Shaping the innovation economy of the Emirate of Sharjah

In over 100 cities worldwide, buildings and districts are already being designated future centres of innovation within the urban, regional or national economy. But why does innovation happen in some places and not others?

The Connected Places Catapult supported Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates through our UK & UAE Innovation Programme, as well as a number of UK companies to embed innovation into the fabric of the city and develop a toolkit to help cities all over the world make innovation happen.

A global beacon for innovation and entrepreneurship

The UAE are fast establishing itself as a truly global hub, with Abu Dhabi as its political and industrial centre and Dubai as its Tourism and Financial Centre. Sharjah, geographically and economically the country’s third largest urban centre, and its centre for culture and education, is ideally positioned to establish itself as a global beacon for innovation and entrepreneurship. Our plan to help Sharjah assumes this headline position in the regional and global economy needs to be more than just a narrowly considered single trend or ‘big bet’ proposition. As such it leverages the full bandwidth of Sharjah’s existing industry, leading academic and research institutions to catalyse activity and demonstrate its innovative and entrepreneurial strength.

With that in mind, we are seeking to increase bilateral industry engagement and investment across technology innovation research sectors. To that end, we have proposed three interconnected programmes of work:

  • A World Leading Innovation Location and city typology analysis
  • A Smart Campus, Research, Technology and Innovation Hub including technology demonstrators
  • A Sharjah-UK Innovation Industry Forum
City Typologies Driving Economic Growth in Sharjah

Sharjah-UK Innovation Industry Forum

The programme is establishing a government-to-government focus that brings together key UK business and the Emirate of Sharjah businesses to drive economic growth in areas identified by the Innovation Locations Report for Sharjah. Based on the report findings, the forum provides an opportunity for leading UK companies and Sharjah to address identified market gaps through collaboration, shared investment and Research and Development opportunities. It also nurtures a specific focus on sharing UK and Sharjah innovation expertise and establishing impactful economic and trade links between the UK and Sharjah. In practice this means the delivery of:

  • a Benchmark of Innovation location drivers and attributes across a global city landscape
  • a testbed smart campus for innovation research and industry in the region
  • increased bilateral industry engagement across technology innovation research sectors

The Catapult provided the following services as part of this project:

  • A review of Sharjah against 12 drivers & 20 attributes from the Innovation Location framework, identifying areas for Sharjah to improve, invest and/or grow
  • An in-depth comparison of Sharjah with 10 similar cities through FCC cities typology framework, which created an understanding of competitors and collaborators within Sharjah’s global economic space
  • Delivery of a business case of regulatory and policy changes across Sharjah’s Innovation and Entrepreneurial sector that fostered an open and facilitative regulatory environment encouraging tech innovation companies to invest and relocate to Sharjah
  • The setting up of American University of Sharjah (AUS) and the Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI) as a testbed demonstrator location for global tech that enabled a pilot programme to bring tech demonstrators to AUS Campus and UK Tech innovation companies to establish offices at AUSE / SRTI campus
  • Establishing a UK-Sharjah Innovation Industry Forum to facilitate Route to Market for UK companies in Sharjah, create closer UK-Sharjah industry links, and increase Sharjah investment from the UK.

Download the Sharjah Champion Toolkit

As part of our UK & UAE Innovation work with Sharjah, we have developed a toolkit to help cities engage with innovation in order to address challenges and opportunities.

This Champion toolkit consists of 12 cards, 3 cards for each stage of the process: Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver.

Champion toolkit
File Type: pdfFile size: 1.2MB