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RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is accelerating the pace of innovation in various sectors, but the health sector is receiving more attention than others, with experts and scholars agreeing on the importance of innovation for achieve optimization, cost reduction and sustainability.
The Saudi Council of Ministers approved the establishment of the Research, Development and Innovation Authority in 2010, and the country has risen significantly in the global innovation output index in recent years. It fell from 85th in 2019 to 77th in 2020 and 66th in 2021.
Abdulaziz A. Alsheikh, co-founder of Spectropharma, said innovation in the healthcare industry was key to addressing and solving the challenges faced by healthcare workers on the one hand and its user market on the other hand. somewhere else.
Support, innovation and flexible alignment towards the best innovation underpin cutting-edge healthcare systems, improving quality of life and the future of healthcare, he added.
The growth of innovation in health care and quality of life depended on specialists, creators, talents and investors in engineering, information systems and other sciences.
He explained that medical device and pharmaceutical development, business model development, design and manufacturing solutions and smart healthcare applications were all examples of how innovation in the sector healthcare addressed the challenges that the industry was supposed to face.
There were alliances and competition in many sectors in Saudi Arabia to drive innovation in many fields. This move would strengthen the Kingdom’s role in competitiveness by “focusing on research, then adopting, disseminating and enabling the best innovations”, he said.
Alsheikh believes that the most important innovative trends are those that have contributed to the transformation of the public health sector, such as reducing health care costs, improving the quality of patient care through the integration modern technology in communication, diagnosis and treatment using analytical data, and improving preparedness. for disease prevention and monitoring.
“There is no universally accepted definition of creativity and innovation,” said Mohammed Al-Ghazal, founding CEO of Noor Energies. “As a result, it is open to interpretations ranging from artistic expression to problem-solving abilities in the context of long-term economic and social development.”
Al-Ghazal, an award-winning digital entrepreneur and inventor, said business incubators were one of the most efficient and successful ecosystems invented in the past decades to accelerate the implementation of economic and technological development programs. , create new jobs and had been deployed in developed and developing countries.
“The importance of business incubators has emerged to pay attention and provide small and medium enterprises with all the ingredients they need to succeed and continue to embody ideas on the ground and turn them into marketable products.”
There is a strong demand in government and the private sector to establish innovation departments or help their employees grasp the culture of innovation. Innovation has become an urgent necessity for the successful development of government and the private sector to achieve the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
Vision 2030 wants the Kingdom to be among the top 10 countries in the Global Competitiveness Index by 2030.
Two key components of the index are directly related to research and development and the Kingdom can only improve them by increasing its competitiveness in research and innovation, and securing the presence of at least five Saudi universities in the world ranking of the 200 best universities. .
This goal requires high-quality research and influence in universities in the Kingdom, stimulating collaboration between universities, business incubators and innovators.
Al-Ghazal said these goals could be achieved by supporting research and innovation efforts in universities and in national industries in ways that help boost research, knowledge production, social development, economic development and private sector participation.
Abdullah Alyousef, CEO of software company ALIA ICT, said technological advancements and innovation could play a vital role in reinventing the potential of various sectors, from healthcare and communications to agriculture, and their ability to leverage technology to positively impact society and mitigate significant issues.
One of the most critical elements of digital transformation success was empowering people to work in new ways, preparing the workforce for the future, and training them to adapt to new realities. of the world and the industries in which they operated, Alyousef said. This meant providing training opportunities, upskilling employees and actively engaging all business units to ensure companies continued to be driven by innovation and digital updates.
Saudi Arabia has big ambitions for the future. In addition to overcoming certain legal and administrative obstacles, Vision 2030 aims to increase the contribution of small and medium-sized enterprises to the economy by facilitating their access to financing and by encouraging financial institutions to allocate up to 1% of total financing to SMEs by the same time, he added.
He said that the contribution of small and medium enterprises to the economy of some countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, generally reaches 70%, stressing the importance of the development and growth of small and medium enterprises. and startups.
There were many innovative trends to invest in, including products, services, business models, processes and technology, environment and marketing.
He added that the Kingdom had a real incentive for innovation and entrepreneurship – and a large number of young people eager to make a difference. “These young people are eager to leave their mark and have a direct and positive impact on the future of the country. All of our innovation programs are expanding.
Successful innovation added value to the business to increase profits. “If you don’t innovate well, your business will stabilize,” said business development specialist Mohammad Sabbah. “Innovation helps to stay ahead of the competition, which is important in a globalized and rapidly changing market.”
He doesn’t think innovation should be affected by market research before launching new products. Instead, he relied on the so-called “trial-and-error correction” method. It quickly launched innovative products in the market and then began to modify them based on customer feedback and continuous development approach.
He said innovation differs from institution to institution and character to character, so the process of applying and evaluating its results also differs. Bringing the ideas to fruition was as important as creating them, so the team responsible for carrying out the idea would need to develop a detailed work plan for the measurement that included everything needed to implement the idea, such as estimates cost and time.
Sabbah said innovation is not limited to any particular idea, so removing an unnecessary or redundant step in the current process or eliminating an unnecessary feature in the current product goes in that direction. He referenced a Japanese saying about how a dwarf could see farther than a giant if he climbed on his shoulders.
He stressed that it was essential to create an institutional, legislative and technological environment conducive to innovation in the health sector. According to him, these elements have worked together to create fertile ground for new ideas, fostering the development of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries and working with strategic partners to develop the medical research sector for the treatment of prevalent diseases.
He said that with the current reliance on data and data analytics to improve diagnostics and treatments in Saudi Arabia, it was clear the sector had a bright future. A flurry of activity in the sectors targeted for innovation was also helping to empower society by promoting healthier lifestyles and better mental health, both of which were essential for a healthy and psychologically sound society.