The Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park), together with a group of scientists and experts in the academe, recently held a series of virtual conferences to lay down various future scenarios.
Discussions focused on strategic planning, scenario-building and role-playing simulation exercises with the aim of identifying the key elements bringing about change in the field of research, technology and innovation in the coming years.
Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, said the online sessions were in line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, to establish the emirate of Sharjah as the capital of education, scientific research and innovation.
“We raised the levels of discussions and encouraged the participants to think creatively outside of their usual parameters,” he said.
Al Mahmoudi added: “the SRTIP strategy is likewise aligned with the UAE’s national vision and strategy with a special focus on enhancing the synergy between human resources and technology.”
During the webinars, the SRTI Park stakeholders also highlighted the role of the government as well as universities and research institutions in promoting innovation. These sessions also touched on the role of investors in stimulating economic activities and boosting innovation in Sharjah.
To generate future foresight, the experts created three scenarios such as Anticipated Scenario, Alternative Scenario, and Unexpected Scenario. The aim was to challenge the participants to question their assumptions about their operating environment and to come up with innovative solutions in their respective sectors and industry.
Each scenario was built on emerging technologies, including AI (artificial intelligence), machine learning, robotics, big data, virtual and augmented reality, as well as cyber security and ethics.
The realities of climate change and global warming as well as challenges of environmental sustainability were also discussed.
Anticipated scenarios were built on food security, geopolitical issues, safety and security, changes in employment and the job market, shared economy, millennial mindset, and the new normal brought about by the global coronavirus (Covid-19) health pandemic.
Alternative and Unexpected Scenarios, meanwhile, were developed through strategic conversations about significant shift in an organisation’s operating environment, where they have little or no control. Participants underlined that an organisation can mitigate these factors by making their strategies as resilient as possible.
Future is bright
Despite the challenges brought about by the global pandemic, Al Mahmoudi boldly affirmed that the future is bright with innovation at the forefront.
He noted in particular that the recently-launched SRTIP Accelerator Programme has received overwhelming response from global start-ups that are bringing companies their companies towards the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The programme was designed to help local and regional entrepreneurs as well as global start-ups to scale up their businesses through education, mentorship, and financing provided by the SRTI Park ecosystem and network.
“SRTI Park, as hub of research and development and leading center for applied research and business commercialization, is playing its role to help stakeholders evaluate their strategies and take those measures necessary to render the strategy robust and resilient,” Al Mahmoudi underlined.
He also reminded the participants that whereas science and technology are at the forefront of innovation, it is still the people, not the technology, that is of paramount importance.
“What is important is for organisations to focus on the opportunities and be ready to recognise the risks that could impact and drive profound change in foreseeable future while putting premium on improving the lives of the people,” he concluded.