TechnoPark, one of the key projects of Economic Zones World, is an ideas factory in the heart of the Gulf. Based in Dubai, this cutting-edge business park serves as a thriving hub of technology and scientific innovation. It attracts investors from across the region and beyond because it is the only fully fledged functioning technology park in the Middle East.

Set over a total area of 226 million square feet, TechnoPark’s prime location near the world’s eighth largest port and the site of Jebel Ali International Airport has already attracted investment from global leaders in the research and technology space. The completed first phase of TechnoPark is fully leased out to 80 companies, including Nestlé, Baker Hughes and Metito. Many of these leading multinationals confidently invested in the park during its initial stage of development.

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Diversify and conquer

The world-class technology hub was set up in 2002 by the government of Dubai through its holding company Dubai World, the owner of Economic Zones World, to diversify the emirate’s economic activities. TechnoPark aims to increase the country’s technology-driven industrial development, particularly in the high-tech, water, energy and environmental resource management sectors.

It promotes research and innovation in technology to create high value-added products. Techno Park’s research and development (R&D) initiatives also aim to increase production efficiencies of existing technologies in the country’s core economic sectors. Nurturing business ideas in emerging and advanced technologies are set to translate quickly into real industrial operations, part of the government’s plan to develop a sustainable knowledge-based economy.

The government needed to support R&D in its core economic sectors of high-tech, water, energy and environmental resource management to enhance rapid development. Dubai TechnoPark is the lynchpin in that plan, allowing innovators to develop ideas in a supportive and productive environment. Extending the space to international industry leaders who are pioneering technologies is key to the success of the business hub.

According to Hamad Al Hashemi, managing director of TechnoPark: “Global technological developments and exchange of know-how is the very spirit of TechnoPark.” It creates an area where local and global technology-driven businesses can foster close ties and take advantage of unique commercial synergies.

Enviable connections

TechnoPark’s businesses are also well placed to benefit from operational synergies that arise as a result of being managed by the parent company of the world’s leading economic zone, Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza). Economic Zones World, which operates Jafza International and Dubai Auto Zone, was established to consolidate Dubai World’s global economic zone interests. This enables the group and its clients to capitalise on the commercial and operational synergies between these business units.

Some firms, such as global food giant Nestlé, already have bases in Jafza and are expanding to TechnoPark to strengthen their presence in the region. They are continuing their relationship with Economic Zones World because they are confident that the world-class standards established at Jafza will be delivered at TechnoPark.

These global industry leaders have not been disappointed. The companies based at TechnoPark are able to leverage world-class facilities, state-of-the-art infrastructure and significant incentives to gain a competitive edge. But TechnoPark’s reputation as a centre of excellence in technology, research, education and industry is also boosting business activity. Several firms are keen to use the TechnoPark brand to form strategic relationships with local governments and establishments.

The strength of the brand has also attracted global industry interest to Dubai. World Technopolis 2008 is due to be held

in the first quarter of next year and the International Desalination Association Congress in 2009. Securing both events to the emirate is a coup for this young science and technology hub.

Visions of reality

So new is TechnoPark that phase two of the project is still in development. The second phase is expected to expand the park’s capacity and deliver greater efficiencies that will drive growth for new businesses. The sprawling phase two complex is spread over 190 million square feet of land that will comprise 112 plots for manufacturing and light industry. When fully developed, it is intended to be a technological city within a city.

At the heart of this ‘technopolis’ will be TechnoPark’s 50-storey headquarters, which is envisaged as a reference point for the entire park, representing science, technology and innovation through its iconic architecture. TechnoPark has selected world-renowned Columbia University to submit design proposals for the structure.

Mr Al Hashemi says that the choice of the prestigious US university practically demonstrates TechnoPark’s commitment to the marriage of technology and academia. “We understand that collaboration between knowledge, talent and technology can produce cutting edge results. Promoting such collaboration is the core mission of Techno Park,” he explains.

Individual firms are also incorporating the technology hub’s principles into every facet of their business. Pacific Controls Systems, an automation solutions provider, recently unveiled its new regional headquarters in the park. The award-winning building was built to showcase the possibilities of sustainable development. It has minimal impact on the environment through energy and water conservation, zero greenhouse gas emissions, waste minimisation and recycling.

This has earned the building the first platinum rating in the Middle East from the Leadership in Energy and Environment Design programme of the US Green Building Council and several international awards, including the Best Intelligent Building in the World in 2007. The green technologies developed by the firm advance the creation of sustainable developments, while the building itself sets a new benchmark for environment-friendly projects in the region.

It is this kind of innovation that TechnoPark aims to produce. With pioneering firms leading the way in research and technological development, the business hub can drive growth in industries that deliver great economic rewards. To promote commercial deals, information exchange and communication between firms in these core sectors, the park has divided the area into industry-specific business clusters.

Knowledge meets know-how

Multinational oilfield services giant Baker Hughes is at the centre of the energy cluster. The US firm has invested $55m to establish a regional academy and operations facility in the technology hub. The academy is the first of its kind in the Gulf, training up to 50,000 people a year in the oil and gas industry to be highly skilled workers and experienced leaders.

Likewise, Cedars International is developing an integrated medical complex at a cost of $320m. The German medical university’s plans include a university hospital, trauma centre, rehabilitation centre, medical technology school, and a medical industrial complex that will house various German medical equipment and instrument makers.

According to Mr Al Hashemi, this convergence of knowledge, development and expertise benefits both industry and national governments. “This unique medical complex, the first of its kind in the entire region, will help to facilitate the transfer of know-how between Germany and the UAE by providing German standards of teaching research and medical care,” he says.

TechnoPark highlights the investment possibilities and economic benefits of a culture of innovation. Add a strategic location, modern infrastructure and encouraging business environment and the region’s premier technology hub has exciting growth potential.

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