AT THE EDGE OF IN­NO­VA­TION

SCI­ENCE AND TECH­NOL­OGY PARKS: CON­NECT­ING PUB­LIC SEC­TOR, PRI­VATE EN­TER­PRISE, ED­U­CA­TIONAL AND RE­SEARCH IN­STI­TU­TIONS

Qatar Today - - NEWS BITES > WORLD VIEW - BY AYSWARYA MURTHY

Qatar Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Park (QSTP) may seem aban­doned to the unini­ti­ated, but the air is un­mis­tak­ably thick with elec­tric­ity. Even if you don't re­alise that it is at the very core of the coun­try's push for­ward into a knowl­edge econ­omy. Even if you don't know that five years since it be­gan op­er­a­tions, the tech park now hosts 40 lo­cal and global com­pa­nies car­ry­ing out dis­rup­tive re­search in the fields of en­ergy, health, sus­tain­abil­ity and in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy (ICT). Even if you are not aware that after 30 odd years, QSTP was in­stru­men­tal in mak­ing the world sit up and no­tice the new age of in­no­va­tion that is silently tak­ing root in the Arab world. The aura is un­mis­tak­able; it's that of change and new hori­zons.

At the re­cently con­cluded In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Sci­ence Parks (IASP) con­fer­ence in Doha, which at­tracted more than 500 del­e­gates from 50 coun­tries, Qatar To

day got an op­por­tu­nity to chat with sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy parks (STPs) from nearly ev­ery con­ti­nent of the globe to fig­ure out how they were ef­fect­ing change in the their lit­tle cor­ners of the world. Ir­re­spec­tive of whether they were gov­ern­ment sup­ported or non-profit, con­fined to a cam­pus or spread out over a city, pro­moted lo­cal small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) or cov­eted for­eign multi­na­tional com­pa­nies (MNCs), were en­gaged in re­viv­ing their econ­omy or kick-start­ing a new one, the un­der­ly­ing agenda was common – to drive in­no­va­tion by ef­fec­tively con­nect­ing the pub­lic sec­tor, pri­vate en­ter­prises, univer­si­ties and re­search in­sti­tutes.

In an ear­lier in­ter­view, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of QSTP and Head of the IASP 2014 Doha Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee, Ha­mad Al Kuwari, had said that hubs like QSTP and its coun­ter­parts around the world play a crit­i­cal role in spark­ing mean­ing­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion across sec­tors, en­sur­ing that his­toric in­vest­ments in ed­u­ca­tion and re­search pay off in the form of skills, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty and vi­able tech­nol­ogy busi­nesses. QSTP it­self is still in ex­pan­sion mode, Al Kuwari says, out­lin­ing the hub's fu­ture plans. “We are at 95% oc­cu­pancy and on track, hav­ing of­fi­cially started de­sign work on the next phase. The plan is to have two more build­ings within the park and free zone – a tech­nol­ogy build­ing sim­i­lar to Tech 1 and Tech 2, which in­cor­po­rates feed­back from

"THE CUL­TURE AND COM­MU­NITY WE HAVE DE­FINED AT THE PARK AMONG STAFF, TEN­ANTS AND QATAR’S WIDER EN­TRE­PRE­NEUR­IAL ECOSYS­TEM IS EX­CEL­LENT."

HA­MAD AL KUWARI Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor Qatar Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Park

our mem­bers, en­hanc­ing func­tion­al­ity and fur­ther sup­port­ing their work; and Tech 4, which is go­ing to be more of a work­shop where ten­ants who re­quire heavy-op­er­a­tion test­ing will be housed,” he said.

Speak­ing about the draw of QSTP, he said, “Com­pa­nies are at­tracted to QSTP's model, no­tably be­cause we of­fer world-class in­fra­struc­ture that sup­ports com­plex tech­nol­ogy re­search projects. Ad­di­tion­ally, we of­fer free­dom op­er­at­ing as a free zone, mean­ing we can li­cense com­pa­nies that are 100% for­eign-owned, with no tax­a­tion on their in­come or on im­ported goods used for tech­nol­ogy de­vel­op­ment.” But he says he is equally proud of the non-tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits of be­ing a part of QSTP. “The cul­ture and com­mu­nity we have de­fined at the park among staff, ten­ants and Qatar's wider en­tre­pre­neur­ial ecosys­tem is ex­cel­lent. We reg­u­larly bring lo­cal and global in­dus­try fig­ures in the health sciences, en­ergy and ICT sec­tors to QSTP for our TECHtalks se­ries, which has grown into a sought-after knowl­edge fo­rum. In­creas­ingly th­ese are the types of pro­grammes and ser­vices that add value for ten­ants and en­trepreneurs while in­creas­ing the at­trac­tive­ness of the clus­ter it­self.” This, he says, is the trend that is emerg­ing and what his coun­ter­parts around the world – from Brazil to Mus­cat – are im­ple­ment­ing

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