Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation (QF RDI) has marked the launch of its new funding initiative, ‘Innovation Coupon’, by signing an agreement with its first beneficiary, ADGS – a local private sector SME that sells a suite of products that utilize artificial intelligence (AI), behavioral biometrics, and emergent behavior.
The signing ceremony was held at the QF RDI offices, where Dr. Richard O’Kennedy, Vice President for Research, Development, and Innovation, Qatar Foundation (QF), and Dr. Salvino Salvaggio, Senior Director, Implementation and RDI Office Management, formalized the award with ADGS President, Hassan Al Ansari, and General Manager, Christophe Billiottet.
Innovation Coupon is aimed at Qatar-based SMEs or startups in all sectors and industries that are engaged in the development of new technology-rich products and services. The fund is designed to benefit companies that have the needed capacity and technical knowledge to develop their product or service but require more support to resolve a specific technical or business problem. The fund may award up to 50 percent of the problem-solving costs for a period of up to six months.
Dr. Richard O’Kennedy said: “It’s a historic day for us. The development of the Innovation Coupon highlights our commitment to foster local product innovation and support the development of SMEs in Qatar. The initiative will support startup businesses to overcome many of the growth challenges they face and the fund can help them improve vital aspects of their business.
“We are proud to be supporting entrepreneurship in Qatar this way, and we are confident that the Innovation Coupon will act as a vehicle to push forward the growth of many more promising local startups who are producing innovative solutions for Qatar, the region, and beyond.”
Beneficiaries must use at least 25 percent of the awarded amount to cover the contracting costs of a local research institute – such as QF research institutes and QF partner universities – or other local expert company or individual, thereby taking advantage of the local innovation ecosystem in developing new products and services.
Innovation Coupon will support its first recipient, ADGS, by supplementing their capacity to further develop their cyber security product, STROKK. The software adds an organic security layer on any system, in any language, and renders stolen passwords useless to hackers by learning the way an individual types to clearly recognize the user. STROKK is currently being purchased by customers in highly cyber security sensitive industries, such as finance, banking, defense, the armed forces, and intelligence services in several countries.
ADGS is working to port its security solution from a Windows to a Unix-based environment. The ADGS team will use QF RDI’s award to employ external support in order to allow the company to continue its expansion.
The funds were awarded after a rigorous assessment process where applicants are required to specify how the money will be spent, and the major milestones to be met.
Mr. Al Ansari said: “We want to thank QF RDI for its support to us, and to other Qatari startups and enterprises. We are very proud to be the recipients of the very first coupon and it will allow us to resolve a process that will ensure we continue delivering our innovative product to local, regional, and international markets.”
After the completion of the funding cycle, beneficiaries are expected to report on the progress of the innovation for a certain number of years to allow QF RDI to assess the impact of the funding provided.
Commenting on the design of the fund, Dr. O’Kennedy said: “The mechanics of the program allow QF to ensure the funds are supporting committed SMEs that will deliver impact in the local economy. The size of the innovation ecosystem in Qatar is such that we can allocate greater resources for a higher number of SMEs. This enables us to transfer expert knowledge from our side to the SMEs to help them innovate in the local economy. We even provide support to startups by helping them build a strong application for the fund.
“At QF RDI, we’ve studied the best practices in other countries and adapted these to strengthen Qatar’s local ecosystem. For next year’s cycle, we expect to have a bigger budget to benefit more companies.”
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