SDG 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Lesser developed countries need to speed up the development of their manufacturing industry and increase its investment in scientific research and innovation in order not only to meet the 2030 target but to increase its development pace as well.

It is critical to mention that the only constant in life is change. Change is something that all countries have to cope and deal with. Change nowadays is coming in at a fast page especially in the field of technology.

As such, the lesser developed countries need to make sure that they invest in their manufacturing sector in order not only to meet its 2030 target but to also develop its economy thus creating more and more jobs and lessening poverty, crime and other problems in its societies. The best way to do so is by increasing the investments in research and development as well as innovation. As we see, this SDG9 is interconnected with SDG4 as related to quality education. So, in order to progress their manufacturing abilities and capabilities, lesser developed countries need to invest heavily in education especially on the university level. Incorporating the latest technologies into the education system will definitely increase the development level.  In the developed world, just to illustrate, a company such as General Motors, invests more than five billion dollars a year on its research and development. GM understands that new ideas, cheaper ways to do things or cost cutting are critical not only to increase profits and the share price or shareholders’ equity but it also is a matter of survival. It is by all means a matter of staying in business for GM or getting out of business. If a competitor could do the same product that we do at a lower cost than we can then indeed this will be detrimental to us. To avoid such a dilemma for a corporation or for a country, it should be set as a top priority to invest in the latest technology to speed up the process of development and economic prosperity and bridge the gap between the rich and the poor. 

The objective of sustained development goal 9 (SDG9) is to “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation” worldwide, as defined by the United Nations. This would help countries endorse new technologies to build a reasonable economic platform that would yield increased employment and income rates. 

Countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region haven’t yet exploited the full potential of this goal, and Lebanon is not an exception. In fact, the country, well known in the past for its prosperous international trade activity, has struggled to establish a robust and modern infrastructure required to promote this activity. The physical infrastructure is well below par and the national power grid is highly unreliable. Moreover, the Lebanese manufacturing sector has been steadily declining over the past decade due to numerous political and financial causes. This led to a considerable gap between supply and demand, and shaped an unbalanced economy that hugely relies on imports. 

In addition, it is worth mentioning that investing in the infrastructure of a country is much needed for development. Imagine a country such as Lebanon where the government is not able to provide electricity to more than few hours per day-4 hours per day for many days of the year. Lebanese citizens are forced to buy electricity from generators’ businesses putting a heavier financial burden on most of the people in this country. In addition, many areas in Lebanon still lack or clean no polluted water. The internet is too slow as the Lebanese government is not spending enough money to upgrade the internet speed and availability. Other issues related to the quality and safety of the roads that cost innocent lives on a daily basis due to accidents that are directly related to them. 

Building a modern infrastructure in third world countries indeed will not only better up the lives of the people but also will lead to economic recovery and prosperity. 

The Islamic University of Lebanon (IUL) is actively working to develop the concept of entrepreneurship, spread its culture, and support youth capabilities to achieve innovative ideas and help transform them into profitable and socially effective businesses. 

IUL and industry, innovation and infrastructure: 

  1. The Islamic University of Lebanon is determined to support innovation and infrastructure.  
  2. This support will take place on different levels and scales: 
  3. Teaching strategies and courses’ content 
  4. Empowering students 
  5. Collaboration with the local community 
  6. International collaborations  

In the domain of capacity building, the university provides workshops about sustainability and sustainable development goals for their faculty members especially in entrepreneurship and in innovation. 

IUL also has made several collaborations with national and international actors to promote innovation.  

At the national official level, members of the university play a role as committee members in several institutions including the Lebanese ministry of education helping with the process of developing new policies by underlying the faced problems and challenges and by creating new strategies. 

The university cooperates with national institutions such as hospitals, small and medium enterprises, and official Lebanese organizations by offering internships and thus students will understand the work of industry. 

At the international level, the academic staff of the university participated in international projects with members from abroad universities so they can enhance their perspective of international research they also participated in several international conferences and workshops so they can enhance their sustainable development. In order to expand the international influence for the academic staff, the university ensures the participation of the staff in several international conferences and workshops. The university invests funds to support this kind of international participation. 

Regarding the education strategy, the university has an ongoing strong teaching and research capacity which is important for the academic staff to promote the industry-university cooperation with an internship. The university already developed several courses and programs related to innovation in order to narrow the gap between studies and practice. The university created the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center to promote the culture of innovation. The role of this center is to transform talented ideas into a commercial product especially in sustainable industries. 

