UCLA Anderson Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences

Application Window:
September 10 - October 22, 2017


In today’s fast-paced converging world, innovation is increasingly the inspiration behind sustainable business advantage and a catalyst for corporate growth.

The KFAS Innovation Challenge 2018 has been developed in collaboration with the prestigious University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management, specifically for Kuwait’s private sector companies. The program offers 10 Kuwaiti companies an opportunity to develop their innovation capabilities. Teams will learn from UCLA experts in workshops held in Kuwait and Los Angeles. They will put innovation into practice through team-based action learning workshops, innovation projects and mentoring.

The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), invites companies in Kuwait’s private sector to take advantage of this unique training opportunity to develop their company's innovation capabilities.

KFAS has partnered with world-class academic institutions to bring advanced Executive Education to Kuwait’s private sector with the objective to develop its capabilities through provision of programs carefully designed based on latest advancements and experiences that respond to the changing needs of business.”

Dr Mohammad Salman, Director of Innovation & Enterprises, Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences
Dr Mohammad Salman


The KFAS Innovation Challenge 2018 is a blended learning experience taught over a period of four months. The program is centred around real business challenges that each team will bring where they need to innovate. That challenge will be explored throughout the program phases and teams will apply their learnings on their innovation projects.

Innovation topics taught include:

  • Building a culture of innovation
  • Building organizational innovation capabilities
  • Innovation leadership and high performing teams
  • Value proposition design
  • Service and process innovation
  • Generating new business models
  • Design thinking and innovation
  • Implementing innovation

International visit

The program will conclude in Los Angeles, where teams will visit Disney to gain insights into their unique way of doing business as well as going on other site visits to major companies renowned for their focus on innovation such as Snapchat, Netflix, etc.

Innovation projects

Participants will work in teams on self-generated innovation projects, resulting in initiatives that can directly impact their company. Projects steps include ideation and concept formulation; innovation planning and execution; product and service prototyping; testing and validation; and measuring impact.

Team coaching

UCLA coaches will be assigned to the project team helping them to achieve their innovation goals. With personalized face-to face as well as 'virtual' coaching and advice, they will ensure your team stays focused on delivering their innovation project objectives.

4 months
January — May
in Kuwait
Final workshop and
company site visits




A well-designed three-phase program, covering core innovation concepts led by world-class faculty and supported by world-leading innovators. Extremely beneficial in gaining a competitive edge in your respective market.”

Mishari Fayez Al Jassim, Head of Trading, Ahli United Bank Kuwait
Mishari Fayez Al Jassim

Company benefits

  • As a participating company you will benefit from the strategic and commercial impact of the learning and a specific innovation project developed for you by your team over the program journey.
  • Accelerate organizational performance and develop sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Learn best practices to introduce innovation as part of your company's culture.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to future high-potential executives to develop innovation capabilities.

Participant benefits

  • Gain a deep and practical understanding of innovation theories, approaches and the ability to translate an innovation vision into action.
  • Develop the confidence and competencies to become an innovation champion within your company.
  • Integrate new innovation strategies with your company strategies and successfully execute innovation initiatives.

Program cost

The cost of this unique training opportunity will be covered by KFAS. Companies will only be responsible for their team's travel expenses, if they qualify to attend the final workshop in Los Angeles, USA.

Team Selection

Participation is open to all Kuwaiti private sector companies through nomination of a company team with size ranging between 3 to 5 members. It is essential for successful participation that each team has excellent dynamics.

Selection criteria include:

  • Kuwaiti National
  • 5 years of experience
  • Motivated, ambitious, high potential middle management across all functional areas
  • High proficiency in English
  • Teams with the potential to implement and drive innovation in their company

Evaluation and assessment, including an in person team interview will be conducted. Teams will be assessed on the business challenge they bring forward to the program during the interviews. The 10 teams with the highest potential to achieve the program objectives will be selected. No previous innovation experience is required.

Key Faculty

Mitchell Shack

Learning Director and Innovation Coach

Mitchell will guide participants through the process of applying innovation concepts to their projects, offering insights and opportunities for reflection along the way.

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Mitchell Shack

Sean Monahan

Program Faculty

Business improvisations will lead the group through a series of experiential activities that explore effective team dynamics in Module 1.

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Sean Monahan

Al Osborne

Program Faculty

Professor Osborne will lead Module 2 providing expertise and guidance on the Business Model Canvas.

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Al Osborne

Ian Larkin

Program Faculty

Professor Larkin will connect the concepts of business innovation to strategy formation and implementation in Module 3.

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Ian Larkin

Terry Hildebrandt

Executive Coach

Terry will be one of five executive coaches supporting Innovation Challenge Project teams on their team dynamics and performance.

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Terry Hildebrandt

Laurie Burkland Waller

Executive Coach

Laurie will be one of five executive coaches supporting Innovation Challenge Project teams on their team dynamics and performance.

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Laurie Burkland Waller


The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) is a private non-profit organization with over 38 years history of supporting the advancement of science and technology in Kuwait. More

Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences

Since 1954, UCLA Anderson Executive Education has been in the business of helping organizations and individuals work smarter. More

UCLA Anderson


See our FAQ section here.


Yousef Abdulaziz Alabdullah
Senior Program Officer
Enterprise Learning & Human Development
Innovation & Enterprises
Tel +965 22278100 Ext 1854



I was unable to form a team, can I still apply and be considered as individual participant?

No, this program is designed for teams only. Each team should consist of 3 to 5 members from the same company. The team should also represent already established company. Individual applications will not be accepted.

What is the ideal team size?

Four members would be ideal size but teams of 3 or 5 members will also be considered.

Should the team be from the same department/unit?

No, in fact we encourage cross functional teams as this will add to the learning potential for the teams.

Can a team be formed with members from different sister companies or subsidiaries?

Yes it's possible and the team should apply under the name of the parent/holding company.

Can companies fully owned by government or state participate in this program?

No, only private sector companies including companies partially owned by government would be allowed to participate.

Would applications from sister companies or subsidiaries affect each other's chances in getting into the program?

No, each company application will be evaluated independently from other applications by sister companies or subsidiaries.

Can multiple teams from the same company apply?

Yes but only one team per company will be selected (the team that fits the program the most).

What positions considered middle management?

All positions with duties to manage a group of people (at least one lower level of junior staff) and the day-to-day operations of division/department/unit/team/etc.

Who can be an executive sponsor and what is their role?

The executive sponsor should hold a senior management position and/or have specific executive powers conferred onto him/her to remove barriers that might face the team. The sponsor could have the role/function of overseeing business operations, new initiatives, business development, culture change, etc.

The executive sponsor role in this program is to provide high level guidance on the team's innovation project selection and follow up regularly on the team's progress throughout the program journey. The sponsor will also interact with the mentors and receive updates from them on the team's progress.

What are the costs that companies will have to cover?

The companies will have to cover travel costs including airfare and accommodation to the UK for the international visit. Companies will not be responsible for any other program costs.

The Application Process

What happens once the team submits their application?

Once the application is submitted, an email will be sent to all team members to acknowledge application submission.

Will the team be considered enrolled in the program if the application is submitted?

Successful submission of the team's application only means that the team will compete for a position in the program.

Once the application is submitted, what are the factors that can disqualify the team?

The team application will be carefully reviewed by a committee of evaluators. Any discrepancies may result in the dismissal/disqualification of the team application. Examples on such discrepancy would be:

Filling out the entire application in ArabicData provided do not match the data on the supporting documentsIncomplete application formDocuments attached are invalidTeam members do not meet the eligibility criteria

How will the teams be assessed for selection?

The applications evaluation committee will shortlist candidate teams according to the quality of their online applications. The shortlisted candidate teams will be interviewed in person by the evaluation committee. Successful teams will provide convincing and quality answers to the competency based questions posed by the panel and demonstrate their commitment, enthusiasm and ability to achieve the program aims and deliverables.

What is expected in the interview?

Teams will be expected to demonstrate their commitment, enthusiasm and ability to achieve the program aims and deliverables. Teams should come to the interview prepared to talk convincingly about their identified business challenge/opportunity area.


What is the innovation project?

The teams will be facilitated to take their innovation projects through the entire innovation process; through ideation, new concept formulation, innovation planning and execution, product and service prototyping, testing and validating customer scenarios and measuring the impact of innovation.

The innovation project will demonstrate the participants' consolidated application of learning to their own business contexts.

