The emirate of Sharjah has announced plans to set up a Science and Technology Innovation Centre at Kochi. The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) and Infopark Kochi, a Government of Kerala enterprise, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Friday.

Ahmed Mohammed Al Midfa, Chairman, SCCI and Siddhartha Bhattacharya, CEO, Infopark, signed the MoU at the ‘India & Sharjah – Partners in Progress’ event held at the premises of the Chamber premises in Sharjah on Friday.

Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid Al Qasimi, Minister for Foreign Trade, UAE, Venu Rajamony, Consul General of India, Dubai and Dr. Ajay Kumar, Principal Secretary, Information Technology, Government of Kerala were present on the occasion.

The Sharjah Science and Technology Innovation Centre will be set up in the Infopark campus at Kochi.

The Centre is envisaged as a platform to provide Sharjah-based business houses access to talent and knowledge-based resources in Kerala.

A pressnote quoting Mr. Al Midfa said the initiative would help to promote the interests of local businesses. “Our main objective is to help small and medium enterprises in Sharjah conduct research and development for the development of innovative products and services in a cost effective manner. India has been a major trading partner of the UAE and is an ideal choice for a venture of this sort. The State of Kerala boasts of some of the leading research institutes of India working in diverse fields like space technology, biotechnology and engineering sciences. The new initiative will facilitate the joint production of value-added solutions.”

The Centre is expected to become operational by the first quarter of 2010.

Dr. Ajay Kumar said the innovation centre would facilitate direct collaboration in research activities between businesses in Sharjah and universities in Kerala. The MoU also involves a partnership mechanism to commercialise the benefits of the research.

Mr. Bhattacharya said the initiative would enable Sharjah-based firms to use Kerala as a technology corridor for products and services. He added, “The presence of the Sharjah Science and Technology Innovation Centre will help showcase our capabilities and produce business development opportunities, besides establishing new alliances between organisations on either side.”

Hussain Al Mahmoudi, Director General, Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “The Science and Technology Innovation Centre will lead to possible joint product development between Sharjah and Kerala-based companies. It will act as a business hub for local tie-ups, facilitating access to both UAE and Indian markets. The facility will help evolve services and new technological applications in emerging sectors like education, healthcare, automation, manufacturing and transportation and logistics. Institutions such as the Sharjah Institute of Technology can benefit by engaging in university exchange programmes with research institutes in Kerala.”

Mr. Mahmoudi said Kerala was selected for the initiative because of lower operational costs and the presence of a large talent pool involved in research and development across different fields of science and technology.