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To Advance Qatar's Tech Ecosystem, An Investment In Human Capital Is Needed Through its numerous affiliate organizations, Qatar Foundation is making a significant impact in the technology and research development sector in Qatar.

By Dr. Maher Hakim

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Qatar Science & Technology Park
Qatar Science & Technology Park

Through its numerous affiliate organizations, Qatar Foundation is making a significant impact in the technology and research development sector in Qatar. Thanks to the extensive research being conducted by a number of its institutions including, but not limited to, Qatar Computing Research Institute, Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, Qatar Biomedical Research Institute, Carnegie Mellon University Qatar, Texas A&M Qatar, and Weil Cornell Medicine in Doha, Qatar has arguably become the most progressive and largest technology hub in the region.

Largely funded by the Qatar National Research Fund, the research being carried out is advancing the local technology sector, while addressing many local and global challenges. Although our researchers are making tremendous progress in further developing the technology and research development ecosystem in the country, figuring out how we can turn our investment in research and technology development into tangible products and services for the benefit of the wider community remains a challenge.

If we are to make a significant social and economic impact from our investment in technology research, it is crucial for Qatar to continue to advance its local technology ecosystems while integrating into the regional ecosystem. Emphasis needs to be placed on encouraging the private sector and entrepreneurs to not shy away from risk-taking, but to rather branch out from traditional service-based sectors such as transportation, retail, education, healthcare, and finance, and tap into the product-based and solutionbased sectors.

We must make it our priority to challenge industry and thought paradigms that are resistant to change and hinder risk-taking. It is our responsibility to encourage our future leaders to forge a new path and to actively seek out solutions to local challenges through technological innovation.

Related: Three Necessary Factors To Establish A Qatari Silicon Valley

A session in progress at QSTP
Source: QSTP

Having recently taken on the role of Managing Director of Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), it is a great honor for me to be part of an organization that aspires to lead on technology entrepreneurship in Qatar and the wider region. QSTP actively explores new routes to advance technological growth in the non-traditional sectors. As the main contributor to the innovation entrepreneurial ecosystem and an applied technology enabler in Qatar, QSTP intends to help with economic diversification and boosting homegrown technologies, as well as investing in human capital that benefits Qatar and the rest of the world. I believe that being adaptable, while remaining focused on our vision, is the key to our success, enabling us to further drive the success of our resident companies, programs, and the local and regional ecosystems.

Investing in human capital is key to addressing the challenge of translating our technology and research development into tangible products or services that have a positive impact on society. This means going beyond the traditional science and technology education into educational and mentorship programs to create know-how in all aspects of product development, innovation entrepreneurship, and creative collaboration.

I have had the privilege of seeing the support Qatar Foundation offers youth in Qatar, and how they are encouraged to be creative, inventive and entrepreneurial. The educational institutions within Education City are encouraging our future leaders to forge a new path and to actively seek out solutions to local challenges through technological innovation.

Youth in Qatar –both local and expats- are our future leaders and the change agents who will one day be responsible for advancing the nation and region through their innovation in entrepreneurship and research development. Nurturing a creative environment that encourages youth to be both adaptable and innovative in the ever-changing technology ecosystem, will inspire them to proactively address local and global challenges through advanced technology and research development solutions that are far-reaching.

Related: The Middle East Is Ripe For Technology Entrepreneurship

Dr. Maher Hakim

Managing Director, Qatar Science & Technology Park

Dr. Maher Hakim is a sought-out expert and educator in technology innovation and entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship financing, venture capital, and mergers and acquisitions in the tech industry.

He has been recently appointed as Managing Director of Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP), Qatar’s primary accelerator and incubator for technology development, also part of Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D). Before assuming his most recent role, Dr. Hakim was an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at Carnegie Mellon University Qatar and head of CMUQ-Al Faisal Innovation Entrepreneurship Center. He also serves on the Council of the European Innovation Academy- a non-profit educational institution recognized globally for excellence in tech entrepreneurship education.

Dr. Hakim has about 20 years of experience as a high-tech entrepreneur and a corporate executive in the information technology industry. Between 1994 and 2012, Dr. Hakim lived in the Silicon Valley, founded five technology startup companies, and served in various management and leadership roles at large software companies such as Infor and Autodesk. He was involved in many mergers and acquisitions tech transactions on both sides and participated in taking one company public on the Nasdaq stock market. Dr. Maher Hakim is also a board member, advisor and mentor to several tech start-up companies and is an active angel investor, in addition to being a prolific blog writer on the subjects of innovation and entrepreneurship.

He holds a Ph.D. in Computer-Aided Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University (1993), an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1990), and a BS in Civil Engineering from Damascus University (1987).

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