Tech entrepreneurship is a very challenging field, and requires persistence and determination to win over investors as well as customers and end-users, according to Yosouf Al-Salehi, Executive Director of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), part of Qatar Foundation Research, Development & Innovation (QF RDI).
Al-Salehi was speaking at the fourth edition of Najah Qatari, an annual event focused on championing Qatar’s local entrepreneurial talent, and celebrating the stories of those individuals and businesses at the forefront of the country’s business landscape. Held at Qatar National Convention Center, panelists included key players in the market such as President of Kahramaa, His Excellency Eng. Essa bin Hilal Al Kuwari and President of Ashghal Works Authority, His Excellency Dr. Saad bin Ahmad Al Muhannadi, among other high-ranking officials.
Highlighting that entrepreneurship is not only about forming a great business idea or developing prototypes in a lab, Al-Salehi said: “One needs to identify the target audience and understand customers’ needs for the product or service to fulfill those needs. Those in technology have chosen to be in a difficult, but one of the most rewarding sectors. Entrepreneurship in this sector is very challenging, but it is a crucial part in building a sustainable community.”
In the panel ‘Decision Makers’, moderated by media presenter Khalid Al Jumaily, Al-Salehi emphasized the importance of aiming Qatar’s applied research, technology development and entrepreneurial efforts towards addressing the national priorities and challenges, accelerating Qatar’s economic diversification and generating global impact.
Al Salehi also encouraged the young Qatari community to stay determined and seek the right support: “We have seen a large number of entrepreneurs give up on their ideas and passions even though they were so close to success, so we at QSTP encourage all tech entrepreneurs to approach us and take advantage of our various programs and platforms that are geared to making their journey of tech entrepreneurship a success.
“We at QSTP also recognize the importance of building access for local tech entrepreneurs to large public and private sector enterprises to facilitate testing or piloting of innovative tech products and services being developed here in Qatar. This bridge will undoubtedly provide a huge boost to Qatar’s RDI ecosystem, while enhancing national resilience and contributing to economic diversification and prosperity.”
At its booth in the exhibition hall, QSTP spokespeople and entrepreneurs who have received support, including AlHasan AlSammarraie, Abdulrahman Khamis and Abdulla Al Khenji, showcased the organization’s dedicated efforts in boosting Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem through business acceleration, incubation, and impactful investment programs.
QSTP supports local startups and entrepreneurs via a range of programs and initiatives, including its Product Development Fund (PDF), Incubation and Stars of Science (SoS) programs.
PDF is a cost sharing fund wherein QSTP provides up to 50% of the total budget as a grant to encourage local startups and SMEs in the private sector to develop products and services relevant to local market needs, promoting new high-tech products and services.
AlSammarraie is the Founding Managing Partner at Applab, a startup that created ‘Hasanat’ (Social Charity) through the help of QSTP’s PDF. Hasanat is an online platform for charity donations and campaigning that is unique in its field, enabling users to donate to and campaign for their favorite organization or project anywhere in the world. Users can also track their donations and receive direct notifications on how their money is supporting a particular cause.
Khamis is the founder of Thakaa Technologies, an Internet of Things (IoT) hardware startup specializing in the design and manufacturing of smart and innovative hardware-based product. Part of QSTP’s SoS program, Thakaa Technologies and was later awarded the PDF, which helped build one of its first products, ‘Sajdah’, an award-winning smart educational prayer rug that teaches new Muslims and children the second most important pillar in Islam.
Al Khenji is the co-founder of Hapondo, a successful property rental platform that is user-friendly and allows customers to find available, high-quality real estate within Qatar in a simpler, cheaper, and more convenient way. Hapondo is not only a recipient of PDF, but is also currently incubated at QSTP.
Visitors to the booth also interacted with representatives of QF RDI’s Industry Development and Knowledge Transfer (IDKT) office, highlighting the successful Al Khabeer program that provides Intellectual Property (IP) expertise and technical assistance services to local entrepreneurs and inventors. The unique Innovation Coupon, a grant that helps Qatari entrepreneurs and Qatar-based startups scale their ideas, was also spotlighted for guests.
Al-Salehi said: “Through our participation at the Najah Qatari event, we aim to continue delivering on one of our key priorities, which is to build a mindset for innovation and tech entrepreneurship to augment Qatar’s local capacity, facilitate pathways to commercialization, and encourage high-potential tech businesses to scale”.