HCT Echoes UAE’s Spirit of Innovation with Launch of “Historic” InnCuVation Forum 2021


Forum Marks Start of UAE Innovates 2021

Abu Dhabi: The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) is taking on a key role in implementing the national innovation vision with the official opening of its inaugural InnCuVation Forum 2021 to mark the start of the UAE Innovates 2021.

The four-day virtual forum is held 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.

Her Excellency Huda Al Hashimi, the UAE Government’s Chief of Strategy, in the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, and HCT alumna, gave the keynote address of the Forum. Her Excellency stressed the importance of innovation as an essential foundation for preparing and qualifying a generation of entrepreneurs capable of developing creative solutions.

She said those solutions enhance the national economy and contribute to the development of career paths in keeping with the requirements of the labor market. Her Excellency added that the UAE government is keen to invest in human capital and build national capacities, and empower them to transform knowledge into reality, thereby contributing to enhance the UAE’s position as a global center for innovation.

The noted HCT alumna praised the HCT’s for its initiatives across the UAE, and for providing a dialogue platform to enable specialists, researchers and academics to present their ideas, projects and visions for the future. Such a forum will ensure instilling an innovation mindset in various areas and establishing it as a daily practice of students and professionals. In turn this would promote the innovative solutions to boost the economy and empower UAE entrepreneurs. 

She also lauded the HCT’s efforts in the dissemination of applied research, commending applied research projects shown as part of the activities of “UAE Innovates 2021”, which contribute to the comprehensive development process.

Dr. Shamsheer Vayalil, Chairman and Managing Director of VPS Healthcare, Atif Al Braiki, CEO of Abu Dhabi Health Data Services, and Saqr Al Hemeiri, Chief Innovation Officer, Ministry of Health & Prevention provided three highly informative key note addresses on healthcare and allied fields. These business leaders and innovators gave insights into current and future healthcare innovations, health information and data security, as well as the innovative processes being implemented in the Ministry of Health and Prevention, particularly those during the current global pandemic environment.

Dr. Alex Zahavich, HCT’s Chief Academic Officer, described the inaugural Forum as a “Truly historic day”. “The caliber of speakers demonstrates HCT’s reach into the community. It will attract the level of people wanting to work with HCT. This forum is an opportunity to be reaching out to our partners, connecting with them, and launching student innovations,” he said.

He noted the flagship InnCuVation Spaces, which were the “golden egg in HCT’s basket”, had been vital in embedding the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among HCT students and employees. “The three spaces are proof that to successfully work with business you have to think like business. Industry will want to come to these Spaces to work with our students,” he said.

Dr. Abdullatif Al Shamsi, HCT President & CEO, said a perfect example of the UAE government’s innovation strategies was the Mars Hope Probe, which was “planned well, innovative, achievable and was ground breaking in research and science”.

He said as part of the HCT’s Startup Development Program, there had been more than 1220 participants, as well as 67 startups being created, 33 of which were by female students, and 21 startups had gained commercial trade licenses. “We want to embed entrepreneurial working and thinking in our curriculum as part of our students’ mindset. Post COVID-19 will be more crucial as we will need to create more opportunities for our students,” he said.

Dr Al Shamsi noted HCT’s ongoing commitment to applied research over the past four years, where it has developed almost 200 applied research projects in the fields of health, energy, space, education, water, technology and transport, with funding in excess of AED 11.6 million. The research projects have to date involved 432 researchers, 239 students over 12,400 research hours.

“We are bringing industry and building solutions across different industry sectors and issues, while ensuring students pick up valuable research skills,” he said. 

The Forum featured keynote addresses, panel discussions and features on faculty applied research and students’ startup projects relating to innovations in the fields of Health, Sustainability, Education and Emerging Technologies.

A health-focused panel discussion, held with industry experts, gave insights into technology-based solutions and innovations to address issues of patient care, data storage and privacy, and new approaches to healthcare delivery in the coming years. Each day of the forum will see panels of industry & government experts 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. 

The InnCuVation Forum will feature daily “Inspire and Ideate” interactive sessions, where attendees 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.