Oman’s Innovation Factory opens

By Lakshmi Kothaneth — MUSCAT: APRIL 2 – The first digital fabrication lab open for the public has opened its doors.  The objective of the venture owned by six Omani inventors guided by Information Technology Authority is to help transfer ideas into distinctive products by understanding the needs of inventors, finding solutions to challenged faced by Omani inventors. The appearance and designed as a factory and is very hands on.  The facility is open for but they have to get a membership first — a contract between the user and the factory and then sign up to book the equipment.  If the user does not know how to use the equipment they book a consultation session with the team to learn how to do it.
The steps are — visualise your idea, define your idea, select your material and equipment, fabricate your idea and finally commercialise and market your idea.  The team stays with the innovator throughout these steps. As part of supporting national digital fabrication technologies, Dr Ali bin Masoud al Sunaidy, Minister of Commerce and Industry, inaugurated the Innovation Factory Center at Knowledge Oasis Muscat. “We are looking forward to see the Innovation Factory Center as a place of turning dreams into reality, as well as serving its aim in encouraging young Omanis to innovate and create. We’re glad to see positive energies willing to make the best for our beloved Oman and we hope for this centre to be a leading platform for all kinds of creative people in the Sultanate to join and unleash their talents,” the minister said.
The Centre serves as an open lab for the public in which they can use a range of machines and light industrial equipment to enable them turn their creative ideas into reality.  The idea that materialised in 2012 is now a modern factory is awaiting young inventors.
As a means of sustaining the project, ITA encouraged the Omani inventors team to start up their own company which is today under the name of 972095Innovation Factory for Research & Development in Science, Engineering & IT. Launched in 2014 and later joined Sas Center for Entrepreneurship in 2016, the company in collaboration with ITA developed the technical and operational integrated plan, as well as a feasibility study for the centre. In August 2016, with the investment of IF company, the construction of the centre was kicked off in Knowledge Oasis Muscat, and the inventors produces a number of innovational projects applying new technologies such as Fog Screen and Personal Virtual Assistant projects.
Commenting on ITA’s role in supporting the project, Dr. Salim bin Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, CEO of ITA, said, “We’re very pleased by the launch of Innovation Factory today, as this step represents a turning point for the team, and we appreciate the young efforts that had set the path for a new landmark for innovation in the Sultanate. We’d like to thank ITA’s team that had provided these Omani inventors with the proper environment and support.
The ITA had played a major role in developing the project, transferring the suggested solutions into a working plan, and building a collaborative partnership with the company to found the centre.”
The team consists of six Omani inventors with different technical backgrounds, led by Firas al Balushi, with a partnership with ITA, “As we- Omani inventors- been seeking an enriching environment that provides us with the space to work along with the basic needs of innovation, the idea of Innovation Factory Center became apparent.
We aspire to be the place that young inventors seek for consultancy and support, as we’ll provide them with the help they need to overcome challenges, and make their ideas real products in the market, as well as organising a range of activities throughout the year targeting a variety of society segments. Ideas from the public are welcomed in the centre.”
Majdi al Bahrani from Al Madr Investments Company said it was the belief in the young innovators that attracted to them to the venture and extend their support.
“People can come here with an innovative idea and transform it to a fully functional prototype.
It is not just us who have ideas but there are thousands of others and we want to be there for them.  ITA supported us and they believed in us, we are now an SME and supported by investors.  Here we are for other who have ideas.
The only thing we require them to do is to be hands on,” explained Shaima al Gailani, Innovation Factory.  Innovation Factory Center offers a number of services including the innovation lab- first digital fabrication lab in the Sultanate that is open for the public, which aims to provide inventors with all the required equipment and technology to help them achieve their inventory goals.
The lab will benefit a large number of society members as school students, Higher education institutions, entrepreneurs, and public and private sector organisations. The video can be watched on www.omanobserver.om and @omanobserver Facebook.