The House of Innovation was launched to promote economic growth and technical innovation in Saudi Arabia, foster collaboration with other leading companies and target opportunities that address regional and local challenges, writes Bill Grieve for OGN
The Sabic Home of Innovation (HOI) is situated on the outskirts of the renowned King Saud University in Riyadh and although open to visitors by invitation only, has hosted over 7,000 visitors to date including many visitors and designers from the various giga projects in the kingdom.
Inaugurated in 2016, the SABIC HOI was launched as one of the most important initiatives to promote economic growth and technical innovation in Saudi Arabia. Designed to foster collaboration with other leading companies and target opportunities that address regional and local challenges, the initiative supports Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 by generating business to promote local downstream industry growth toward a diverse and sustainable economy.
Built on an area of 3,400 sq m in Riyadh’s Techno Valley, the HOI facility comprises three buildings designed to support the initiative’s goals, including the Collaboration Centre, the Technology Showcase, and the Demonstration House, in addition to meeting halls and administration offices.
Of these, the main showcase is a high-performance Demonstration House, a solar-powered building, which is the first in the Middle East region to earn Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) rating system, an award received only by the world’s most resource-efficient buildings.
The Demonstration House, indeed, is a major highlight of the HOI. A house in the desert that makes its own electricity, recycles its own water, it epitomises the Kingdom’s vision of exemplary modular, comfortable and sustainable housing and construction technology for all projects to aim for. Further, the HOI demonstrates its electricity generation prowess with pride as a 'Primus inter pares' (Latin for ‘First among equals’) innovation within the rows of innovative products shown.
The products showcased at the HOI are generally the end products made from raw materials produced by SABIC and used to make or contribute to a range of long-lasting high-quality products that can be seen in their application context at the HOI.
The facility regularly updates the products demonstrated and has recently replaced the outward facing film coated double glazing with Argon gas filled glass products manufactured by Guardian Glass.
An air-to-drinking water system manufactured by Source Global has been installed that uses advanced technology by Source Hydropanels to produce around 5 litres of drinking water a day in the harsh dry climate of Riyadh.
The Red Sea Development Company giga project has also recently announced an association with Source Global to set a new standard for bottled water 'sourced from the sky'.
A large greenhouse made by Napco from thermal PE co-extruded plastic films developed between SABIC and Napco utilising SABIC material (PE) has been added in the HOI garden. The potential for self-sustenance and home-grown fruit and vegetables using modern vertical gardening and hydroponics methods even further enhances the concept of self-sustainability for the HOI.
There is an ongoing innovation refreshment project at the HOI aiming to increase the NIS (National Industrial Strategy) from 4 currently to 12, covering all the market sectors in KSA. The target date for this is Q4 in 2021.