HCT Champions Innovation & Entrepreneurship with Launch of Inaugural InnCuVation Forum 2021

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Virtual Forum to Highlight Transformative Applied Research & Startups in 4 Key Sectors as part of UAE Innovates 2021

Abu Dhabi: The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) will showcase its dedication to embedding innovation and entrepreneurship practices, as it hosts the inaugural HCT InnCuVation Forum 2021 from February 21-24, 2021.

The online Forum, held during the national UAE Innovates 2021, will be unveiled with the theme of Reach … Connect … Launch and will feature 12 keynote speakers in 13 interactive sessions, more than 55 speakers and panelist from over 20 international and local companies, and government departments and agencies, as well as “elevator pitch” and match-making sessions for innovative student projects and faculty research. 

The forum will be inaugurated by H.E. Huda Al Hashimi, the UAE Government’s Chief of Strategy and Government Innovation and Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, HCT President & CEO.

The four-day interactive forum will gather key personnel from industry, government, and academia for a series of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and presentations of world-class research and innovative startups in four strategic sectors of Health, Sustainability, Education, and Emerging Technologies. 

The stellar list of keynote speakers will include Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman and Managing Director of VPS Healthcare; Engineer Anwaar Al Shimmari, Chief Innovation Officer at the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure; Saqr Al Hemeiri, Chief Innovation Officer, Ministry of Health & Prevention; Essa Al Hashemi, Manager of the Food Security Office, Prime Minister’s Office; Omar Al Mahmoud, CEO of the ICT Fund; Atif Al Braiki, CEO of Abu Dhabi Health Data Services; Mohamed Al Qubaisi, Chief Technology Officer at Injazat; and Masaood Al Masaood, Vice Chairman of Al Masaood Oil and Gas; and Tom Bornhorst, Vice President of Corporate Development, Applied Research & International Relations at SAIT, Canada.

Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, HCT President & CEO, noted the Forum is a vital undertaking which underpins the national UAE Innovates 2021 initiative. “It is very pleasing to see that this forum is wholeheartedly supporting the national innovation strategy, while reinforcing our nation’s culture of innovation. Such activities will boost economic growth through a knowledge economy and help promote the UAE’s global competitiveness,” he said.

Dr. Al Shamsi said the Forum will also highlight the work of the HCT’s three InnCuVation Spaces, set up in March 2019, to promote Innovation, Incubation and Venturing of students’ projects and start-ups.

“These ground-breaking InnCuVation Spaces have come about after the HCT was named as the UAE’s first approved university economic free zone, thus empowering its graduates to shape the future of the UAE,” he said.  

“Through the forum, and our continuous focus on innovative practices, we are strategically supporting the development of innovative student business ideas, from the concept to development and incubation to eventual commercialization,” he added.

“We are empowering Emirati entrepreneurs and providing the necessary tools to create a new generation of young entrepreneurs. To do this we need an integrated approach with the government, private and public sectors to support innovative projects and ensure their success in the marketplace,” Dr. Al Shamsi said.

Mr. Nicola Bettio, HCT Executive Director of Applied Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship said the forum’s theme of Reach, Connect, Launch captured the essence of the Innovation, Applied Research and Entrepreneurship practices at HCT.

“We want delegates to reach for and explore great opportunities for innovation in each of four strategic sectors, while they connect with public, private and government stakeholders to form new and beneficial collaborations, launch impactful applied research projects and spin out startups,” he said.

“We are working relentlessly to develop successful startups and graduate future generations of entrepreneurs. We are delighted to welcome our current and future industry and government partners, angel investors and our faculty and students.”

Focusing on a different forum sector each day, panels of industry & government experts will consider the most impactful innovation trends and how they will impact society in the coming decade. The panel sessions will be followed by presentations of HCT applied research and startups, contributing to innovation in those specific fields.

Each day will feature “Inspire and Ideate” sessions, where teams of experts will explore key industry trends to assist HCT students and faculty envision high-potential opportunities, on which to focus their applied research and entrepreneurial ventures.  

The fourth day will be dedicated to students’ pitching their innovative start-up concepts to a panel of judges, including members of the Emirates Angels Investors Association. The day will be opened with the keynote speeches delivered by Omar Al Mahmoud, CEO of the ICT Fund and Masaood Al Masaood, Chairman of the Emirates Angels Investors Association. The day will also see a “Speed Matchmaking” session where students will seek to partner with HCT faculty members to assist in the mentoring and incubation of their projects. 

About HCT:

Founded in 1988, the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) is the UAE’s largest applied higher educational institution, gaining a well-respected reputation for innovative education practices and job-focused experiential learning.

Over 20,000 students attend 16 modern, technology-oriented men’s and women’s campuses throughout the UAE. HCT offers over 70 academic programs in Applied Media, Business, Computer Information Science, Education, Engineering Technology & Science and Health Sciences.

These programs are all designed in consultation with business and industry leaders, and incorporate principles of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to ensure HCT students’ skills are up-to-date and to the highest standards. The HCT courses are a hybrid blend of innovative, technology-driven academic studies and work-relevant programs, ensuring that HCT graduates have the necessary 21st century skills to make positive and lasting contributions to society in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The HCT 4.0 strategic plan, which is strongly aligned to the goals of the National Employment Strategy 2031, was launched in March 2019 with the theme of Employability and Beyond, and consists of three pillars – “Technical Leaders”, “No Emirati Left Behind” and “Graduate Companies”. HCT 4.0 will equip UAE’s National workforce with future skills required in the labor market, so as to meet national goals. It will also empower graduates and employees to be familiar with technological updates and enhance their skills, so as to keep pace with accelerating job changes dictated by the 4th Industrial Revolution and the rapid development of Artificial Intelligence skills.

HCT is a vital contributor to the national agendas, including providing education opportunities to every male and female Emirati and also being announced as a free zone, under the UAE’s Fifty Year Charter”, which stipulates that UAE public and private universities will be announced as free zones that allow students to carry out business and creative activities. In addition, the HCT is prominent in its role as a federal institution by promoting applied research opportunities to faculty and students.

The HCT has also embraced a global perspective on applied education by establishing the Global Applied Education Network (GAEN), which sees it partner with global educational institutions.