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GCC chemical companies open their doors to outside innovation, finds GPCA survey

Dubai, United Arab Emirates; March, 2016: GCC chemical producers are increasingly opening their doors to innovative insights and ideas from research institutions, academia, customers, suppliers and technology providers to identify new business opportunities and maintain their competitive edge, says a new survey by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA).

The report Unlocking Open Innovation in the GCC chemical industry, is based on a survey amongst GPCA member companies and measures perceptions, challenges and opportunities in fostering Open Innovation in the chemical industry in the region. The clear majority of the GPCA member companies surveyed support Open Innovation and practices it.

“Open Innovation has a key role in maintaining the global competitiveness of the chemical industry in the Arabian Gulf,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA. “The broadening of research beyond traditional R&D boundaries and the increased collaboration with external parties has become a crucial component in the race for new, innovative technologies.”

Investments in research and development (R&D) were estimated at US$529 million in 2014, according to the GPCA. This figure is nearly double from the US$368 million expenditure in 2013 and is notable for being the highest increase in R&D spending in petrochemicals globally.  “Open Innovation enables GCC chemical producers to access external solutions, experiences and competencies relevant to their innovation agenda faster, cheaper and often at a higher level of innovativeness, ” continued Dr.Al-Sadoun. “There are positive developments: more than half of all respondents have indicated that this attitude has been employed within their organizations, and there is a strong indication that this trend will continue into the medium term.”

An estimated two-thirds of the sample has been practicing Open Innovation within the last five years, with a further 24% indicating that these policies are or will be implemented within their companies. These activities include collaborating in R&D with academia, integrating customer networks in the production cycle and joining forces with competitors through sharing best practice.

For Open Innovation to succeed, organizations must nurture the right kind of environment for this mindset to develop, whether it is through supporting the employees to providing rationale behind innovation spending.

“There are qualitative and quantitative activities that achieve an Open Innovation culture,” concluded Dr.Al-Sadoun. “GCC organizations have already indicated that they are meeting challenges associated with effective Open Innovation policies by encouraging managerial initiatives that focus on internal capabilities; and by adopting a work culture that promotes innovating and enhancing customer experience. These will enhance the GCC’s emerging Open Innovation culture. However, companies must also do due diligence into deriving value. Measures like sharing risk- reward with external parties’ for R&D projects and thorough cost-benefit analysis into innovation budgets will provide more clarity into the Open Innovation process as the value is measurable for all stakeholders.”

Unlocking Open Innovation in the GCC chemical industry will be released during the 3rd Research and Innovation Summit in Dubai, which will take place from March 1-2, 2016. For more information, please visit http://www.gpcaresearch.com/

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