Arab Nations, through their research and academic centers, together with other countries around the world, have been seeking to keep up-to-date with international happenings and challenges and to continually reform to better serving the needs of their constituents and the communities involved. To realize these goals, the Association of Arab Universities (AArU) together with the Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East and North Africa (AARINENA) and some regional/international partners are setting out to strengthen their multi-stakeholder capacities on research and innovation for development. The new strategy on towards 2030 focuses on reforming and strengthening industrial research and innovation systems, enhancing multi-lateral collaboration, and influencing development in the Arab and NENA regions. More specifically, the lack of a good grasp on the value of innovative work products on sustainable development and the potential bearing it has upon economic growth across the entire Arab and NENA regions all call for concerted efforts to address such concerns.
One of the challenges the region is experiencing includes the huge knowledge losses that otherwise could be leveraged to improve the socio-economics of the communities involved. Emanating from this, the knowledge produced locally is often times not of a level to be turned into innovations on towards the betterment of the well-being of the nations involved. Here, there is lack of a good comprehension about the subject matter of innovation and turning ideas into marketable competitive work products; particularly, products that can compete globally. Part of the problem has to do with lack of understanding, on the part of academics around the Arab and NENA regions, on the notion of innovation and how they can guide their constituents on towards converting knowledge produced, as such, into licensed work products and/or protected IP rights. It is, therefore, part of the objectives of this conference to bring academics at various academic institutions in the Arab and NENA regions to an event that would serve to help them better understand their essential roles in the educational process in relation to guiding their constituents (students) to embark on career paths that would contribute to economic development through job creation opportunities.
Commensurate with this, the new Strategy draws upon the joint role AArU and AARINENA share in facilitating and mobilizing dialogue and engaging collective actions among partners to overcome the main challenges of the Arab and NENA regions. These include lack of expertise in areas related to innovative research, undernourishment, gender inequalities, water scarcity, lack of understanding or realizing the impact of value-added work products along the ways of achieving economic prosperity and further growth, low agricultural productivity under scarce natural resources and food import dependencies. In order to alleviate such adversities, the strategies for both AArU and AARINENA identify innovation as the process, and way to go, which they will communicate, adapt, and adopt during the upcoming period. As there is severe lack of expertise in this area, AArU and AARINENA will initiate a process of capacity building on innovation for all stakeholders to bridge this gap, once and for all.
The conference brings together academic institutions (public and private), NGOs, government agencies, and private industries from diverse fields, including environment and agriculture, energy, industrial innovations, and Fintech (financial technology) Solutions. Therefore, IEC’ 2020 aims to:
- a) Establish collaboration between countries in the Arab world and the NENA region in the diverse domains of research and innovation for socio-economic development, and help them engage in ongoing development efforts in the developed countries around the world,
- b) Introduce member countries to the significance of adopting innovation as the way to go for economic development and growth, and
- c) Explore the current success stories in the Arab world and NENA region in the diverse fields where innovation can lay a foothold
It therefore lies right within the scope of AArU and AARINENA’s activities to foster an international event aimed to bolster the importance of adopting innovation as the way to go over the next 10 years, with some lasting effect. This will inherently target participants from around the AArU and NENA geographic spans in a way that would harness innovative thinking, leverage collaboration amongst member nations, and target the furthering of the well-being of citizens of the Arab and NENA spheres. Consequently, AArU and AARINENA strive to host the first international conference titled, “Innovation and Entrepreneurship” with its motto set as “Gearing up for the 4th Industrial Revolution.” IEC’ 2020 is pleased to announce the themes of this conference. Each theme includes several subtitles.