Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director-General, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS): Interview

Adnan Shihab-Eldin, Director-General, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS)

Interview: Adnan Shihab-Eldin

What role does research and development (R&D) play in private sector companies in Kuwait?

ADNAN SHIHAB-ELDIN: Economic growth and innovation have become increasingly dependent on developing a knowledge-based economy, which in turn depends on a firm foundation in science and technology, established through R&D. Without sustained investment in R&D, the chances for improving products and services are minimal. Therefore, the importance of the role of R&D in the advancement of the private sector and its continued prosperity is clear. Investment in R&D enables unprecedented steps forward in business operations and product diversification, while also improving quality and increasing output, making businesses more competitive in domestic and international markets. Any investment in higher education will further strengthen the base of scientific R&D for the country as a whole.

One of the primary aims of KFAS, as a private nonprofit entity, is to support and fund scientific R&D in both the private sector, and in public academic and scientific institutions. In addition to funding, successful development in all areas of the private sector depends on high-quality training and education programmes that cater to the needs of employees, and that keep them abreast of global trends. Thus, KFAS works to create opportunities and carry out training through executive and business operations programmes, often in cooperation with international intuitions.

How is the government working to develop young talent, especially in technology and innovation?

SHIHAB-ELDIN: Kuwait considers its youth as its paramount priority and key to sustainable development. The government is looking to utilise the creative energy and unrivalled abilities of young Kuwaitis through the Ministry of State for Youth Affairs and the Ministry of Education (MoE), as well as through NGOs and the private sector, supporting talented youth in Kuwait, and providing them with the proper environment in which to be successful. The Sabah Al Ahmad Centre for Giftedness and Creativity was established by KFAS in May 2010 to nurture talented students in science and mathematics, as well as Kuwaiti entrepreneurs who demonstrate innovative work or have ideas that could be developed into inventions. The centre conducts programmes and activities that allow all Kuwaitis with an innovative spirit to develop their talents and turn their ideas into tangible, marketable products.

One important recent achievement of the centre, done in cooperation with the MoE, is the inauguration of the Giftedness Academy of Intermediate and Secondary School for Boys, which accepts students from the middle and high school levels. The academy was established to create an enabling environment for these especially talented students, and to give them a venue to develop their scientific skills, talents and intellectual prowess. KFAS plans to establish five similar academies with the MoE. With respect to young adults and entrepreneurs, KFAS executive education programmes offer ambitious Kuwaiti private sector companies the opportunity to develop their innovation capabilities and access global trends.

In what ways can Kuwait best build on innovative advancements coming from other countries?

SHIHAB-ELDIN: This requires that we put national policies into place that will parallel any new scientific developments taking place in the world. To make use of these trailblazing experiments in different countries, there must be a rationing of investment to advance scientific research and its end results, and such investments must also provide the proper environment for activities related to creativity, and scientific and technological systems. Kuwait ensures the support of educational and academic institutions to achieve its strategic objectives, and should concentrate on specific priorities, including the development of scientific research, scientific knowledge and technology.

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The Report: Kuwait 2017

Education chapter from The Report: Kuwait 2017

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