systems. Similarly, the strategic action plan proposes the improvement of the technology licensing sector of Saudi universities for proper management of research outcomes.

STI Action plan 3: Enhance stable plans for incubation programs/KACST

Another important aspect that the set strategy seeks to achieve is to upgrade the prevailing incubation activities and enhance global research and innovation teamwork at KACST. This would be achievable through improving the current strategy working for incubation and develop new ones for efficiency purposes. 10After assessing the prevailing situation at KACST, the action plan team will establish long-term strategies in accordance with global consultations. In case changes are requisite for the incubation programs, their approaches will come afterward.

STI Action plan 4: Boost performance management within the STI

The view of the action is that there is an urgent need to establish a system for overseeing research and performance control in Saudi Arabia.11 The main action strategies have:

  1. introduced a logical project management plan to replace the old NSTIP funded systems and later renovate those within universities.
  2. To gather and release dependable information and statistics regarding STI in Saudi.
  3. To investigate the need and probability of instituting a new bureau for program management and information gathering.

STI Action plan 5: initiate new business options via government firms

A major disadvantage in the existing Saudi technology system is poor development of industries especially the non-oil organizations that do not deal with petrochemical products.12 The proposed action plan targets to enhance new business opportunities and commercial initiatives via government firms and related entities across Saudi. An alternative that the action plan gives is the exploration of the vast capital markets and government procurement opportunities as means of leveraging domestic business and creation of global trade.13

STI Action plan 6: initiate a state technology program for industries

The presence of unbalanced technology portfolio makes industrial technology in Saudi relatively frail. Such lapses make industrial research and technology activities ineffective.14 The proposed action plan tries to reinforce industrial research and development (R&D) activities within Saudi varsities and at KACST through developing a fresh national R&D scheme that aims at enhancing industrial technology. This would be achievable through a close partnership between domestic and intercontinental service and manufacturing firms.

STI Action plan 7: instigate a research institute for industrial innovation

The capacity of technology in industries is daunting. As a strategic move, the action plan intends to strengthen technology and innovation within the service and manufacturing companies of Saudi.15 The action scheme recommends the establishment of a new institute for technology development that would carry out joint technology projects meant for enhancing innovation. The designed institution can also compliment the achievement of target 6 of the action plan.

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Document: Synopsis of the STI In-depth Study

The Korean national R&D plans have endowed important opportunity to maximize the inadequate S&T resources effectively. They have provided industries with advanced chances to renovate growth engines through public R&D agendas. Extensive and enduring R&D programs have transformed Korea since 1990s.16 The Korean innovation policy of Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) standout as an exemplary one in terms of enhancing innovations among SMEs and developing innovative projects.17 Korea has initiated vast support programs to boost innovative SMEs, at the same time their government is keen on expanding innovation projects in SMEs. Nonetheless, criticisms have persisted concerning the program.18

Korean economists argue that the liberal subsidies given to SMEs may oust private R&D investments that would create ethical issues.19 For Saudi Arabia, instigating R&D within ministries may prove as a significant opportunity to move with technologically-grown countries in a short time. Most importantly is that the countrywide R&D in Saudi would provide chances to expand initiatives of technology growth using few R&D resources that would effectively spur innovation competitiveness among industries.20 Additionally, Saudi must consider developing fresh project management systems with inclusion of foreign expatriates from private sectors from other emerging economies.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may as well consider average and permanent planning aimed towards promoting innovation within SMEs. The intent of prospectus planning is to enable proper progress and expansion of the R&D support meant for SMEs. The Saudi government should carry out constant assessment on the performance of agencies responsible for R&D innovation programs and the behavior of recipient firms.21 Through such evaluations, the government may make informed decisions on budget allocation on these programs. Such efforts would spur competition among public agencies and R&D projects.

Vision

The national strategy for enabling Saudi to transform into knowledge-based economy hinges on the following vision: By 2030, the Saudi Kingdom shall transform to a knowledge society with a promising, diversified, non-oil private sector with efficient human capital endowed with a broad knowledge economy that provides meaningful living standards and quality life, that would subsequently make Saudi become a leading economy both regionally and internationally. The constructed vision has considered the utmost significance of human capacities the prospected regional influence of Saudi in which its modest government leadership counts.22

Objectives

To make sure that the prospected plan becomes achievable in a systematic manner, the action plan developed four specific objectives that would spur appropriate approach towards attainment of the stated vision.23 These four concrete objectives acted as measurable indicators for the plan during the evaluation phase.

