Innovation is fundamental to Jordan's future economic growth and stability. The country faces economic development challenges with: growth stagnating at 2.1%; lack of enterprise competitiveness; persistently high unemployment; dependency on overseas remittances; inability to reverse the negative trade balances, and regional instability.

Given Jordan's scarcity of natural resources, its economic future will depend on a strong and dynamic private sector, which is innovative and internationally competitive with the capacity to create jobs to underpin economic welfare and stability. The private sector must become the engine of growth and the primary driver of innovation.

With this aim, Jordan launched a two-year work plan for revival 2019-20 and a five-year growth path (2018-22) to make a more competitive and business-friendly economy to revive growth and create jobs.

The above reform agenda plans to make the necessary reforms to boost export, investment, and innovation-led growth, putting the country on a path to stronger growth. The country set targets of 5% annual export growth and 10% growth in foreign direct investment (FDI) by the end of 2020; as well as the creation of 30,000 new jobs annually and increasing female participation in the labor market.

Further progress is now needed so that reforms enhance the investment climate and ease the process of doing business. It will be critical to creating conditions for increased private investment to generate growth and jobs, particularly for youth and women.

Innovation offers great potential for attaining this objective. Jordan’s major resource is its human capital with a well-educated workforce. Innovation, entrepreneurship, and the application of appropriate human capital (skills) can make a major contribution to advancing economic development, revitalizing entrepreneurial endeavor and job creation.

The country can also make use of its fast-growing innovation ecosystem with: various support organizations; a network of incubators, accelerators, innovation labs, and knowledge stations; academia, research centers, and labs, as well as large corporations and financial institutions. A new generation of entrepreneurs and innovative SMEs is emerging, supported by venture capital funds. This new breed stimulates the culture of innovation by bringing innovative solutions into the value chains, revealing and accessing new markets, increasing innovation absorption within the region, and, through human capital development, increasing job creation and employability.

Future real economic growth and job creation will be predicated on Jordan’s ability to create a stimulating environment, which supports innovation throughout the value system to improve competitiveness and creates increased economic value, wealth and jobs.

The proposed 'Innovate Jordan' action aims to put the private sector at the heart of innovation-led growth and promote systemic change and coherence in the enterprise and innovation ecosystem. This project, worth 17,950,000 EUR, was awarded on 26th of June 2021 to two organizations: Endevor and SAM Engineering and Trade. SAM Engineering & Trade Co., Ltd. is a comprehensive solution provider for industrial efficiency seekers. Endeavor is leading the global high-impact entrepreneurship movement to drive long-term economic growth and build strong entrepreneurship ecosystems in growth markets by selecting, mentoring, and accelerating the best high-impact entrepreneurs.

The priorities of 'Innovate Jordan' program are:

The private sector is placed at the center of innovation development. This justifies the requirement of the call for lead applicants to be private sector entities.

The primary driver of innovation development is the demand for solutions. Such demand is exposed through the undertaking of value chain analysis and market study which enables innovators to position their value propositions based on comparative advantages.

Knowledge is recognized as a central input fostering enterprise competitiveness through innovation. The action will contribute to producing, disseminating, and transforming knowledge into commercial opportunities and trigger technology absorption, investment, and growth.

The call aims at strengthening linkages and partnerships: these linkages can be within a specific sector, be organized within value chains or clusters or aim to generate synergy between the private and public sectors, academia, and civil society. The call is also seeking to open up and connect the Jordanian ecosystem with the international innovation environment and encourages stakeholders to transfer expertise, build strategic partnerships, adopt good practices and generate synergy.

The call will support actions that enhance the active participation of women in the innovation cycle: This can be achieved – for instance - by providing special attention and tailor-made support to women-led innovative enterprises or women innovators, promoting women-led applied research and/or by facilitating the adoption of innovative solutions developed by women-led enterprises or communities.

The call is designed to generate additionality and complementarity by building-on the existing innovation ecosystem: the Jordanian ecosystem has made significant progress over the last 15 years and is diversified, dynamic and endowed with infrastructure and facilities. The call will encourage investment in intangible activities that complement and exploit the existing ecosystem to leverage impact (focus on investment in innovation inputs such as knowledge, technology transfer, learning, financing rather than investing in physical buildings and equipment unless absolutely necessary).

Actions supported should demonstrate the viability and replicability of their approach: each action should be based on a thorough needs analysis. It should be underpinned by an intervention approach that adds value to the existing support ecosystem and include a realistic roadmap for sustainability.

The specific definition of innovation and projects performance indicators are left to the applicants' discretion: Impact performance indicators do not have to reflect directly the job creation objective of the programme, but may clearly articulate how the action will contribute to the overall objective of driving growth and job creation through innovation.

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NO Comment 13th July 2021

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