New Tech Platform to Inspire Greater Innovation in Qatar and Beyond

Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) has launched ‘QSTP Technovate’, a new discussion platform designed to engage the local tech community in the latest developments in innovation and entrepreneurship.

QSTP, part of Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D), launched the new event with a fireside chat moderated by Dr Maher Hakim, Managing Director, QSTP, who explored the topic of ‘Innovation Going Global and MENA has Role to Play’. Guest speakers included Dave McClure, CEO and Co-Founder of 500 Startups, a leading global venture capital seed fund and startup accelerator; and Ikhlaq Sidhu, Chief Scientist and Founding Director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology.
Dr Hakim said the latest addition to the local tech calendar promises to offer a fresh perspective and inspire innovation. “Sometimes, it will take the format of a fireside chat, seminar or talk, and sometimes it will surprise; but our overall aim is to engage the technology community in Qatar in discussions on the hottest topics on startups, product and services development, innovation, and commercialisation,” said Dr Hakim.

The first event in the Technovate series was attended by hundreds of local entrepreneurs and innovators, as Sidhu and McClure highlighted the growing entrepreneurial market and investment potential in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), while also addressing the rapid evolution of a business in the startup landscape.

“QSTP is delighted to introduce this engaging new tech platform,” said Dr Hakim. “The incredible turnout for the first event is testament to the thriving local technology community, and the desire of its members to be actively involved in inspiring further innovation in Qatar and beyond.”

During the discussion, Sidhu noted: “Many businesses do not start out as tech businesses – they’re often set up with minimum capital and then witness fantastic return on investment in the months that follow. Since the entrepreneur saw something that others didn’t see, they evolve into building their own business ecosystem that addresses a widespread need or solves a problem.”
Commenting on the growing potential for entrepreneurship in the MENA region, he said: “Smarter investors are realising there is tremendous opportunity to develop infrastructure and businesses in the MENA region. It has its own cultural rules, and therefore localisation of the ecosystem is key to innovation and business development.”
Echoing Sidhu’s views, McClure said: “There’s a lot of talent to be proud of in the region; it’s undeniably one of the most attractive places for entrepreneurs at the moment. To advance regional growth, entrepreneurs need to reward risk-takers and inspire innovation within the community – these are two essential components of business development and commercialisation.”

Ahead of McClure’s contribution to Technovate, his 500 Startups company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Qatar Foundation (QF). Under the agreement, 500 Startups and QF will provide funding, training and mentorship to startups in the MENA region over the next five years.
QSTP, a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), is entering a new phase, with a reinvigorated focus on innovation and progressive programmatic solutions for the benefit of entrepreneurship in Qatar. It will now operate as a hi-tech Business Park which will bring together technology innovators and make its state-of-the-art facilities and consultancy services available to them.