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  Task 1: Role of research and development in economy and business

The Entrepreneurial environment is a complex structure and is defined by a number of interconnected factors. Each factor is instrumental in shaping up the business environment and the future scope of expansion. Any robust economy relies on a range of business activities with varying nature and patterns of operations to ensure sustained growth in the long run (Martínez‐Fierro, Biedma‐Ferrer and Ruiz‐Navarro, 2019). The role of R&D in this case becomes vital in ensuring that an economy progresses towards its established objectives. Ideally, R&D strategies should be directed at enhancing the commercial, technological, economic and social aspects of a country. The government, in this case, should invest resources to continually analyze the current status of the business environment, explore future scopes, detect any possible gaps and work towards feasible solutions through well directed initiatives and measures.
In the context of Oman, the business environment is apparently quite conducive for growth and development in times to come. Oman is a lucrative source for industrial oil and the economy is primarily dependent on this particular industry. This statement can be substantiated by the fact that, on an average, more than 70% of the overall revenues of Oman has been generated by the oil and natural gas industry. This trend apparently indicates towards a dominant pattern and also future scopes of revenue generation. However, a closer inspection reveals a trend of over reliance on one particular industry only. This trend is increasingly being considered as an over dependence on a particular industry by the government. The R&D in this case ideally plays a prominent role to diversify the business landscape. The objective in this case is to ensure that the contribution is distributed among multiple industrial sectors.
The importance of R&D can be established by the fact that the government of Oman has displayed concentrated efforts to merge the culture of research in the country with industry specific needs (Prabhakaran and Karthika, 2018). These industries have been identified and accordingly investment has been made to establish relevant supervisory bodies to oversee the progress in the long run.
 
 
Task 2: Role and various impact of research and development in the economy and business
A culture of sustainable research and development is generally considered as the underlying framework of an economy. Comprehensive research and development take into consideration all the integral factors of an economy with a focus to elevate the overall progress of the country. In this context, the role of the government of Oman, in designing and strategizing R&D initiatives and the far-reaching impacts can be discussed.
 
Connecting academia and industry
In recent years, there has been an evident effort, on the part of the R&D thinktank of Oman, to effectively connect the academic resources of the country with the business environment. The underlying philosophy behind this initiative is that a robust framework of academia will eventually result in the betterment of the business environment as well, in the long run (Al-Balushi and Anderson, 2017). Thus, there have been significant steps to ensure a connection between academia and the key industrial sectors of the country. As a part of this initiative, The Research Council has established Innovation Park Muscat. It is a science and technology development department, connecting multiple key industries such as Biotechnology, environment and energy.
 
Business Diversification
As part of improving the business scenario and overall economic landscape of the country, the R&D initiatives have especially been focused on a few key areas. One of those areas has been the tourism sector. The government has implemented well designed initiatives in order to ensure that the tourism sector transforms into a steady source of revenue as well as brand recognition for the country (Khan and Krishnamurthy, 2016). One of the underlying objectives behind this initiative has been to diversify the reliance on oil and natural gas, as the prime source of economy. In order to promote the tourism sector, the R&D department has identified key criteria based on which the tourism department can be promoted. These criteria include promoting Oman as a cultural heritage site and destination for a leisurely vacation. Based on these criteria, events and trade shows have been organized to promote the brand.

As part of the Vision 2040 plans, the government of Oman has identified some of the key areas that will need substantial amounts of R&D in order to improve efficiency. The agriculture sector has been identified as one of those key areas. The various identified areas of agriculture in Oman include fisheries, livestock and dairy among others. There have been specific efforts to streamline the core operations and increase the overall productivity of these areas. The strategies have included efforts to produce crops that are well suited to the specific features of the agricultural fields and climate, scientific and streamlined technologies to store the essential crops among others. One of the core objectives, in this regard, has been to ensure increased food productivity in the long run. This, in turn, will have a significant impact on the overall economy and social structure. 
 
Oil and gas sector development
Traditionally, Oman has succeeded in developing its economy on the basis of the social and economic benefits yielded by the oil and natural gas industry. The oil and gas industry has been the most prominent contributor to the overall GDP of the country. In the financial year 2018, the petroleum sector alone resulted in approximately 37% of the total GDP of the country. The government of Oman has identified the importance of this sector and designed R&D initiatives to further improve its efficiency. One of the key initiatives in this regard has been to digitize the key areas of the oil and gas industry overall (Imran and Atiya, 2020). The OPES Digital Oil and Gas Zone is planned in 2020 to bring together the key players of the industry and the digital experts under one roof to ensure collaboration.
 
