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Story | Research
7 October 2019

Illustrating how QSTP inspires innovation through collaboration


The science and technology park’s Arab Innovation Academy opens minds and encourages people to speak up about their ideas, according to Shaikha AlSubaey

The best way of making original thinking flow, creative ideas come to life, and effective solutions happen is often teamwork and collaboration.

And, through its Arab Innovation Academy, Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) has created a unique learning environment that equips young people with the confidence and ability to turn their innovative startup ideas into a reality.

An annual two-week entrepreneurship bootcamp, it provides young innovators from across the Arab region with hands-on experience, mentorship opportunities, and access to investors in order to help transform their tech startup concepts into commercialized products. And Shaikha AlSubaey, a graduate of Qatar University, is one of those who can testify to the difference it makes to participants’ lives.

Shaikha AlSubaey and her team won third place at AIA 2019 for developing a system that helps people communicate by blinking.

She and her team won joint third place in the 2019 edition of the Arab Innovation Academy (AIA) with their project EyeTalk – a software-hardware system that aims to help people with disabilities communicate by blinking.

While she majored in financial accounting – not necessarily an area immediately associated with innovation – she is also an illustrator, and as a direct result of her involvement in AIA, she is now working on the marketing campaign for its 2020 edition on a volunteer basis.

Great ideas are irrelevant if they only exist in your head.

Shaikha AlSubaey

It means her illustrations, and her experiences, are encouraging next year’s young innovators to step up, speak up, and get involved. And talking about how the AIA allowed her to grow as both an innovator and an individual, AlSubaey says: “One of the most important things I learned was to speak up.

“Great ideas are irrelevant if they only exist in your head; and developing the self-confidence to articulate your thoughts and challenge others’ thinking, especially within groups of strangers, is a skill we all should possess.”

Genuinely effective solutions will only really materialize when we work together to improve our world through innovation, creativity, and original thinking.

Shaikha AlSubaey

“But it’s not just about talking – listening is something that is fundamentally important to innovative thinking. It’s about being open, flexible, and accepting of the ideas of others, even though these may be different or come from an alternative cultural point of view. The key thing is to embrace the notion that knowledge is organic and innate to us all, and genuinely effective solutions will only really materialize when we work together to improve our world through innovation, creativity, and original thinking.”

The Arab Innovation Academy sees ideas become tech startups in the space of just two weeks.

The sharing of experiences and ideas is one of the defining characteristics of the Arab Innovation Academy.

Mentoring is central to the AIA philosophy is, with experts sharing their experiences and advice throughout the program. AlSubaey describes this as “an essential part of the whole experience” and one that allowed her to be “in the right place to learn from those with more knowledge and experience than myself.”

And she adds: “The unique interaction of all these diverse personalities, with all their professional experiences, seemed to exemplify the idea of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. And you felt that this critical mass of knowledge, experience, personalities, and energy was exactly what you, as a participant, needed to hear.”

Open to undergraduate and graduate students between the ages of 20-35, the third edition of the AIA is now open for registration. Those interested in applying should visit: Innovation Academy

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