Posted on October 21, 2014

High-level government and private sector officials stressed the critical importance of universities and science parks as ’knowledge creators’ on day three of the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation World Conference (IASP 2014 Doha) taking place in Qatar this week.

The four-day annual event, hosted by Qatar Foundation Research & Development’s Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), is being staged in the Arab world for the first time. In Tuesday’s opening plenary session, officials from Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Spain, Taiwan and South Africa gathered to discuss and explore new models of collaboration, indicating that strong links between universities and science parks will be essential to the success of research outcomes and innovation in the region and around the world, both now and in the future.

Education and research are key 2 [].jpgExperts agreed that universities, in close collaboration with international science parks, can be ‘solvers’ in the innovation value chain, ensuring that science-driven innovation from universities is diffused into the economy through science parks. The conference supports the mission of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development to build and develop capacity for creativity and critical thinking through research in education and science, hence the importance of QSTP to promote QF’s mandate.

Hamad Al Kuwari, Head of the IASP 2014 Doha Organising committee and Managing Director of Qatar Science and Technology Park, said: “High-level discussions with our colleagues from the region and across the world are precisely what is needed to chart a course forward for technology innovation so we can take on the challenges and seize market opportunities in the region.” QSTP and Qatar Foundation have put Qatar and the Arab region on the map globally by leading an ambitious research mission in Qatar. The organisations are also maintaining a long-standing commitment to supporting Arab expatriate scientists and innovators in Qatar and across the world.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) last Science Report cited Qatar as an example of an Arab state tackling regional challenges by setting up a science park and implementing a national research strategy in close collaboration with universities. Professor Haitham Lababidi, Assistant Vice President for Research at Kuwait University; Josep Piqué (pictured), CEO of the Office of Economic Growth at Barcelona Activa; Mr Gerard Verhoef, Science Park Project Manager at South Africa's University of the Free State; and Andrea T.J Hsu, Director of the Investment Services Division at Southern Taiwan Science Park Bureau all spoke at the event.

“Our experience is applicable to many countries around the region – a mission to develop sustainable solutions for all,” said Professor Lababidi during his presentation. IASP 2014 Doha runs until 22 October. In Qatar, the event is backed by businesses such as Qatar Airways, which serves as the Official Carrier. IASP 2014 Doha has garnered interest and support from the international innovation community, with The Skolkovo Innovation Centre – a high technology business park near Moscow, Russia – signing on as IASP 2014 Doha’s Gold Sponsor.

A full list of conference speakers can be found at Follow @QSTP on Twitter for live updates from the event.

Qatar Airways flies daily to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania