Applications are now open for the latest cycle of XLR8, Qatar Science & Technology Park’s highly successful accelerator program, now in its 12th cycle.

If you’ve got a business idea, have ambitions to be a tech entrepreneur, or just want to immerse yourself in the world of tech startups, here are five reasons you should apply:

1. Funding

This year, XLR8 has an exciting new feature to make sure entrepreneurs kickstart their journey and fully benefit from the program, with QSTP awarding financial support to the winning teams. This will be based on a decision made by the judging committee, in addition to a public vote that will be made available during demo day, so make sure you hit up your fan base to create some buzz about your idea.

Funding will be awarded as a grant, and QSTP will work with the winning teams to help them officially register their startups in QSTP to turn their prototype into a commercially available product and get their startup up and running.

2. New ‘Ideation Module’ = successful startup

Have you got a business idea, but aren’t sure if it suits your target market? The XLR8 program now includes a new ‘Ideation Module’, so that entrepreneurs can validate their business ideas to make sure it’s actually solving a problem before they create a prototype. Using the newly introduced ‘Ideation module’, entrepreneurs will experience an intensive, thought-provoking journey ahead of their product/service launch.

So, how does the ideation module work? Let’s say you are an entrepreneur who applies to XLR8 with a business idea to create smart glasses for the visually challenged that help them with their day-to-day activities. In the first phase of the program, you will be guided to shift focus from developing your idea in isolation, and instead reach out to your target audience or potential customers to help understand the real-world challenges they are facing. These interactions will help you evaluate if your initial idea is the right one to address the problem, before developing it further to create a suitable solution.

QSTP will also be working alongside you to take a critical look at the idea to assess how it addresses a gap in the target market. This phase drastically increases the chances of your startup’s success.

3. Expanded speaker network

This cycle of the XLR8 program offers a mentorship and speaker network that includes more international experts than ever before, bringing the best in the industry to help inspire and share their knowledge with you. This year, the panel sessions will be more interactive, and entrepreneurs will be able to speak directly with experts that specialize in all areas of running a business, including finance, branding, prototypes, marketing and much more.

QSTP will also invite industry experts and entrepreneurs such as Agata Braja, Senior Digital Media Specialist, QF; AlHassan AlSammaraie, CEO, AppLab and Adel Saad, CEO, Skora, as speakers to the program, giving entrepreneurs an excellent opportunity to network and engage with the right people.

4. Extended program length

QSTP is encouraging entrepreneurs to invest time in testing the market in order to set them up for success, and this year’s longer program directly equates to more time for mentoring and training for startups. This cycle of XLR8 is five months long because of the newly added ‘Ideation Module’, which could save years of time by honing the real-world problems you are trying to solve. More time will also allow you to refine your business model, build customer traction, and launch your go-to-market strategy.

5. Channeling passion for entrepreneurship

The XLR8 program will help those who want to be entrepreneurs to direct their passion in ways that improve their chances of success. QSTP aims to guide this passion by giving innovators the right platform, advice, and mentorship to bring their amazing ideas to life.

Many successful startups share the same passion as you, and several XLR8 alumni are now running fully-fledged businesses, so follow in their footsteps and apply today. If you want to explore some of projects created by XLR8’s graduates, they include:

  • Maktapp: a market leader in creating digital products and smart solutions that help you work better, including in ecommerce and finance solutions. Maktapp has been generating revenue for the past several years and operates across a wide range of clients all over the Middle East.
  • SkoraTech: the world’s first end-to-end, data-driven sports agency, working to democratize the game of soccer and helping aspiring youth reach their goal of finding their own pathway to professionalism. Skora is now incubated by QSTP and is seeking seed investment.