GE 2016 Global Innovation Barometer reveals expanding innovation ecosystem in Saudi Arabia

Hisham Al-Bahkali, GE’s president and CEO for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain
Hisham Al-Bahkali, GE’s president and CEO for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain

The GE 2016 Global Innovation Barometer from Saudi Arabia unraveled the emerging and vibrant innovation ecosystem in the kingdom that is significantly contributing to the economic growth and diversification of the country’s economy. 

The research covered about 200 C-level business executives and informed members of the public who have a presence in the innovation ecosystem, either as contributors or decision makers.

“The study underlines that we are moving in the right direction in strengthening localized innovation – a key pillar of Saudi Vision 2030 - based on the finding that around two-thirds of those surveyed in the kingdom believe that the education system is preparing our youth for the jobs of tomorrow and that the government is making innovation a priority,” Hisham Al-Bahkali, GE's president and CEO for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, told the Gulf News Journal.

According to the report, approximately 70 percent of Saudi business executives said that their business has a clear innovation strategy, which is slightly ahead of executives in the rest of the world, and 88 percent of the informed public said advanced manufacturing would transform the industrial sector in the next decade, while 61 percent said innovation approaches in energy sector would reap huge benefits

In broad terms, the report said that business executives and the informed public are increasingly seeing that innovation is an imperative for successful business – not just an option. It also illustrated that collaborative innovation and partnerships are recognized to be a successful approach, and businesses are realizing that finding the right talent is a critical factor.

 “We hope that in sharing the findings of this GE study, we can help to foster the growth of the innovation ecosystem in the kingdom,” Al-Bahkali said. “And we are making tangible investments and action in this direction, led by our commitment to support the goals of Saudi Vision 2030.”

The research also unveiled a keen focus by Saudi companies to strengthen digital innovation, which is led by two factors: the increased internet connectivity and the massive infrastructure investment that Saudi Arabia has already made in varied growth sectors.

One of the key factors in driving this transformation is understanding the digital solutions, Al-Bahkali said.  Big data and advanced analytics can help achieve higher levels of operational efficiency and productivity from any machinery that has sensors to generate performance data.

“For example, when big data is extracted from a fleet of gas turbines or jet engines or an industrial city, and it can be analyzed to optimize performance, we stand to see big benefits,” Al-Bahkali said. “A quest for great efficiency, therefore, is a huge factor driving digitization and innovation.”

By working with the Saudi research community, its academic and industry partners and the GE Global Research Centers around the world, GE is actively supporting the development of a robust innovation ecosystem in the kingdom. The company believes that the digital transformation will certainly accelerate as more digital solutions are invested in and implemented across multiple industrial sectors.

“GE is proud to be contributing positively to the innovation ecosystem in the kingdom,” Al-Bahkali said. “We will continue to invest in this through our localized capabilities in people, advanced manufacturing, R&D and our partnerships with Saudi business and academia.”

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