China Arab International Technology Transfer Co. Ltd. (CAITTC), a platform for technology transfer and scientific cooperation between China and Arab countries, will open its regional technology centre and headquarters at Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTIP)*. As part of the memorandum of understanding signed between the company and SRTIP, a centre for technology transfer will be established to help forge partnerships between Chinese and Arab research institutions, companies and entrepreneurs. The move falls under the Chinese government’s US$1.3 trillion Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to foster trade connections, cooperation and knowledge transfer across Asia and Europe.
China-Arab International Technology Transfer Centre is expected to play a significant role in supporting the growth of the UAE’s knowledge economy, driving new partnerships with research institutions, and innovation focused companies in the UAE, in particular in Sharjah. Located next to the American University of Sharjah (AUS), the centre is also expected to benefit students as an active campus partner. Areas earmarked for cooperation include 3D printing, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, data development, digital economy, digital transformation, energy, quantum computing, renewable technologies, industrial modernisation and smart cities.
The Government of Sharjah reportedly plans to invest half a billion dollars (AED 1.8 billion) in the American University of Sharjah over the next five years to fund the university’s goal of becoming the top research university in the Arab world. Announced last year, SRTIP is currently being developed, adjacent to American University of Sharjah campus, by the university’s commercial and investment arm AUS Enterprises.
The announcement of the new centre further underscores Sharjah’s ambition to develop as an international hub for education, science research and development. SRTIP has recently signed MoU’s with a number of international science and technology centres and prominent universities such as Finland’s Oulu University of Applied Sciences (OAMK), Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), the UK’s Oxford Sciences Innovation (OSI) and enterprise software leader SAP. The park is now also a member of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation (IASP).
Formed as part of Sharjah’s efforts to foster innovation, encourage entrepreneurship and develop a sustainable knowledge economy, the first phase of the SRTI Park is expected to open by the end of 2018. The park will have free zone status, allowing 100 percent foreign ownership and will initially be able to accommodate 200 companies. Six focus areas have been identified for the park: water technology, renewable energy, environmental technology, digitization, production design and architecture, plus transport and logistics.
The UAE is China’s second largest trading partner and largest export market in the Middle East and North Africa, with estimates for 2016 bilateral trade reaching as high as US$60 billion. There are about 4,200 Chinese companies operating in the UAE, including China Construction, China Harbour and China National Petroleum. An estimated 300,000 Chinese nationals currently live in the emirates.
*Formerly known as AUS Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI) Park