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Envisioning a knowledge-based economy
Syeda Amtul
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 16 - 02 - 2011

KFUPM is at the center of the Dhahran Techno-Valley (DTV), a technology and research institution in Dhahran, the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, which helps local and international companies develop their products and services.
It provides a total business environment that inspires people to excel and a focal point for technical innovation.
“Over the past 15 years, KFUPM has stepped up its research activities and steadily increased its research and development (R&D) output which is evident from its vast publication and patenting portfolio. This drive, among other initiatives, has catapulted KFUPM in the international rankings for higher education institutions,” says Professor Halim Hamid Redhwi, DTV's Assistant Supervisor and Professor, Chemical Engineering Department at KFUPM.
Research and development
DTV is aiming to become the Middle East's most prestigious, industrial research and development (R&D) and technology nucleus. It provides development, production and marketing support services for innovation that originates from academic research, but in a business environment.
It is set up to provide infrastructure for industrial R&D to flourish in the Kingdom and supports local and international companies to develop their products and services.
Redhwi added that, “DTV supports local and international companies to develop their products and services within the Kingdom by localizing technology.”
The major objectives of Dhahran Techno-Valley are:?
q Commercialization of research, both in terms of focusing the university's endeavors towards commercially feasible areas of study as well as minimizing the transition period between technological innovation and its commercial deployment.
q Presenting the Kingdom to the international community as a significant player in high-end research and innovation programs.?
q Providing a strong presence for major international companies and enterprises; thereby channeling world-class technology and practice into local and regional businesses.?
q Providing incubator programs to promote emerging small businesses and enterprises with much-needed technical, financial and administrative support.?
q Utilizing the industrial presence for the benefit of students, thereby providing significant real-world exposure.?
q Generating employment opportunities for students during their course of study and upon graduation, and thus contributing to these business enterprises.?
Integrated ecosystem
Eng. Syed Hussain of DTV said, “The Dhahran Techno-Valley has been established as an integrated ecosystem to drive the knowledge-based economy in KSA.”
DTV consists of six entities namely King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Science Park (KASP), Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Science and Technology Center (SciTech), Innovation Center, Business Incubator, Liaison Office and Consultancy Services Center (CSC).
Redhwi said, “King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Science Park's (KASP) main vision is to promote research and development aimed at enhancing economic growth in the Kingdom. Located near KFUPM, KASP is the centerpiece of the DTV ecosystem with a mission to foster collaboration with industry to support technology transfer.”
The Park is adjacent to the university and will create a collaborative environment where tenant companies can integrate the most recent technology and tools with new business approaches. KASP is dedicated to research and development and focuses on the following disciplines: petrochemicals, water, petroleum, mineral resources, telecommunication enhancements and business integration.
Petrochemical industries
The KASP houses firms involved in the petrochemical upstream and downstream industries, water resources and information technology (IT) sectors. The primary goals of KASP are:?
q To forge strong collaboration between the university and industry in the areas of research and technology.?
q To promote small technology-specific businesses and start-up enterprises through an incubator program.?
q To direct significant technology-driven foreign investment and presence in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.
The Innovation Center of KFUPM facilitates the flow of technology from university laboratories and research centers to the knowledge-based and technology marketplace. The Business Incubator will support emerging enterprises and commercial start-up small businesses focused on innovations. The Liaison Office's mission is to facilitate and promote the university's capabilities, expertise and services. The Consultancy Services Center will provide professional technical services to the local and regional industries utilizing resources within the DTV.
Hussain further added that, “DTV has established strong and productive links between KFUPM and the industry, and will thus create a cohesive environment in which new industry-relevant technologies are produced and commercialized.”
??Currently 19 multinational and national companies are actively involved at DTV.? Redhwi said, “Dhahran Techno-Valley Company (DTVC) has been established to make an active contribution to developing the knowledge economy through a partnership between education, research institutions and businesses on a commercial basis by investing in the combined projects which will improve the experiences and practical application for students and faculty.”
“DTVC focuses on developing a new innovation-based cluster to produce commercially viable, industry-relevant technologies.? ?Ultimately, DTVC aims to support the evolution of the ecosystem and the emergence of a vibrant knowledge-based economic cluster,” he added.

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