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4th GPCA Research and Innovation Summit: Regional Petrochemical Industry Must Boost Innovation Capabilities to Ensure Cost Leadership

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, March 12, 2017: Speakers at the 4th GPCA Research and Innovation (R&I) Summit, which took place on March 7-9 in Bahrain, called on regional chemical and petrochemical producers to create an innovation culture that nurtures the development of local innovation capabilities to sustain the industry’s global cost leadership in an increasingly competitive business landscape.

The three-day summit opened with a welcome address by Dr. Moayyed Al Qurtas, Chairman, GPCA R&I Committee, who highlighted the role of technology management in creating long-term profitability and growth.

“The petrochemicals and chemical industry was among the very first science-based high-tech industries, and the first to establish industrial research facilities. Managing technology acquisition, its use and development, is among the most critical aspects of creating business value from innovation, but also the most difficult one,” Dr. Al Qurtas said.

He added, “For companies to be truly successful in today’s highly competitive market environment, industry leaders will need to make responsible decisions in selecting the right technology, explore different opportunities offered by yet-to-be proven solutions, and successfully manage the associated risks.”

“Regional stakeholders should also continue their efforts to foster a knowledge economy and become leaders in innovation”, said Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director General, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences.

In delivering his keynote address, he said, “The current low oil price environment poses a unique challenge for chemical and petrochemical producers in the GCC, making it all the more important to strengthen our capabilities in research and innovation by investing in human resources and up to 2% of their sales revenue in developing new products and services that not only create value but that are also environmentally sound.”

A report entitled ‘GCC Chemicals Industry Innovation Indicators 2016’ released by the GPCA at the event points out that R&D investment in the region nearly tripled over the past five years, with R&D intensity on par with China. Between 2010 and 2015, GCC chemical R&D spending grew by a compound annual growth rate of 20%, reaching USD 729 million in 2015. In comparison, over the same period, global R&D grew at a pace of 3% per annum.

In 2015, GCC published around 550 scientific publications per million people, with Qatar having the greatest publication intensity.

According to the 2016 Global Innovation Index, GCC countries scored within the upper middle range globally. The UAE enjoys the top spot with an overall innovation rank of 41, closely followed by Saudi Arabia, at 49, and Qatar at 50.

“As GCC governments intensify their efforts towards diversifying their economies into high value, innovation-rich sectors, this region has the potential to increase its ranking further on a global and regional scale,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA.

“The GPCA R&I Summit was created to serve as the region’s prime platform where government, industry and academia can come together to collaborate, exchange knowledge and best practice in the field of research and innovation.”

A special student seminar took place as part of GPCA’s new initiative Leaders of Tomorrow aimed at encouraging more STEM graduates to pursue a career in the chemical and petrochemical industry.

A gala dinner on the inaugural day featured an inspirational speech by Adel Ali, Board Member and Group CEO of Air Arabia, the first and largest low cost carrier in the Middle East and North Africa, who spoke about the role of innovation in achieving customer satisfaction, prosperity and success.

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