During his milestone visit to Kuwait today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and the Minister of Finance, H.E. Mr. Bader Mishari Al-Humaidhi, inaugurated the Kuwait Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC). The inauguration ceremony was also attended by the National Technology Enterprises Company (NTEC) - Microsoft's partner in the venture as well as hardware partner AMD who are contributing Server and PC hardware for the center.
The center will foster collaboration between the Government, the academic sector and the IT industry to enable software companies, entrepreneurs, students and independent software vendors (ISVs) throughout Kuwait to develop in areas of skills growth, partnership development and innovation.
The MIC will focus on enabling successful partnerships between Microsoft and the industry that include software industry clusters, as well as offering workshops and proof-of-concept projects to local software companies, supporting their efforts in bringing innovative solutions to the market.
Located within the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) the opening follows a Memorandum of Understanding signed between NTEC and Microsoft in November 2006 to work together in creating a favorable environment for the growing software and IT industries in Kuwait. The partnership highlights Microsoft's dedication to the economic development of the country and the empowerment of communities and industries.
The strategic location of the center at the KISR premises will allow it to leverage the existing infrastructure and the expertise that KISR can provide in IT and industry related matters through its specialized personnel.
"Information technology plays a critical role in enabling sustained economic development," said Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft. "At Microsoft we are working in close partnership with governments around the globe to support their efforts to use technology to create opportunities for their citizens. Today's launch of the Microsoft Innovation Center is just one of our initiatives in Kuwait designed to help provide the skills that people need to participate in the knowledge economy."
The Microsoft Innovation Center in Kuwait is one of 110 centers located in 60 countries across the globe, which is aimed at fostering innovation and growth in local software economies. The center in Kuwait will provide customers and partners with a comprehensive set of programs offered in three areas - developing skills and human capital, enabling successful industry partnerships and enhancing the local capacity for innovation. The center provides the tools, courses and environment within which to gain hands-on experience and knowledge.
Commenting on the venture Dr. Adnan Al-Sultan, Vice Chairman and Managing Director of NTEC said: "NTEC was created to facilitate the introduction and adoption the innovative technologies with the state of Kuwait - Microsoft, along with KISR and AMD are fundamental to achieving this goal. The provision of a centre dedicated to the growth of the local software economy stands to benefit the economic development of the country immensely and we are extremely excited by this."
"Kuwait represents one of the key markets for AMD in the Gulf region and we are pleased to partner on the Microsoft Innovation Center project. Supporting this initiative not only highlight's our role as a leading global provider of innovative processing solutions, but also reinforces our commitment to help our customers maximize and realize the full potential of modern-day computing ", said Gautam Srivastava, AMD managing director, Middle East, Africa (MEA) and Pakistan.
The MIC offerings are designed to support the National agenda and provide a set of customized programs serving the local needs. The Center's focus areas will be on technology solutions serving e-Government, Oil & Gas as well as Education and Healthcare. ISVs, startups, partners, students and entrepreneurs will now have a place to meet, test and develop proofs of concepts on each of these areas.
The Microsoft Innovation Center is one of a number of initiatives driven by Microsoft in Kuwait with the aim of empowering people with technology. With the recently announced expansion of the Microsoft Unlimited Potential (MUP) Initiative, Microsoft is renewing and accelerating its long-term commitment to use technology, training and partnerships to transform education, foster local innovation and enable jobs and opportunities to sustain a continuous cycle of social and economic growth for everyone. Both the National Career Development Center (NCDC) and the EMPOWER programs in Kuwait focus on providing training in IT skills with a view to gaining employment. Similarly through the Partners in Learning (PiL) initiative the Training and Development Department at the Ministry of Education was announced as a Microsoft Certified Academy for Teacher Training in March 2007.
"The joint effort between ourselves, and NTEC with the support of KISR and AMD mirrors the collaboration we are working to foster through the Microsoft Innovation Center - the support they have provided is invaluable when bringing a project like this to fruition," commented Ramez Dandan, Country Manager, Microsoft Kuwait. The MIC will also help us promote our joint agenda with NTEC of expanding and enriching the Local Software Economy by linking investors with innovation opportunities in the Kuwaiti market."
Acting as a hub for the local IT community, the MIC will help ISVs to strengthen their business and technology offerings and will gather professional developers in a favourable environment for knowledge exchange and skills development.
"We are fortunate to have fostered strong relationships with both Government and industry and through these to be able to provide platforms on which individuals, companies and even the country can work towards reaching its full potential" Concluded Dandan.