Research development

Omar Ali Al Ansari, Secretary General, Qatar Council for Research, Development and Innovation (QRDI) |

How Qatar is strengthening its research and innovation ecosystem

How can the implementation of the QRDI 2030 strategy contribute to enriching the local research, development and innovation (RDI) ecosystem?

OMAR ALI AL ANSARI: The QRDI 2030 Strategy outlines the country’s goals and acts as a roadmap to further develop the innovation ecosystem, identifying three core transformative elements and four enablers. The QRDI portal is an important first step towards this. Launched in 2021, it offers researchers and innovators the ability to browse thousands of assets and leverage shared resources.

Qatar’s leading institutions can reach a wider audience through the portal by showcasing their infrastructure and collaborating with emerging talent, government and private companies, etc. The platform optimizes synergies between private sector, government and academia entities to facilitate the sharing of information, equipment and other resources.

The QRDI portal also promotes collaboration, enables efficiencies and helps improve the RDI ecosystem. This gives Qatar the opportunity to leverage investments made over the past decade to build a solid ICT infrastructure, helping to attract talent and encourage local and international companies to establish their RDI activities in the country.

Where do you identify opportunities to increase the contribution of small businesses to RDI and encourage them to adopt innovative solutions?

AL ANSARI: Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are an essential component of the private sector. The majority of SMEs in Qatar are in sectors that are historically not technology-intensive, such as trade and services. A 2020 survey by Qatar Development Bank showed that while there is a growing desire to harness the benefits of RDI, it is currently not being used in these sectors.

To take advantage of this development opportunity, we aim to support the growth of SMEs in technology-intensive sectors and to encourage existing SMEs in all sectors to invest in RDI. This will help improve their product and service offerings, as well as their internal processes.

Supporting the growth of SMEs will ultimately generate more jobs for local and international talent while leveraging Qatar’s higher education and knowledge institutes. QRDI will begin by offering training programs and may offer other incentives to develop its RDI capabilities.

To what extent is Qatar’s research and innovation ecosystem shaped by partnerships?

AL ANSARI: National and international partnerships are essential for Qatar’s RDI ecosystem. At the national level, one of the key roles of the QRDI Council is to foster partnerships between industry, academia and government. By working together, we can become platforms for innovation. By extension, we are increasing the number of innovative companies and leveraging the abundance of talent and knowledge already available in the country.

Internationally, we create opportunities for global companies to establish their RDI activities in Qatar. We partner with them to test and iterate their innovations and ensure they are ready to go to market. These partnerships with advanced economies and leaders in the field of RDI facilitate the transfer of knowledge to the national workforce, which can in turn apply the lessons learned to the local market.

National and international partnerships are a form of diplomacy that strengthens ties and seizes mutually beneficial opportunities for all stakeholders.

How can education, academic and research initiatives capitalize on the momentum of the 2022 FIFA World Cup?

AL ANSARI: Education is the cornerstone of the innovation ecosystem. Over the past decade, Qatar has invested heavily in this sector, with leading universities now present in the country. Today, students can easily access the education needed to work in knowledge-intensive and technology-based industries.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be an opportunity to showcase these advances; celebrate our scientists, researchers and innovators, and engage with the international academic community. We hope the event will bring visibility to the local ecosystem, which in turn will create demand for innovative solutions in Qatar.