Posted on May 03, 2016

Qatar University (QU) held yesterday its Annual Research Forum under the patronage of the Minister of Development Planning and Statistics H.E. Dr. Saleh bin Mohammad Al-Nabit. It was an opportunity for the universities researchers and academics to showcase the outcomes of their original research rooted on the desires outlined in the Qatar National Research Strategy and Qatar National Vision 2030.

With a theme which focused on ‘Academia and Industry Collaboration: Pathway to Innovation and Entrepreneurship’, it brought together panelists from industry and the university who discussed the sub-themes of ‘Establishing a Vibrant Partnership for Fostering Research-driven Learning, Discovery and Entrepreneurship’, ‘Nurturing and Cultivating Collaboration for Innovation & Capacity Building’, and ‘Hallmarks of QU-Industry Collaboration – Current & Future’.

During the event, 25 awards were given to researchers and students who had distinguished themselves in various categories in Sciences & Engineering, Biomedical & Health Sciences, Humanities & Social Sciences, and Graduate Studies. Prof. Abdel Magid Hamouda, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies, College of Engineering, received the Research Excellence Award. Giving an overview of research activities in QU, Prof. Mariam Al-Maadeed, VP for Research and Graduate Studies, said that the university which took off with about 150 students in 1973 and now has around 17,000 students, nine colleges and several excellence research centers, aspires to present original research based on the Qatar National Research Strategy and Qatar National Vision 2030.

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Prof. Al-Maadeed stated that international collaboration accounts for 79.6% of research output in the institution which also compares favorably to regional universities. She expressed appreciation to QU’s  partners for their support which resulted in the successes recorded; and to the all collaborated industries who are considered strategic partners.​

In his remarks, Dr. Darwish Al-Emadi, QU Chief Strategy Officer, who moderated the session on ‘Establishing a Vibrant Partnership for Fostering Research-driven Learning, Discovery and Entrepreneurship’, said: “From my perspective synergy and optimal resource capitalization between the academia and industry is a must if we want to achieve Qatar National Vision 2030. Neither side can do this alone. Therefore, it is essential that both groups put their efforts together and drive in the same direction. Industry can provide the sphere for the application of new ideas and methods while the academia is the heart of innovation.” 

One of the panelists, Dr. Lucien Randazzese, Director, Center for Innovation Strategy and Policy (CISP), said that the focus of the forum on sustainable university-industry relationships was well timed. “Opportunities for innovation continue to expand in the Arabian Gulf region, and exploiting those opportunities will require closer, more productive relationships between industry and academia. The relative youth of the region’s universities does not mean they cannot contribute significantly to growing the local innovation-based economy. Rather, their mission with respect to innovation needs to be tailored to what younger schools can provide now, and expanded as skills grow and market trends evolve over time,” he said.

Dr. Asmaa Al-Thani, Dean, College of Health Sciences, in contribution input said that sustainable economic development requires an “inclusive” integrated approach toward economic development and competitiveness.  “As an educator, I believe that Knowledge is an invaluable asset that can be generated, managed and leveraged. It can then be converted to measurable action by innovation. It will create added value through collaboration and open process,” she said.

Making his input, Dr Rashid Al Kuwari, RasGas Chief Technical Officer, said: “RasGas has long recognized the need to strengthen the relationship with the education sector in support of Qatar’s vision for a knowledge-based economy. As such, we have a long-standing commitment to collaborating and partnering with Qatar University on activities related to research, strategic studies, innovative educational initiatives, and skills transfer programs.”

Dr. Mohammed Yousef Al Mulla, QAPCO Managing Director and CEO and a panelist stated that the forum was vital to the continued development of industry and academia partnerships and that close collaboration was very important in order to ensure that students are well prepared to join the workforce and able to contribute to solving industry’s and society’s problems. “Collaboration should focus not only on technical abilities but also on developing behavioral skills. It should also develop local talent to provide innovative solutions to local problems and ensure that our research collaboration efforts are more focused,” he added.

For Martin Gitsels, Vice President & Head of Technology at Siemens Russia, “Mastering the network of education, research and entrepreneurship is the key for successful innovation.”

While moderating the discussion on ‘Nurturing and Cultivating Collaboration for Innovation & Capacity Building’, Dr. Bhanu Chowdhary, AVP for Research & Strategic Initiatives at QU, said: “Contributing to establishing of a knowledge based economy in Qatar is a commitment from QU. For this, engaging in innovation and conducting cutting-edge research in key priority areas, timely knowledge transfer, and indigenous capacity building are vital. Nurturing current QU partnership with the industry and cultivating new ones will be an important enabling component in realizing these efforts.”

Making his contribution on the topic, Dr. Abdelnaser Hayajneh, Associate Professor- College of Law- Qatar University, said the forum would contribute in building and enhancing research partnerships between Qatar University and public and private sector institutions in capacity building”. Also talking, Dr. Mashael Al-Sabah, Assistant Professor, College of Engineering, said the forum “demonstrates the university's serious dedication to enrich collaboration opportunities with the industry by opening channels of dialogue to objectively discuss the challenges and propose solutions “.

Dr. Mohamad Al-Sulaiti, Director for ExxonMobil Research Qatar, said:  “The forum provides a valued opportunity for professionals from government, academia and industry to discuss how we can work together to achieve a knowledge-based economy in Qatar – a mission that is central to do the work we do at ExxonMobil Qatar.  Such collaboration is essential to creating a pipeline of skilled workers, innovators, scientists and engineers who can secure a better and brighter future for Qatar.” 

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Dr. Mohammed Ahmedna, Associate Dean for Research & Graduate Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, in his contribution on the sub-theme, ‘Hallmarks of QU-Industry Collaboration – Current & Future’ said that partnership is ‘a critical win-win’ with university benefitting from industry’s resources while industry benefits from research outcomes and highly trained students for workforce.

While contributing, Yousef Saleh, Vice President of Qatar Shell Research and Technology Centre, said that QSRTC has been working closely with Qatar University to develop local Qatari talent and enhance technical capabilities, therefore delivering sustainable impact in support of the Qatar National Vision 2030. “Our program of dynamic collaborations ensures that QSRTC meets its mandate to add value to Pearl GTL and the State of Qatar through several R&D programs and academic - industrial collaboration,” he added.

There were also contributions by Qatar University students. Nasser Alkaabi, Ph. D. student in Biological and Environmental Science, said Innovation would positively impact on scientific research and result into new commercial products.  Ms. Amal Abdulsalam Ibrahim, undergraduate in the College of Arts and Sciences, said: “I have been given the opportunity to conduct research under the supervision of high profile scientists and collaborate with the industry in order to address the local challenges in Qatar and come out with the possible solutions. I believe that this opportunity has given me inspiration to become a future researcher that aims in creating a sustainable research. "

The event also included an exhibition featuring seven booths by Environmental Science Center (ESC), Center for Advanced Materials (CAM), Kindi Lab for Computing Research (Al Kindi), College of Engineering (CENG), Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC), Center for Sustainable Development (CSD) and Biomedical Research Center (BRC).