TII and ASPIRE to lead UAE’s transition toward a knowledge-based economy

With a workforce of nearly 400 people from 50 different countries, TII is focused on driving top-quality outcome-based R&D.

 Dr. Ray O. Johnson, CEO, TII and Dr. Arthur Morrish, CEO, ASPIRE (photo credit: ASPIRE, Technology Innovation Institute )
Dr. Ray O. Johnson, CEO, TII and Dr. Arthur Morrish, CEO, ASPIRE
(photo credit: ASPIRE, Technology Innovation Institute )

The UAE is one of the region’s most innovative nations with an excellent human capital pool and top-tier scientific and test-bed laboratories. The UAE leadership is committed and devoted to promoting innovation as a means to transition from a resource-based hydrocarbon economy to a knowledge-based one in line with the objectives of the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030.

To realize this vision and establish a cutting-edge advanced technology R&D ecosystem in the UAE capital as well as drive the country’s research priorities, the Abu Dhabi government established the Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC) in November 2020. The Council’s two main entities are: Technology Innovation Institute (TII), the applied research pillar and global research center comprising seven research centers that are working with academia and industry from around the world at the intersection of discovery science and technology to shape transformative solutions, and ASPIRE, its technology program management pillar that funds research and launches challenges and competitions to find solutions to humanity’s most pressing problems. 

With a workforce of nearly 400 people from 50 different countries, TII is focused on driving top-quality outcome-based R&D.

“Our purpose is to solve problems using research, technology, and innovation,” said Dr. Ray O. Johnson, TII’s CEO.

“After just one year, we have managed to become a global center of excellence, and we have 70 international partnerships with some 36 universities and research centers globally. We are proud to have unboxed components of our quantum computer, the first of its kind for the region and equally of our electromagnetic compatibility labs that are another regional first. Likewise, each Centre has a number of milestones to its credit, and we know that the appetite for outcome-based research in the country is alive and well,” he added.

Equally upbeat about the accomplishments ASPIRE has notched up in just one year in realizing its mission to connect TII’s R&D with customer needs, Dr. Arthur Morrish, CEO of ASPIRE, said: “The main question we ask at ASPIRE is: How do we take TII’s research and technological capabilities and deliver practical solutions to global problems to ensure maximum impact?” 

“If you have a problem you cannot solve, come and speak to us, and we will figure it out together. Sometimes there are problems that people do not even know exist. At other times, people may have ideas for projects that are difficult to conceptualize or create. ASPIRE can help in all these situations. We want to be top-of-mind when it comes to not just problems, but equally, for ideas and solutions to those problems,” Dr. Morrish highlighted.

Both TII and ASPIRE are eager to capitalize on the Abraham Accords and foster collaborations and partnerships with neighboring Israel. “The Abraham Accords will enable us to work with partners in Israel to address global imperatives such as food security, water availability, climate change, energy efficiency, and sustainability,” explained Dr. Johnson. “Israel has done an amazing job in developing capabilities around innovation, and it is important for us to partner, learn, and add value together so that we can find answers to these and other global problems.”

Dr. Morrish is also keen to collaborate with Israel, which he considers a role model of a knowledge-based economy – similar to one ASPIRE looks to contribute to achieving for Abu Dhabi, and the UAE in general, by 2030. “The UAE is a nation with a can-do attitude, and we are certain that we will meet the 2030 goals. ASPIRE is committed to helping the government in its efforts to shape a future strategy for a sustainable economic ecosystem,” he concluded. 

This article was written in cooperation with TII.