Dr. Farhan Al-Shahrani

Head of Strategic Innovation Partnership,

KAUST, and Vice-chairman, R&I Committee, GPCA

As of June 15, 2021, Dr. Farhan Alshahrani was appointed the Head of KAUST Smart-Health Initiative (KSHI) to develop, manage and nurture strategic partnerships with potential partners in government, industry, and academia locally and globally. He was heavily involved in launching new strategic initiatives such as Saudi Vaccine and Biomanufacturing Center (SVBC), National BioPark Hub, M-Lab, National Biobank and MD-PhD academic program. In this role, Dr. Alshahrani was reporting to the Director of KSHI Prof. Pierre Magistretti who became the VP of Research of KAUST in June 2022.

Before that and since March 2019, Dr. Alshahrani was the Head of Strategic Innovation Partnerships (SIP) department reporting to the VP of KAUST Innovation and Economic Development (I&ED). In that role, Farhan orchestrated the establishment of innovation partnerships of KAUST with industry and government entities such as Virgin Hyperloop, Tata Consulting Services, MODON, Industrial Clusters, Lean Business Services, Tabadul, SDAIA, J&J, MARZ, AselTech, etc.

KAUST Industry Collaboration Program (KICP) of 26 active members and KAUST Industry Advisory Board (KIAB) are among the major activities led by Farhan’s team as flagship membership program and conduit for authentic partnerships between KAUST and strategic partners.

Farhan has been instrumental in attracting Industrial Clusters to select KAUST as the hub for the National BioPark to develop the ecosystem of relevant education, training, startup development, core labs and pharmaceutical R&D. Additionally, Farhan led the efforts of having Saudi Vaccine and Bioprocessing Center (SVBC) to be the cornerstone of the BioPark. Farhan has been serving as the Secretary for the SVBC Steering Committee since its establishment in March 2018.

The end of 2012 marked a new chapter in Farhan’s career by joining KAUST. He immediately embarked on several managerial positions such as manager of Lab Design and Development and Manager of Strategic Projects. Farhan was then assigned to establish and manage the KAUST Research and Technology Park (KRTP) and Tenants Affairs department. The research park witnessed an impressive growth from 3 tenants in the begging to more than 45 companies in 4 years, including Aramco, DOW Chemicals, SABIC, FalconViz, NOMADD, SADEEM, Red Sea Farms, Beacon Development, Gulf Data Hub, SaudiVax, etc.

Before joining KAUST, Dr. Alshahrani had 20 years of continuous experience with Saudi Aramco R&D Center in Dhahran including 4 years graduate study at Oxford University. While in Aramco, Dr. AlShahrani published several scientific papers and filed 24 patents in the fields of clean fuel, whole crude desulfurization, and oil to chemicals. Farhan was part of the pioneering Aramco research team that started the new concepts of oil to chemicals bypassing the conventional refining processes.

In Feb. 2011, Farhan was assigned to manage Saudi Aramco R&D relations in King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) which then resulted in establishing the first Corporate R&DC of Saudi Aramco outside of Dhahran. Farhan was able to hire several KAUST graduates to work in Aramco Center in KAUST as well as launching the operations in KAUST within one year. He was also able to secure prime location for Aramco to design and build their state-ofthe-art R&DC facility on the shores of the Red Sea that was opened in June 2022. As part of Farhan’s accelerated career development, he was then sent for one-year field deployment in Jeddah Refinery.

Academically, Dr. Farhan Alshahrani received his BSc and MSc qualifications in Industrial Chemistry from King Fahad University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) and a doctoral degree (D.Phil.) in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Oxford.

Dr. Alshahrani is the Founding President and Chairman of the Board for the Saudi National Network of Technology Transfer (NTT) approved in Oct. 2021 by the Minister of Human Resources and Social Development as the first national association of practitioner and leaders in innovation and technology transfer.

Dr. Alshahrani is currently the VP of the Research & Innovation Committee (RIC) of the Gulf Petrochemical and Chemical Association (GPCA) reporting to the President Dr. Bob Maughon, EVP of SABIC, and working with over 15 executives’ members representing petrochemical enterprises in the GCC.

Early 2021, Farhan was selected to serve as a Member of the National Innovation Strategy Taskforce led by Eng. Ahmed Al-Zahrani, the Deputy Minister of Ministry of Energy (MoE).

Competing with thousands of Saudi graduates from the UK, Farhan was selected among the top 12 candidates for the UK Alumni Award and attended the final ceremony organized by the UK Embassy in Riyadh early March 2022.

Dr. Alshahrani established the Saudi Student Club at Oxford in 2006 and elected as the President for 2 years. Farhan was a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC) 2007 – 2013, member of American Chemical Society (ACS) 1998 – 2013, member of the Board of Saudi Chapter of ACS 1998 – 2013 and became the Chair-Elect in 2013.