During the Second Technology Exhibition
· Dr. Khalid Al-Sultan: We have an integrated innovation system and the results of our research efforts turned into products in international markets.
· Our most important achievement is to disseminate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial thinking among our students.
· We learn new ways to license products and we develop a national stock of experts in this field.
· Some of our graduates preferred to invest in products based on new technologies instead of having a regular job.
· One of our students recruited 12 of his colleagues in the company he founded
· The exhibition displays patent-awarded technologies which have been shown to be economically viable and manufacturable.
H.E. Dr. Khalid Al Sultan, KFUPM’s Rector, asserted that the University’s innovative activities contribute to moving the Kingdom to the knowledge- based economy. During the opening ceremony of the second technology exhibition organized by the University on Wednesday 20 January 2016 in Dhahran Techno Valley’s (DTV) Innovation Center, Dr. Al Sultan said that the University owns an integrated innovation system, and its basic research efforts turned into technology products exported to worldwide markets. He also, noted that the University were able to license and market techniques in the United States and South Korea, and is working on attracting a branch of one of those companies to DTV.
There were dozens of techniques on their way to the market, he added, but the most important achievement of the University is the success in disseminating the culture of innovation and production, and minimizing the reliance on non-renewable resources.
H.E. said that the Kingdom’s children represent its most important capital, and when you give them the confidence and put them on the right path, the results are unimaginable. Students and teachers have proven their efficiency in innovation, and no university in the world has one-third of its professors contributing with patents. KFUPM surpassed, in this area, some highly reputed universities. He explained that ranking KFUPM the 13th among world universities in patents was determined based on the number of patents issued by the United States patent and trademark office (USPTO).
Regarding the returns of technology, patents, and business incubators, Dr. Al Sultan said that financial returns to the University may be limited, but the basic idea is to disseminate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship for the future benefit of the Kingdom. He mentioned that some of KFUPM’s graduates refused jobs in large companies such as Saudi Aramco and SABIC and preferred to invest in products based on new techniques. In addition, a (non-graduate) student established a company and hired 12 of his colleagues. "These are the examples we want to appear in the market, and this is the country’s strategy to transfer to knowledge-based economy. After our success in patents, we are now learning new and effective ways to market and license the products.” He added. Dr. Al-Sultan said "We learn from the best places and we develop experts in this area. The University’s target is to build expertise in this area not only for its own benefit, but enough to cover the needs of the whole Kingdom.”
Dr. Al Sultan said, "Despite the successes achieved, we are still at the beginning. We licensed about ten technologies, and we need to earn the trust of international companies because there are competitors and large market shares.” He stressed that the University welcomes any innovative idea from outside its walls, evaluating these ideas by its experts, and if the ideas were found to be beneficial, the inventor would receive the required help.”
Dr. Al Sultan mentioned that in 2006, after applying an ambitious plan to develop the research sector and identifying areas of research excellence, KFUPM has established a system to support innovation and entrepreneurship, and the goal was to enable the University to participate in the diversification of the Saudi economy. The University has established a scientific complex in DTV in order to be the nucleus of a modern innovation system. KFUPM has also put a plan to develop a culture of innovation in the University through the activation of patent-issuance processes, which were necessary to generate technical entrepreneurship in the innovation system.
In 2006, KFUPM had only one research and development center, and after less than a decade, the first phase of DTV combined the largest number of research and development centers in the world, specialized in the oil and gas industry sector. DTV incubates the biggest providers of engineering services for the oil and gas industry, automation and control providers and hardware industry. There are also large domestic companies in the refining and petrochemical industry. In the area of patents, Dr. Al Sultan said, “In 2006 KFUPM had only 8 patents, and in 2015 alone KFUPM filed 115 patents in the USPTO, and this helped the University to be ranked among the best universities in the world in the field of patents".
Dr. Al Sultan demonstrated that the University added important elements to its innovation system, including the institute for entrepreneurship and DTVC, to run the scientific complex using the business investment method and to invest in technology commercialization. The Prototyping Center has been the latest addition to KFUPM’s innovation system. To complete the innovation system, the University established the Business Centre that will support the development of technical activities, business incubation environment and planning. He said that after the inauguration of the second phase of DTV, the University would be able to expand the value chain of energy technologies to include other areas, such as refining and petrochemical industry, clean water and renewable energy.
Regarding the technology exhibition, organized by the University for the second year, Dr. Al Sultan noted that the first exhibition witnessed great participation from industry sectors, pointing out that the exhibition displays patent-awarded technologies that have been shown to be economically feasible and manufacturable. He said the exhibition indicates that the activities of patenting became part of the University's policy on implementing its basic researches, and that the researchers' activities are focused at economically feasible solutions.
H.E. noted that years of innovation strategy have developed the culture of research in the University, and KFUPM’s researchers are required to provide evidence of the technology’s readiness level and marketing potential of their research results and innovations. He demonstrated that the Technology Exhibition this year includes presentations from KFUPM, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and companies from DTV. This helps to build stronger alliances between academic and industrial sectors in the Kingdom.
Dr. Samir Al-Bayat, Supervisor of Technology Transfer and Innovation and Entrepreneurship, mentioned that the fair aims to facilitate and promote discussions that may lead to innovative partnership, and it includes presentations, posters, and innovative challenges. He said that the exhibition aims at helping in manufacturing technologies produced in universities, and enabling researchers to have a closer look at the companies located in DTV and other local industrial companies. The exhibition also aims to create concepts on how to promote the coherence between universities and industry.
The event brings together technologies from four companies in DTV, namely, Halliburton, Yokogawa, Hanwell, and ROZEN, plus many technologies from KFUPM.