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Story | Research
23 September 2019

Qatar’s goal of being a global RDI ‘destination’ revealed


Need for investment to develop solutions that improve lives is emphasized at QF campaign launch

Qatar aims to be seen around the world as “a destination for research, development, and innovation achievements” – and it can reach that goal if new investors support the generation of pioneering entrepreneurs who are finding solutions to the challenges local and global societies face, according to Dr. Richard O’Kennedy, Qatar Foundation Vice President for Research, Development and Innovation.

Speaking at Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) during the unveiling of ‘Catalyzing the Future’ – which is designed to highlight the efforts, achievements, and goals of QSTP, and the importance of research, development and innovation (RDI) to Qatar – Dr. O’Kennedy emphasized the extent of the nation’s ambitions in this sector.

‘Catalyzing the Future’ is designed to showcase QSTP’s efforts, achievements, and goals, and the importance of RDI to Qatar.

“There has been a change in mindset among the people of Qatar,” said Dr. O’Kennedy. “With the blockade, people have invested in R&D to find solutions of being self-sustaining.

“From growing their own food to starting their own dairy companies, the community in Qatar has learnt to stand on their own feet. This mindset change has been extremely effective, and has helped us in developing and furthering our research in the country.”

Many of the companies we have at QSTP offer solutions to a global market.

Dr. Richard O’KennedyQatar Foundation Vice President for Research, Development and Innovation

Over QAR 4.3 billion has been invested into RDI activities by international companies registered at QSTP, part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development and Innovation (QF RDI), with 85 percent of the available space within QSTP now occupied by tech companies.

“Many of the companies we have at QSTP offer solutions to a global market,” Dr. O’Kennedy explained. “Unique projects like the Qatar Genome Programme aims to position Qatar among the pioneering countries in the implementation of precision medicine.

“While, Qatar Computing Research Institute is reckoned to be among the top research centers in the world. The resources and minds we have here are extraordinary. It is where excellence brings inventiveness. And that is why we believe Qatar should be synonymous with RDI.”

Leading RDI figures at QF spoke of how Qatar can reach its innovation goals if new investors support tech entrepreneur

With QSTP offering USD 50 million in the next five years to support startups, it is becoming increasingly simple to invest in RDI in Qatar. Qatar has also established the new Investment Promotion Agency (IPA) that has joined the World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies to serve as a source of investment solutions for foreign direct investment (FDI) in all of Qatar’s priority sectors.

“QSTP will continue to incubate and incorporate new tech entrepreneurs and link them with global investors, and provide network access to other global entrepreneurs,” said Yosouf Saleh, Executive Director, QSTP. “QSTP will also continue to attract new tech companies to invest in Qatar and our Free Zone.”

Qatar’s success in attracting FDI is steadily rising – investments in Qatar increased by 6.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019, according to the quarterly FDI report issued by the Planning and Statistics Authority and Qatar Central Bank.

“The blockade helped us get new contracts,” Mr. Saleh added. “We received new opportunities, and this allowed us to think beyond the region – to think globally, as opposed to regionally.”

Over the past 10 years, the scope, scale, and quality of QSTP's partnerships with major global tech companies, and the impact of these partnerships, illustrates QSTP's standing as a national and regional hub for technology development and innovation. Through QSTP, QF RDI is making pioneering technology advancements, and developing the Middle East’s leading ecosystem for research and development in business.

“QSTP drives applied R&D by facilitating the development of new high-tech products and services, and supports the commercialization of market-ready technologies – leading to investment, job creation and economic impact,” said Mr. Saleh.

Now all efforts are directed in making Qatar synonymous with innovation – which means having intellectual property no one else has.

Dr. Ashraf AboulnagaSenior Research Director, Qatar Computing Research Institute

At Sunday’s press conference, Dr. Ashraf Aboulnaga, Senior Research Director, Qatar Computing Research Institute, part of QF member Hamad Bin Khalifa University, said: “There was a vision for world-class research to take place in Qatar, and that vision has been realized, and now all efforts are directed in making Qatar synonymous with innovation – which means generating intellectual property no one else has.

“We now need to be producers of innovation, and that is an effort that cannot be led by researchers alone. RDI is essential to the country, and we can all support whether by encouraging young people to study STEM, adopting research into our institutions, or investing in research, development and innovation.”

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