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Story | Research
31 May 2021

Op-ed: What QSTP’s ecosystem means for Stars of Science

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Wadha Al Adgham, Program Manager of Education at Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Science & Technology Park, outlines how the edutainment show will augment the Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation ecosystem in its new environment

Avid fans of Stars of Science, the long-running Qatar Foundation reality edutainment TV show, may recognize Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) as the setting where, through the last 12 years, aspiring Arab inventors have competed to be top innovators.

To many, QSTP may appear to be merely a building where the studio of the program is based; but that is far from the truth. At QSTP, we have always played an important role in the journey of these inventors; lending our support to contestants in multiple ways even after their time on the show concludes. In the last few years, we automatically enrolled contestants into our flagship accelerator program, XLR8, where they could continue to work on their projects with our support.

Our dedication to these initiatives helps realize one of our fundamental objectives at QSTP – empowering the innovator behind the idea.

Rather than simply helping them overcome logistical hurdles, we push budding inventors to challenge themselves, upgrade their skills and build a loyal team, lead their project’s development and pitch it to the market with confidence.

With this approach in mind, the next step in our relationship with Stars of Science revealed itself. Now, the show sits alongside our world-class incubation and start-up support programs, boosting our ability to guide the Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI) ecosystem.

Under this new partnership, Stars of Science provides another pathway to young Arab minds seeking support from QSTP, along with which they can continue their innovation journey.

If an aspiring innovator comes to us with a novel idea, we can provide unique routeways that offer their own benefits. For Arab innovators between the ages of 18 to 35 looking to test their capabilities, we can point them to Stars of Science. For those seeking to learn innovation and entrepreneurship, we encourage them to apply to the Arab Innovation Academy.

The show’s inclusion in our network offers benefits to our thriving ecosystem. It allows us greater access to an incredible network of alumni, representing some of the finest talents the Arab world has to offer. A lot of them reached out to me in support of the show’s inclusion under our umbrella, highlighting a positive reception to this new equation, and laying the foundation for further collaborations between Stars of Science alumni and QSTP.

There has been a plethora of success stories over the years for which we at QSTP are justifiably proud about. A recent one came via way of Stars of Science and then our eighth XLR8 program.

Competing in Season 11 of Stars of Science, Qatari-based start-up Thakaa Technologies hatched a unique idea for a ‘smart’ educational prayer rug called ‘Sajdah’ to assist Muslims when they are worshipping. This concept was carried through as the fledgling firm participated in and were one of the winners in our eighth XLR8 program a little over two years ago.

The mat is designed to help young Muslims and recent converts to Islam to correctly observe the standard practice for worship. More than 30 types of prayers are featured on the rug, with users able to read instructions and verses from the Holy Qur’ran in both Arabic and English. Their ingenious project has since been extended and has progressed into a mobile application feature. This has proved to be an extraordinary triumph too.

It is important to note that the Sajdah project has also benefited from funding at pivotal stages of its journey. After Thakaa Technologies’ XLR8 accomplishment, we at QSTP helped the company develop Sajdah further including bestowing backing via our widely acclaimed Product Development Fund. Sajdah has also enjoyed significant financial support thanks to some incredible crowdfunding. Indeed, an initial target instigated on the crowdfunding platform LaunchGood was exceeded by no less than 200%!

Sajdah is one of many great examples of how Stars of Science and QSTP’s long-standing ecosystem supporting start-ups with innovative ideas can seamlessly dovetail into a fantastic success story that will benefit so many people in Qatar, and further afield too.

While we, at QSTP, continue to explore ways in which our relationship with Stars of Science can evolve, we recognize that maintaining the show's identity is vital to its success. The show dedicates itself to instilling the values of an entrepreneurial and innovative mindset to its contestants and its audiences – a model backed by the show’s 147 alumni who continue to pioneer exciting technologies.

However, it also shows the young members of its audience that it is possible to transform ideas into reality while doing it your way. You can read several alumni success stories on the Stars of Science website, where you can learn from their experiences, and see how they shaped their own innovation journeys. With hard work, you can mold your very own success story that inspires countless others!

At QSTP, we share the show’s belief that the Arab youth embodies limitless potential, and that the entire world benefits when they gain the support they need to realize their ideas. For those of you willing to defend your concepts to an esteemed jury and audience from around the world, apply now for a chance to compete in Stars of Science Season 14! Feel free to also explore the Arab Innovation Academy, and other programs we offer and observe the flourishing innovation ecosystem in the Arab world.

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