The Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) has allotted $50mn in the next five years to support startups in the country, QSTP executive director Yosouf Saleh said on Sunday.

Speaking at the unveiling of the ‘Catalysing the Future’ event at the QSTP, Saleh also said the QSTP, part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI), had invested over QR4.3bn in RDI activities by international companies registered with the science and technology park.

The ‘Catalysing the Future’ event was designed to highlight the efforts, achievements, and goals of the QSTP, and the importance of RDI to Qatar. A key announcement will be made about how the next chapter in Qatar’s RDI story will unfold, QF vice president for RDI Dr Richard O’Kennedy said.

According to Saleh, Qatar has also established the new Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) that has joined the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies to serve as a source of investment solutions for foreign direct investment (FDI) in all of Qatar’s priority sectors.

“QSTP will continue to incubate and incorporate new tech entrepreneurs and link them with global investors, and provide network access to other global entrepreneurs. QSTP will also continue to attract new tech companies to invest in Qatar and our Free Zone,” Saleh said.

Qatar’s success in attracting FDI is steadily rising – investments in Qatar increased by 6.6% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019, according to the quarterly FDI report issued by the Planning and Statistics Authority and Qatar Central Bank.

“The blockade helped us get new contracts. We received new opportunities, and this allowed us to think beyond the region – to think globally, as opposed to regionally,” Saleh pointed out.

Over the past 10 years, the scope, scale, and quality of the QSTP’s partnerships with major global tech companies, and the impact of these partnerships illustrate the QSTP’s standing as a national and regional hub for technology development and innovation, Saleh said.

“Through QSTP, QF RDI is making pioneering technology advancements, and developing the Middle East’s leading ecosystem for research and development in business.

“QSTP drives applied R&D by facilitating the development of new high-tech products and services, and supports the commercialisation of market-ready technologies – leading to investment, job creation, and economic impact,” Saleh stressed.

O’Kennedy said Qatar aims to become “a destination for research, development, and innovation achievements.” He explained that Qatar could accomplish this if new investors support the generation of pioneering entrepreneurs who are finding solutions to the challenges local and global societies face.

“Many of the companies we have at QSTP offer solutions to a global market. Unique projects like the Qatar Genome Programme aims to position Qatar among the pioneering countries in the implementation of precision medicine.

“Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) is reckoned to be among the top research centres in the world. The resources and minds we have here are extraordinary. It is where excellence brings inventiveness. And that is why we believe Qatar should be synonymous with RDI,” he pointed out.

O’Kennedy added: “There has been change in mindset among the people of Qatar. With the blockade, people have invested in R&D to find solutions of being self-sustaining. From growing their own food to starting their own dairy companies, the community in Qatar has learnt to stand on their own feet. This mindset change has been extremely effective, and has helped us in developing and furthering our research in the country.”

QCRI senior research director Dr Ashraf Aboulnaga said, “We now need to be producers of innovation and that is an effort that cannot be led by researchers alone. RDI is essential to the country, and we can all support whether by encouraging young people to study STEM, adopting research into our institutions, or investing in research, development and innovation.”

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