Posted on November 11, 2018

Qatar Development Bank (QDB), in keeping up with its strides to offer growth paradigms to new age entrepreneurs, launched today the Qatar Entrepreneurship Conference “ROWAD Qatar 2018” under the theme “Turning Challenges into Opportunities”, during the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), from November 11 – 13, 2018, at Doha Exhibition and Convention Center. The three-day conference, held under the patronage of HE, The Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nasser Bin Khalifa Al-Thani witnessed activities, workshops, success stories and keynote speeches.

Held every November, Qatar Entrepreneurship Conference “ROWAD Qatar 2018” inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. “ROWAD Qatar 2018” is the world’s largest gathering of potential startups, collaborators, mentors and investors. It is now recognized as the ideal gateway or starting point of any start-up journey. This is also a platform for aspiring entrepreneurs to understand how to begin their startup journey from idea to business reality.

During the GEW, all countries around the world celebrate entrepreneurship through different types of events and activities. It’s considered as a celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.

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Commenting on this occasion, HE Ali bin Ahmed al-Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry, said: “Over the past years, Qatar has been able to demonstrate its ability to achieve economic diversification without relying entirely on the hydrocarbon capabilities by placing innovation, entrepreneurship, and SMEs at the forefront of its strategic priorities. The country has made continuous efforts to introduce series of rules and regulations  to facilitate collaboration between the different institutions of the State on one hand, and the constructive partnership with the private sector on the other hand to enhance the contribution of entrepreneurs and youth to the economic development and encourage their own initiatives within an innovative and creative environment .In this context, we are meeting today at the launch of Qatar Entrepreneurship Conference “ROWAD Qatar 2018”, organized by QDB for the fourth year in a row, with the participation of several local and international government and Semi-government agencies, business leaders, investors, to emphasize on the important role the entrepreneurial sector plays in boosting the economy and to ensure a sustainable future for the next generation  in line with the State's efforts to promote the private sector, and in particular the SMEs, which are the cornerstone of the national economy.”

From his side, Mr. Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa, CEO of Qatar Development Bank, said: “We want to foster the spirit of entrepreneurship within the people of Qatar and encourage all the people who want to start their businesses. We want them to come and celebrate entrepreneurship, see other SMEs, connect with the ecosystem players and be inspired. This platform also brings potential startups, collaborators, mentors and investors onto one platform to share ideas and bring them to reality. Like every year, this year too was highly successful in terms of greater turnout and the repository of ideas.”

The event also witnessed a signing ceremony about the launch the IBM Innovation Hub, between QDB represented by the CEO, Mr. Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa and IBM represented by Mr. Steve Robinson, General Manager, IBM Cloud Labs, IBM Hybrid Cloud, in the presence of HE Ali Bin Ahmed Al-Kuwari, Minister of Commerce and Industry, and HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Saud al-Thani, Governor of Qatar Central Bank (QCB) and chairman of Qatar Development Bank (QDB). The IBM Innovation Hub intends to provide tools and access to IBM’s subject matter experts to take ideas to the next level and introduce startups to the right networks. It will be based on IBM Design Thinking framework and IBM Cloud Garage methodology. IBM Design Thinking framework is IBM’s approach to applying creative business solutions at the speed and scale modern enterprises require. It also helps organizations to place end users at the center of their innovation when addressing issues and developing solutions. It is IBM’s 9th innovation hub, which will focus on promoting innovation in the areas of FinTech and SportsTech. The hub will offer cutting-edge capabilities such as Artificial Intelligence (AI); Distributed Ledger Technology; and Watson Internet of Things (IoT).

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As part of its leading role in supporting startups, entrepreneurs and innovators in various sectors, QDB signed another agreement on the opening day of “ROWAD 2018” with Startup Bootcamp, the global player in accelerating Tech Startups, to launch the first SportsTech accelerator in MEA region in partnership with the goal to become the leading and central point in the region for sports innovation. The agreement was signed by Mr. Abdulaziz bin Nasser Al Khalifa, CEO of Qatar Development Bank, and Mr. Carsten Kolbek, CEO of Startup Bootcamp.

The SportsTech accelerator aims to attract the local and the worlds’ most promising Sports technology startups, to further boost the sports industry and contribute towards the accelerated growth shaping up in the Qatar sports business. The accelerator is now open to startups globally, and the first program will commence in February 2019. Startups can start applying on till December 2018.  

QDB has always been a frontrunner in bringing the best local, regional and international expertise to help promote innovators and entrepreneurs’ skills and support their projects. Moreover, since the 2022 FIFA World Cup is taking place in Qatar with forecasted investments of USD 5 Billion that represents a great opportunity for technology startups, this initiative will act as a catalyst and hub for sports innovation pushing new boundaries and presenting new opportunities for local and global startups and entrepreneurs in terms of sports-related technology and engagement.