History and Evolution

In advance of KAUST's scheduled opening in 2009, a diverse extramural research strategy was envisioned as an engine to power the accelerated establishment of KAUST, a new and ambitious university in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Three start-up programs – the Global Research Partnership, the Special Academic Partnerships, and the Academic Excellence Alliance – were designed and implemented in 2007 to lay the foundation for the University's launch and ramp it up as an institution with the power to transform research in the Kingdom, the region, and the world.

Each of these programs was initiated aggressively to accomplish specific goals before KAUST opened, with an explicit plan to continue into the early years of the university's operations to assure that certain core functions, facilities, and research were deeply embedded in KAUST.

In early 2009, in anticipation of the next phase of KAUST's development, these three programs were merged under one management umbrella, the KAUST Office of Economic & Technology Development. While the distinctive attributes of the start-up programs remained, this merger created an integrated operation with a single team of professionals under one organization - Global Collaborative Research (GCR).  The GCR team focused on institutionalizing a culture of global collaboration, excellence in education and research, and merit-based competitive research funding at KAUST.

In 2011, GCR was renamed as the KAUST Office of Competitive Research Funds (OCRF) and moved under the umbrella of the Office of the Provost, reporting to the Vice President for Research. This realignment further demonstrated KAUST's commitment to the development of bold and collaborative research and deepened the relationship between the academic and research operations of the University. In addition to the ongoing management of the start-up GCR programs, OCRF administered internally-focused competitive research funding programs, created to facilitate collaborations initiated by KAUST faculty for research activities primarily performed on the KAUST campus as well as programs to support KAUST-hosted conferences and workshops, and the purchase of research equipment.

In 2015, OCRF merged, but still keeping its distinctive role, with the Office of Research Services (ORS), and the Office of Research Evaluation under the umbrella of the newly created Office of Sponsored Research (OSR). OSR gather all those functions to support KAUST in its ambitious to be the major provider of it research resources and the executor of its own research strategy. This rare circumstances leaves OSR with unique responsibilities. This is de facto one of the distinctive features of KAUST compared to other universities in the world: the capacity to have virtual complete control of its research destiny.