  1. Developing with a vigorous growth engine- a resilient market economy is one that shuns single-resource economy through diversifying its sources of growth, technology and national competitiveness.24 A vibrant, independent sector on private principles that does not depend on the oil sector, with valuable service and manufacturing industries stabilizes the national economy.
  2. Intensified welfare and social cohesion- An economy that has enough innovators and knowledgeable population ensures equitable allocation of income and wealth, an improved social equity and a decent life for all citizens. A knowledgeable society easily adjusts and enjoys integrated care system through the effective development partnerships nurtured between Saudi government, the private sector and other.
  3. Human capacity building- nations are as a result of human capacities. Having a world-class Human Resource Development (HRD) structures with appropriately diversified economy and adequate innovation enough for nurturing young talents is requisite.25 An equipped HRD system produces young and competent and thrilled manpower that effectively spurs national economic growth.
  4. Spurred regional and global headship- Apart from merely boosting trade relations, successfully integrated global systems of innovation encourage effective headship since Free Direct Investment (FDI) involves sharing of headship ideas.26 From the strategic innovation action plan, Saudi Kingdom shall emerge as a scientific, political, and a center of cultural economic power within the eastern circles.

It is evident from the presented objectives that the plan has objectives that strategize transformation towards innovation effectively. The specific objectives highlight the most important elements that include attainment of a broad pull of knowledge as it combines a wide range of transformative agendas to achieve the prospected plan. Through such approaches, the strategic action plan covers a continuum of important economic areas, which is an indication of balanced development strategy.27 The regional influence of Saudi and the importance of attaining the global standards of economy and politics also appear in the objectives as an indication of an effective prospectus plan.

Policies (initiatives)

Through the appraisal of challenges and formulation of the objectives of the strategic action plan, a vision and other objectives necessary for the transformation of Saudi into an innovation economy emanate. The vision and objectives formulated significantly address the challenges aforementioned, but policies and strategic action plans are requisite.28 The proposed policies and strategic actions meant for achieving the vision and the designed objectives are in three categories:

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  1. micro policies that would reinforce Saudi native innovations abilities,
  2. macro policies to enable Saudi become more market-oriented and private sector-driven,
  3. policies to promote government ability and efficiency in government institutions.

Microeconomic policies

The transformation of Saudi from its current state into a knowledge-based economy encompasses relentless and constant efforts in all economic sectors and fields meant to improve the existing internal innovation abilities of Saudi Kingdom.29 The prioritized areas of imparting knowledge include:

  1. the human resources and education paradigm,
  2. the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) department,
  3. the communication and Information Technology (ICT) sectors,
  4. sectors of Knowledge-Intensive Industries and
  5. areas of spatial development.

Since such polices impact each development area main policy suggestions include.

  1. Retain old policies that are worthy, expands or redesign them,
  2. develop new,
  3. introduce polices that may spur radical changes.

Science, technology and innovation policies

Despite having a considerable progress, the S&T and innovation agendas of the Saudi Kingdom have a low base below the anticipated level. Therefore, the Saudi policymakers should expand prevailing efforts aimed at investing in innovation to improve capacity building.30 The Saudi government has already reached an important phase of advancement, where efficient investments have focused on development of lucrative capital companies. These capital market companies make significant progress in the National Innovation System (NIS) and enhance other policies meant for ensuring effectiveness in the R&D activities. Moreover, Saudi Kingdom must re-engineer and renovate its R&D sector to have an efficient human resource that meets industrial needs.

The National Innovation System lacks efficient human resource personnel currently because innovations are still low and growing at a slow pace. The demanding needs of innovation as articulated and described in the action plan may remain unachieved if the right human resource misses in the implementation plan and R&D activities.31 The Kingdom of Saudi must also instigate a national R&D program that would concentrate on several strategic industrial technologies that are paramount for the wholesome innovation growth. Restructuring of the prevailing KACST system would deem important in the quest to enhance innovation in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

References

Al-Maliki, Saeed. “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Investment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Assessing Strengths and Weaknesses.” Journal of Organizational Knowledge Management 2013, no. 1 (2013): 1-15.

Al-zharani, Saleh. “An Empirical Investigation of the Information Technology Implementation in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Information & Systems Management 1, no.1 (2011): 37-45.

Mahmoud, Magdy, and Samir Abdalla. “Management of Infrastructure for Water and Petroleum Demand in KSA by GIS.” International Journal of Innovative Scientific & Engineering Technologies Research 2, no. 1 (2014): 41-48.

Niblock, Tim. “Saudi Arabia’s Economic Development: Ambitious Visions, Difficult Dilemmas.” Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 2, no. 2 (2008): 13-30.

