REACHING FOR THE STARS

Qatar 2020 | EDUCATION & RESEARCH | INTERVIEW

QNRF's mission is simple: to nurture a research culture that can build local human capacity and establish Qatar as a hub for scientific innovation and technological development.

Abdul Sattar Al-Taie
BIOGRAPHY

Abdul Sattar Al-Taie is the executive director of QNRF. He earned his PhD, MSc, DIC, BSc, and ACGI in chemical engineering from Imperial College, London. Prior to his formative work at QNRF, Al-Taie held key positions in Iraq with the Ministry of Oil, Iraqi Atomic Commission, Ministry of Industry and Minerals, and the National Committee for Technology Transfer. Al-Taie also taught at a number of Iraqi universities and supervised a number of MSc and PhD students. He received numerous decorations and awards throughout his career, including the prestigious Science Medal of the Republic of Iraq.

Can you give us an overview of the institution's journey?
During the 10 years since our inception, QNRF has emerged as a catalyst for Qatar's social and economic advancement. All our operations and activities are driven by the mission to create and nurture a research culture, build local human capacity, and establish Qatar as a regional hub for scientific innovation and technological development. To achieve this, we have developed a diverse portfolio of research funding and capacity building programs, which have helped realize our vision of becoming an enabler for R&D and help Qatar develop a sustainable and diversified economy. Whether you are a student or a well-established researcher, QNRF will support you in pursuing your research, ranging across topics as diverse as astrophysics or the architectural history of Qatar.

How did you structure QNRF?
We have three primary suites of funding programs: research programs, capacity building and development programs, and special programs, all of which are strictly run on a competitive basis to ensure quality and equal opportunity. Under research programs, we have our flagship program, the National Priorities Research Program, and the Thematic and Grand Challenges Research Program (TGRP), which address the challenges faced by Qatar in collaboration with local and international partners. Through our capacity-building and development programs, we ensure that researchers at all levels and across all disciplines can rely on QNRF to learn more about research and build their skills and profile. Our programs offer support to students as early as primary school right up to postdoctoral. Moreover, we also have a dedicated program that helps young researchers establish their careers during the early stages. Our special programs aim to increase the technology-readiness levels (TRL) of locally produced research and encourage our researchers to gain international experience and exposure by attending international conferences and participating in research exchange opportunities inside and outside Qatar. These programs are developing the future of Qatar's research leadership and help our researchers keep up to date with the latest developments and innovations internationally.

What is the size of the participation in your funding programs?
QNRF has launched more than 100 calls under the banner of more than 18 funding programs. These calls received more than 14,000 proposals, with more than 3,500 receiving funding. Through these programs and initiatives, we have funded around 2,600 investigators, both in Qatar and abroad, to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and build networks with research centers worldwide. Our funding programs focus on quality rather than quantity. An example of our success includes the steady improvement in the international ranking of Qatari and Qatar-based institutions. Moreover, in terms of scholarly output, there has been an impressive upward trend, both in the quantity and quality of publications where the Mean Subject Citation Score (MSCS) for our publications has reached 1.40, surpassing the world average of 1.

How is your institution taking Qatar closer to the objectives dictated in the Qatar National Vision 2030?
Our primary goal is to help the country's economy transition from a hydrocarbon-dependent to a sustainable and diversified economy, and our programs reflect the aims set forth in the Qatar National Vision 2030 by focusing on three key elements: research, development, and innovation (RDI). Along with our partners and stakeholders, we are helping the ongoing research process to move across the full value chain of RDI to the stage where we will see the establishment of SME companies and industries. With the establishment of the Qatar Research Development and Innovation (QRDI) Council, the time is now ripe to improve the entire value chain and take the outcomes of the research compartment to higher TRLs, then to development and innovation compartments, culminating in the establishment of knowledge-based companies. QNRF is actively working with QRDI and various government and industry stakeholders to meet these objectives.