Ground-breaking MENA Innovation Technology Transfer Summit (MITT Summit) puts Sharjah on the map for businesses and innovators tackling sustainability

  • 14 hours of marathon online conference discussed future of innovation and promoted sustainability
  • Eminent NASA scientists, government ministers, educators, captains of the industry, public health advocates, social entrepreneurs, innovators, futurists, sociologists spoke at the Summit

Sharjah: A historic marathon online conference connecting Sharjah, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, New York and major players in the world of technology was held on Tuesday. 

22 September 2020 - Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, Organised by the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park (SRTI Park), UAE’s premier research and innovation hub, the first edition of the MENA Innovation Technology Transfer Summit (MITT Summit) brought  together global investors, government and private sector representatives, experts, entrepreneurs, academics, and other relevant stakeholders for 14 hours of discussions on how to best shape the future of innovation and promote sustainability.

Hussain Al Mahmoudi, CEO of SRTI Park, expressed delight over hosting MITT Summit, that was held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Mohamed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah.

He noted the MITT Summit has strengthened the position Sharjah and the UAE as centre of innovation and technology transfer in the Middle East Region. It has also instituted STRI Park as an ideal platform for technology development, technology transfer as well as venture creation and venture building.

“MITT Summit is in line with “the vision that anticipates the future” being advocated by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the UAE Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. The Middle East is becoming the world’s fastest-growing marketplace for business and technology transformation,” Al Mahmoudi underlined.

Prominent NASA scientists

A galaxy of eminent NASA scientists, government ministers, educators, captains of the industry, public health advocates, social entrepreneurs, innovators, futurists, sociologists, mobility experts, urban planners, media moguls, and the granddaughter of civil libertarian Nelson Mandela spoke at the Summit that was watched by over 3,000 participants worldwide.

The MITT Summit came on the heels after the UAE and US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) signed a Reimbursable Space Act Agreement to train UAE astronauts on International Space Station systems in Houston. Four Emirati astronauts, including pioneer Emirati astronauts Hazzaa AlMansoori and Sultan AlNeyadi, will start training at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas this year in preparation for future space missions such as space walks and long duration station missions.

Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Director of Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, shared his experience working with NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in the scientific exploration of the Moon and the planning of the Apollo program. He is a Research Professor and Director of the Center for Remote Sensing and under his leadership, the Center has grown to become a leading force in the applications of remote sensing technology to environments around the world. 

Dr. Douglas Terrier, Chief Technology Officer at NASA headquarters, also spoke about his leadership roles at NASA, including the development of spacecraft for NASA’s human exploration program. He also served in project management roles on F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, F-22 Raptor; A-12 Lightning; National Aerospace Plane; and other classified programs. 

Dr. James Green, Chief Scientist at NASA Headquarters, is knowledgeable in the New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto, the MESSENGER spacecraft to Mercury, the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, the Grail A and B spacecraft to the Moon, the Dawn spacecraft to Vesta and Ceres, and the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars.

Dr. Fabienne Casoli, President of the Paris Observatory, shared her experience in the world of administrating research within major French decision-making bodies concerning astronomy and astrophysics. From 2001 to 2007 she was Deputy Scientific Director of the National Institute of Science of the Universe INSU), CNRS, then she was director of the Space Astrophysics Institute (IAS) at Orsay. She is also the author of several works of scientific popularization and has participated in numerous cultural events. 

During his talk, Michael Peters, CEO of Euronews and Africanews, said: “We are here to empower people to think for themselves by decrypting what happens in this world. News is never totally black or white and we try to present the consumer with many different views on the same subject. Today in the era of digitization Google and Facebook have taken nearly 80% of the digital market.  But, whatever happens we are here to help you to better understand this world.”

Panel of experts

Other prominent speakers who talked at the MITT Summit include:

 > Hussain Ibrahim AlHammadi, Cabinet Member and Minister of Education, UAE Federal Government. 

 > Tarek Shawki, Minister of Education and Technical Education, Government of Egypt. 

 > Dr. Muhyieddeen Touq, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Jordan, holds a Ph.D. Educational Psychology from Purdue University, where he also received the Award of Distinction for his services to education and international relations.

 > Teuta Sahatqija, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Diaspora of the Republic of Kosovo

 > Dr. Talal Abu Ghazaleh, Chairman and founder of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Global (TAG.Global)

 > Swati Mandela, Humanitatian and Co-Founder at Qunu Staffing and the granddaughter of civil libertarian Nelson and Winnie Mandela. 

 > Dr. Wei Zhao, Chief Research Officer at American University of Sharjah

Awards for global excellence and leadership

Following the Summit was the first-ever MENA Innovation Technology Transfer Summit Awards that recognised and celebrated excellence and leadership in Innovation and Technology under 3 categories: MITTS Global Award, MENA’s Rising Star and Women in Tech MENA Award. 

MITT Summit Global Award also recognised oranisations, startups, enterprise, non-profit companies that promote innovation technology and create positive impact in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  Winners received prizes that include grants, accelerator programme and business residency at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park.

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