Nearly 80% of the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region’s major petrochemical and chemical producers have made innovation strategy a key business priority, indicating that the advancement, improvement and modernisation of the sector is a top priority, according to a new survey by the Gulf Petrochemicals and Chemicals Association (GPCA).

According to the GPCA Innovation Survey 2015, the number of companies that have formulated an explicit innovation strategy has doubled from 21% in 2010 to 41% in 2015.

Additionally, 38% of surveyed companies in the Arabian Gulf’s chemical industry are seriously considering implementing an innovation strategy and expect it to remain a priority over the next ten years.

“Over the last four decades, the GCC’s petrochemicals industry has evolved from humble beginnings into a multi-billion dollar industry, which has a more than 140 million ton capacity that has applications in host of sectors,” said Dr. Abdulwahab Al-Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA. “And as growth forecasts indicate stable progress, the latest GPCA Innovation Survey shows that the region’s petrochemical producers are increasingly looking towards applying a meaningful innovation mandate to stay relevant in the face of rising market competition.”

Now in its second edition, the GPCA Innovation Survey tracks the perceptions and priorities of the region’s top petrochemical producers. This year, the survey spoke to 24 manager level or above executives in the Arabian Gulf, representing 70% of GPCA full member companies.

In terms of investment, the GCC’s chemical industry invested an estimated $367m on research and development (R&D) in 2013, a figure that is around 0.8% of global R&D investment.

“R&D investments are traditionally seen as indicators to an organization or country’s openness to innovation,” explained Sadoun. “While the GCC’s spending on R&D may be perceived as low, implementing innovation into operations is a long-term programme that requires careful planning.

“Over the last five years, the industry has implemented ambitious training programmes, collaborated with countless universities and unveiled five impressive research institutions, signalling that innovation is something that top management takes very seriously. Innovation, after all, will ensure that the industry can weather the storm of oil price fluctuations.”

The GPCA Innovation Survey 2015 will be unveiled at the Research & Innovation Summit in Dubai, UAE. From March 16-18, the conference will host senior executives from the petrochemical industry’s foremost companies, academia and research institutions to share insights on “Mastering the Research and Innovation Challenges”.

Source: Oil and Gas Technology