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SABIC CEO sees innovation as key to economic prosperity

Innovation is the central issue in economic prosperity, requiring government, academia and private enterprise to work together in harmony and create an innovation ecosystem, Mohamed Al-Mady, Saudi Basic Industries Corporation’s (SABIC’s) vice chairman and CEO, said while speaking on the opening day of the 8th Annual Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA) Forum in Dubai on Nov. 20.
“The companies that will be the true leaders will be those that don’t just optimize within an industry, but actually reshape and redefine their industry. Innovators take control of their own destiny and shape the nature of competition,” Al-Mady told the three-day forum, which is an annual event offering valuable insights from leading chemical industry executives. The theme of the conference was “Innovation: The foundation for chemical value chain leadership.”
At the same time, Al-Mady emphasized that successful corporate innovation is not defined by the number of patents a company owns or the products it brings to market. It’s the results, the financial return from those products that is what counts. Innovation moves the strategic drivers of business creating better products and services, which are rewarded by the market, he said.
Speaking about SABIC’s innovation strides in exploring cost-effective resources for feedstock, Al-Mady said: “We are working to get more added value of chemicals from oil, hydrogen from water, etc. Our fundamental principle is “there is no cheaper resource than the one we do not utilize.”
Touching on the growing trend toward energy efficiency in the automobile industry that requires a concerted introduction of multiple innovations in light-weighing, drivetrain, and energy storage, Al-Mady said: “SABIC is proactively engaging automotive companies for novel solutions like the recent glazing solutions for the Volkswagen XL10 concept car or by the announced SPE award winning solutions with other companies such as Ford.”
On the need to be constantly prepared for the future, he said: “Contending with constant change is the price we must pay to meet the challenges of the future.”
Al-Mady is also the chairman of the GPCA, which was established in 2006 with SABIC as one of its eight founding members.