KFAS News

KFAS Innovation Challenge Teams Present Solutions to Top Managements

June 03, 2018

Following their return from a series of trainings and visits to some of the most successful corporations in the United States, ten teams from the Kuwaiti private sector have completed the 2018 KFAS Innovation challenge – an annual customized program for executive education, organized by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) in collaboration with the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). The teams completed their final assignments and presented their business innovation projects addressing real challenges at their companies to their upper managements and KFAS management. The teams’ presentations also reflected what they had learned over the program’s four-month journey, which took place between Kuwait and the US.

The KFAS Innovation Challenge allows teams of up-to five Kuwaiti professionals and executives to develop their business innovation capabilities. The program offers a chance to attend learning workshops by UCLA experts in Kuwait and Los Angeles, in addition to meeting some of the most remarkable innovation leaders in different business sectors in America. Over 50 companies applied for the 2018 program. Top ten teams with the highest potential to achieve the program’s objectives were selected after being interviewed. These teams represent the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), EQUATE Petrochemicals , Agility, Jadeite Group, Boubyan Bank, KAMCO, TABCo Food, Rasameel Investment, Gulf Bank (GBK) and Kuwait Finance House (KFH).

Director of Innovation & Enterprise at KFAS, Dr. Bassam Al-Feeli, said that the program reflects the foundation’s commitment towards boosting business innovation within the Kuwaiti private sector. “Improving innovation capabilities of the  human capital is critical to transforming our economy to a knowledge-based economy, and this cannot happen without exposing future leaders and decision makers in private sector to the best practices used by the world’s successful companies,” he added.

Imad Mirza, Executive Manager Talent Management at KFH said following the final presentation of his team: “Having been part of the KFAS Innovation Challenge for the past four years, we were able to closely experience its positive impact on both the short and long term. KFH has been able to benefit from the enhanced level of innovation by methodically developing our products and services.”

Salma Al Hajjaj, General Manager for Human Resources at Gulf Bank said: “Besides its positive impact on our employees’ personal and professional development, the Innovation Challenge allowed us to utilize state-of-the-art digital and financial technologies in opening a bigger window to innovation.”

Additionally, KAMCO’s CEO Faisal Sarkhouh explained that their team’s final presentation reflected how the Innovation Challenge can accelerate achieving the company’s business development objectives.  “Although it looks like a dream, I believe that our employees are capable of achieving their innovation project. The challenge has clearly elevated our team’s planning and execution capabilities, in addition to elevating their understanding of business,” Sarkhouh said.

From its end, KFAS extended an open invitation to private Kuwaiti companies to seize this unique executive education opportunity. “We understand that growing companies are continuously faced by challenges, regardless which business sector, and our role is to equip companies with practical and effective tools and skills to overcome these difficult challenges,” Dr. Al-Feeli said. “As competitiveness rises, challenges become harder. That’s why we are keen on providing customized learning opportunities that would assist and inspire companies to be more innovative in their line of business.”

After learning about “design thinking” and “business model canvas”, the teams travelled to Los Angeles in late April to experience, first-hand, how business innovation is implemented . During their trip, they explored the art and science of designing and implementing innovative solutions at some of the world’s top firms. Gensler, known as the world's leading design firm, was one of their remarkable stops during the trip. There, they explored the application of innovation in design, as well as the future of design in general. In a very interactive session, they learned from Gensler’s experts how augmented reality and virtual reality were used in building the new LA football stadium. They also had the opportunity to witness the inspirations behind remarkable design projects in the Middle East, such as the Avenues Mall.

Another highlight of the trip was their visit to Disneyland, where the teams explored the world’s highest levels of leadership and service excellence. They were able to experience the world’s most renowned theme park from the perspective of both customers and management. The teams went behind the scenes at one of the park’s newest rides to understand the innovation behind creating a holistic customer experience.

Digital technology was another area covered during the trip with a visit to Riot Games. There, they had an interactive Q & A session with Co-Founder Marc Miller, where they heard and experienced first-hand the story of using innovation to raise a start-up to a $1.6 billion revenue company.

Since its inauguration in 2015, 151 Kuwaiti professionals have participated in the past four versions of the KFAS Innovation Challenge, representing 40 teams from 28 different Kuwaiti private enterprises. Throughout the past versions, KFAS has partnered with world-class academic institutions, such as: Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, Judge Business School,  University of Cambridge, and Innovation RCA center for enterprise and entrepreneurship,  Royal College of Art (RCA) in London. The Foundation’s international collaboration programs are part of its strategic efforts toward spreading innovation and science in Kuwait.