Innovation can take many forms. Qatar’s vision for a sustainable, diversified economy as stipulated in the Qatar National Vision 2030, and as further articulated in the National Development Strategies, requires the expansion of R&D-based innovation. This type of innovation leverages research and development for the creation of products or services that can be new to an organization, market or world. It can involve the development of new knowledge or technology, or adaptation of existing technology in novel ways to ultimately provide a positive economic and societal impact.
QRDI 2030 places the business sector, comprised of large local enterprises, multinational corporations (MNCs), start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as the primary driver of R&D-based innovation. Government entities also play a key role, as enablers of business sector activity, as potential buyers of innovative products and services, and as innovators, translating research outputs into policy reforms that benefit the nation. QRDI 2030 seeks to drive its business sector toward lending greater focus in the area of innovation and value creation through new or significantly improved R&D-based products or services, or, in the case of government, research-based policies to meet end-user needs.
How can the business sector and government actively engage in R&D-based innovation? Through the roadmap presented by QRDI 2030, large local enterprises and government entities, for instance, can create domestic demand for innovative products and services by sourcing, testing and co-developing solutions with local innovative businesses. This domestic market serves as a gateway for local, up and coming innovators to access regional and global markets. Furthermore, greater R&D-based activities conducted by the business sector can pull outputs from research and academia and enable their successful commercialization. At the same time, MNCs with RDI centers in Qatar can develop solutions to meet local, regional and global market needs, attract and grow the RDI talent pool and support greater knowledge and skill transfer. The business sector also includes entrepreneurs, who can engage in high-risk, R&D-based ventures that help diversify the economy, create new exports and cultivate new jobs.
There are abundant opportunities for both local and global entities to expand R&D-based innovation in Qatar. Indeed, QRDI 2030 sets forth an invitation for its people and international communities to partake in the innovation journey underway.
Qatar has built large and strategic enterprises across key economic sectors including oil and gas, healthcare, finance, telecommunications, construction, hospitality, logistics and media. These provide a significant contribution to the Qatar economy by delivering solutions that serve both local and global market needs.
Large local enterprises can leverage technological innovations to enhance productivity, improve internal processes, and increase competitiveness by potentially introducing new products or services to their domestic and international markets. QRDI 2030 supports Qatar’s large enterprises in their endeavour to tap into technological innovations that boost efficiency and supports business growth. Key to this is engaging with R&D partners through various models such as open innovation, co-development projects and early adopter pilots, in order to deploy effective corporate innovation practices.
SME Product Innovation
Qatar’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play an important role in the Qatar economy. This sector includes technology product re-sellers, service providers and system integrators, all of whom provide key services to the Qatari market by importing, deploying and maintaining solutions for government, businesses and consumers. SMEs hold a deep knowledge and understanding of the local market, and skilfully navigate the challenges associated with acquiring and deploying imported products and technologies that serve local market needs.
QRDI 2030 supports SMEs in their the ambition to invest and build internal capabilities that can lead to product development and innovation which ultimately serves their customers. Introducing enhanced and/or new products and services can help SMEs grow and seize new business opportunities, whether locally, regionally or globally.
Multinational R&D Innovation Centers
Qatar’s young and growing market offers an excellent testing and piloting ground for technological solutions developed by multinational companies (MNCs). MNCs conducting R&D activities in Qatar can leverage Qatar’s hubbed logistics, capabilities and strategic location to better support their clients, while also partnering with RDI actors across Qatar’s globally recognized institutions to further advance their work. At the same time, R&D centers by MNCs in Qatar help facilitate RDI talent development, knowledge transfer, and accelerate the transformation of science and technology into innovative products and solutions for government, consumers and other businesses.
Government plays an important role, both as an innovation beneficiary and actor, in the RDI value chain. Government can provide much needed support to companies as testbeds for technology proof-of-concepts, pilots for prototypes, and early adopters of new products and solutions, all of which ultimately aim to improve public services for the citizens and residents of Qatar.
R&D-based start-ups develop disruptive technologies or solutions with high-growth potential and form an important element of any vibrant RDI ecosystem. Such start-ups often become catalysts for adoption of an innovation mindset and encourage government, industry, and wider society to embrace innovation in everyday work and life practices.
QRDI 2030 places special emphasis on start-ups and entrepreneurs as drivers of Qatar’s RDI transformation over the coming decade. The presence and growth of both local and global R&D-based start-ups will fuel, support and reinforce the efforts of other RDI players in Qatar.
Private venture capital (VC) firms are an important funding source, providing support to start-ups during their multiple stages of growth and development. The risk appetite of VCs fits well with the uncertain outlook on most start-ups. As such, VCs often play a unique role that few other funding sources can match and are a critical constituent of successful start-up ecosystems. Funds derived through VCs can help start-ups accelerate their growth, acquire market share and anchor their presence in a competitive market.
Corporate Venture Funds
Large companies can often gain access to the latest technologies and product developments by investing in innovative start-ups related to their fields. In this way, companies can boost their competitiveness by being the first to identify and explore new opportunities for growth. Through their investment, companies also provide the start-ups with valuable management and marketing expertise, distribution channels, and an entry to market.
Qatar’s well-established, large corporations can leverage the innovative drive of start-ups to adopt new technologies, improve efficiencies, meet evolving consumer needs and potentially realize their global ambitions. Present across a wide-range of economic sectors including oil and gas, healthcare, finance, telecommunications, construction, hospitality, logistics and media, these organizations play an important roles in supporting local start-ups and attracting global start-ups toward these strategic economic sectors.
Start-Up Accelerators and Incubators
Start-up accelerators and incubators provide fuel to RDI ecosystems. They offer mentorship, structured skill development, and, at times, an injection of capital to early-stage enterprises. As start-ups mature, they can facilitate expansion opportunities into different markets or regions.