It’s a pleasure to be back in the United Arab Emirates.
It is a special honor to be here for this visit as the UAE makes history as the first nation in the Middle East to host the Global Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament.
This summit is a tribute to the UAE’s optimistic vision for the future and its commitment to progress for all.
I want to begin by recognizing our gracious patron, Her Highness Shaakha Fatima bint Mubarak. This event would not be possible without her guiding hand and leadership.
I also want to thank our host, Her Excellency, Dr. Amal Al Qubaisi. Thank you for your invitation and warm hospitality.
The focus of this afternoon’s discussion is “transformative innovations.” This is an appropriate and well-timed topic.
Never before in human history has there been a more urgent need to understand the nature of innovation and how we can encourage it.
This afternoon, I’d like to share with you some of the fundamental lessons about transformative technologies that we’ve learned at Lockheed Martin. I’ll start by discussing the importance of innovation in the 21st century economy. Then, I’ll talk about the elements necessary to support innovation. And finally, I will outline some actions that government, industry, and society can take to encourage technological transformation in the future.
At Lockheed Martin, we believe that the challenges our world faces in the 21st century will require unprecedented ingenuity, creativity, and cooperation.
Transformative technologies will be our best hope for ensuring reliable access to food, water, and energy while protecting the environment.
In the years ahead, technological advancement will be critical to opening up educational opportunities for boys and girls in every nation. And cutting-edge technologies will be essential for protecting individual lives and entire nations from those who seek to do them harm.
As we look to the future, it is also clear that the world will change greatly in the decades ahead. By 2040, the global population is projected to reach 9 billion people. And global GDP is expected to double with increased communication, trade, and transport.
Simply put, our world is becoming smaller, more competitive, and more integrated than at any point in human history.
For nations that successfully encourage technological innovation, the rewards will be immense – higher economic growth; greater security; more economic opportunities; robust job creation.
In fact, in its 2016 Global Competitiveness Report, the World Economic Forum found that innovation will be critical to shaping a nation’s destiny. One WEF economist put it this way:
“In the future, a country’s socio-economic progress will be increasingly determined by its ability to innovate and adapt quickly to new environments.”
Clearly, innovation will be important to global progress and to the future of individual nations.
So how can leaders in government, industry, and society encourage the creation of transformative technologies in their own nations?
In our experience at Lockheed Martin, we’ve identified three key elements that give countries an edge for innovating.
The first is sound and stable policies that lay the ground-work for consistent and sustained investment. The most competitive nations have a predictable tax and regulatory environment, a commitment to transparency and ethical business practices, a legal system that protects intellectual property, and modern infrastructure to facilitate commerce.
These elements are not only important to foreign investors. They have a significant impact on the vitality of the domestic businesses we seek to partner with.
The second factor in the most competitive nations is a climate that welcomes research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Policies and programs that spur academic research and encourage innovation at small and medium-sized businesses can be transformative.
A climate of innovation leads to the free exchange of ideas as well as public and private investments in research and development. This helps innovators fund, conduct, and then scale-up promising ideas that can be brought to market over time.
With such a climate in place, the private sector can play a role in expanding the global reach of domestic businesses.
Last year, Lockheed Martin and the Swedish technology company Exechon formed a new joint venture with a company called Injaz National, which is located right here in Abu Dhabi.
This joint venture, which is called Exechon Enterprises, manufactures an advanced robot machining tool made out of carbon fiber. This innovative tool has applications in many industries, including aerospace, defense and automobiles.
Exechon Enterprises is working with local industry and academia, with the goal of establishing the UAE as the leading supplier of this cutting-edge, automated manufacturing technology.
Collaboration like this is a prime example of how the public and private sectors can work together to facilitate meaningful and lasting economic impact.
The third factor helping nations produce transformative technologies is found in its people. Ultimately, it is the human ingenuity of men and women that brings new ideas, products, and ways of doing business to markets.
Nations that equip their citizens with the knowledge, skills, and abilities they need to start their own businesses, or compete for high-tech jobs, will thrive in the global knowledge-based economy.
Which brings me to several actions that leaders in government, industry, and society must take to encourage innovation around the world.
As a foundation for the future, we must work together to put in place policies that encourage the sustained investments needed for successful research and development. This means establishing sound-and-stable tax, regulatory, and legal frameworks, which enable companies to plan, invest, and collaborate over the long term.
Another critical action we must take together is to strengthen the pipeline of talent going into careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – or STEM.
Today’s STEM students are tomorrow’s innovators. They are the ones who will create technologies that will transform the world for the better.
The women leaders at this global summit are uniquely positioned to connect with young girls and encourage them to pursue careers in STEM.
The United Nations recently reported that only 28 percent of scientific researchers around the world are women. This is alarming, because innovation is a team sport. By working together to ensure that women are fully represented in the scientific community, we can maximize innovation and unleash the full potential of human ingenuity.
The private sector can also make a significant impact by reaching out to girls and boys to expose them to STEM careers.
Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin launched a program called Generation Beyond. It helps show children the importance of science, engineering, and math by exploring the possibilities of a human journey to Mars. Generation Beyond provides teachers with STEM lesson plans, students with virtual field trips into space, and families with activities that ignite their children’s imaginations.
Industry can also play a role in training today’s scientists and engineers to work in emerging technologies. Right here in the UAE, we have worked together with the UAE Space Agency and Mubadala to train 16 Emirati engineers in the fundamentals of Space.
Not long ago, I had the pleasure to personally meet with these promising young men and women, and to hear about their dreams and aspirations.
Just last week, these trainees finished their four-month program. And we’re looking forward to seeing the contributions they will make to the UAE’s growing space industry.
The final action we must take is to encourage collaboration between business, government, and academic sectors to create transformative technologies together.
Here in the UAE, we’ve seen how collaboration sparks innovation. It is just one of the reasons we opened a Center for Innovation and Security Solutions in Masdar City to facilitate cooperation between every sector of society.
When I visited the center last spring, I met with a group of engineering graduate students from the Masdar Institute. They were receiving training in advanced computer simulations and modeling, which has applications in aerospace, defense, and many other sectors.
This kind of collaboration allows for the UAE to equip its students with real-world skills that will make them more competitive in the global, high-tech job market. It also aligns with the vision of the UAE government to make this nation a global leader in space technology, and help grow and diversify the nation’s economy.
In summary, we can make a difference together by putting in place policies that encourage investment and innovation. We can open the doors of opportunity by supporting the next generation of innovators. And, by leveraging shared strengths across the public and private sectors, we can collaborate to create long-term, innovative solutions for a brighter and more sustainable future.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to discuss the leadership challenges we face – and ways we can spur technological advances together.
On behalf of Lockheed Martin, we are grateful to work with so many nations as partners to protect your citizens, to strengthen global security, and to advance scientific discovery.
Thank you, once again, to our gracious hosts in the United Arab Emirates.
And I hope you enjoy the rest of the summit.
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