Paving the way for innovation and tech transfer

It is heartening to know that earlier this month the Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) Council approved the establishment of a centre for innovation and technology transfer. The centre, it is aimed, will support academics and students to venture into areas related to innovation and entrepreneurship.
So what exactly is innovation? Innovation is the creativity behind new concepts and ideas, including products and devices.
Many researchers and analysts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution have stated that innovation is the backbone tool for the revolution.
This important aspect is considered to be the continuing success of any organisation through implementing new ideas or developing their work system.
Research and innovation have played an important role in the development of nations. Researchers and scientists work hard to develop world economies directly and indirectly by innovating new products and devices, for example, robots and solar power.
The word ‘innovation’ is an often used word. However, most of us do not know the exact meaning and its relative uses. Thanks to researchers and innovators, the world enjoys a plethora of easy to use and economical products and services. However, an important question that comes to our mind is: Is the Sultanate ready for the next industrial revolution or will it continue to depend on other countries for imports of our requirements?
Looking into all these aspects, the decision of the Sultan Qaboos University Board to approve the establishment of the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre is really welcome. The Research Council is the concerned authority which is responsible to develop innovations in the Sultanate.
The council has an innovation national strategy which aims to secure a place for the Sultanate among the Top 40 countries of the world for innovation by 2020 and Top 40 by 2040.
Recently, speakers highlighted on the Fourth Industrial Revolution at a gathering organised by the Oman Chamber Commerce and Industry (OCCI). The first revolution focused on water energy, the second started with electricity and the third focused on computers and digital techniques. The fourth revolution is expected to depend on innovation through developing robot, solar power and others.
After the gathering, I had the opportunity to discuss with Ahmed, a friend of mine, who attended the meeting. I asked him whether we were prepared for the Fourth Industrial Revolution or will it play out like other previous revolutions?
Are we going to depend on other countries to provide us with the technology and manufacture items or do we go to invent or manufacture them?
He mentioned that before we set out to find answers to these questions, we need to check if we have qualified people and the resources that can support the innovators and support them.
How can companies employ the innovators initiatives, use the studies and researches in the company development and productions? Are families imbued with an innovative culture successful in nurturing their children in this culture? Has the country linked the industrial development with innovation?
What is the role of universities and colleges in promoting innovation among students? Are we in line with the national strategy for innovations? Are the necessary material providing for the innovators when they request enough?
Innovation experts have stated on their papers that the educational system represented by the curriculum and teaching methods need to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution to have innovators. In addition, we need more innovation centres to give the youth opportunities to develop their skills and abilities in terms of innovation.
American chemist, peace activist, and biochemist Dr Linus Pauling once said: “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”
We really have to think on those lines to innovate ourselves.