Digitization
In the recent past, the Oman government has initiated key strategies with regards to the changing digital landscape. The R&D efforts have been directed towards ensuring that all the key sectors, across public and private sectors, are streamlined by introducing updated digital innovations. The logistics sector of Oman, for example, the various key aspects of the logistics sector has been digitized in the recent past (Al Mughairi, Al Hajri, Karim and Hossain, 2019). Core areas of logistics such as bill clearance, submission and clearance of receipts have been digitized in order to increase efficiency. The overall efforts in this regard has been to ensure effectiveness in terms of cost and time. One of the core objectives behind digitization is to encourage more multinationals to invest in the economy of the country.
 
Task 3: Oman government’s role in promoting research and development activities
 
Role of R&D and socio-economic impact
The research and development activities are ideally designed to only shape up the business landscape of the country, but also to ensure influence on all the key spheres. The government interventions in the financial aspects are bound to have deeper social and economic implications for the country. This is because the various aspects of the environment are interdependent. In the context of Oman, this aspect of interdependence has been one of the underlying philosophies of Vision 2040. This initiative by the government has enabled the R&D thinktank to connect the economic and socio-cultural spheres and design initiatives that have sustained and positive impact. The impacts on the different aspects of the environment can be studied and inspected in this regard.

There has been a conscious effort on the part of the government to direct R&D activities towards connecting academia and the future scopes of industrial growth of the country. However, there has been a consensus among policy makers that in order to ensure this the government must explore scopes of improvement in the traditional structure of academia that prevails in the country. As a result, there have been significant efforts on the part of the government to ensure increased funding of industry related research. The funding has been directed towards improving the overall research infrastructure and encouraging potential researchers to be a part of the overall economic development of the country (Al Ani, 2020). Moreover, the R&D team has ensured greater clarity in terms of providing the academia with relevant databases about the current state of the industry, issues and future scope of development.

The government think tank has in the recent years emphasized on the importance of diversifying the source of revenue. Therefore, there has been an increased awareness about improving the non-oil and gas sector of the country. The most prominent industries that have been identified by the R&D department, in this regard, are tourism, logistics and agriculture. One of the most significant initiatives has been to increase the limit for hiring local workers in these sectors. The core objective behind this has been to ensure an increased employment percentage of the country. Moreover, the hiring of local workers will help to enhance the overall profit structure due to lower cost of acquiring workers. This, in the long run, will open up new avenues of employment and as a result will have significant social implications. 

As part of the Vision 2040 plans, the government has focused R&D activities to establish the eOman strategies. The core objective behind this initiative has been to connect all the key industrial sectors of the country with upgraded digitization strategies. The primary industry that has been identified in this regard is the oil and natural gas sector (Askarany, 2017). This is because this particular sector has been instrumental in developing the economy of the country, over the years. However, the other key sectors including logistics, tourism and agriculture have also been included as part of the plan. This has necessitated a focus on encouraging new digital companies to enter in the market. A significant number of players from the private sector has arrived in the digital marketing industry through startup companies.

The R&D department of the government has implemented significant steps to enforce the diversification strategies in terms of business. One of the key initiatives in this regard has been the establishment of free industrial zones. The core idea behind creating the free industrial zone has been to ensure collaboration of multiple businesses across a diverse range of industries. A set of feasible strategies have been designed to attract prominent industry players, especially from the private sector. The strategies include offering incentives such reduced tax rates, lowering the limit of hiring local employees. Moreover, an added incentive of lowering the custom related charges has also been introduced. This has contributed towards the emergence of significant funding in the non-oil and gas industries.
The innovations in the oil and gas industry have been one of the key highlights of the strategies implemented by the R&D department. The technological innovations for this particular industry have been focused on improving the production and distribution mechanism of oil. For instance, there has been increased focus on introducing innovative and upgraded techniques to drill oil fields. Collaborations with private sector players to acquire modern equipment has been significantly fruitful in this case. Moreover, the research has also focused on streamlining the production mechanism so as to ensure significant reduction in cost (Imran and Al-Ansi, 2020). These factors, cumulatively, have resulted in increased collaboration between the oil industry players and experts in the technological sector.
 
Challenges faced by the Government
The R&D strategies have been synergized to accomplish the larger goals of the country over a particular period of time. Moreover, the aim has been to create a culture of sustained development for the future. However, the execution stage has been marked by certain challenges traditionally. One of the key challenges in this regard, has been the inadequacy of the number of quality researchers. The research and development strategies are directed towards enhancing the overall progress of the country. Therefore, the access to data, collection and analysis of data and the subsequent strategy formulation requires a significant number of trained researchers. In this regard, Oman has less than sufficient human resources. This has been a continuous source of challenge in terms of implementing research initiatives.
The researchers need sufficient access to the relevant data in order to formulate a comprehensive research plan. Specifically, in case of Oman, the researchers require access to the key industrial data to explore future scopes of development. Traditionally, the access to data has been limited mostly due to the bureaucratic processes involved in this regard (Parente et al., 2018). This has resulted in a hindrance as far as research work is concerned.
The key industry players need to be in continuous collaboration with the research workers in order to ensure exchange of valuable inputs. There are still scopes of improvement in Oman in this regard. The industry players have not displayed sufficient efforts to collaborate with researchers to yield effective results.
 
