Posted on May 18, 2019

Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation (QF RDI) members joined peers from across the Arab region to discuss intellectual property (IP) and knowledge transfer systems being implemented in the area during a recent expert group meeting organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).

The meeting, which took place last month in Beirut, Lebanon, touched on the role of IP systems in promoting innovation, competitiveness, and sustainable economic development, as well as challenges facing the enforcement of IP laws in Arab countries. John McEntire, Director, Industry Development and Knowledge Transfer, QF RDI, and Abeer Al-Hammadi, Director of Innovation and Economic Development, QF RDI, presented QF’s initiatives designed to contribute towards building an innovation ecosystem in Qatar, and the systems that are in place as part of its knowledge transfer and commercialization activities.

Dr. Richard O’Kennedy, Vice President for Research, Development, and Innovation, QF, said: “QF RDI is pleased to participate in the United Nations ESCWA expert group meeting on IP systems in the Arab region. This provides an impactful platform to showcase our initiatives that aim to foster a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Qatar. “The creation, protection, and enforcement of IP rights is crucial to sustaining this ecosystem. In collaboration with our national stakeholders and regional peers, QF RDI will continue playing a key role in shaping and enhancing IP systems that uphold these rights through knowledge transfer and expertise exchange, for national benefit and regional impact.”

Both Mr. McEntire and Ms. Al-Hammadi were involved in the development of QF’s Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (IPTT) Office – the first of its kind in Qatar. Mr. McEntire spoke at length about QF’s efforts in developing systems to protect and disseminate outcomes from the national research engine based on core aspects of patentability, marketability, ownership, and strategic fit, while Al-Hammadi elaborated on the technology created out of IP, and how QF is building bridges for the development of a cohesive innovation ecosystem in Qatar.

These multi-layered efforts, both experts suggested, align with QF’s overarching mission of fostering innovation and promoting excellence in research and development, as well as overcoming challenges. “The meeting was an opportunity for specialists from around the region to connect and exchange expertise on how to foster technology transfer, and build partnerships with various entities,” said Mr. McEntire. During her presentation, Ms. Al-Hammadi explained that while IP systems around the region share similar challenges, the structure of innovation ecosystems differ from one country to another – which further stresses the importance of knowledge exchange.

As an outcome of the meeting, ESCWA is also planning to release a report on IP systems, and the enforcement of IP laws in the Arab world, including a focus on progress being made in Qatar. The report will highlight the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that impact the efficiency and effectiveness of these IP systems. The two-day meeting saw participants learning from international, regional, and national case studies and successful IP initiatives, where QF RDI was positioned as a role model within the region. The sessions stimulated knowledge-sharing on lessons learned, and best practices in the different innovation ecosystems among Arab countries.

Benchmarking was an important aspect of the ESCWA meeting, and while there will always be competition in the tech transfer world, the group recognized that any practice that builds the innovation ecosystem in one place is helping to build the system in the region. “When it comes to innovation, each country is unique, but we can enhance our individual ecosystems by studying each other’s growth trajectories, learning from one another’s successes and challenges, and then adapting those learnings to our own systems,” said Ms. Al-Hammadi.

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