Sharjah Ramadan Majlis 2024 discusses how investments can maximise innovation

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SHARJAH, 28th March, 2024 (WAM) – Under the patronage of Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of American University of Sharjah, and presence of Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, the Sharjah Ramadan Majlis 2024 brought together business leaders, senior government officials, entrepreneurs, and change-makers, to the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP) to collaboratively address how investments across a diversity of industries can be designed to maximise innovation and impact.
Held under the theme “Innovating for Impact,” the Majlis was co-organised by Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq), Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP) and Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah).

Aligned with Sharjah’s dedication to impactful socio-economic progress, this year’s theme underscored the emirate’s commitment to fostering significant change across diverse sectors such as sustainable infrastructure, education, innovation, entrepreneurship, and investment. Through engaging and insightful discussions, the majlis’ attendees highlighted Sharjah’s and the UAE’s multifaceted efforts in building the nation’s future with a strong focus on impact.

In her welcoming address, Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, observed that the fast-paced world encouraged competition, but she insisted “we must act responsibly and with purpose.” Adding to this, she stated, “It’s essential that we remain grounded in the true essence of our efforts, and the tangible difference they make in our communities and the wider world. In Sharjah, our approach is characterised by a steadfast commitment to human development and community welfare. Our ambition goes beyond mere profit or chasing temporary success—we see innovation as a means to build resilience in our community.”

During an enlightening keynote address, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, stated “Innovation is the key to the future and the primary driver that the UAE adopts in various sectors in order to build a strong, flexible, and more competitive national economy. Through the directives of our visionary leadership, the UAE is accelerating its economic transformation. Modern legislation fosters a thriving business environment, aligning with the “We Are the Emirates 2031” vision and this ambitious plan positions the UAE as a global leader in the new economy, driven by a robust knowledge-based system fueled by technology and innovation.”

“We have signed an MoU with the Sharjah Investor Services Center (SAEED) which falls within our joint national efforts to simplify procedures, support the business environment, and provide everything necessary for emerging companies and entrepreneurs to contribute to enhancing economic growth by relying on innovative and sustainable technologies, and thus be able to make an impact,” His Excellency added.

SAEED & UAE MoE sign MoU to streamline trademark registration services

The MoU aims to streamline trademark registration services for companies and institutions, as well as facilitate transactions with relevant government departments. It also involves exchanging information through meetings, with a particular focus on government services and business startup procedures.

Under the MoU, the Ministry of Economy will support SAEED by providing guidance, training, and technical assistance to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of trademark processes. Additionally, the ministry will encourage investors to utilise the centre’s services by highlighting its benefits.

Sharjah’s grand designs for innovation and impact

The event featured two panel discussions addressing pressing issues and showcasing success stories. The first panel, “Sharjah: Forging Future Frontiers in Innovation,” showcased the emirate’s pioneering initiatives and strategies towards fostering innovation and impactful change. Distinguished panellists included Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, CEO of Shurooq; Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTIP; Khaled Huraimel, GCEO and Vice Chairperson of Beeah Group; Mohammad Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah; Dr. Tod Laursen, Chancellor of American University of Sharjah (AUS); and moderated by Abeer Al Ameeri, Head of Partnerships at Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa), this session explored how these entities integrate the principles of people, planet and profit into their operations, driving sustainable development and societal progress.

During the discussion, Ahmed Obaid Al Qaseer, CEO of Shurooq said, “As Sharjah continues to lead in guiding investments and innovations towards impactful outcomes, Shurooq’s commitment to enhancing all aspects and dimensions of sustainable development is further entrenched. Shurooq is leading the efforts aimed at building a more sustainable future through innovative practices and eco-friendly initiatives that transcend the environmental aspect to social, economic and cultural aspects. From solar energy integration to eco-retreats, we are dedicated to preserving our natural resources and enhancing environmental awareness. At the same time, Shurooq is supporting, empowering and ensuring the quality of life of the local communities. In doing so, Shurooq’s sustainability strategy aligns with the national goals, ensuring every project prioritizes preservation, and contributes to achieving the balance between economic growth and social development. Together, we’re boosting the economic prosperity in Sharjah which cherishes its environment, community and diverse economy.”

