The Saudi Arabia Advanced Research Alliance (SAARA) was launched today in Saudi Arabia to drive the commercialization and application of innovative research and development activities in the Kingdom.
To mark the establishment of SAARA, a signing ceremony took place today in Dhahran under the patronage of HE Ali I. Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.Mr. Al-Naimi said: “The establishment of the SAARA alliance is a very welcome initiative and will help stimulate continued economic growth in the Kingdom.”
The Saudi Arabia Advanced Research Alliance (SAARA) is a new partner-based collaboration between six organizations that span Saudi Arabia’s public and private sectors. SAARA will provide a focal point within Saudi Arabia to bring industry and academia together to find ways to translate technology and intellectual property into commercially available products and applications. The SAARA partners are:
Saudi Aramco – the leading global integrated energy andchemicals company;
King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) – Saudi Arabia’s premier national science agency and its national R&D labs;
King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM) – an institution known for its competitive graduates, leadership in science and engineering programs, and accumulated innovation push;
King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) – a world-class, graduate-level science and technology university, inspiring a new age of scientific achievement;
TAQNIA – the technology arm of the Saudi Public Investments Fund, and a knowledge-based industries accelerator; and
RTI International – one of the world’s leading research institutes dedicated to improving the human condition by turning knowledge into practice.
As its first action, SAARA has established Technovia – a new venture dedicated to maintaining a systematic, staged process to build a pipeline of commercialization opportunities in Saudi Arabia. Located at the Dhahran Techno Valley, and with offices in Riyadh and Thuwal, Technovia will be operated by TAQNIA and RTI. Technovia will work with stakeholders to prepare technologies for the strongest market entry and position them competitively for external investment and funding. It will screen ideas for those with highest commercial potential, conduct intellectual property assessment, market research and competitive analysis, develop and test prototypes and field-able demonstrations, and prepare technologies for commercial launch.
HE Dr. Mohammed Al Suwaiyel, President, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology said: “As a sign of our focus and intent, the SAARA partners’ first action is to create Technovia – a new venture that will bridge the gap between research and industry by streamlining the processes required to rapidly transform great ideas into high-impact commercial solutions that can be readily adopted by industry.”
Khalid A. Al-Falih,President and CEO,Saudi Aramcosaid: “Saudi Aramco is proud of its contribution to developing the Kingdom’s world-class research and innovation infrastructure and we are committed to continuing to raise the bar even higher. SAARA and Technovia’s focus on the rapid commercialization of innovative technologies will have a multiplier-effect, stimulating innovation, driving growth in new industrial sectors and helping to further diversify the Kingdom’s economy.”
HH Dr. Turki bin Saud Al-Saud, VP for Research Institutes, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology and Chairman, TAQNIA said: “A critical need for the success of the national science, technology and innovation plan is to bridge the gap between R&D and industry. We expect SAARA and Technovia to bridge part of this gap by its affiliation with an industrial leader like Saudi Aramco and leading R&D organizations like KFUPM, KAUST, and KACST.”
Outlining the need to streamline intellectual property commercialization processes in the Kingdom, HE Dr. Khaled Al-Sultan, Rector, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals said: “Saudi Arabia’s improved R&D infrastructure requires a stronger technology commercialization pipeline. This alliance will strengthen the national innovation ecosystem and help drive a diversified economy for the Kingdom.”
Dr. Jean-Lou Chameau, President, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology said: “Technovia will help accelerate KAUST’s economic and technology development impact on Saudi Arabia’s key national strategic priorities. This collaboration will become a platform for all research universities in the Kingdom and offer Saudi-based and global companies opportunities to impact the knowledge economy within the nation.”
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Aramco Services Company (ASC) is the U.S.-based subsidiary of the world’s leading oil producing and exporting company, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company (Saudi Aramco). Established in 1950 in New York City, ASC operates as a vital link between Saudi Aramco and North America to help facilitate the safe and reliable delivery of energy to customers around the globe. ASC moved its operation to Houston, Texas in 1974.
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Saudi Aramco and Aramco Services Co. teamed up again at the 84th Annual Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) International Exposition in Denver, which is billed as the world’s largest oil, energy and mineral exhibition with nearly 1,000 presentations and more than 350 companies exhibiting.
