Scientific Research and Innovation Cited as Model
Science and Technology Diplomacy acquires special significance at present despite novelty of the concept. As Science and Technology Diplomacy is one of the major motivators of social and economic development, the Sultanate is seeking to empower it in all its development and future plans on par with other countries of the world.
Significance of Scientific Progress
The Sultanate has underscored the significance of scientific and technological progress via the speech delivered at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly – New York by HH Yusuf ibn Alawi ibn Abdulla, the Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs, where he imparted that: the world is witnessing novel science and technology shifts that have come to impact the lives of people. The world is also witnessing increasing population growth. We, therefore, underline the importance of working as per a new perspective for an international partnership in order to utilize advanced technologies and the scientific progress that has been achieved. The scientific achievement that has been actualized by signing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change is considered an important advantage for humanity. The plural physical changes presently witnessed by the world impress upon all countries the importance of commitment and adherence to the clauses of the said agreement.
The National Strategy for Innovation (Oman 2040) focuses on realization of a national economy that is based on innovation and to place the Sultanate among the top ranked 20 countries that spearhead this bid. The Sultanate has adopted a number of measures through which it has realized progress in the world innovation index where it was ranked 69th in 2018 compared to being ranked 77th in 2017. The strategy likewise focuses on interlinking all national strategies in a complementary manner by underlining four main domains: firstly, institutional and social integration, through which is affected potent communication and cooperation among the relevant parties so that horizontal and vertical harmony is achieved among policy designers and decision-makers, on the one hand, and the productive and supportive institutions that benefit from innovation, on the other hand.
The second domain is represented in the human capital and empowerment of individuals through development of systems and policies for general and higher education, research and development and the labor market. The domain of intellectual property and promotion of knowledge comes as a third pivot that supports and empowers the innovation environment for the purpose of enhancing the cognitive community, enforcing an effective system for preserving the rights of intellectual property as well as acting as stimulator for production of innovative ideas, commodities and services at the national and international levels so that patent applications may hike at the Intellectual Property Department at the Ministry of Trade and Industry at a growth rate of 6% from 2016-2017.
The fourth domain is represented in economic diversification that is driven by innovation for the purpose of availing job opportunities, production of technology, enhancement of small and medium-size institutions and polarizing direct foreign investment in all sectors associated with the Omani economy.
The Sultanate’s concern with science and technology diplomacy is manifested in the efforts it is exerting in the sphere of scientific research and innovation and that are represented in the academic and research institutions in the Sultanate. There are perceptible efforts through which it is seeking to empower scientific research and innovation. The research programs include a strategic program for renewed energy and energy efficiency research which was established by the Scientific Research Council in collaboration with the General Electricity and Water Corporation. The strategic program seeks to activate renewed energy applications in the Sultanate, build and promote research and scientific capacities, locate ways and means through which scientific research and modern applications can contribute to renewed energy and efficiency of energy with regard to its effective contribution to the sustainable development progress in the Sultanate. It also seeks to put forward and propose scientific tested solutions through the application of scientific research by decision-makers as well as establishing basic structures for data and information resources to be utilized by researchers, decision-makers and concerned parties.
The research chairs program targets enhancement of local research, bolstering relations between Omani and world research institutions. The program is endorsed by financial resources for establishing research chairs in higher education institutions, advancing knowledge and boosting the capacity of local institutions for generating and applying new means of education.
The National Scientific Research Prize is considered a translation of the national strategy vision of scientific research 2008-2020. It is aimed at prodding researchers to maintain their research activities and initiatives for the purpose of disseminating the scientific research culture and upgrading the quality of research outputs in the Sultanate, increase the number of researches that of national importance. The first version of the prize was launched in July 2014. The number of researches competing at the 3rd round of the prize amounted to 89 research projects, out of which 70 researchers were put forward by Ph.D. holders and 283 projects by non-Ph.D. holders.
The researcher award program seeks to upgrade the production rate of scientific research, endorse concern with this production for boosting economic and social development in the Sultanate, in addition to hiking the number of active researchers, stimulating researchers and students of higher studies to contribute to the local capacity building drive, reinforce publication of researches in the specialized international media in addition to forwarding patents.
Research Projects and Initiatives
The Innovation Complex-Muscat is considered the most prominent initiative of the Scientific Research Council for Promotion of Scientific Research and Innovation. It aims to link between the academic and private sectors and the different categories of the local and international communities, availing an environment to host and stimulate researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs through appropriate forwarding and provision of all needs that will contribute to development of manpower, raising their motivation towards scientific research and stepping up their participation in utilizing knowledge and developing ideas and products that are based on scientific research and converting these into a local product that is based on scientific research and innovation which will boost the government’s efforts to diversify the economy.
The initiatives and projects include the Institute of Advanced Technology Integration (IATI) for availing an appropriate environment for applied research and stimulating innovations in the energy and industry domains, in addition to Oman Animal and Plant Genetic Resources Center that seeks to stimulate sustainable utilization and genetic diversification of animals, plants and microorganisms in Oman as a source for physical heritage, promotion of scientific research and practical innovations and sustainable education in the economic and social sectors. Oman Research and Education Network, on the other hand, targets development of scientific research and education in Oman and building research traits and local capacities. The Omani Virtual Science Library (OVSL) seeks to boost the quality of research proposals submitted to the Scientific Research Council, upgrade research production, avail the latest research and scientific brochures for local researchers and raising the community’s awareness of the importance of the research activity.