Saudi Arabia: Learning and Technology Symposium

Saudi girls share their ideas on a Learning and Technology Symposium, held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on this blog.

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  • Saudi Arabia, 10 billions $ technological challenge !
    (Mnahi Al Masoud & François de la Chevalerie)

    Technology transfer with the Saudi Arabia Kingdom raise undoubtedly fears. Some evoked a political risk due to the region instability. Others suggested that it could affect a long time partnership, the west selling technology, the Saudis raw materials. But today Saudis universities along with governmental funds and national company’s strongly support a new historical course. Time is changing : instead of buying technology at a very high price from abroad, why not get the chance to develop it directly through the Saudi territory ? The main idea is to create new companies, modeling as start-up, targeting niche technology markets in the field of energy, recycling and environment.

    Today, technology importation (patents, technical assistance, surveys) cost an average of 10 billions of dollars each year to the Kingdom. For the last two decade, Saudi Ministry of Commerce & Industry gives an estimate of 150 billions of dollars. A considerable amount with a small possibility to recuperate just part of it. A national lost ! Right now, we have to call for another partnership.

    There is an opportunity to size ! Lacking of financial means, technology endorsement through Europe is weak. However technological innovation remains a priority as evidenced by the competitiveness poles, relationship between researcher and entrepreneur are often marked by mistrust. Many of them faced strong difficulty in being anchored into a comprehensive financial plan ! Because each innovation requires time, validation tests, references and a pilot unit implementation, many abandoned their project at the halfway.

    Why not help them and at the same time, take hold of this technology ? That could be the Saudi new moto !

    Long seen as the world super giant oilfield, Saudi Kingdom will targeting the goal to be one of its laboratories. R & D is now 1.57% of the Saudi GDP, next decade a appreciable commitment is to reach 3 %. The Saudi technological power assertion could be based on developing projects with no immediate profitability. Because world wide financial situation increasing incertainty, long term technology project will regain the investors attention. Saudis and universities as well as the King Saud University and the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals could offer time and money to set up new technology. Opening the door to inventors, giving them the chance to use extensively their skills to configure new products and expertise. Targeting the fields of renewable energy and environmental markets where demand is growing oriented, the return of investment (ROI) could be substantial in terms of revenue and corporate reputation. Moreover, this approach would give birth to companies able to commercialize patents and the technologies once developed. Companies share capital breakdown will be mainly keep by the Saudis. Because innovation is part of all firms competitiveness, selling technological solutions means also cash ! At least, instead of being the leading recipient of technology transfers, Saudis will sell them.

    In addition, this approach will pave the way for new markets. Because technology is a key access to market, that’s a double win win project. Having the right technology, Saudis investment fund could take hold of small companies able to reinforce its commercial scope and ROI attractiveness. For instance, if the Saudis developed along with prominent chemist a newly asbestos passivization process, more secure and less costly that the ones today commercialized, taking ground at the same time in the capital of company’s already involved in the asbestos removal will be a plus. Big part of these companies are under-capitalized instead they generate a good net working capital. If you got three of five of them, you could lead the market with a very slight investment. Another option is the sediments valorisation. These ungrateful material sometimes called “sludge” or “sea mud” which are disturbing as well as the outer harbors or the dams electricity production. But they do exist solution to transform the so called material into useful building materials : roads embankment, pedestrian alley, Krebs, sub layers, molded products, etc. Today western company’s involved in this market are quite small. Why no to built with them a new company working along with a dedicated Saudi research center ? More than that, the today main challenge is how is how to ensure a correct answer to the worldwide fossil stocks crisis. Substitution of fossil hydrocarbon by synthesis Hydrocarbons with carbon neutral balance could be a priority. Today, they do exist scientific solution in western Europe, with process viable with a barrel at 95 dollars, why not be involved in this ?

    History teaches us that the rise of civilizations flourished in the context of technology control. Instead of feeding the fears, Saudis will bring a constructive response ! Technology is a pacific weapon. Having them in our hand, we could control better our destiny and secure the world improvement.

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