ABU DHABI // A scheme to promote innovation and technological advances in the emirate is to extend its services to the rest of the country.
Takamul, launched by the Technology Development Committee (TDC) and now in its second year, will today unveil some of the strides being made across different areas of research - as well as its aims to reach other parts of the country.
It fits into Abu Dhabi's vision for 2030, which puts emphasis on creating a diverse economy.
"The programme is about raising awareness, not just for educational establishments, but to the general population, of the importance of innovation in the UAE," said Ahmed Al Calily, director general of the TDC. "I've been very impressed with what I've seen this year and it is great that we are doing things now at a world-class level.
Many of those Takamul supports are from local universities and the Masdar Institute but individuals with ideas are also eligible for help.
The primary aim of Takamul is to file international patents, through the US patent office, and put the UAE on the map for innovation.
The team supports the creators by part-funding their patent applications, providing legal assistance and taking steps to make the inventions commercially viable.
"We need to focus on supporting science, technology and innovation to create a knowledge-based economy," Mr Al Calily said.
"But there was a missing link. Innovation was happening in the universities of the UAE but wasn't being taken that step further. That's where Takamul comes in."
The programme's scope covers a broad spectrum of fields, including heath, renewable technology, computers, infrastructure, and advances to make daily life a little easier.
A 21-year-old Emirati student, Reem Al Marzouqi, has developed a system to steer a vehicle using only your feet. It aims to enable people without the use of their arms to be more mobile.
There could also be applications within the military, where it may be necessary to have your hands free to carry equipment and still drive a vehicle.
"I got the inspiration from an American pilot who flies with no arms. I noticed it is easier for her to fly a plane than it is to drive a car," Ms Al Marzouqi said. "I noticed the difference between the two mechanisms and I combined them to build this final design.
"Without the Takamul programme the invention would have just stayed on paper, or in the garage."
The young innovator is one of a number of people supported by the programme. In the past year they have been able to file for 20 patents, with many more in the pipeline for this year.
When a patent is filed, it means that local advances are protected under law, and the country receives recognition for them as their own.
Saeed Al Hassan, from the Abu Dhabi Petroleum Institute, has developed a plastic made using elemental sulfur, one of the UAE's more abundant resources, which is more durable than regular plastic.
He hopes the material could become a cost-effective export.
"The Takamul programme funded 90 per cent of the cost of our patents. It's a long process and without that help it would have taken me far longer to achieve this goal," he said.
A conference, called UAE Innovations, to showcase the work done over the past year begins today at the Yas Viceroy Hotel, on Yas Island.