RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, known as KAUST, obtained 100 patents last year, as the research university steadily continues on its innovative journey, according to its president, Tony Chan.
In an exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh on Oct. 25, Chan said that KAUST is very selective while filing for patents and noted that the university has been supporting startups in the Kingdom with incubation, investments and funds.
“We want to make sure we nurture them to a point where they can get outside funding. In addition, we also run a large incubator support system called TAQADAM. This is not limited to the KAUST people. We open it up. We bring 5(000), 6(000), or 7,000 people to KAUST over the year. We provide them with training and exposure,” said Chan.
He added: “For small and medium-sized businesses, what we have tried to do is to set up a consulting service for them. They are not big enough to hire their own research and development department. So, we provide some of our expertise.”
Chan added that KAUST is closely working with Saudi Arabia’s $500-billion megacity NEOM to build the world’s largest coral garden.
“We are building the world’s largest coral reef garden on Shusha Island. We build a nursery, one of the largest coral reef nurseries in the land. We grow them (the coral), and then take them and plant them in the sea,” he said.
In the energy sector, KAUST works closely with Saudi Aramco, NEOM, and the Ministry of Energy, he added.
Chan said researchers at KAUST succeeded in developing a technology that can extract hydrogen from ammonia using very little energy, which will be used by Saudi Aramco, who are planning to commercialize the technology using very little energy.
Chan said that Saudi Arabia is planning to increase spending on the research and development sector in the future. “We do the best we can in research and development. We attract the best talent,” he added.