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Celebrating innovation with Dubai Quality Group’s Fatma Buti Al Mheiri

Celebrating innovation with Dubai Quality Group’s Fatma Buti Al Mheiri

Dubai Quality Group’s chairman Fatma Buti Al Mheiri details the importance of innovation, why companies should foster creativity and how Emirati women are leading the way

In recent years, innovation has become a key focus for Dubai and the UAE. How does Dubai Quality Group’s UAE Innovation Award recognise private sector companies’ efforts?

“To mark the UAE’s Innovation Month in February 2018, Dubai Quality Group launched the UAE Innovation Award under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, chairman of Dubai Airports, chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline and Group, to spread innovation across a wide range of industries and sectors.

“The UAE Innovation Award is one of the new strategic initiatives introduced by our board of directors. Its framework and criteria was developed to assess the overall innovation maturity level of private sector companies while the comprehensive feedback report will help companies to identify their innovation strengths and performance gaps. By spreading a culture of innovation throughout the private sector, the award will greatly contribute to the achievement of the National Innovation Strategy, aimed at making the UAE one of the most innovative nations in the world.

“We organised a successful award awareness session for more than 83 companies that showed interest to participate in the award. Attendance was overwhelming considering that this is the first year, and a clear indicator of the importance innovation has gained in the private sector recently.

“We also organised three intensive workshops, training more than 118 assessors from 16 different nationalities for the award. These assessors reviewed the submission documents, examining companies’ innovation levels against three criteria: innovation capabilities, innovation drivers and innovation results.

“We are honoured to have launched this award in line with the vision of UAE’s leadership, which has rightly identified innovation to be the way forward to ensure sustainable growth and development. We are confident the award will highlight the significance and role of innovation in building better opportunities.”

Why is it so important to celebrate innovation and the companies that are exercising it?

“Innovation is our only way to build a great history in the UAE. It has become a crucial measure of economic performance, and one of the decisive factors in the development process.

“We are celebrating the innovations and innovators in the UAE to promote the nation’s creative thinkers and to encourage an innovation culture as a defining element in UAE society. We are not only recognising the organisations that are executing it, but also helping them identify their innovation strengths and performance gaps, in order to enforce Dubai’s transformation into the world capital of innovation.

“This year we celebrated Innovation Month under the slogan ‘innovation starts with you’. Innovation Month is the largest celebration of its kind that seeks to celebrate the best in ideas on innovation from the government and private sectors as well as from the public.

“The nationwide celebration of innovation focused primarily on the seven major sectors of the National Innovation Strategy: health, transportation, renewable energy, technology, education, water and space.

“The UAE is determined to be among the most innovative countries and emerge as a global innovation hub and we have all the elements to speed up the transformation, especially in light of the National Innovation Strategy, launched by government in October 2014. The UAE was ranked first in the region as per the 2017 Global Innovation Index, and has worked to spread the culture of excellence, creativity and innovation.”

What do you hope will be the legacy of your awards?

“These awards will help the UAE’s public and private sectors take the lead in innovation, thanks to the country’s history and cutting-edge knowledge and expertise in various innovation-driven industries.

“They promote innovation across 15 sectors in the private sector, in addition to encouraging and embracing initiatives and innovative projects. They also enable the UAE to be a model for creative thought and innovation at regional and global levels.

“The legacy of the awards is in innovation as it facilitates a qualitative shift in the methods of production, increases productivity, and thus enhances the national product competitiveness in global markets. Innovation leads to better quality of life and increases economic welfare.

“The concept of smart, imaginative thinking to devise inventions or solutions is considered critical to helping the UAE diversify its economy and further cement its position as a global powerhouse.

“While the emirates’ foot is firmly on the innovation accelerator, there are some sectors that require far more nurturing by shaping business attitudes towards innovation. Doing this is necessary for firms to efficiently respond to external or internal opportunities and use their creative efforts to introduce new products, services or processes.”

How does innovation fit into the broader work of Dubai Quality Group?

“Innovation is the main key to a prosperous and profitable organisation. If we do not carry out and adopt new methods, we deprive ourselves of progress. Dubai Quality Group is equipped to lead the change in order to promote a culture of innovation.

“We were established as a non-profit organisation by Dubai Economy in 1994 to develop and promote quality and business excellence practices in the UAE. The group underwent an expansive journey when it aligned its vision, mission and strategy with the UAE’s Vision 2021. Accordingly, the group has set higher goals to integrate innovation within the group in order to maximise member satisfaction. Our mission is to empower, sustain world-class practices in business excellence and provide knowledge-sharing platforms.

“Innovation is considered a major cornerstone of all our awards, which last year included Ideas Arabia 12th International Conference and Competition, the UAE Ideas Conference and Award , the ninth Global Continual Improvement and Innovation Symposium and the sixth Change Management conference.

“Another one was the Emirates Woman Awards 2017, where nine extraordinary female professionals and entrepreneurs were awarded out of 110 participants.”

What do you hope businesses, the government and individuals have taken away from Innovation Month?

“Innovation has become a trend across the world, including in the UAE, which launched the Year of Innovation in 2015 with the goal of making the UAE one of the most innovative nations in the world by 2021.

“Innovation Month sought to foster innovation with more than 1,000 activities across the nation. It was an innovation festival, involving government entities, privet sector, small businesses, multinationals, business bodies, and individuals intended to promote the UAE as a hub for creative thinking.

“The initiative held key events and competitions to showcase leading ideas and innovators across the UAE.

“The benefits of celebrating innovation include an increase in profit margins, product diversification and differentiation, satisfying consumer needs, finding new business opportunities, developing markets, and much more. Hopefully participants have found these benefits and others as a result of Innovation Month.”

How does DQG strive to promote business excellence across the UAE’s private sector?

“A partnership with DQG is a clear demonstration of an organisation’s commitment to quality improvement and business excellence, and we aim to sustain world-class business excellence practices through partnerships, networking and knowledge sharing.

“Since its inception, DQG has spread a culture of quality across myriad public and private sector institutions by bringing the latest knowledge from all over the world. We have partnered with international entities such as the European Foundation for Quality Management, the American Society of Quality, the Global Benchmarking Network, the Institute of Directors in India, Ideas UK, Ideas America, Business Process Improvement Resource and more.

“We have also worked with the United Nations Development Programme in Iraq – customising the EFQM excellence

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