GCC chemical producers are increasingly opening their doors to innovative ideas from outside the sector, a new survey by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) has found.
Local companies are more willing than ever to collaborate with research institutions, academia, customers, suppliers and technology providers from different fields to identify new business opportunities and maintain their competitive edge, according to the survey.
The report, Unlocking Open Innovation in the GCC chemical industry, is based on a survey amongst GPCA member companies and measures perceptions, challenges and opportunities in fostering Open Innovation in the chemical industry in the region.
The majority of GPCA member companies surveyed said they support and practice Open Innovation.
"Open Innovation has a key role in maintaining the global competitiveness of the chemical industry in the Arabian Gulf," said Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA .
"The broadening of research beyond traditional research and development (R&D) boundaries and the increased collaboration with external parties has become a crucial component in the race for new, innovative technologies," Al-Sadoun added.
R&D investment in petrochemicals in the GCC nearly doubled from $368mn in 2013 to $529mn in 2014, the highest increase globally, according to the GPCA.
"Open Innovation enables GCC chemical producers to access external solutions, experiences and competencies relevant to their innovation agenda faster, cheaper and often at a higher level of innovativeness, " continued Dr.Al-Sadoun.
"There are positive developments: more than half of all respondents have indicated that this attitude has been employed within their organizations, and there is a strong indication that this trend will continue into the medium term."
An estimated two-thirds of those surveyed has been practicing Open Innovation within the last five years, with a further 24% indicating that these policies are or will be implemented within their companies.
These activities include collaborating in R&D with academia, integrating customer networks in the production cycle and joining forces with competitors through sharing best practice.
"There are qualitative and quantitative activities that achieve an Open Innovation culture," said Al-Sadoun.
"GCC organizations have already indicated that they are meeting challenges associated with effective Open Innovation policies by encouraging managerial initiatives that focus on internal capabilities; and by adopting a work culture that promotes innovating and enhancing customer experience," he added.
"These will enhance the GCC's emerging Open Innovation culture. However, companies must also do due diligence into deriving value. Measures like sharing risk- reward with external parties' for R&D projects and thorough cost-benefit analysis into innovation budgets will provide more clarity into the Open Innovation process as the value is measurable for all stakeholders."