​Innovation has become a global driver for growth, opportunity and prosperity, driving productivity, enhancing infrastructure and empowering entrepreneurship.

Innovation is at the forefront of the UAE Vision 2021, as part of the country’s shift to a knowledge-based economy. DAFZ’s own innovation journey began in 2015, when we defined our comprehensive Innovation Strategy by seeking a thorough understanding of the landscape and by benchmarking innovation activities in the UAE and internationally. This enabled us to create an Innovation Agenda, which included our innovation vision, mandate, strategic priorities and our position on the innovation spectrum.

Based on our benchmarking studies, we defined our role within the UAE’s innovation ecosystem, identifying how we can leverage our facilities to create an infrastructure for innovation that will not only benefit our free zone and stakeholders, but will also contribute to the success, sustainability and prosperity of the UAE in the longer term.

Our Innovation Strategy has three main objectives:

  • Delivering value-added services through innovative solutions
  • Adopting working styles that inspire creative behaviours across the organisation
  • Aligning with, and actively contributing to, the UAE National Agenda

Our strategy is also sub-divided into six Innovation Enablers:

  • Process
  • Technologies
  • Governance
  • Skills
  • Capabilities
  • Culture

As part of our Innovation Strategy, we developed the operating model for the DAFZ Innovation Unit (DIU), which included its structure, role and responsibilities, staffing, governance and interaction models and overall innovation process. We also developed a service innovation plan encompassing our current and expanding free zone areas, as well as a national innovation plan as part of our bid to become one of the world’s most innovative free zones.  

As innovation is ingrained into the day-to-day operations at DAFZ, the DIU serves the following purposes:

  • Orchestrating innovation efforts across DAFZ
  • Developing a culture of innovation, such as including innovation within job descriptions, and outlining innovative behaviours as a skill required when compiling new competencies
  • Setting the innovation agenda and planning activities
  • Managing and administering the overall innovation process
  • Conducting research and development to boost internal innovation efforts through external points of view and innovative ideas

As we continue our innovation journey at DAFZ, we have defined a series of KPIs to measure the impact of our activities.

We have launched a series of initiatives that support the development of a culture of innovation within our organisation. These include the use of ‘smart’ technologies, staff and stakeholder workshops and investment. Looking to the future, we hope to share our knowledge with others to encourage and empower them to be innovation. We aim to transfer our experience to our customers and stakeholders as they look to enhance their business offerings, and support their expansion in order to contribute to the local, national and regional economies.