Task 4: Role of government and impact on the development of research in the country
I have been able to understand comprehensively the various aspects of R&D activities by the government of Oman. Moreover, it has given me a glimpse of the socio-economic implications of the strategies. In order to inspect the role of the government in developing the research landscape of the country, it will be necessary to assess the existing policies and procedures related to R&D.
 
The Research Council
The Research Council has been the supervising body of the entire R&D activities of the country for more than a decade. The council has certain specific objectives and vision in place. These are considered as cornerstones of the overall research culture of the country (Al-Balushi and Anderson, 2017). The specific roles of the council include encouragement of scientific research works, provision of access to relevant materials to the researchers and ensuring effective infrastructure and environment. The primary goal is to ensure that all the key stakeholders of the research environment display coordination among themselves. Moreover, the overall vision includes focus on specific sectors of the country and transforming Oman into a center of innovation in the long run.
 
Industrial Innovation Assistance Program
There has been a growing awareness regarding bridging the gap between research workers and the key industry players. This has resulted in the establishment of the Industrial Innovation Assistance Program (IIAP). This body is particularly focused on ensuring a robust platform for the collaboration of the significant industries and the researchers. IIAP also engages in inspecting the industry specific needs of small and medium business enterprises (SME) that may be resolved with feasible sets of solutions. These industry requirements are communicated to the relevant team of researchers. Also, the procedure of access to the relevant industry related information is supervised by IIAP.
 
Information Technology Authority
The eOman strategies designed and implemented by the government of Oman is directed at ensuring involvement of all the significant industries. The eOman strategies have been under the supervision of the Information Technology Authority (ITA), established in the year 2008. Traditionally, the ITA is responsible for coordinating with all the significant industries, identifying scopes of digitization and designing strategies accordingly (Prabhakaran and Karthika, 2018). The supervisory body also encourages the setting up of new digital ventures that can help in executing the eOman strategies effectively. Moreover, there has been an increased focus to include the SMEs within the ambit of digitization.
A coordinated effort of all the key supervisory bodies has been to ensure that the research works are comprehensive and effective. A special focus is also on facilitating improvement of the SME sector of the country. Moreover, implementation and designing of the business diversification strategies is also a part of the core objectives of these institutions.
 
Recommendation
The significant developments in the socio-cultural and economic spheres of Oman with the help of well-directed strategies are evident. The R&D team has fostered a culture of innovation and efficiency, However, as far as research work is concerned, there are significant scopes of improvements in certain key areas. One of the key areas in this regard is the lack of sufficient access to the relevant industrial data. The principal role of the IIAP is to ensure that the researchers do not face any hurdles in terms of obtaining information. However, the process related to obtaining information is quite complicated and involves a wide range of protocols. This has, over the years, restricted the necessary exposure that the researchers require. The government may need to explore measures to significantly relax the existing procedure of data collection. This will further help the country to progress towards established long term goals.

The prominent trend among industry players is to assess the quality of research works in terms of the results only. However, the entire process of comprehensive research may require investment of significant amounts of time (Imran and Atiya, 2020). This awareness needs to be generated among industry players through the supervising bodies of the government. The awareness among industry players is also necessary to ensure sufficient collaboration with the researchers. A consistent culture of exchanges of information will be necessary in order to enhance effectiveness.
 
 
Task 5: Reflective Summary
The discussion, so far, has helped me to understand how the R&D activities have created far reaching impacts on the socio-economic structure of the country. I have also gathered concrete knowledge regarding the implications of R&D that include participation of new players across industries, increased percentage of employment overall and scopes of attracting investors that will help to improve the economy. Analysis of the roles, challenges and future scopes of the R&D initiatives, has provided me with a platform, to formulate recommendations.
 
Conclusion
Overall, the strategies implemented by the government of Oman, has been synergized with the larger vision of the country in the long run. Specifically, the design and implementation of the strategies have been based on the core objectives established for the R&D team. The R7D team, in this regard, has certain core objectives. The objectives, in this regard, include technological innovation of all the key industries of the country, diversification of the traditional business landscape and promote participation of the industry players in the overall culture of research practices in the country. The role of Vision 2040 has also been identified, during the course of assessing the effectiveness of R&D. The set of strategies recommended by Vision 2040 provides a robust platform to design and implement time bound research activities. The overall role of the research works has been assessed on the basis of its contribution in various sectors of the industry. Apart from the oil and gas industry, which is the primary sector of the country, concentrated efforts have been in place to integrate some of the other significant and promising industries with the overall economic development plan. This has necessitated emphasis on R & D activities involving technological innovation, digitization and strategies that may potentially help to streamline cost and manufacturing processes. However, the challenges regarding the implementation of relevant research include insufficient funding and access to materials among others. These challenges can be neutralized with the help of government interventions. 
 
 
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