Posted on March 16, 2015

Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), part of Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D), recently hosted a special edition of its acclaimed TECHtalk series. Held during Qatar University’s recent Entrepreneurship in Economic Development Forum at the Sheraton Doha, QSTP innovation experts provided an inside look at programmes designed to boost Qatar’s capacity to develop commercial technologies.

Mr Mohammad Zebian, Innovation Manager at QSTP, and Mr Pontus All, QSTP Entrepreneurship Manager, detailed two QSTP programmes during the session. Zebian outlined recent enhancements to QSTP’s Proof of Concept Fund (POCF), while All announced QSTP’s participation in the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programme (REAP). QSTP’s efforts to promote commercialisation support Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development’s unique approach to research and development, which helps deliver economic diversification and innovative home-grown technology that benefit Qatar and the rest of the world.

POCF is QSTP’s principle vehicle for assisting Qatar based research institutes, universities, and SMEs prove their inventions are commercially viable. Awardees of the POCF are expected to create a commercially viable prototype of their invention and work closely with QSTP to develop a detailed strategy to commercialize it. In doing so, POCF is designed to increase the probability of creating innovation-driven enterprises in line with Qatar’s National Vision 2030.

Mohammad Zebian said: "Qatar Science and Technology Park has, for years, been developing programmes to support home-grown, Qatar-based innovators and entrepreneurs, and the Proof of Concept Fund is our primary means for doing that. The new and improved POCF will continue to bridge the gap between innovators and the market – commercialising the brilliant ideas that flow through Qatar’s world-class research and development ecosystem.”

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Through the POCF, QSTP has already supported home-grown companies such as iHorizons, which created a digital platform to analyse Arabic social media content and AMAN Information Security, which launched a commercial cybersecurity application last year with the support of the POCF. For his part, Mr All announced that Qatar is one of just eight countries participating in MIT’s REAP programme, which boosts innovation capacity in regional economies by bringing top thinkers and practitioners together to study the innovation challenges and opportunities specific to a given market. 

REAP is an intensive program that comprises several workshops, held around the world over two calendar years. In between workshops, participants work on practical projects in their home region or country. Projects inform the development and implementation of a cohesive regional acceleration strategy, enabling teams to create and improve policies, programs, systems and infrastructure to enhance the entrepreneurial environment in their respective countries. So far, the programme has identified significant opportunities to innovate in Qatar’s energy and construction sectors.

Pontus All said: "REAP promotes economic development by providing a deep looking at the state quo of innovation in Qatar and the region. It proposes fresh strategies and opportunities for nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship here. The program has attracted the world's attention, with participants from Qatar, Singapore, Russia, Morocco, Spain, England and others joining the workshops.” The talk was followed by a robust question and answer session where experts engaged a packed room of researchers, entrepreneurs and students.

QSTP’s TECHtalks continue to be a sought-after forum for knowledge-transfer to technology focused entrepreneurs, SMEs and professionals in Qatar. It is one of several on-going QSTP programs supporting technology development, innovation and commercialisation in Qatar.

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