Saudi inventions need to be market-oriented

Updated 11 June 2016
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Saudi inventions need to be market-oriented

DAMMAM: The executive director for Bader Technology Incubators in King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and member of the Shoura Council, Abdulaziz Al-Harqan, has criticized exhibitions and inventors’ competitions, saying they don’t offer tangible services or results.

He added that inventors are presented in society as people who provide solutions for humanity. However, the reality is something else.
According to Al-Harqan, the patent is the first step toward building an innovative product, as the Kingdom places great importance on inventors by considering their inventions as an achievement in themselves. However, he noted that the Kingdom needs to concentrate on the outcome of the invention, especially since many patents don’t succeed because they are not suitable for the market or the requirements of technical trading, he added.
“There are a number of scientific establishments in Saudi universities that offer help to inventors who have patents. But the inventor needs to obtain the patent first,” he said.
Al-Harqan said the Saudi environment is capable of pushing our young people to invent in the first place, but it can’t take them to the next level.
He said that there are a few establishments that support innovators and inventors in the Kingdom but they lack important tools to support innovators, the most important of which is funding mechanisms that suit innovative establishments.
He pointed out that the issue is related to moving university research and inventions to the market. Saudi Arabia needs special laws such as the Bayh-Dole legislation, which was passed in 1980 and transformed university patents into commercial products. This law opened the door for market forces to invest in government research projects, and released the Intellectual Property Law from government bureaucracy.
He added that Saudi Arabia should amend the Civil Service Law to allow job seekers to participate in setting up companies that invest in IP patents within certain rules and regulations, which will lead to their participation in successful projects.
Tareq Al-Harbi, an inventor, said that exhibitions haven’t provided the needed support for inventors and had only 10 percent of the needed support. Presenting an idea during an exhibition could waive the inventor’s rights to obtain a patent, in addition to the increased risk of intellectual theft.
He called for the setting up of an authority for investing in new ideas, and which could change the current situation tangibly.
He also said that funds that support inventors have impossible conditions leading inventors to seek funding from other countries to support their inventions.
Innovation trainer Saleh Al-Ghamidi said that about 97 percent of inventions aren’t released to the global market, and only 3 percent exist in markets, because many inventions are not successful.
He pointed out that the benefit rate depends on the viability of the inventions and their ability to offer added value to the market. The successful invention doesn’t require new production lines. There should be a good feasibility study and sound marketing plan in addition to a working prototype. These conditions increase its success rate by 30 percent.
Al-Ghamidi confirmed that the testing phase before inventions reach exhibitions is very important. This involves testing the product and giving it an added value, in addition to training inventors on how to persuade investors in investing in their product.
This phase is more important than exhibitions because many inventions lack the basics that enable their inventions to succeed and convince investors of their viability. This phase can be rectified by establishing comprehensive infrastructure including training centers, labs and testing centers.
Yousif Al-Qous, another trainer, said that exhibitions don’t maintain their intellectual rights which lead many inventors to go to China or South Korea.
He said that bodies assigned to take care of inventors brag about them but don’t offer real support. He added that inventors are given a sum of money which is supposed to suit their inventions, but when they want to manufacture the product they are surprised by the high costs, highlighting the need to set incubators, such as Bader.


Green light for crown prince-led Saudi privatization program

Updated 25 April 2018
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Green light for crown prince-led Saudi privatization program

  • The Privatization Program is one of 12 key elements of the Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030
  • The program is aimed at increasing job opportunities for Saudi nationals

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Council of Economic and Development Affairs on Tuesday approved the Privatization Program that is one of 12 key elements of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

The program is aimed at increasing job opportunities for Saudi nationals, attracting the latest technologies and innovations, and supporting economic development.

It encourages both local and foreign investment in order to enhance the role of the private sector, with government entities adopting a regulatory and supervisory role. The aim is to increase the private sector’s contribution to GDP from 40 percent to 65 percent by 2030. 

The program will aim to reach its objectives through encouraging the private sector to invest in establishing new schools, universities and health centers, while the government pursues its organizational and supervisory role in health and education.

The privatization program aims to benefit from previous success stories, with the private sector’s collaboration in the development of infrastructure, and its involvement on a large scale in sectors such as energy, water, transport, telecommunications, petrochemicals and finance.

The program sets out a series of objectives in three areas: Developing a general legal framework for policies related to privatization; establishing organizational foundations and dedicated institutions to execute the policies; and setting a timescale for their delivery. 

The Council of Economic and Development Affairs is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.