THE RIGHT STUFF

Qatar 2019 | QATAR NATIONAL VISION 2030 | INTERVIEW

As a leading innovation hub and incubator, places like QSTP are reprogramming the country's DNA for the future.

Yosouf Abdulrahman Saleh
BIOGRAPHY
Yosouf Abdulrahman Saleh joined QSTP as executive director in October 2018. He brings a wealth of expertise to this senior leadership role from the fields of tech development and research. Over the past 24 years, he has held technical, management, and research positions in the oil and gas industry in Qatar, starting his career in 1997 as a quality controller at Qatar Petrochemical Company (QAPCO) before rapidly progressing to leadership positions. In 2007, he joined the Qatar Shell Research & Technology Centre (QSRTC), an anchor tenant of QSTP. In 2011, he was vice president at QSRTC where he oversaw its USD100 million investment in research, with a specific focus on gas plant corrosion and CO2 utilization and water solutions.

How can new companies entering Qatar benefit from the technological environment at QSTP?

QSTP is cultivating an open ecosystem for research, development, innovation, and tech entrepreneurship under the framework of the Qatar Foundation Research, Development, and Innovation (QFRDI). Our role is to nurture technology innovation through our extensive accelerator, incubation, and innovation-driven education programs, which aim to facilitate the creation, acceleration, and scaling up of startups that have the potential to offer tech-based solutions. QSTP serves as a medium for both multinationals and startups to share their ideas with each other, and our free zone is home to some of the region's most brilliant minds when it comes to technological innovation. We create opportunities for mentorship, and connections for regional and global technology startups and entrepreneurs. Companies have access to the right expertise and knowledge, and the opportunity for collaboration with different entities within the Qatar tech innovation ecosystem. This valuable process of knowledge transfer with institutions across the world is a strategy we believe will deliver a positive impact on people's lives, both locally and internationally. QSTP's free zone provides facilities, service, and space for tech-based companies and entrepreneurs to develop their knowledge and ideas, while benefitting from the free zone's tax exemption status.

What companies are based in QSTP's free zone, and who will enter in 2019?

We have attained significant milestones since our establishment. Free zone tenants include leading global companies across different sectors, including aviation, energy, IT, and technology services. We have already achieved a 90% occupancy rate and should soon reach full occupancy. Our commitment to incubate and develop local tech startups is yielding results, as graduates from our accelerator and incubation programs have not only been recognized by Qatar's most prestigious technology awards, but also gone on to secure significant investment and market their products internationally.

In terms of funding, how do you help develop new ideas or business models?

QSTP recognizes that one of the biggest challenges in any entrepreneur's journey is funding. Through our Product Development Fund (PDF), we help SMEs and startups accelerate the development of products and services that are relevant to local market needs. Selected companies must focus on one of our priority industries: energy, environment, healthcare, or ICT, and are given access to funding of up to QAR1.4 million. The Tech Venture Fund (TVF) is another opportunity for tech founders and entrepreneurs to source seed-stage capital when they are first embarking on their journey. As the business matures and the value proposition becomes clear, QSTP can leverage the TVF to participate in a Series A or B round of funding.

How do you help companies get connected to the international IT landscape?

QSTP serves as an international hub for scientific and technological innovation, tech-based entrepreneurship, and high-tech businesses. The wide-ranging research, innovation and entrepreneurship programs offered by QSTP are intended to connect people across the region and globe, which could be access to human capital or a new market. As part of our commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the MENA region, we have worked with the European Innovation Academy (EIA) to introduce the Arab Innovation Academy (AIA) to our range of programs. AIA gives aspiring 'techpreneurs' from Qatar, the MENA region, and the global community an opportunity to tap into the experience of leading experts and learn more about the latest developments in the fields of science and technology while developing their own startups, in just 10 intensive days. ✖