The innovation projects will be identified and ideated by the teams on the basis that they will deliver real and appreciable benefits to their companies in relation to the business challenge the team identified at the beginning of the program. As such these projects will be ideated and then selected by the team using taught innovation frameworks and tools. The projects must be undertaken by teams so that they can clearly show the beneficial outcomes that can be achieved through the implementation of successful innovation projects.

Is the business challenge the same as the innovation project?

The business challenge/opportunity defines the area where team wish to innovate. The innovation project is the specific work needed to address challenge/opportunity and would be the consolidated application of learning gain from the program to their business context.

What should we write about the business challenge?

Teams should seek to write clearly and compellingly about a real strategic challenge/opportunity facing their organization that has a major impact for their organization.

How is the innovation project related to our work?

The innovation project will be related to a specific real business challenge for the team's company, a challenge that may pose a threat as well as opportunity for the company. We ask the team to identify such a challenge as part of the application and selection process.

How should we choose an innovation project?

There will be specific teaching and learning on ideation and selection of ideas and concepts.

Will the projects involve others in my organization?

Yes. There will be specific taught sessions on the program covering the importance of and how to manage stakeholders effectively. The projects will also involve testing prototypes with and gaining support from different key company and external stakeholders as well as getting buy-in from senior company executives.

Can we change the innovation project later?

The Innovation Challenge program is structured in such a way that will offer teams the experience not only of learning about innovation but "doing it". Faculty members will facilitate the teams through the process of innovation where there will also be, early in the program, time to prototype, test and validate different ideas and select the right innovative idea. This will ensure that the projects decided upon will be the "right" ones to execute and once selected will not need to be changed.

How much work is expected per week on the program?

We estimate around 5 hours per week will be required by the team members, including team work, project deliverable preparation, readings, assignments etc. However please note this is a guideline only and participants may wish to spend further time on related readings and studies on the innovation area.

What if a member of the team decides to quit?

We will select teams on the basis of their commitment to achieve the program aims and deliverables on behalf of their companies. We would not expect any team member to drop out of the program except under exceptional circumstances beyond the individual's control. A team member dropping out could jeopardize the team's successful completion of the program.

Who is the final presentation for?

This will be mainly for your company stakeholders and will demonstrate the value and impact of your team innovation projects and the program on the company. There will also be representation from KFAS management at these presentations.

What happens if we miss a mentoring session?

We will ensure the dates for the mentoring sessions are planned well in advance so that team members can priorities these in their schedules. Mentors will be as flexible as possible with their "virtual" mentoring to ensure all team members can join the sessions.

What happens in the mentoring session?

Mentors are faculty members and associates with in-depth experience in both innovation and mentoring of individuals and teams. The mentoring sessions will be highly personalized and mentors will use established mentoring and coaching frameworks during the sessions to ensure that teams stay focused and on-track with their deliverables. Coaching sessions will be both challenging and supportive in approach. Mentors will usually adopt non-directive but also sometimes directive coaching styles as necessary in their sessions. They will deliver constructive feedback to the team on their project aims and progress. Mentors will focus on facilitating the improvement of innovation performance as well as development of innovation confidence and competence of the teams and individual participants.

How long are the mentoring sessions?

During the program mentoring period will be from February to April, teams will have 4 virtual sessions that last for one hour and 4 face-face sessions that are also around 1 hour.

If a team member fails in delivering his part, how will this impact the team?

Mentors will help coach teams to ensure all team members contribute to the tasks and deliverables. They will give feedback to any members not delivering. The Academic Program Director will also be consulted should a team member fail to deliver.

How is the team performance measured?

Team performance will be measured "quantitatively" and "qualitatively" by the faculty members the Academic Program Director.

What is the nature of assignments and tasks?

Teams are expected to complete several types of assignments and tasks that include but not limited to:

Joining live webinars and successful completion of follow-up workActive participation in learning modules as well as at virtual and face-to-face mentoring sessionsUndertaking preparatory readings as instructed by facultyUndertaking inter-modular project deliverablesDelivering presentations on projects as requiredUndertaking assignments through the Virtual Learning Environment
What criteria is used to determine if a company succeeds for the final module?
Completing all assignments and tasks assigned by the faculty members.

Will teams be ranked according to their performance?

There will be a "Director's List" at the end of the program for the top three teams. However, all teams will be recognized at the end of the program by the Academic Program Director for different qualities and achievements demonstrated during the program.