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Qatar set to expand science and technology park

QSTP chief says park has reached 95% capacity; expansion will create more opportunities for tech entrepreneurs

Qatar set to expand science and technology park
Qatar Science & Technology Park is set to expand.

Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) will expand, adding three new buildings, only five years after it opened, managing director Hamad Al Kuwari has said.

Revealing the centre in Doha has reached 95 percent capacity, Al Kuwari said the expansion would help to create more opportunities among technology entrepreneurs as well as additional jobs.

There are now more than 40 tenants at QSTP, including American conglomerate General Electric.

QSTP is this week hosting the 31st International Association of Science Parks (IASP) World Conference, a gathering of more than 600 delegates from technology and innovation firms and research centres.

It is the first time the conference has been held in the Arab world, delegates are discussing the role of science and technology parks as catalysts for technology development, as well as exploring new models of support for start-ups and established businesses working on new ideas.

Al Kuwari said QSTP also was working with the Qatari government to improve the regulatory framework needed to support new ideas and technology businesses.

Qatar has stated its intention for innovation to help divert the economy away from its heavy reliance on oil and gas.

Al Kuwari said while Qataris were interested in innovation, there was competition for talent.

"We have the vision, however, we're in competition as well with many industries who are trying to attract talent," he said.

However, he did not agree that similar ambitions announced by neighbouring countries, particularly the UAE, to become global leaders in innovation would negatively impact on Qatar's plans.

"I don't see that as competition, rather we're complimenting each other," he said.

"Yes, we have similar missions and visions [but] one of the benefits of this conference is to [determine] how we can synergise between us, how we can work together, fulfilling each other's vision but at the same time helping each other in different perspectives."

IASP president Rick Weddle told Arabian Business his research showed ideas were more likely to succeed if they were fostered in science and technology parks rather than by stand alone entrepreneurs, despite many of the world's most well-known technology innovations having emerged from bedrooms and colleges.

"You don't have to do everything yourself [if you're based in a science and technology park], there's shared facilities [and] you have mentors and advisors that you can ask questions of," he said.

"Innovation is very much based on chance encounters, you can't just write a plan and say we're going to go innovate ... they innovate when they engage with others and have opportunities to solve problems together, and chance encounters are increasing in frequency when you have people bumping into each other."

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