Sheraa launches Centers of Excellence to catalyse entrepreneurial growth in key sectors During the Majlis, Sheraa unveiled their latest initiative, the Centers of Excellence (CoE), which have been designed to stimulate start-up led growth for the region’s economy. Focused on empowering founders leading innovation across four future-focussed sectors of Sustainability, Manufacturing, EdTech and Creative Industries, the CoEs seek to revolutionise the support system for startups in Sharjah by facilitating strategic partnerships, market access and impactful assessments.

For her part, Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, said, “This year’s Ramadan Majlis provided a perfect opportunity to announce Sheraa’s next chapter uniting Sharjah’s ecosystem and I am proud to unveil our newest strategic initiative. Starting this year, Sheraa will further enhance its focus on four specific key sectors, namely, the Cultural and Creative Industries; Advanced Manufacturing; Cleantech and Sustainable Technologies; as well as Edtech and Digital Learning. These sectors, steeped in Sharjah’s inherent strengths, represent an opportunity to leverage existing foundations to help entrepreneurs design the future. Each sector will be bolstered by a dedicated ecosystem, known as a ‘Center of Excellence,’ providing entrepreneurs with invaluable support from corporate partners, tailored guidance from prominent experts, regulatory insights from policymakers, technological resources from leading global providers, and financial backing from VCs and strategic investors.”

SRTI Park and ICPM sign MoU empowering healthcare innovation

During the Ramadan Majlis, SRTI Park signed an MoU with the International Conference of Pharmacy & Medicine (ICPM) for organising a series of healthcare-related exhibitions, conferences, and events. The MoU aims to achieve the following objectives: support the establishment of a Healthcare Hub at SRTIP; attract mature startups and SMEs in areas as AI-based diagnostic, medical devices, medical rehabilitation and training; support SMEs and startups joining the SAIA Healthcare Accelerator 2014, establishing value-added connections with UAE government and industry players; and launch a series of theme-based events focused on healthcare and wellness sector, involving government entities, large UAE and international corporates, top faculty from UAE academia and innovative SMEs and startups.

Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, said: “We are delighted to be part of this amazing Ramadan Majlis which adds a sparkle to Ramadan festivities by blending the community spirit with business networking. I am happy to say that SRTIP continues its march towards phenomenal growth by attracting leading global companies across diverse technological sectors, such as AI, water technologies, 3D printing, robotics, and others. Our notable successes include our collaborations with the American University of Sharjah in conductive concrete; with Arada for building a sustainable water treatment plant; and with Maxbyte for launching a pioneering Industry X.0 Center of Excellence at SRTIP. And today, we are pleased to enter into a partnership with ICPM to take our new focus area of healthcare to the next level.”

Driving Growth through Innovation: Invest in Sharjah’s vision at Ramadan Majlis

Mohamed Al Musharrkh, CEO of Invest in Sharjah, reinforced the role that innovation and strategic partnerships play in the Emirate’s progress, and the importance of events like Ramadan Majlis, stating, “Invest in Sharjah remains committed to supporting an innovative ecosystem that has resulted in positive outcomes and impressive growth year after year. In 2023, Sharjah secured AED1.8 billion in FDI inflows, excluding the Real Estate Sector which attracted alone AED 5.9 billion in FDI. Businesses within our Emirate continue to thrive attracting more enterprise to our shores, shown by roughly 400 factories opened in Sharjah in 2023. We are excited to reveal that 2024 is on course to deliver even greater results, showcasing substantial growth and a promising trajectory in innovation and sustainability for the rest of the year.”

Purposeful investments driving impact

The second discussion, “Majlis Special: Integrating Purpose and Business for Sustainable Impact,” delved into current trends, innovations, and success stories in impact investing in the region. Led by Myrna Atalla, Executive Director of Alfanar Venture Philanthropy and Amna Al Maazmi, Director of Kalimat Foundation, and moderated by Sonia Weymuller, Founder of VentureSouq, the dialogue offered invaluable insights into the power of purpose-driven investment and the importance of collaboration for the greater good.

Strategic partnerships with essential stakeholders

Honouring the strategic partners, Sheraa has forged to bolster the CoEs, Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi presented awards to the Sharjah FDI Office (Invest in Sharjah); American University of Sharjah (AUS); Ministry of Industries and Advanced Technology; Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Emirates Development Bank (EDB); Ministry of Culture; Sharjah Private Education Authority; Ministry of Climate Change and Environment; University of Sharjah (UOS); BEEAH Group and Sharjah Sustainable City.