Footnotes

  1. Tim Niblock, “Saudi Arabia’s Economic Development: Ambitious Visions, Difficult Dilemmas.” Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 2, no. 2 (2008): 16.
  2. Tim Niblock, (2008): 22.
  3. Magdy Mahmoud and Samir Abdalla. “Management of Infrastructure for Water and Petroleum Demand in KSA by GIS.” International Journal of Innovative Scientific &Engineering Technologies Research 2, no.1 (2014): 45.
  4. Tim Niblock (2008): 23.
  5. Tim Niblock, (2008): 24.
  6. Al-zharani, Saleh. “An Empirical Investigation of the Information Technology Implementation in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Information & Systems Management 1, no.1 (2011): 39.
  7. Saleh Al-zharani, (2011): 41.
  8. Saeed Al-Maliki, (2013): 8.
  9. Saeed Al-Maliki, (2013):12.
  10. Saleh Al-zharani, (2011): 40.
  11. Saleh, Al-zharani, (2011): 42
  12. Magdy, Mahmoud, and Abdalla, Samir. “Management of Infrastructure for Water and Petroleum Demand in KSA by GIS.” International Journal of Innovative Scientific &Engineering Technologies Research 2, no.1 (2014):41-48.
  13. Magdy, Mahmoud, and Abdalla, Samir. “Management of Infrastructure for Water and Petroleum Demand in KSA by GIS.” International Journal of Innovative Scientific &Engineering Technologies Research 2, no.1 (2014):41-48.
  14. Magdy, Mahmoud, and Abdalla, Samir. “Management of Infrastructure for Water and Petroleum Demand in KSA by GIS.” International Journal of Innovative Scientific &Engineering Technologies Research 2, no.1 (2014):41-48.
  15. Saleh, Al-zharani. “An Empirical Investigation of the Information Technology Implementation in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Information & Systems Management 1, no.1 (2011): 37-45.
  16. Saleh, Al-zharani. “An Empirical Investigation of the Information Technology Implementation in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Information & Systems Management 1, no.1 (2011): 37-45.
  17. Tim Niblock, “Saudi Arabia’s Economic Development: Ambitious Visions, Difficult Dilemmas.” Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 2, no. 2 (2008): 13-30.
  18. Tim Niblock, “Saudi Arabia’s Economic Development: Ambitious Visions, Difficult Dilemmas.” Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 2, no. 2 (2008): 13-30.
  19. Saeed, Al-Maliki. “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Investment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Assessing Strengths and Weaknesses.” Journal of Organizational Knowledge Management 2013, no.1 (2013):1-15. Web.
  20. Saeed, Al-Maliki. “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Investment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Assessing Strengths and Weaknesses.” Journal of Organizational Knowledge Management 2013, no.1 (2013):1-15. Web.
  21. Saeed, Al-Maliki. “Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Investment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Assessing Strengths and Weaknesses.” Journal of Organizational Knowledge Management 2013, no.1 (2013):1-15. Web.
  22. Tim Niblock, “Saudi Arabia’s Economic Development: Ambitious Visions, Difficult Dilemmas.” Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 2, no. 2 (2008): 13-30.
  23. Saleh, Al-zharani. “An Empirical Investigation of the Information Technology Implementation in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Information & Systems Management 1, no.1 (2011): 37-45.
  24. Saleh, Al-zharani. “An Empirical Investigation of the Information Technology Implementation in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Information & Systems Management 1, no.1 (2011): 37-45.
  25. Magdy, Mahmoud, and Abdalla, Samir. “Management of Infrastructure for Water and Petroleum Demand in KSA by GIS.” International Journal of Innovative Scientific &Engineering Technologies Research 2, no.1 (2014):41-48.
  26. Magdy, Mahmoud, and Abdalla, Samir. “Management of Infrastructure for Water and Petroleum Demand in KSA by GIS.” International Journal of Innovative Scientific &Engineering Technologies Research 2, no.1 (2014):41-48.
  27. Magdy, Mahmoud, and Abdalla, Samir. “Management of Infrastructure for Water and Petroleum Demand in KSA by GIS.” International Journal of Innovative Scientific &Engineering Technologies Research 2, no.1 (2014):41-48.
  28. Saleh, Al-zharani. “An Empirical Investigation of the Information Technology Implementation in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Information & Systems Management 1, no.1 (2011): 37-45.
  29. Saleh, Al-zharani. “An Empirical Investigation of the Information Technology Implementation in Saudi Arabia.” Journal of Information & Systems Management 1, no.1 (2011): 37-45.
  30. Tim Niblock, “Saudi Arabia’s Economic Development: Ambitious Visions, Difficult Dilemmas.” Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 2, no. 2 (2008): 13-30.
  31. Tim Niblock, “Saudi Arabia’s Economic Development: Ambitious Visions, Difficult Dilemmas.” Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 2, no. 2 (2008): 13-30.