Reinforcing a multidisciplinary approach toward advancing exploration, Saudi Aramco and ASC presented more than a dozen technical papers led by experts from Exploration, EXPEC ARC and other departments within the organization.
One of Saudi Aramco’s main areas of interest related to its Red Sea exploration efforts.
“The Red Sea is a new frontier for the company, and SEG gives us a good opportunity to meet with some industry service providers and technology companies who might be able to collaborate with Saudi Aramco,” Saleh Al-Maghlouth, manager of Exploration Operations for Saudi Aramco, said, adding that Denver served as a great host to this year’s event since it has become a prime energy hub — especially in the area of unconventionals.
Michael Zinger, manager of Red Sea Exploration for Saudi Aramco, echoed Al-Maghlouth’s sentiment, noting that the event featured sessions addressing challenges and possible solutions for issues such as trying to subsalt imaging.
With the recent expansion of Saudi Aramco’s global research and development network to now include three U.S.-based research centers in Houston, Detroit and Boston, the visibility at this conference was also important in support of recruitment and awareness to attract top-level industry talent.
Also during SEG, Yi Luo, principal professional, EXPEC ARC of Saudi Aramco, received SEG’s annual Reginald Fessenden Award for his ongoing geophysics work dating back to his 1991 paper “Wave Equation Traveltime Inversion,” which is widely used in earthquake seismology and in exploration geophysics.
Meanwhile, the Saudi Aramco EXPEC ARC Geophysics Technology team unveiled its key strategic research directions and achievements, and Panos Kelamis, chief technologist, EXPEC ARC Geophysics Technology for Saudi Aramco, led a presentation introducing three major technology initiatives: automation, multigeophysics, and bringing geophysics closer to the reservoir.
Khalid A. Al-Falih, President and CEO,Saudi Aramcocalled for greater integration, innovation and collaboration across the region’s petrochemicals industry to unlock its potential and drive a ‘golden decade’ of economic growth and job creation.
Speaking at the 9th Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA) Forum, November 24,Al-Falihsaid that over the past decade “overall regional development in the petrochemicals industry has focused on the manufacturing of commodities for export by leveraging our feedstock advantage, economies of scale, and extensive industrial infrastructure,”adding that “we have tended to grow horizontally rather than through vertical integration.”Al-Falihexplained that“the existing model will not realize our full potential because the global industry landscape is changing rapidly and creating stronger competition.”
Al-Falihaddressed fourkeyimperatives that would further unlock the region’s potential in the petrochemicals industry:
Developing a balanced portfolio of chemical feed-stocks to drive flexible economic growth across the sector;
Upgrading the region’s existing chemicals infrastructure to build world-class capability and accelerate innovation;
Multiplying the number of industry participants byencouraging a vibrant small to medium-sized enterprise sector andstrengtheningentrepreneurship; and
Applyinggreater integrationand critical mass to tackle the region’s infrastructure, technology and skills challenges.
Al-Falihsaidthat harnessing the region’s competitive advantages would help driveeconomic diversification into high-value manufacturing sectors andcould createnew, high-skilledjobs to sustain the region’s growth.He added thatdecisions madetoday and tomorrow will determine the region’slong-term prospects in the global economy. “Working together and acting in our common interests, the region’s chemicals industry has the ability totransform the entire regionfrom abase ofnatural resourcesto a knowledge-based economy,”he said.
Al-Falih highlighted the region’s ‘youth bulge’ – a demographic shift of a new generation of men and women- and the need to embrace and engage their talents as the region’spetrochemical industry evolves. Hesaid:“Over the long-term our youth population will prove to be the region’s single greatest competitive advantage.Companies should tap their creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and love of technology as part of their strategy to drive growth.Energetic, wired for technology,andwith an appetite for constant learning, our youth can make the difference in propelling our collective industry forward,”he said.
In conclusion, Al-Falihcalled upon the region’s petrochemical industry leaders towork towards realizing a‘golden decade’ of economic growth and job creation, adding that to achieve this “we need more effective integration, innovation and collaboration across theGulf petrochemicals industry.It is time to makethevisiona reality byredoublingour commercial and technological collaboration and acceleratingour combined pace of change.
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