Crown Prince unveils ambitious KAUST strategy


Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as the chairman of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Board of Trustees, inaugurated the university’s groundbreaking new strategy on Sunday.

The Crown Prince emphasized that this strategy marks a significant turning point for KAUST, envisioning the institution as a beacon of knowledge, inspiration, and innovation in harmony with the goals of Vision 2030. He noted, “KAUST has consistently set itself apart with its exceptional research, innovations, and faculty, propelling it to the ranks of the world’s foremost research universities.”

Central to this strategy is the aspiration to convert research breakthroughs into economically viable innovations by aligning with national priorities for research, development, and innovation. These encompass critical areas such as health and wellness, ecological sustainability, essential necessities, energy leadership, and future economies. Moreover, the strategy seeks to amplify collaborations between KAUST and both public and private sectors, driving forward the objectives outlined in Saudi Vision 2030.

The strategy’s core emphasis revolves around enhancing the probability of translating research into economically advantageous innovations. This ambitious aim will materialize through three pivotal initiatives. First, the establishment of the National Transformation Institute for Applied Research (NTI) will expedite technology advancement and commercialization, bolstering the Kingdom’s ambitions for economic diversification. Second, research centers will be restructured to align closely with national research, development, and innovation priorities. Lastly, a substantial $200 million fund (SR750 million) will be created to fill investment gaps in local and international high-tech firms, fostering economic diversification and the creation of premium technical jobs.

At the heart of this strategy lies the commitment to offer top-tier opportunities to researchers, faculty members, and students, empowering them to apply scientific knowledge to effect a sustainable global influence by reinforcing international and local collaborations.

A standout initiative stemming from these collaborations is the KAUST Reefscape Restoration Initiative, in partnership with NEOM, which will concentrate on cultivating and rehabilitating hundreds of thousands of coral reefs across 100 hectares on Shushah Island in the Red Sea. Additionally, KAUST will persist in collaborating with major industry players both within the Kingdom and internationally, including Aramco, SABIC, ACWA Power, IBM, Dow, and Boeing.

A highlight of this strategy is the drive to strengthen international partnerships and establish collaborative frameworks with leading academic and technological trailblazers worldwide. This endeavor encompasses strategic cooperative agreements with prominent academic and commercial institutions in the Chinese city of Shenzhen, fostering joint applied research ventures across cutting-edge domains like aerospace, robotics, and microelectronics.

Through these strategic initiatives and dynamic partnerships, KAUST aims to contribute significantly to the evolution of the higher education landscape, nurturing the Kingdom’s future scientific pioneers, catalyzing research and global innovation, and fostering the growth of advanced technology startups. This multifaceted approach will elevate the competitiveness of the Kingdom’s economy and solidify its global stature as an innovation leader.

Built on a foundation of legacy and international academic prominence, KAUST’s strategy is underpinned by a history punctuated by numerous world-leading accomplishments since its inception. Its remarkable performance is evident in being ranked first globally for “citations per faculty” in the QS World University Rankings 2021. Furthermore, the university’s research output places it within the top 25 percent of the most distinguished scientific journals worldwide, surpassing its esteemed peer institutions.

KAUST’s impact extends to its talented graduates who occupy leadership roles and work as CEOs and researchers in prominent international organizations such as NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and NEOM. This dynamic strategy promises to fortify KAUST’s legacy and contribute significantly to advancing global research and innovation.

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