Industrial Innovation Center to spur growth of new Omani startups

The Industrial Innovation Center (IIC) – the Sultanate’s preeminent hub for industrial R&D – has embarked on a programme to help young Omani entrepreneurs explore and develop business opportunities that capitalise on locally available resources.

The Rusayl-based institution – established by The Research Council with the support of Madayn and the Implementation Support & Follow-up Unit (ISFU) of the Omani government – has identified as many as eight different sectors that abound with startup opportunities, according to a key representative.

Ghassan Issa al Rushdi (pictured), Industrial Innovation Specialist, said the opportunities span, among other areas, fish processing, marble products, charcoal production, intelligent building solutions, dates processing, food and beverage products, mining, and medical and healthcare manufacturing.

“The industrial sector in Oman is a new and highly economical sector. Enabling innovation in this promising sector will enhance its contribution to GDP, especially if small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are empowered in this sector,” Al Rushdi noted.

Already, 15 startups managed by young Omanis are up and running with mentorship support from the Industrial Innovation Centre, according to Ghassan.  These startups, specializing in fish processing, marble products and Artificial Intelligence, among other areas, are a testament to the capabilities of Omani entrepreneurs in establishing their own successful outfits, he said.

Seeking to build on this success, the Centre recently signed an agreement with the Ministry of Manpower to help develop the entrepreneurial abilities of Omanis with a focus on locally available resources.  The goal, says Al Rushdi, is to harness innovation to create job opportunities for graduates of technical and vocational colleges.

More than 300 graduates have so far registered to participate in the programme.  A select number will be shortlisted and trained at the Centre, as well as other institutions supporting the initiative, to launch their own SMEs specializing in products or services of their specific interest.

The Industrial Innovation Center is also engaged in supporting existing Omani companies build their operational capabilities and competitive advantages.  As many as 30 companies have so far benefited from the Centre’s mentorship support, he added.