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The report was commissioned by the Department of Economic Development-Abu Dhabi (DED), which was tasked by the General Secretariat of the Executive Council-Abu Dhabi (GSEC) to both conduct the Abu Dhabi Innovation Index and coordinate with the Statistics Centre-Abu Dhabi (SCAD) to carry out the Abu Dhabi Innovation Survey.
This report provides a detailed assessment of the innovation capabilities of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Based on internationally benchmarked findings drawn from the Abu Dhabi Innovation Index and the Abu Dhabi Innovation Survey, the report highlights areas where the Emirate is globally competitive and where it needs to further develop the knowledge- driven sectors of its economy. The Abu Dhabi Innovation Index shows that the Emirate is well setup by international standards to access knowledge required for innovation, and to anchor and retain this locally, and also to diffuse it across sectors of its economy. The Emirate’s success could be be attributed to its ability to access skilled international talent and know-how, the results of investment in world-class telecommunications and transportation infrastructure, and strong leadership from its Government in the form of savvy procurement processes and other strategic investments in high-tech anchoring platforms such as Masdar, Strata, Advanced Technology Investment Company and the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. When compared to other natural resource-rich economies (NREs), Abu Dhabi emerged as highly efficient in adopting and diffusing new knowledge, technology, products and services across its economy. The report also details the results of the Abu Dhabi Innovation Survey which was administered to a large sample of firms in the Emirate, and benchmarked against data from European countries on key parameters such as innovation activity, expenditure, co-operation, sources of information and barriers to innovation. The survey found that during the period 2008-2011, Abu Dhabi firms undertook more innovation in processes (59.4%) than products (38.5%). While 41% of the product innovations were new to the UAE markets and 16% were novel internationally, the survey reveals the prevalence of ‘innovation by adoption’ typified by the acquisition of new business units emerged as the most common mean of accessing new knowledge and technology. Unsurprisingly and in line with global trends, cost emerged as the most significant barrier facing innovative firms. The survey also found that the market dominance by large firms in some sectors presented a barrier to innovation for smaller domestic enterprises. Collectively, the findings of both the Abu Dhabi Innovation Index and the Abu Dhabi Innovation Survey portray the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as a growing economy that is globally connected and highly active in adopting and diffusing knowledge and innovation. Whilst many other NREs appear to be standing still at a crossroad, Abu Dhabi has made great strides in moving toward becoming a more knowledge-based economy. However, while local firms may be doing well in adapting technology developed elsewhere, the Emirate must evolve and grow its capacity to create and develop new innovations if it is to build an economically significant and sustainable knowledge-driven economy. To that end, the report sets out key areas for improvement across multiple dimensions that underpin value creation and innovation-related activities. These include: facilitating access to specialist knowledge for SMEs and entrepreneurs, incentivising foreign companies to locate their regional headquarters in the Emirate, continuing to invest in the infrastructure needed to support knowledge creation, and becoming more strategically integrated into existing global research networks