More young Qataris are participating in the Arab Innovation Academy (AIA 2020), which kicked-off at Education City Tuesday, compared to the 2019 edition of the AIA – the first and the largest entrepreneurship programme in the pan-Arab region.
The AIA was first brought to Qatar and the Middle East in 2018 through collaboration between Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and the European Innovation Academy (EIA), the world’s largest extreme entrepreneurship programme.

QF RDI vice president Richard O’Kennedy

AIA 2020 is the third edition of the programme and will run until January 20. The kick-off event was highlighted by a keynote speech from Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI) vice president Richard O’Kennedy and a presentation from EIA president Alar Kolk, as well as a panel discussion with AIA alumni.
Data provided by QSTP stated that this edition received about 800 applications, 190 of which were accepted to participate in AIA 2020, where almost half of the participants are locals, while the other 50% are international. There are more than 40 mentors and coaches, with some coming from the US, the UK, European Union, and Singapore, in addition to the regional and local mentors, QSTP said.
The number of graduates from the first and second editions of the programme is over 300 students. Previous participants came from more than 30 nationalities, including (and not limited to) Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, India, and Russia, among many other nationalities that are studying at and residing in Qatar.
The AIA aims to support university students who are aspiring ‘techpreneurs’ by offering a unique accelerated mode of experiential learning to help them turn an idea into a start?up in just 10 days. The programme exposes participants to real-life experiences and experiments on how to develop and launch new tech ventures, in a real marketplace with real customer feedback.
Also, the AIA aims to promote Qatari homegrown talent and foster innovative ideas by providing a platform that offers hands-on learning in ‘how to start a business from scratch’, through guidance and mentorship from world-renowned experts.
It is designed for university students in the pan-Arab region who have innovative ideas and an entrepreneurial mindset, regardless of whether or not their background is in business management.
AIA offers university students from across Qatar and the region access to an extensive global network comprising top mentors and speakers in the field of ‘techpreneurship’ and innovation. The intensive programme enriches participants’ learning experience and provides them with a solid foundation to successfully launch their tech startups and realise their business ambitions.
The AIA goes in line with QSTP and QF RDI’s efforts in the field of innovation mindset education, which aims to foster a competitive and innovative technology entrepreneurship ecosystem in Qatar and the wider region.
Made possible by the technology park for the third time in Qatar and the region, QSTP said the AIA “is testament to Qatar’s commitment to diversifying its economy by cultivating youth entrepreneurship and innovation at the university level. QSTP is at the forefront of Qatar’s quest for long-term economic sustainability and prosperity.”
The academy is supported by cutting-edge research methods developed by leading global universities and companies, such as UC Berkeley, Stanford University, QSTP, Google, and Amadeus.
AIA enables QSTP to further Qatar’s role in helping youth in the region to actively contribute to economic development through entrepreneurship and technology innovation, taking active strides towards a region-wide knowledge-based economy.
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