The Qatar Business Incubation Centre (QBIC) has recorded an impressive uptick in the number of applications from local startups following the economic blockade imposed on the country in June 2017.
According to QBIC CEO Aysha al-Mudahka, applications received by QBIC increased by 200% even after Saudi Arabia and its allies Bahrain, the UAE, and Egypt cut land, sea, and air links with Qatar more than 10 months ago.
“There’s a large demand of local startups that want to be sustainable in different sectors… there are many of them that come to us and we guide them to the right people and the right ecosystem,” said al-Mudahka, who was one of the speakers at the Qatar-India Business and Investment Conference, which concludes today.
Founded by Qatar Development Bank and Nama, QBIC has incubated 124 companies since its inception in 2014, al-Mudahka said. “We invested in them through our conditional seed fund at the initial stage of the startup,” she noted.
Al-Mudahka said QBIC has invested QR4.5mn in all the companies that it had incubated, and the turnover of investment has reached QR26.9mn. Already, QBIC produced 330 graduates through its LeanStartup Programme, she continued.
Citing the centre’s goals, al-Mudahka said QBIC aims to develop the next generation of successful entrepreneurs and business leaders, to contribute towards the development of Qatar’s private sector, and to transform the mindset of Qatari companies “in a progressive and effective manner.”
She said QBIC offers local entrepreneurs and startups “a holistic range of empowering services,” including training programmes, investment opportunities, smart funding, industrial workshops, office space, and support and mentorship.
Among QBIC’s active verticals are the ‘Digital and Beyond’ incubator and ‘QBIC Tourism’. Digital and Beyond is a specialised digital incubator in partnership with Ooredoo that aims to help entrepreneurs launch new technology-focused businesses in Qatar, while QBIC Tourism enables entrepreneurs to develop products and services that enhance Qatar’s tourism experience, in partnership with Qatar Tourism Authority.
Al-Mudahka said QBIC has produced several success stories, including pre-event online registration management and virtual payment solutions provider Contactless, S’Ishira Perfumes, and digital solutions provider ibTECHar, which manages the ‘Fab Lab’, a fabrication laboratory owned by QBIC that was launched in February 2018.
She also noted that some of the “rising” startups include jewellery company Trifoglio, the International Spearfishing Academy, and Kinecto. Fine Posture, Wa’hab, and eyeFly are among the “up-and-coming” startups to look for in the market, she noted.
Al-Mudahka said: “Because of the wide variety of infrastructure that was built related to supporting entrepreneurs, access to funding, and finding the right resources, Qatar has been ranked first in the GCC, second in Mena region, and 22nd globally in the Global Entrepreneurship Index.”
“There is a huge potential for Qatar to take it to the next level,” she added.
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