By: Hasan Kamoonpuri
MUSCAT: The research and innovation efforts of Research Council (TRC) saw increasingly remarkable activity during 2014 — both in terms of the number of strategic and open research projects, and through the funding of a number of innovative projects that it hopes will find their way into Omani markets as products during the coming years. In an exclusive interview with the Oman Observer in the context of celebrating its first decade of operation since the inception in 2005, Dr. Hilal Ali Zaher al Hinai, Secretary General, TRC, said, initially the team concentrated on drawing up a national plan for scientific research in the Sultanate.
During the last 10 years, TRC has managed to establish a clear approach for the funding of research to achieve sustainable development and prosperity in the Sultanate.
Work is also in progress on a number of constituent projects, such as the Innovation Park Muscat (IPM), whose construction is expected to be completed before the end of 2015.
The council has succeeded in getting an extension for the land that is allocated for the project to reach 540,000sqm, which will be available to large international companies, to develop their RandD centres.
The park will include a science museum to showcase the Omani heritage in science and research.
Work is also in progress for the Oman Research and Education Network (OMREN) and Oman Virtual Science Library, along with other projects to encourage research environment, capacity building, and knowledge transfer.
OMREN is a central part of TRC’s development of an effective national innovation ecosystem.
After the remarkable progress made last year through forming the managing team of the project and its Steering and Advisory Committee, the project continued its practical steps towards setting up the network.
The Research Council also recently okayed a five-year renewable energy research programme worth RO7.36 million for promoting the use of efficient, clean energy sources by enhancing renewable energy and energy-efficiency applications and investment to contribute to the sustainability of Oman’s overall development.
The total budget of the five-year programme is estimated to be RO 7.36 million and while 89.6 per cent of it has been allocated for financing the four research themes and capacity building, 9.01 per cent has been set aside for operating budget and the remaining for database, awareness and marketing activities and publications.
SOURCE: OMAN DAILY OBSERVER