QSTP releases innovation grant scheme

Fund set up to help local organisations develop and trial technologies

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By  Published  September 8, 2006

Qatar Science and Technology Park has announced a new grant programme that will help researchers to move their innovations from the laboratory to the marketplace. 

The QSTP Proof of Concept Fund provides up to $500,000 for universities, government agencies and small companies to develop and trial their nascent technologies.

The programme provides grants of between US$100,000 and US$500,000 for up to six projects a year.  Applicants can be small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), academic institutes, and public-sector institutes, that are located in Qatar, or willing to undertake the project in Qatar.  Grants can be used to build prototypes, conduct market research, and protect intellectual property.

“When you look at the impressive research institutes that are being established in Qatar, and the fact that Qatar Science and Technology Park’s business incubator is opening within a year, it makes enormous sense to start transforming that research into new business,” said Paul Field, QSTP’s Technology Transfer Manager, who manages the fund.

“Our experience is that there are only a handful of places in the world where there is genuine support for commercialising early-stage technologies, and the Proof of Concept Fund means that Doha will be one of them,” Field added.

Key targets for the QSTP Proof of Concept Fund are science universities in Qatar such as Carnegie Mellon, Qatar University, Texas A&M and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Dr Chuck Thorpe, dean of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, said: “We’re very interested in the whole lifecycle of ideas, from basic research to new companies and technologies.  We are very pleased that the Proof of Concept Fund is being introduced by the science park, because so often the toughest stage in innovation is the first step when you think you’ve got a winning technology but you need to convince potential investors – and yourself.”

Qatar Science & Technology Park will also launch a start-up fund and a venture-capital fund before the end of the year.

In June QSTP tenant Microsoft announced it would invest US$4million in six technology-related projects at the since park over the next year.

These include a collaborative research project with Carnegie Mellon on the development of English language written communication skills among students in Qatar to contribute to the country’s current language education policy and practice.

Microsoft is also developing an Arabic Digital Literacy Curriculum that it said would increase Qatar’s ability to take advantage of emerging technologies and implementing its IT Academy programme to provide academic institutions with teaching tools.

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