German tech firm comes to aid of Omani innovators

Oman Sunday 07/February/2016 20:26 PM
By: Times News Service
German tech firm comes to aid of Omani innovators

Muscat: When Oman-born Zièd Bahrouni read an article about the Sultanate’s ambition to become an innovation hub in the Gulf region, he was inspired to contribute to this worthwhile mission.
While studying in Germany, he co-founded Motius, a high-tech research and development company headquartered in Munich, which is now helping Omani innovators transform their ideas into unique products.
The company, which solves technical problems and develops products for international customers, was established in Germany three years ago and entered Oman’s market a few months later through representation by Genius Solutions, a 100 per cent Omani-owned technology solution provider.
Motius is now cooperating with Oman’s Research Council to turn the ideas of Omani talents into realities, and is currently working on two projects funded by the council, which combine Omani traditions and values with state-of-the-art technology.
New projects
The projects involve the development of a bread making machine to make traditional Omani Khubz, as well as the creation of an intelligent prayer mat, Bahrouni, Motius’ managing director, told Times of Oman.
The Khubz making machine is an automatic bread maker, while the intelligent prayer mat teaches children how to pray by correcting their mistakes in real time and in a game environment, using a camera and the latest technologies for gesture recognition and gesture analysis.
Both projects are the first of their kind and among the first projects being funded by the Research Council, Bahrouni said, adding that the company wanted to be involved from the very beginning of the process.
Pool of talents
According to Bahrouni, what makes Motius different from other companies is that it does not work with fixed employees, but instead has a pool of elite senior students, academic researchers and young engineers.
In addition, students at the end of their studies account for a large portion of this group, so the pool is very young and very close to new technologies and new research, which allows the company to be very innovative, Bahrouni explained. The company’s objective is to involve Omanis in various stages of the development of a product, in order to make a meaningful contribution to the local community and add value to the country.
Commenting on the processes involved, Bahrouni said that the Research Council selects some of the ideas from entrepreneurs in Oman and allocates resources to them.
Motius helps to transform those ideas into actual products, and then companies can be founded to sell those products, he said, adding that Motius will afterwards become a technical partner of those companies.
Project specification
He noted that as some project ideas may not be clear, the first stage would involve project specification, during which the customer or innovator is involved in working out an exact project.
After planning and developing a proposal for a solution, a comprehensive plan is prepared and the work on the project starts after it has been accepted.
Bahrouni pointed out that the prototype is then developed in Germany and the finished product is to be sent to the customer, based on which a company can be formed.
Mass production
In order to bring added value to the economy, the mass production would take place in Oman, as the machines will be built in a manner that allows for the products to be manufactured in Oman, with technologies supplied by Motius.
The intellectual property is owned by the innovators, themselves,while the Research Council takes care of patent issues, the young entrepreneur said, adding that Motius can support them in doing so.
Staying true to his roots, Bahrouni believes it is important to use local resources.
If a venture or a company is supposed to be established in Oman, its management should be a local, he said.
Local understanding
He believes that local people have a better understanding of the market and the sensitivities, which facilitate the implementation of projects. At the same time, they contribute technically to the project, he added.
Bahrouni noted that innovators gain experience through involvement in the project, as Motius is in favour of hands-on work, rather than theoretical training.
Asked if the company also supports its customers in marketing, he said that Motius is focused on research and development, but can provide consultancy on such matters, given its experience.
Approaching Motius
According to Bahrouni, innovators can directly approach the company, as representatives are available in the Muscat office, while he is based in Munich and frequently travels to Oman.
In addition to cooperation with the Research Council, Motius offers its services to private customers and a number of companies, helping them design projects, digitise their processes, build apps and solve specific technical problems.
The company has been operating successfully in Germany, and its customers include BMW and Bosch.