The university tends to promote sustainable development goals by cooperating with NGOs and has achieved excellent results in many subjects especially with the several participations of their student in entrepreneurship competitions and won first prizes multiple times. 

The university is dedicated to achieve the goal of Sustainability by adopting relevant measures. In recent years the university helped their students by the creation of academic counselling department. 

The Goal of SDG 9 is to build a resilient infrastructure and promote industry and innovation. Members of the university play a role as committee members in several institutions including the Lebanese ministry of education helping with the process of developing new policies by underlying the faced problems and challenges and by creating new strategies. 

The university also provides workshops about sustainability for their faculty members especially in entrepreneurship and in innovation. 

For example, with continuous support and encouragement from the presidency of the university, the Islamic University in Lebanon was able to achieve second place nationally, among the twenty global centers as well, in fully organizing the global “Hult Prize” competition, through coordination between teams and judges and arranging appointments. 

The competition was held on the university campus on Wednesday, February 13, 2019, with the participation of 20 teams from different colleges and specialties and a number of high-profile referees, organized by a group of students:  

  • Student Yasser SaadHultPrize campus director-  
  • And the organizing committee composed: Nabih Allaw, Muhammad MadiDoaa IssawiAdeeb Fouani. 

The four winning teams in the first places at the university level will participate in competitions in European and Arab countries, in preparation for participating in the final qualifiers in London. 

It is worth noting that the global “Hult Prize” competition was established in 2010 by Ahmed Ashkar and Bertil Hult of Britain, aiming to support young students in the world of entrepreneurship in order to generate ideas and solutions to the most pressing socio-economic problems facing society and its needs such as food security, and access to On water, energy and education.

Student Asma Sarhan from the Faculty of Engineering at the Islamic University of Lebanon won the second place in the international competition in Lebanon for her project related to the creation of medical surveillance systems, which was held in the hall of the National Library. 

The competition was organized by the National Council for Scientific Research and in cooperation with the German Academic Exchange Service “DAAD” in Lebanon and the National Observatory for Women in Research “Dorken”, in which 16 participants from various Lebanese universities in all stages participated, in addition to participants from private sectors and civil society. In addition, with her victory, Sarhan will have a trip to Germany to visit innovation centers. 

It is noteworthy that the participants presented innovative projects and research in multiple disciplines, including health, environment and technology, and practical projects of a human and social nature within a period of time not exceeding three minutes in order to communicate the idea in an attractive and creative way.

The President of the Islamic University of Lebanon, Prof. Dina Al-Mawla at the university’s Headquarters in Khalde, the head of the Imam Al-Sadr Foundation Mrs. Dr. Rabab al-Sadr Sharaf al-Din, in the presence of the Assistant Chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees, Secretary-General of the Shiite Council A. Nazih Jamoul, director of public relations at the university, Dr. Hisham Al-Husseini.

Discussions were held on ways to strengthen cooperation between the university and the Imam al-Sadr Foundation Association, in terms of raising the level of the community’s children in higher education, and a joint memorandum of understanding was signed between the two sides to enhance cooperation and coordination between them and serve the common goals in supporting the education process and providing society with competencies and elites that contribute to the development Homeland and community service. 

On the other hand, President Almighty participated in the 13th Forum for Technology and Creativity, which is organized by the Lebanese Industrial Research Achievements Program under the auspices of the President of the Republic General Michel Aoun, and delivered a speech in the first session in which she spoke about the parties concerned in the marketing of knowledge, innovation and technology in Lebanon, the experience and prospects of the Lyra program. She confirmed that the Islamic University is an old and long-standing partner in the Lyra program, and it has won several awards in the past years, referring to the role of universities in the stage of industrial innovation, and the university can intervene to achieve added value on several levels, the most prominent of which are: Contributing to basic scientific research and participating in joint projects In partnership with industrial companies, the promotion and analysis of innovation that requires a multi-disciplinary approach and specialization through the overlap of several departments and disciplines, as well as participating in the forum for exchanging ideas and a permanent and dynamic discussion about recent or new innovations. 

She called Dr. Almighty to motivate professors, researchers and students to prepare projects and applied research, and to motivate factories to open their doors and laboratories to university students, indicating remarkable progress in the field of applied scientific research, from the eighteenth century to the nineties we moved from spreading knowledge to innovation and production of knowledge and scientific research, and attributed weakness Institutional and scientific partnership between universities and industrial companies to the inadequacy of many university majors to the needs of our industrial sectors, calling for the necessity of correcting majors and university studies and adapting their programs to the innovation challenges of each sector. 

