How to foster innovation-based economies in the Gulf Cooperation Council
Developed countries around the world with strong innovation cultures have succeeded by linking people, capital, and research to introduce novelty and create economic value. These countries have an effective integrated network of stakeholders that foster an environment that can transform ideas into successful outcomes. The web of stakeholders acts as a vibrant innovation ecosystem. This system, rather than speciﬁc institutions focused on a single discipline, spurs widespread economic activity, drives efﬁciency and productivity, and increases overall standards of living. Countries with strong innovation capabilities have resilient economies that can withstand periodic economic shocks to individual sectors.
In recent years, the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council1 (GCC) have embarked on a series of reforms and initiatives targeted at immediate challenges within their innovation systems. These challenges include the need to cultivate human capital and to promote research and development (R&D). These countries are also developing traditional sectors (such as oil and gas, petrochemicals, basic industries, and water desalination) and nascent ones (including aerospace, healthcare, and renewable energy). The GCC has made signiﬁcant progress in a relatively short time.
To ensure further progress in these efforts, the GCC countries must now institute a national model that establishes coherent linkages in their innovation systems. This involves forg-ing strong ties among all stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem (which encompasses policies, operations, and all stakeholders). This is vital for the GCC states, which have rich natural resource endowments, large govern-ments, and a need to diversify their economic base. Policymakers in the GCC are well aware that the resource endowment is ﬁnite. They know that they need to invest the current wind-fall wisely in developing knowledge-based economies.
The crucial mechanism required is an innovation-promotion entity. This body establishes and develops the necessary linkages, coordinates policy, convenes stakeholders, and drives the national agenda.