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HCT InnCuVation Forum 2024 Explores Collaborations between Industry and Academia to Enhance Innovation, Entrepreneurship & Applied Research

The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) hosted its 4th HCT InnCuVation Forum 2024, with a series of captivating panel discussions exploring the need for collaborations between academia and industry, while promoting innovation and entrepreneurship within the institution.

The first day of the 2-day forum was dedicated to discussions on the convergence between the industry and research sectors, while the second day featured a Startup Pitch Competition with nine student-created startups that showcased the results of the HCT InnCuVation Spaces and its Startup Development Program, featuring.

Dr. Yahya Al Ansaari, Executive Director of HCT-Dubai Campuses, inaugurated the forum's proceedings, highlighting the significance of this event, which annually coincides with the month-long UAE Innovates. He emphasized the crucial role of innovation and entrepreneurship within HCT, evident in the curriculum, practical applications, and overall educational approach.

He noted HCT’s extraordinary success with its innovation and entrepreneurship culture, in the form of our students winning a range of awards and competitions for the innovative solutions, such as the recent Sandooq Al Watan Launched Program, The New Founders Competition, TDRA Hackathon and more. He also highlighted the forthcoming launch of the Kre8+ Laboratories, in partnership with Tawazun and Mubadala, which will be based at the HCT-Abu Dhabi Campuses.

Dr. Al Ansaari emphasized HCT's commitment to applied research, showcasing its unique identity as an institution focused on applied education. He further emphasized HCT's support for startups and entrepreneurs through the HCT InnCuVation Spaces, in line with the UAE's leadership vision to empower young people to establish their own ventures and contribute to economic growth.

Dr. Luc Verburgh, HCT Chief Academic Officer, emphasized the significance of HCT’s approach, which sees “good education as the key to being competitive and of being innovative”. “We need high quality education in terms of vocational education and as a university of applied science, such as HCT. These universities are extremely important to create impact in innovation and entrepreneurship,” he said.

Dr. Verburgh highlighted the UAE Government's commitment to innovation and its pivotal role in fostering development across various sectors.  He said there was a need to combine the different layers of education, with closer collaborations between research universities, applied science universities and vocational institutions to enhance the process from the innovative idea stage to applying it and implementing it.

He emphasized HCT's dedication to fostering robust partnerships with the industrial sector, facilitating integrated collaboration that supports training, employment opportunities, and advances in applied research. “We are moving into apprenticeships and competency-based education that allow these skills for innovation,” he said.

Dr. Khaled Al Hashmi, HCT Executive Director of Applied Research, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, underscored the trajectory of this year's forum, offering a comprehensive overview of HCT's endeavors in bolstering innovation and fostering entrepreneurship among youth. He emphasized how the forum aligns with numerous strategic objectives of HCT, particularly those related to embedding innovation within students' curricula and practical studies, facilitating their engagement in applied research, and empowering them to cultivate and nurture their projects, thus nurturing small and medium enterprises, thereby reinforcing HCT's role in producing successful startups and entrepreneurs.

Dr. Alhashmi highlighted that the focus of the first day of the Forum was on fostering industrial partnerships, with sessions delving into innovative approaches to strengthen collaboration between HCT, business entities, and industry through applied research initiatives.

He emphasized the interconnected nature of applied research with the industrial sector, emphasizing the importance of addressing industry needs and challenges through tailored research projects to enhance performance and service delivery.  This led to the Dr. Alhashmi discussing the National Portal for Advanced Solutions, which is spearheaded by HCT.

“The portal is about bridging the gap between research by academia and industry. Researchers need to have access to the industry challenges and be aligned with industry interests, while Industry aren’t aware of the capabilities within each institution,” he said.

The portal will contain all HCT researchers as well as listing industry stakeholders and their challenges. It will also match faculty with the industry challenge for research work and encourage startups to register where they can get mentoring and support from HCT faculty members.

Day 2 of the Forum was highlighted by the Startup Pitch Competition, where student-owned startups showcase their innovative ideas leveraging modern technologies to offer economically feasible services or products. Dr. Alhashmi highlighted the significance of this annual competition, showcasing how HCT has empowered students to forge their own future opportunities, enabling them to compete in the market and make meaningful contributions to the economy.

The top three winning startups were:

  • 1st place: Logic Pro Trading & Technical Solutions
  • 2nd place: Oil Skimmer
  • 3rd place: The Hive Training Institute

The winning startup, Logic Pro, specializes in creating custom educational simulators for schools and vocational institutes, focusing on technical fields such as electrical installation, industrial automation, electronics, and automotive technology.

The Oil Skimmer startup builds boats with advanced oil skimming and solar-powered systems for efficient oil spill cleanup. The skimmer swiftly retrieves spilled oil, while remote control aids maneuverability. Solar tracking ensures sustainable power. The Hive Training Institute empowering individuals with practical skills though courses that prioritize hands-on learning in fields like business management, digital marketing, and more.

The InnCuVation Forum also featured an interactive Entrepreneurship Talk, with Khalid Alawadhi, Founder & CEO of Remal IoT, who emphasized to the students that being involved in entrepreneurship was not just about making money, but was about passion, building and growing relationships and making an impact.

The highly captivating panel discussions throughout the Forum’s two days included discussions about the newly launched Global Consortium of Innovation & Entrepreneurship Incubators (GCIEI), headed by HCT.

Dr. Shawqi Karbash, Executive Director of the HCT-Al Ain Campuses, described the consortium as a point: “where all stakeholders will meet altogether without borders or restrictions and have members who are experts and interested to help innovation through their institutions. We want to get all the stakeholders together to achieve the goal of a high success rate for startups and they become successful businesses,” he said.

Dr. Karbash added the Consortium’s goal is to build a link between national and international agencies, in order to contribute and provide expert help to startups. “We want to help youth to be wealth creators, through building startups and to encourage the momentum and entrepreneurial mindset among young people,” he added.

Categories: Innovation Press Release