She saw that the lack of joint projects in scientific research resulting from the weak number of scientific innovations that have industrial applications leads to the proliferation of disciplines despite the absence of real job opportunities and the absence of industrial added value, indicating the inability to separate creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship, calling for the encouragement of innovation Investing in it and developing a culture of innovation through developing academic curricula, weaving cooperation relations between universities and public and private administrations, and activating communication between them in order to advance industrial products to the competitive market.   

She concluded by saying that the Lyra program has stimulated innovation within universities, and it is necessary to activate and develop the relationship with the productive and industrial sectors and to keep pace with this development by launching specialized paths and masters in innovation and technology in place in several countries, as the university is the central place that encourages innovation and knowledge policy as a partner And invested in sustainable development policies because they contribute to the needs of the labor market. 

Under the auspices of the Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Nabih Berri, represented by the Minister of Administrative Development in the caretaker government, Prof. Inaya Ezz El-Din, the Islamic University in Lebanon organized the “The Nineteenth International Arab Conference on Information Technology”, in the ballroom of the university complex in Wardanieh, and it was attended to the President of the University, Prof. Dina Al-Mawla, the representative of the caretaker prime minister, Saad Hariri, coordinator of the Future Movement in southern Mount Lebanon, Walid Serhal, representative of the head of the Supreme Shiite Council, Imam Sheikh Abdul Amir Qabalan, Secretary-General of the Council, Mr. Nazih Jamoul, the representative of the Minister of Education in the caretaker government, Marwan Hamada, Prof. Dr. Naim Awini, Secretary General of the University Prof. Repent.

Here was indicated that information technologies are included in computer systems and networks, where it is interested in treating Data and its management through the use of software applications that are found through design and development, and which are used through electronic computers with the aim of converting, storing, protecting, processing, sending, transferring and retrieving this data. 

He stressed that the work for the development of the information technology sector depends first on the availability of political will to raise the challenge and for everyone to secure the energy and capabilities of young people, because they are the ones who will lead and live the next major technological transformations. In order to facilitate the work of actors and investors in the field, who are apprehensive about investing due to changing legislations, “stressing that it is the duty of governments to avoid them wasting more effort in adapting to legislation rather than directing it towards the most important, which is innovation and development. 

Under the patronage of Minister of Education and Higher Education Marawan Hamadeh, represented by Dean Dr. Mohsen Jaber, the Islamic University of Lebanon hosted the National Competition for Engineering Projects in Lebanon entitled “Innovate for Lebanon” at the Wardanieh Complex, attended by Dr. Dina Al-Mawla, President of the University, General Director of Higher Education, Dr. Ahmed Al-Jamal, Secretary General of the Supreme Islamic Shiite Council Nazih Jamoul, Head of the Engineers Syndicate in Beirut represented by Eng. Rashid Sarkis, deans and directors of universities, project students and their professors, Secretary General of the Islamic University Dr. Hussein Badran, are interested.

Vice Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the Islamic University, Dr. Muhammad Ayyash, referred to the importance of the competition through the production of knowledge and cooperation at the national level for all engineering colleges in Lebanon and in accordance with scientific research standards. 

The President of Rafic Hariri University d. Ahmed Smaili said in a speech in which he indicated that the main purpose of launching this national competition is to stimulate creativity and invest it in solving a national and humanitarian problem, namely sustainability, and pointed out that the biggest problems facing Lebanon and the world are related to climate change and what human actions and actions cause to accelerate it. 

Conclusion and perspectives:

The Islamic University of Lebanon supports and develops students and staff members’ initiatives for innovation and creation. It plans to update its curricula and teaching strategies to fit in with the concepts of sustainability and twenty-first-century skills. The university is well aware that it needs to incorporate the latest of technology amongst which is Artificial Intelligence and others in its programs in order to prepare the graduating students with what the job market needs.  Moreover, Instructors at IUL are updating and developing their courses to reduce the gap between theory and practice; they are aware of the fact that there is not much future for theory alone, the markets now and in the foreseeable future are quite different as compared to 100 years ago. We are currently in Lebanon suffer from the fact that we are still applying the methods of teaching that was applied more than a century ago. IUL is with modernizing its different teaching techniques for the best of its students and their societies and for the development of the whole country they live in.  

IUL promotes discussions among its community members to encourage innovation. Last but not least, the university is preparing a plan to support digital transformation in all its facilities as well as administrative units.