The third leg of the strategy is that Kuwait has set up sector-specific funds, including in renewable energy and life sciences, to invest in companies in other countries. It hopes to draw technological innovation home.
An example of the technology strategy is the investment by EnerTech, Kuwait's $50 million renewable energy fund, in Kinetic Renewable Energy Services, a Dubai-based developer of renewable power plants. Kinetic has a $150 million pipeline of projects, according to Abdullah Al-Mutairi, CEO of EnerTech. The renewable-energy fund has seven companies in its portfolio. If EnerTech finds a promising technology, Al-Mutairi said, Kuwait will help it set up manufacturing and distribution in Kuwait and other Gulf countries.
Overall, Kuwait's moves are showing some promise, though it has a long way to go. There is the planned renewable-energy park, a new start-up scene that is encouraging entrepreneurship and some examples of successes in growing private-sector companies.
For instance, the country's life science's fund, Kuwait Life Sciences, helped former Pfizer executives who wanted to build a platform to import drugs into the Middle East establish a venture, New Bridge Pharmaceuticals, said Mussaad M. Al-Razouki, the fund's business development officer. An Irish company, Elan Science One, purchased a majority stake in the company, now valued at more than $100 million, said Al-Razouki.