Future tech investment 'must support transition to green economy' - Alice Gast


Pure Affinity scientist in lab

Puraffinity, based at Imperial's White City Incubator, are a green technology company focussed on designing smart materials

Imperial’s President Alice Gast says investment in future technologies must not be overlooked as countries strive to meet climate goals.

President Gast was speaking at the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit (GMIS) at Dubai EXPO 2020.

The Summit convened leaders and industry experts to discuss ways to prepare for the post-Covid-19 recovery and determine the role of the industrial sector to accelerate this recovery.

A panel session, including President Gast, focused on the opportunity for countries to rethink their industrial models by leveraging economic recovery to support the twin, green and digital, transition to a climate-neutral and digital economy.

President Gast
President Gast speaking at the GMIS event in Dubai

President Gast said: “Innovation takes time, it takes investment. We’ve benefitted from a tremendous innovation in RNA vaccines. If it weren’t for 20 years of research to guide us to a point where we were ready to make RNA vaccines, and they worked, we would be in a much different situation.

“What I worry about with climate change is that it is a crisis, it’s urgent and you set political timetables. Goals are made with dates in mind and you have to take whatever technology is available and sometimes that can overlook and miss some of the new and exciting discoveries and things that will come if we keep that innovation powertrain going.

"We have to do both, we have to take technologies that are available but we also have to put the effort in to making sure the future technologies that will make a big difference are there.”

The panel also discussed ways that digital technology can accelerate the transition to a green economy. President Gast said: "Universities play a critical role in innovation. It is our integrated mission of research, teaching and innovation for the benefit of society that drives us. Bringing digital in to make a difference to climate change is exciting. We need those innovations, and the students we educate helped by digital technology to revolutionise research in areas like nuclear power, batteries and carbon sequestration."

President Gast was joined on the panel by Imperial alum, Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Chief Executive Officer, UAE Investments, Mubadala, Saideep Raj, Global Head of Innovation, Accenture, and Steve Kiefer, Senior Vice President and President South America and International Operations General Motors.

Imperial alumni in the UAE

 Musabbeh Al Kaabi
Musabbeh Al Kaabi, CEO of UAE Investments, Mubadala, speaking at GMIS

Musabbeh Al Kaabi spoke about the role of oil and gas in the economic development of nations and opportunities for a greener economy.

Musabbeh said: “The issue and agenda of climate change is becoming very critical going forward…in particular it’s very important to tackle the emission issue going forward. The industry have had many chances to embrace a new mode of operation, addressing the issue, and be part of a future sustainable economy.”

Alumni event In Dubai
President Gast met with some of Imperial's alumni living in Dubai

Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail was also speaking on a panel about revolutionising supply networks.

Imperial has more than 600 alumni living in the UAE including Dr Dalya Al Muthanna, President of GE UAE, Global Chief of Strategy & Operations. 

Forbes recently featured Imperial alum Elissar Farah Antonios, Head of the MENA Cluster and CEO for the UAE at Citigroup, on their cover and featured her in their Middle East Power Businesswomen list.

Thanks to Senior International Relations Officer Clare Turner’s strong relationships in the region, many of these alumni are becoming more connected to Imperial and President Gast enjoyed a series of excellent meetings throughout the visit.

Imperial at Expo 2020 Dubai

Two startup companies based at Imperial have won grants from the organisers of Expo 2020 Dubai to take their ideas global.

  • Ideabatic, set up at Imperial’s Hackspace, have developed an innovative cooling system to help prevent vaccines being spoiled in harsh environments.
  • Desolenator, which is located at the College's Incubator have developed a portable device that uses solar power to purify water.


Stephen Johns

Stephen Johns
Communications Division

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 9531
Email: s.johns@imperial.ac.uk

Show all stories by this author


Sustainability, President, Middle-East, Alumni, International, Climate-change
See more tags