A distinguished delegation from Qatar, led by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, participated yesterday in a high-level roundtable meeting about innovation and entrepreneurship with government officials, academics and businessmen in Helsinki.
The agenda included a comprehensive discussion of how Finland’s strategic initiatives have directly contributed to its economic and technological advancement.
The event was hosted by the Confederation of Finnish Industries, the leading business organisation in Finland, which represents the entire private sector. The Confederation’s mission is to foster an environment that stimulates growth and encourages economic policies that promote competitiveness.
Like Qatar, Finland is pursuing a knowledge-based economy through research and development (R&D). It has achieved remarkable success in nurturing a rich environment for education and innovation, potentially making it an ideal partner for Qatar Foundation.
Commenting on the discussions, Qatar Foundation’s President of Research and Development, Faisal M. Alsuwaidi, stressed the significance of strong international cooperation and knowledge sharing with industry leaders to further enhance the R&D sector in Qatar.
He said, “Although Qatar is gaining a strong reputation in research, the roundtable meeting gave us an opportunity to appreciate the ways in which Finland has fostered entrepreneurship, and to learn from the complex challenges it has faced in creating favourable conditions for the commercialisation of innovation. As Qatar Foundation assists in our journey towards a knowledge economy, it is imperative that we establish productive dialogues with other nations who share similar goals.”
Funding for R&D has remained consistently high in Finland, reflecting its status as a national priority. Key research projects are often undertaken as joint ventures between the public and private sectors, with roughly two-thirds of overall capital provided by the private sector. The government and local entrepreneurs are also focused on all aspects of clean technology, including renewable energy and green transportation.
The one-day visit to Finland demonstrates the importance placed by Qatar Foundation on cooperating with the world’s most innovative research establishments. This ambition was emphasised on Monday, when Her Highness and Foundation representatives attended a meeting at The Research Council of Norway in Oslo to explore potential avenues for collaboration within the realm of renewable energy.
Members of the delegation highlighted the organisation’s accomplishments to their Norwegian counterparts, and were given a valuable insight into the latest breakthroughs in sustainable energy. Both Norway and Qatar are major producers and exporters of oil and gas, and have also heavily invested in developing alternative energy solutions.
Mr Alsuwaidi said, “Over the past few years, Qatar has established a handful of international research institutes and built a framework to guide the country’s ambitious endeavours through the funding of particularly innovative research projects. Norway’s emphasis on sustainable growth offers great potential for future collaborations.”
The meeting commenced with a detailed presentation of The Research Council of Norway’s strategic plans and responsibilities. The Council has been tasked with setting and implementing the country’s research strategy, boosting its knowledge base, and promoting applied innovation through targeted investments. It also works actively to encourage international research cooperation.
Delegates noted that Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), a member of Qatar Foundation, shares a similar mandate to the Research Council. They emphasised the key role of scientific research, which has become one of Qatar’s most promising areas of development as the nation makes the transition from a carbon economy to a knowledge economy.
During the roundtable discussion, participants explored possible avenues for the exchange of innovation with the Research Council, and focused on ways that funding could be utilised to increase competitiveness and productivity in select industries.
Following the meeting, delegates were presented with a brief overview of the relevant activities and advances related to the field of oil and gas, as well as environment-friendly energy, in Norway. Representatives from the two countries expressed a desire to work together on research and development initiatives, with the aim of applying such technology to commercial and industrial practices.
Arvid Hallén, Director General of the Research Council of Norway, welcomed Her Highness and the Qatar Foundation representatives. He highlighted the Research Council’s role and its interest in building fruitful partnerships with Qatar Foundation members, in order to help achieve a sustainable future for younger generations.
“The Research Council of Norway was honoured to receive Her Highness and her delegation,” he said. “We find that there are many common points of interest in the research, development and implementation of environment-friendly energy technologies and petroleum between Qatar and Norway. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with Qatar in the future.”
Earlier on Monday, the delegation was accompanied on a tour of the Norwegian Research Centre for Solar Cell Technology, where they received a demonstration of solar cell manufacturing and silicon production.
The Norwegian Research Centre for Solar Cell Technology focuses on advancing fundamental knowledge along the value chain of solar cell manufacture, from silicon feedstock to solar modules, and also develops new materials for the next generation of more cost-effective solar cells.
At present, solar technology is a relatively new industry in Qatar, but one with enormous potential. Demand for solar applications and technologies is continuously growing and mutually beneficial agreements are encouraged with suitable partners.
As the official visit drew to an end senior representatives from Qatar Foundation, including QNRF and Qatar Science & Technology Park, stated that they would be looking forward to solidifying a number of partnerships with Norwegian centres of excellence.
“Qatar Foundation would be delighted to work alongside reputable research centres who share a common vision for solar development and integration,” Mr Alsuwaidi concluded. “We believe that a wide range of research, investment, entrepreneurship and employment opportunities are available.”
The delegation accompanying Her Highness included Dr Abdulla Al-Kubaisi, Director of Her Highness’ Office; Mr Faisal M. Alsuwaidi, Qatar Foundation’s President of Research and Development; Dr Dirar Khoury, Acting Executive Director of the Research Division at Qatar Foundation; Dr Nabeel Al-Salem, Deputy Executive Director of Qatar National Research Fund; and Mr Hamad Al-Kuwari, Managing Director of Qatar Science and Technology Park.
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