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The conference is taking place on 26-27 September at the Address Sky View Hotel, Dubai, UAE


 Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 26 September 2022 – The 7th edition of the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) Research and Innovation Conference has started today at the Address Sky View Hotel, Dubai, UAE under the theme ‘Catalyzing A Sustainable Future with R&I’. After a short pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GPCA’s only event of its kind dedicated to chemical research and innovation in the region has returned to Dubai, opening its doors to senior decision makers from private and public organizations, value chain stakeholders, industry leaders and academia from the Arabian Gulf and other leading nations in the innovation field.

Delivering the welcome remarks in the morning today, Dr. Bob Maughon, EVP, Sustainability, Technology & Innovation and Chief Technology and Sustainability Officer, SABIC, and Chairman, R&I Committee, GPCA, called on the industry to invest in research and innovation for a more sustainable future. “You won’t deliver sustainable solutions without what our industry produces. (…) Whatever solutions we deliver will have an impact on the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” he said. Dr. Maughon added that for the industry to achieve its goals by 2030, collaboration is going to be key. He concluded by calling upon industry players to work more closely with other stakeholders, their peers, and colleagues, to build cross-value chain relationships, and foster collaboration between areas that have not traditionally been an area of focus.

Next on stage was Abdulmohsen Almajnouni, Advisor to the President, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Member, Core Development Team, RDIA, who delivered a plenary address on the role of regulators in enabling a globally competitive chemical industry. Almajnouni presented on the recently formulated Research, Development and Innovation Authority (RDIA) and its roadmap to achieve the national research, development and innovation (RDI) targets set by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. One of them is growing the kingdom’s R&I expenditure from 0.6% currently to 2.5% by 2040. To achieve this, Almajnouni said, the Kingdom needs to boost the availability of skilled people across the RDI value chain; it must create cohesive funding programs with world-class budgets; and break down pre-existing regulatory barriers in Saudi Arabia to promote and induce public and private innovation.

In the second plenary address of the day, Dr. Kevin Cullen, VP of Innovation, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), shared learnings from industry and academia collaboration. He urged for better university-industry collaboration and engaging in more strategic partnerships. This, he said is the key to creating new jobs, developing new products and services, growing the R&I sector’s contribution to GDP, and driving up the revenue and profit of companies in the region.

The second day of the conference continues tomorrow on 27 September, when Dr. Moayyed Al- Qurtas, Advisor, GPCA R&I Committee, will deliver the welcome address to delegates arriving form the region and the world. Attendees will also enjoy a plenary address entitled ‘Learnings and innovations from the medical industry during the pandemic’ by Dr. Abdelali Haoudi, Head R&D Strategy and Business Development; Managing Director, Medical Biotechnology Park, King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC). Another feature on tomorrow’s program includes a masterclass on the shift to new circular business models and the growth opportunities for the chemical Industry. The masterclass will be moderated by Dr. Mabrouk Ouederni, Product Development and Innovation Manager, QAPCO, and feature leading experts from the industry: Dimitri Daniels, Leader, Circular Economy Business EUR, SABIC; Dr. Jihane Ball, Corporate Director for Circularity, Dow; and Thales Crivelli, Sustainability Manager, Borouge.

Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA, commented: “I was delighted to welcome the R&I community to Dubai this morning for another edition of the GPCA Research and Innovation Conference after a three-year pause following the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The insights, case studies and lessons learned shared by the speakers and guests made this edition worthwhile attending for senior industry leaders from both the region and the world. I look forward to welcoming the GCC’s knowledgeable community of chemical researchers, academia, industry experts and students for Day 2 tomorrow to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the industry and how to position it for a more profitable growth through R&I.”

The 7th edition of the GPCA Research and Innovation Conference hosted the 2nd GPCA Innovation Competition which recognized three undergraduate and three postgraduate university students from the Arabian Gulf in first, second and third place for their innovative research project. The top five shortlisted students were provided with one-of-a-kind opportunity to present their innovative ideas in front of delegates comprising global and regional industry leaders, the jury members and academia. Now in its 2nd edition, the GPCA Innovation Competition was launched to bridge the gap between industry and academia in line with GPCA’s efforts to foster an innovation culture in the Arabian Gulf.

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