Spurring innovation

The GlassPoint Innovation Spur offers a fully-fledged mentorship and incubation programme connecting young Omani innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs with experienced industry experts

In line with global trends, renewable energy has made headway in Oman in recent years. With an abundance of sunshine, the Sultanate has identified solar energy as a rational choice of use moving forward. Wind energy has also been identified as a potential energy source in the southern regions of the country.

To meet the increasing demand for experts in renewable energy in Oman, the GlassPoint Innovation Spur was recently launched. The programme is led by GlassPoint with support from a host of trusted partners including The Research Council (TRC), Innovation Park Muscat (IPM), Public Authority for SME Development (Riyada) and Sharakah. Unlike other entrepreneurial programmes, the GlassPoint Innovation Spur offers a fully-fledged mentorship and incubation programme connecting young Omani innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs with experienced industry experts. Participants will receive financial, business and technical support to further develop their concepts and transform them into sustainable, implementable businesses.

Says Badar Al Sariri, senior manager of project development and member of GlassPoint Innovation Spur steering board: “The GlassPoint Innovation Spur is designed to provide an all-encompassing experience to help applicants mold their prototyped inventions into real businesses. Post the initial screening, ten will be selected to take part in the three-month ‘Spur Workout’ to test their inventions’ validity and commercial feasibility. Up to three innovators will then be selected to continue to the extensive ‘Spur Incubation’ phase. An initial seed funding of up to RO45,000 will be awarded to the three inventions for further development and testing. Upon graduating from the incubation phase, they will be linked to investors for growth and business upscaling.”

Innovation is increasingly important in all areas of business and government. Oman appreciates that independent start-ups boost the economy by identifying new sustainable opportunities and redirecting resources to them. With the GlassPoint Innovation Spur, the company wants to give aspiring innovators a focussed and relevant body of knowledge in the renewable energy sector and beyond.

Driving a culture of innovation, entrepreneurship

GlassPoint’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) framework is based on three pillars: economic, social and environmental. Says Al Sariri, “We integrate these pillars into our values, culture, decision making, strategy and operations to ensure accountability and substantial contributions to the community. We believe that a responsible business is good business and therefore, we approach CSR as a process of continual improvement, while facing new challenges and opportunities. Consequently, The GlassPoint Innovation Spur was launched to drive a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within Oman’s renewable energy and water management sectors.”

The programm’s themes include renewable energy focussing on renewable energy solutions for domestic use, cooling and air-conditioning systems, energy efficiency, as well as enhanced energy generation and storage. Another theme is identifying solutions for water management and collection techniques for domestic use.

He adds, “With the application process for GlassPoint Innovation Spur still underway, GlassPoint aims to impact Oman’s socioeconomic development by providing long term value beyond deploying solar energy on oilfields. The programme is now accepting applications until August 31, 2018 at www.glasspointinnovationspur.com.”

Social pillar

GlassPoint’s first CSR pillar is economical, which focuses on technology and innovation, and how the company can lead effective partnerships, enabling and supporting SMEs, and developing supply chain processes. Says Al Sariri: “The social pillar takes on knowledge development through offering internships, encouraging R&D research, as well as building capacity and nurturing talent. As for the environmental aspect, GlassPoint is committed to meeting global climate change goals by organising and participating in volunteer initiatives and raising awareness on renewable energy and carbon footprint. GlassPoint’s mission is to be Oman’s solar energy partner, a partner in developing jobs and offering training opportunities for students and SMEs.”

Explaining the potential of the programme for nurturing Omani talent in innovation and renewable energy technology he said: “Although solar deployment is GlassPoint’s main focuses in Oman, currently for enhanced oil recovery, GlassPoint also contributes to the social and economic development through the establishment of the GlassPoint Innovation Spur. The programme aims to nurture Omani talent in innovation and renewable energy technology through a guided programme led by mentors and experts from the industry. GlassPoint is also accepting applications from seasoned industry experts to equip participants with valuable skillsets through coaching. The programme aims to provide participants the support through knowledge development, internships, research training and mentorship programmes.”

GlassPoint is focussed on building a platform for renewable energy technology that boosts invention, creates jobs and training opportunities for the Omani business community. Through the power of effective partnership, GlassPoint has the ability to provide the blueprint for a low-carbon future, as well as empower partners to take action on renewables-related initiatives.

Talking about the contribution to SMEs and in-country development, Al Sariri said: “GlassPoint is committed to hiring and developing talent and strengthening Oman’s position as a global hub for solar energy. As the Sultanate continues to encourage its entrepreneurial culture, the GlassPoint’s Innovation Spur provides participants with the support from mentors and industry experts they require to turn their innovations into real life businesses. This platform serves as an opportunity for locals and residents of Oman to contribute in solving water management and energy challenges in the Sultanate.”

To further develop the renewables sector, it is essential to increase the numbers of Omani SMEs. Innovation Spur contributes to the national economic diversification strategy, while also positioning the Sultanate as a progressive market for renewable energy and sustainability practices. The company focuses on nourishing the spirit of innovation and creativity among Omani talent by promoting research culture.

He adds, “Developing the Omani workforce and creating job opportunities for local contractors and small businesses is part of GlassPoint’s commitment to In-Country Value. Through the Miraah project being built with partners Petroleum Development Oman, GlassPoint has procured more than 40 per cent of the required goods and services directly from Oman. In addition to collaborating with local companies, GlassPoint took advantage of its position as a leader in solar for the oil and gas sector to transfer manufacturing knowledge to the Sultanate. The company transferred the knowledge associated with manufacturing the aluminum ribs, an integral component used in the Miraah project, from suppliers in South East Asia to Oman by working closely with the National Aluminum Products Company.”

GlassPoint is also committed to developing local talent for the solar industry in Oman. Today, Omani professionals constitute 60 per cent of the workforce at the company, including engineers and management, a significant feat given the early stages of the industry in Oman.

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