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Experts discuss business innovation ecosystem in Qatar

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Qatar is witnessing rise in number of startups as the country has a strong ecosystem and is taking proper approach in terms of open innovation discussed panellists during an online event, held recently.

Qatar Research, Development and Innovation Council (QRDI) organised a webinar entitled ‘Corporate Innovation as a Competitive Tool: Is Open Innovation an effective form of Corporate Innovation?’ which highlighted the progress of Qatar’s business innovation ecosystem and shared insights for its successful advancement. The panellists gave insights into open innovation and its role in promoting collaboration between internal and external players, offering opportunities to leverage external knowledge and research and development, and contributing to Qatar’s economy.

Addressing the event, Kamran Siddiqui, Senior Director of Strategy, Ooredoo Qatar, “Qatar is taking proper approach in terms of open innovation. As a country we have got the proper mindset and a strong structure and support system that’s been put in place from the government, enabled by big corporates like Ooredoo and other Q companies. The overall Qatari startup ecosystem is growing with the support of entities like QRDI, QBIC, QSTP who have been helping to boost the vibrant environment within the country. They have been focused on bringing universities, big techs, corporates, startups, and VCs.”

Overall, the progress has been good in terms of looking at open innovation. Citing example about Ooredoo, he noted that “over the last four years we have gone through and looked at about close to about 1000 different solutions and startups both internationally as well as locally in Qatar whereby bringing new innovative technologies and ideas to Ooredoo.” Siddiqui added, “We are working with the startups, bringing them in through the pilot phase and then seeing how the technology can be adapted to the problem or challenge at hand.”

“That is the thing that I like about innovation. You just spark the idea, and there are tons of startups out there, both locally and internationally, that you can very quickly work with to take that inception to a running pilot,” said Siddiqui. “Companies’ procurement cycles would be too long to develop these ideas from start to end,” he added, “this is where we are all looking forward to working with QRDI. We have got two innovation calls and we are hoping in the next few weeks and months to take those into a pilot stage as well.”

Haya Al Ghanim, Director of Innovation Programs at the QRDI Council said, Qatar Open Innovation (QOI) connects opportunity owners with local and global innovators to develop innovative technologies and solutions. “We launched this program earlier this year which is inspired by QRDI 2030 strategy to foster businesses R&D partnerships in Qatar. We want to see local entities doing more piloting, deploying innovative solutions, mainly for economic and social impact and we want to attract the best RDI talent.”

“We do this by focusing on building a bridge of partnerships and collaboration between opportunity owners and the innovators. Our main objectives of this program are to strengthen our innovation network, we want to build our research, development and innovation talent in Qatar and want to adopt innovation and emphasise of Qatar’s innovation leadership.

The main services that QRDI provides are workshops for innovation identification, structuring and evaluation, the issuing of innovation call to invite innovators to submit their proposals and find the most suitable piloting partner and providing the funding.

“I saw the most genuine interest from our local corporates to launch innovation calls. Everyone is incentivized to make this work. And we, at QRDI, want to see this locally empowered, globally connected innovation ecosystem brought to fruition,” said Al Ghanim.

Also speaking during the webinar, Mariano Amartino, Microsoft Startups Director for Americas discussed about the models of corporate innovation. “Open innovation is when you are sharing your knowledge with outside partners.

“I truly believe in the concept of ecosystem. An ecosystem is always evolving and everyone in it is also evolving. An open innovation strategy is basically where companies identify their pain points; the processes and internal processes used to tackle current problems, and the approach to solving them,” said Amartino. “People outside the company are then able to understand what processes can be improved, and which can be completely replaced. When you work with startups you start having fresh eyes and fresh ideas,” he added.

The webinar was moderated by Rachel Chalmers, Managing Director of Corporate Innovation at Alchemist Accelerator – a QRDI partner. The panelists emphasised the importance of businesses harnessing open innovation as a competitive tool and drive innovation from idea to reality, and from challenge to solution.

Source and image credit: The Peninsula.