Innovation: Saudi Arabia’s Choice for the Journey of the Future

Saudi Arabia’s progress in international indicators reflects the level of ambition and dedication it places on innovation (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s progress in international indicators reflects the level of ambition and dedication it places on innovation (SPA)
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Innovation: Saudi Arabia’s Choice for the Journey of the Future

Saudi Arabia’s progress in international indicators reflects the level of ambition and dedication it places on innovation (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s progress in international indicators reflects the level of ambition and dedication it places on innovation (SPA)

Adopting science, technology, and innovation is no longer merely an option for governments and societies. It has become a developmental priority and a security necessity.

For its part, Saudi Arabia is advancing the achievement of research, development, and innovation targets through significant missions and initiatives, as revealed in June 2022.

These efforts focus on creating an innovation-friendly environment and attracting the best minds from within and outside the Kingdom to diversify Saudi Arabia’s national economy and serve scientific, technological, and future-oriented purposes for the benefit of humanity.

Since then, the team that started Saudi Arabia’s Research, Development and Innovation Authority has made great progress in building the foundation of the sector.

They have been having meetings, forming partnerships, and refining ideas, all of which are leading to a new phase in the innovation and research field.

This phase began taking shape last year when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the national priorities for research, development, and innovation.

It marked the beginning of a new era that emphasizes the importance of innovative thinking and high-quality ideas.

Saudi aspirations in the field of innovation began to emerge when the Kingdom jumped fifteen places in the Global Innovation Index in 2022, all at once.

This achievement has led to the recognition of Saudi minds and talents through awards and advanced rankings, typically reserved for gifted students and individuals.

As the private sector eagerly awaits to actively participate in this domain and enter the competition, a recent report has identified the top ten innovative companies in Saudi Arabia and their global competitiveness, shedding light on promising opportunities in this field.

Saudi Arabia has committed to allocate 2.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) to support innovation by the year 2040. This investment aims to create an innovation-friendly environment, attract top talents to serve humanity, and diversify the Saudi economy.

This came alongside Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s announcement of the national aspirations and priorities for research, development, and innovation in Saudi Arabia over the next two decades.

These priorities are based on four key areas: human health, environmental sustainability and basic needs, leadership in energy and industry, and future economies.

Saudi Arabia aims to become a global leader in innovation and contribute to the development and diversification of its economy. This includes adding SAR60 billion to the gross domestic product by 2040 and creating thousands of high-value and specialized jobs in the fields of science, technology, and innovation.

Less than a year after the Crown Prince announced national aspirations and priorities for research, development, and innovation, the Kingdom jumped 15 spots in the Global Innovation Index for 2022, released by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

According to a report published by Forbes magazine, Saudi Arabia has been recognized as one of the world’s fastest-growing countries due to its efforts in diversifying its economy and entering new sectors that have contributed to the development of the national innovation ecosystem over the past decade.

The latest figures on research and development spending reflect a transformation in Saudi Arabia’s innovation landscape, with an accelerated growth in the sector.

The total expenditure on research and development reached SAR 14.5 billion, while the number of individuals employed in this field amounted to 30,220. Additionally, there were 24,808 researchers in Saudi Arabia in 2021.

A report released by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) in February revealed that the government sector has shown progress in research and development spending compared to other sectors.

The government sector accounted for 50% of the total expenditure, followed by the private sector at 35%. The education sector accounted for 15% of the expenditure.

The report indicated that the education sector had the highest percentage of individuals engaged in research and development, accounting for 83%, which equates to 25,178 employees.

In the government sector, the number of employees was 2,967, representing 10% of the total workforce in research and development.

The private sector ranked last in terms of the percentage of employees engaged in research and development, with 2,075 individuals, accounting for 7% of the workforce in 2021.



Saudi Energy and Economy Ministries Launch Carbon Capture, Utilization Challenge with UpLink

The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
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Saudi Energy and Economy Ministries Launch Carbon Capture, Utilization Challenge with UpLink

The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat
The Saudi flag. Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) and Ministry of Energy (MoEnergy), in collaboration with UpLink, have launched the Carbon Capture and Utilization Challenge which seeks innovative solutions that accelerate the circular carbon economy.

The challenge was launched during the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in a main session titled ‘SDG 13 and Interlinkages with Other SDGs – Climate Action’ held on July 10.

The challenge encourages startups to submit distinct solutions that drive carbon reductions through sustainable systems transformation, including carbon capture technologies, novel carbon utilization applications, and industrial integration.

The initiative emphasizes the importance of carbon capture and utilization (CCU), highlighting the crucial role innovation plays in driving a sustainable and economically prosperous future and the important role of carbon removal in reaching net-zero goals by mid-century.

“The climate change issue and sustainability is a global issue,” Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said. “It cannot be attended to in regional scopes or as a smaller territorial thing. It has to be global.”

He stated that the Kingdom seeks to enhance its efforts to achieve its ambitious goal of reaching net zero by 2060 through the Circular Carbon Economy Framework, which not only reduces the impact of carbon emissions, but also values carbon as a resource with real economic value, rather than pollutant.

He also indicated that the Kingdom, in line with this vision, and in order to exploit the economic value of carbon worldwide, has launched, in partnership with leading organizations, a global carbon capture and utilization challenge.

The Minister stressed that Saudi Arabia, by adopting such challenge, is leading influential changes in efforts to confront climate change, as this challenge represents an opportunity for individuals and organizations to transform tomorrow’s challenges into today’s solutions, through joint efforts and pioneering innovations.

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Alibrahim said: “The Kingdom is keen on a just, orderly, and pragmatic energy transition and is working towards the advancement of the circular carbon economy framework.”

“Through this challenge, related to innovation inside the circular carbon economy, we look forward to seeing new solutions that would help push innovation forward,” he said.

He encouraged all innovators and companies to come up with “out-of-the-box solutions.”

Submissions will be evaluated on factors such as scalability, commercial viability, technological readiness, and fundraising success.

Winners will be recognized as top innovators and form part of the UpLink Innovation Ecosystem, a curated program for founders, CEOs, executive directors, and other leaders. They will also share a cash award of up to CHF 300,000 and receive technical, business, and operational support to scale their ideas.