Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation (QF RDI) are fast-tracking programmes and fund applications from innovators with potential solutions for Covid-19.

“Although much of the world remains in lockdown in the fight against an invisible enemy called Covid-19, people are continuing to work around the clock in search of ways to overcome the challenges global society is facing,” a QF statement said yesterday.

Among them are the world’s entrepreneurs, who are shifting focus and re-evaluating their priorities in order to help develop creative, functional, and effective solutions to the difficulties that the Covid-19 pandemic has presented.

Whether it’s helping parents school their children whilst juggling household duties and full-time jobs, providing Personal Protective Equipment to medical staff, or ensuring the delivery of necessities to people who are self-isolating, entrepreneurs, start-ups, and SMEs are playing their part in combating this crisis.

QF RDI offers a number of programmes that help entrepreneurs take their ideas from the drawing board to the market. These include QSTP’s Incubation and XLR8 programmes, Product Development Fund, Tech Venture Fund, and Mena Dojo, as well as QF RDI’s Innovation Coupon.
While these programmes are geared towards supporting any eligible tech ventures, they are now specifically calling for entrepreneurs who have novel solutions to the challenges posed by Covid-19 – in the fields of healthcare, remote learning, and supply chain optimisation – to apply.

These programmes usually run on a yearly schedule, but are now accepting applications on a rolling basis with no deadline, and applications with ideas specifically targeting issues surrounding Covid-19 will be expedited, with the Mena Dojo being open to regional applicants and the Tech Venture Fund open to international applicants.

“At Qatar Foundation, we are determined to play our part in the global fight against Covid-19,” said Yosouf al-Salehi, QSTP executive director.

“Technology and innovation are at the forefront of this global battle against the pandemic. QSTP has been a byword for tech innovation that addresses the needs of Qatar and global society since its establishment more than 10 years ago, and, as Covid-19 continues to affect our world, we are striving to address the challenges it has created and to be what these unprecedented times demand.

“We want to make a positive and tangible contribution to developing solutions that our world urgently needs right now, and that is why we want to hear from local and international start-ups and SMEs with ideas that can support the fight against Covid-19.”

Start-ups and SMEs accepted into these programmes have the opportunity to be incubated, acquire funding, and gain access to mentorship, training, and technical guidance that supports them in taking their products and services to the point of commercialisation.

QSTP is a premier environment for start-ups and SMEs to develop their technologies, with its Incubator offering an array of benefits that include rapid and affordable incorporation in a collaborative co-working space, business facilitation, and access to a network of mentors, funding schemes, and prototyping facilities.

The Tech Venture Fund (supports embryonic companies in Qatar, and also provides backing to more established, international start-ups with investment of up to $500,000 at a seed stage and up to $3m at a Series B round.

Meanwhile, QSTP’s Product Development Fund and the QF RDI Innovation Coupon aim to strengthen the private sector and contribute to the diversification of Qatar’s economy by funding SMEs and start-ups that develop products and services relevant to the local market needs.
The QSTP Incubation Center accelerates the establishment and growth of promising technology startups by offering co-working space and support services – including access to mentors, funding, training, and prototyping facilities – over a 12-month period, while the two-month QSTP XLR8 programme enables tech entrepreneurs to determine whether their idea has commercial potential and take it to the prototype stage.

Established through a partnership with 500 Startups, the Mena Dojo is a six-week investment programme offering intensive one-to-one training and mentoring for tech startups that have already raised investment but are now looking to scale up.