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Jordan’s National Center for Innovation launches at EBRD Annual Meeting

By Vanora Bennett

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  • Jordan’s National Center for Innovation launches with EBRD as implementing agency.
  • Coordination platform will streamline innovation-led, inclusive productivity growth.
  • MENA Transition Fund provided US$ 2.39 million to establish NCI.

Jordan’s new National Center for Innovation (NCI), a hub for private and public innovation, that aims to move the country’s already innovation-friendly economy up another gear, was launched at the EBRD 2018 Annual Meeting at the Dead Sea in the presence of Jordan’s EBRD Governor, Minister of Planning International Cooperation Imad Fakhoury. The EBRD, which is providing implementation support for the initiative, was represented by its President, Suma Chakrabarti, the Managing Director for the southern and eastern Mediterranean, Janet Heckman and by the EBRD Director for the eastern Mediterranean and Head of Jordan office, Heike Harmgart.

As a country with limited natural resources, Jordan’s economic growth is highly dependent on its ability to increase the value of products and services and effectively develop and utilise its human capital.

Over the years, the government has introduced a number of measures to support the further development of the Jordanian economy by enhancing its competitiveness and ability to create new opportunities through innovation. As a result Jordan today is known for its active innovation ecosystem.

However, innovation support is highly fragmented and comprises a complex network of organisations with a multitude of public and private stakeholders. It suffers from a lack of effective stakeholder coordination, inadequate collection and analysis of information, unclear channels and linkages, limited cooperation and inefficient financial management. At present Jordan ranks 64th out of 141 economies in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Index and 64th out of 143 economies in the Global Innovation Index, the highest position among the economies of the EBRD’s southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region.

The establishment of the NCI as an online coordination platform with an office in Amman (and administratively attached to its initiator, the Higher Council for Science and Technology or HCST) will help the Jordanian government enhance policies and programmes that boost innovation-led, inclusive productivity growth. It will eliminate inefficiencies and create economies of scale through coordinating the actions of stakeholders, improving direct engagement between private and public stakeholders and collecting statistics on the impact of innovation initiatives.

Funds for the first two years – US$ 2.47 million – are provided by the Middle East and North Africa Transition Fund, a fund administered by the World Bank which supports the improvement of the lives of citizens in transition countries, with technical cooperation funds to strengthen governance and public institutions.

The EBRD's role as implementation support agency came about after a request from the HCST in 2015. The EBRD has been helping consultants and the HCST define and develop the NCI’s mandate, functions, procedures, tasks and capacity.

The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Jordan and has invested nearly €1 billion in 40 projects in the country.

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