ABU DHABI // The provost of UAE University (UAEU) has urged government and the private sector to rely less on consultants and more on the country's academics to take its research and development forward.
In a lecture at the Dubai School of Government (DSG) on Monday, Rory Hume said that the country must see more collaboration between industry, government and universities if it is to achieve its economic and strategic goals.
"Government here needs to trust the universities more and not rely on consultants, who usually end up coming to us to do the work anyway," he said.
"We will not only give the government a good result, but will be training young Emiratis and building local capacity."
Mr Hume said training young entrepreneurs who would invest in future projects, training brokers to bring the sectors together and developing a clear intellectual property law were all needed for progress.
He admitted that in the past, the UAEU "hasn't delivered" but added things were changing. UAEU has recently formed partnerships in the areas of microprocessors with the Advanced Technology Investment Company and aerospace, with Mubadala Aerospace.
The lecture prompted a lively discussion. Natasha Ridge, the acting head of research at DSG, pointed out the real challenge lay in attracting young Emiratis into research.
Mr Hume replied that people responded to different things "like propaganda, or financial incentives".
"Most are motivated by a path where they can see reasonable financial and personal rewards for doing so. It's an investment the country needs to make," he said.
Hani Bakir, a consultant at Value International Consulting, which deals with investors looking at developing new universities in the UAE and the Gulf, said the UAEU seemed to have already been successful in involving the private sector.
"For developing universities, this is very important," Mr Bakir said. He asked Mr Hume how it was possible to persuade industries to support research and development.
Mr Hume suggested a scheme where the Government invested at least equal the amount invested by industry, as often happened in countries such as the US.
Samy Mahmoud, the chancellor of the University of Sharjah, said yesterday that similar models to fund research in the European Commission and Canada had been successful.
"Each research proposal bidding for funding must be led by an industrial organisation and must include one or more academic institutions plus other industrial organisations. The process is highly competitive and only proposals that meet well defined criteria end up receiving funding.
"Programmes based on such an approach tend to bring the three sectors together where they share a common cause and a unified mission."
Nabil Ibrahim, the chancellor of Abu Dhabi University, said: "Collaboration between academia, government and the corporate community is not only desirable but necessary.
"The role of universities in the new economy is twofold: to produce a well qualified future workforce and to advance knowledge for innovation, new business opportunities and better quality of life."