Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and the European Innovation Academy (EIA) launched the second edition of Arab Innovation Academy (AIA) on Wednesday, bringing together over 160 aspiring “techpreneurs” from Qatar and the MENA region, as well as representatives from India and Russia.
In addition to over 80 students from Qatar, representing 26 different countries, AIA delegates and participants hail from other countries, including Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Turkey, Oman, and Yemen.
AIA, the first and largest entrepreneurship programme of its kind in the region, is a strategic and exclusive partnership powered by QSTP, a member of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI) and EIA, known as the world’s largest extreme entrepreneurship programme.
AIA offers participants access to an extensive global network of prominent experts, mentors, and speakers from premiere organisations in the fields of tech entrepreneurship and innovation.
This unique programme is aimed at equipping entrepreneurs in the Arab region and global community with the skills to build their start-up in just 10 days.
During the AIA, which runs until January 15, participants are introduced to an accelerated mode of experiential learning, including how to develop and launch new tech ventures in a real marketplace, with genuine customer feedback.
The opening of the AIA was attended by QSTP executive director Yosouf Abdulrahman Saleh and EIA president Alar Kolk.
Speaking at the event, Saleh said: “We aim to develop an innovative mind-set among our talented youth to nurture an unprecedented and competitive environment in the Mena region.”
Citing that Google founders were from Stanford while Facebook founders were from Harvard, Kolk pointed out that “the next game-changing companies will come from students’ dreams to make the world a better place.”
“Be the change you want to see in the world. Make the dream true: the next Snapchats, Fornites, and Spotifys will come from the Arab world,” Kolk added.
As part of this initiative, participants will be introduced to cutting-edge methods and tools related to the entrepreneurship journey, from team formation and ideation to pitching venture capitalists and angel investors, tactics that are accredited by leading global universities, and endorsed by QSTP, Google, and Amadeus.
AIA also offers participants access to an extensive global network of prominent experts, mentors, and speakers from premiere organisations in the fields of tech entrepreneurship and innovation.
Rick Rasmussen, chief of chief mentors, industry fellow and faculty member at University of California, Berkeley, said: “The whole idea behind AIA is to develop the mindset of how to become an entrepreneur, as well as provide the tools that are needed to take an idea from conception to implementation.”
“Students are at the most creative stages of their lives and we are trying to provide them an entrepreneurship school in a setting that doesn’t depend on lectures and case studies and text books. We teach how to build companies by doing; everybody rolls up their sleeves and builds companies from scratch.”
Dr Richard O’Kennedy, vice president, QF RDI, said: “Such programmes help us identify talented Arab youth who have a drive to find innovative tech-based solutions to the shared challenges this region is facing, and become an integrated component of the rapidly developing entrepreneurship ecosystem and knowledge economy in Qatar.”
The programme also acts as a bridge for young “techpreneurs” in Qatar to become extended members of EIA’s global network, and benefit from a valuable mentorship and support system that includes industry experts at the heart of its foundation.
The first edition of AIA accepted over 100 participants from 11 countries to come together and develop their techpreneurial ideas.
This year, AIA selected over 160 participants from a pool of over 900 applicants, to have an enriching experience of learning from 25 speakers and 37 mentors and investors, all representing 30 different nationalities, for its second edition in Doha.
The first day of the AIA saw alumni from the previous edition share their valuable experiences with the 2019 cohort in a moderated panel discussion.
The budding entrepreneurs will also benefit from sessions offered by speakers from Silicon Valley and the University of California, Berkley, all with the intention of driving the collective entrepreneurial sparks of our of youth from Qatar, the region, and beyond.