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'Starting Start-Ups' by Hayfa Al-Abdulla

When making innovation a core element of achieving the goal of self-sufficiency, a nation faces many challenges. A key one is ‘how do you empower startups to flourish in an environment that is not yet accustomed to them?’ Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) is Qatar’s response to this challenge.

For over two decades, Qatar Foundation (QF) has planted the seeds of innovation and entrepreneurship in the region by bringing world-class universities and research institutes together within the same location. Initiatives like Stars of Science – QF’s innovation TV show – and the Arab Innovation Academy, co-run by QSTP, have encouraged the younger generation of Qatar and the region to take their own ideas seriously, and inspired them to establish their tech startups. QSTP itself is a free zone, accelerator, and incubator with the aim of fostering a vibrant ecosystem for innovative high-tech products and services in Qatar.

As the Director of Innovation at QSTP, I take pride in seeing how far we have come in elevating ideas to greater heights and creating an ecosystem that encourages innovation and nurtures technology-based startups.

hayfa qstp Hayfa Al-Abdulla, Director of Innovation at Qatar Science & Technology Park

Enabling startups to flourish is a challenge that, early on, we recognized we had to address . On top of that, building a successful, tech-based business is a time-consuming and complex process, and it’s even more difficult if you’re not plugged in to a community of mentors, partners, investors, developers, and customers. QSTP has evolved to become a community of startups, all learning from each other, and has formed partnerships with leading global institutions that are shaping the regional innovation landscape.

I am proud of the work that we do every day. We have become the hub of Qatar’s technology and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our programs, including Mindset Education, the QSTP Incubation Center, XLR8, and our Research To Startup initiative, which supports the commercialization of research, are all highly-acclaimed and recognized within Qatar’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

And we continuously look to be bigger and better, which is why we introduced the MENA Dojo program – in partnership with 500 Startups – to level the entrepreneurial playing field in the region and accelerate its development to make it globally competitive.

Our goal is to be the MENA region’s leading growth accelerator for tech startups. We look to support strong MENA-based tech startups who have significant sales and a unique value proposition, focused on growth and are close to raising follow-on Series A investment.

The MENA region has seen great success stories, with Careem at the forefront. They have firmly demonstrated the region’s ability to produce startups that can rival the best in the world.

At QSTP, we are confident the MENA Dojo, along with our other programs, will continue to add value and drive the next billion-dollar startup, forever changing the entrepreneurial landscape of the region. For all that we’ve achieved so far, we are just getting started.