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20 October 2019

Building bridges between Silicon Valley and the MENA region

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A partnership between QSTP and TechWadi has opened up a wider network for Qatar-based tech startups

In the 10 years since its founding, Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), a part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation, has brought several new technologies and tech-based services to the Qatari market, and many of these home-grown innovations are achieving commercial success in the region and around the globe.

A vital aspect of the innovation mindset we nurture at QSTP is recognizing the importance of appealing to a global audience.

Yosouf Abdulrahman Saleh

Among these startup success stories are MaktApp, a cloud-based software solution for businesses, and Stellic, whose software tool is now being used in 15 universities across Qatar, Mexico and the USA.

Yosouf Abdulrahman Saleh, Executive Director, QSTP, says: “A vital aspect of the innovation mindset we nurture at QSTP is recognizing the importance of appealing to a global audience. And of course, once our entrepreneurs embark on their entrepreneurial journeys and take their tech product to the market we want to make it easy for them to access support and mentorship from other regional ecosystems and networks to continue having an impact in markets even beyond Qatar.”

To this end, QSTP is a member of the International Association of Science and Technology Parks, which helps strengthen connections with other entrepreneurial communities.

One of QSTP’s partners that is invaluable to extending its international outreach is TechWadi, an organization leveraging a network of members that spans the globe to help startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region realize their entrepreneurial aspirations in Silicon Valley.

TechWadi is working with leading regional and global organizations, including QSTP, to empower high impact entrepreneurs and contribute to building a sustainable infrastructure for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive.

“Our relationship with QSTP started in 2017 and 2018 with the sponsorship of our ‘Annual Forum’,” says Tasneem Sabri, Operations and Program Officer at TechWadi. “The event brings together more than 500+ new and established entrepreneurs, innovators, investors and ecosystem stakeholders from Silicon Valley, MENA, and beyond.”

With a mission to support the growth and rapid expansion of high-tech entrepreneurship, the event is one of the ways in which TechWadi builds bridges between Silicon Valley and the MENA region.

Yosouf Abdulrahman Saleh commented: “For QSTP, TechWadi has been instrumental in connecting our respective innovation ecosystems and entrepreneurs, for the benefit of key programs, such as the QSTP Research to Startup program.”

The Research to Startup Program (RTS) is the premier QSTP program designated to create spinouts based on high-potential technologies that are developed by the research community in Qatar.

“The value that QSTP’s Research to Startup program has given to TechWadi is that it helps us support our mission of bringing awareness to the tech ecosystem in the MENA region,” says Sabri.

“QSTP is leading the way in fostering an open innovation hub for entrepreneurs through different programs. We believe that QSTP is a key player and through our partnership we are able to fulfill our mission and support the Qatari ecosystem, as well as showcasing the importance of QSTP’s work to our Bay Area members.”

We have brought awareness to key Silicon Valley figures, investors, startup founders, and industry leaders to take notice of the Qatari ecosystem as a place for potential expansion and investment.

Tasneem Sabri

The two have also collaborated in other ways, she explains: “We have supported QSTP with various high-stake introductions to many key stakeholders in Silicon Valley as well as having QSTP present at our Annual Forum. We have also facilitated a private event for officials in 2017 and recently had a networking event in 2018.

“Working with QSTP, we have brought awareness to key Silicon Valley figures, investors, startup founders, and industry leaders to take notice of the Qatari ecosystem as a place for potential expansion and investment.”

In turn, Saleh notes: “Our relationship with organizations such as TechWadi is vital and strengthens the pivotal role of QSTP across regional and international platforms, which directly benefits our entrepreneurs and contributes to developing local and regional technology and innovation ecosystems.”

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