Professor Jean Frechet
Vice-President for Research
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia

Presentation title:

Innovation Catalyzed by Research Universities


Forum Panel 1: The Role of Education


There is an urgent need to modernize the education system, placing more emphasis on STEM and the development of individual creativity, while simultaneously decreasing the emphasis on traditional curricula. The graduate education system also has to be adjusted to foster and reward innovation with added emphasis on meaningful research. This will require both a robust competitive review process and the selective reduction of teaching loads for the most promising researchers allowing them time to establish and grow innovative research programs.

Government Agencies should provide research funding in highly selective fashion by supporting only the most competitive and innovative local programs while avoiding the often unproductive funding of research programs of well-known researchers located in foreign institutions.

To diversify the local economy and make it less dependent on well-established areas, it is also time to debunk the concept that technological innovation is the domain of established businesses, Industry, or Government, where current activities are valued over bold and seemingly more adventurous initiatives. As is the case throughout the world, a few high-level Research Universities should be nurtured as centers for diversification with broadly-based and well-staffed innovative programs that produce the next generation of leaders and catalyze the creation of start-up companies.

Diversification of the local economy will require the recognition that high level education coupled to entrepreneurship are the primary sources. of innovation requiring among others:

  • A vibrant research community where new ideas are freely developed, valued, and supported
  • An education system that generates all components of the necessary workforce from vocational training to graduate-level education.
  • A significant infusion of funds to support new ventures through all stages of their development
  • An understanding that expectations have to be managed