Partnering For Entrepreneurial Achievement: Ooredoo And QBIC To Launch Tech-Focused Startup Incubator SMEs in Qatar will be happy to hear about this: Qatari telecom giant Ooredoo has signed an agreement with the Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC) to launch an incubator catering to startups in the booming GCC state, especially in the tech sector.

By Kareem Chehayeb

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Ooredoo, QBIC
Ooredoo Qatar COO Waleed Al Sayed and QBIC CEO Aysha Al Mudahka

SMEs in Qatar will be happy to hear about this: Qatari telecom giant Ooredoo has signed an agreement with the Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC) to launch an incubator catering to startups in the booming GCC state, especially in the tech sector. After announcing the incubator, called Digital and Beyond, they also announced a contest, calling on entrepreneurs across the country to pitch their ideas, with Ooredoo to pick the most "disruptive" ideas from the submissions.

The lucky startups that benefit from this incubator start with seed funding from Ooredoo. QBIC is also willing to splash cash, allowing the startups to connect with partners and affiliates, notably the Social Development Center and Qatar Development Bank (QDB). Setting money aside, the startups will receive all sorts of mentoring support from industry specialists. As for the workspaces? Top notch. The 251 sq. m. space will be within QBIC, and be managed by Ooredoo. Digital and Beyond will have three zones, designed specifically for startups. The first zone will be a collaboration zone that allows startups to network, share ideas, and work together; the second zone comprises of private spaces for meetings; and lastly, a community zone: "treps need a break too!

Could this incubator be the "Silicon Valley" that takes Qatar's entrepreneurial ecosystem to a new level? Looks like it. With Digital and Beyond, many young Qatari entrepreneurs are going to be keen to take advantage of the opportunity it presents. Not only that, it will also provide more opportunities for Ooredoo to expand its ventures as well. Qatar is already working hard on improving its entrepreneurial ecosystem, whether it's by improving its tech infrastructure or setting up stronger educational facilities. One thing is for sure: we should expect to see an impressive ROI in Qatar in the future.

Empowering Entrepreneurs: Aysha Al Mudahka, CEO, QBIC

As the CEO of Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC), Aysha Al Mudahka is emphatic on the importance of homegrown entrepreneurs in the overall development of Qatar as a nation. "Entrepreneurship underpins the country's National Vision 2030, and by supporting SMEs to grow and achieve solid success, QBIC is creating the next generation of Qatari business leaders," she says. "It's important for Qatar to support entrepreneurs as per the National Vision; having a notable and strong private sector will play a role in the local, regional and international market, and thus it is vital to support entrepreneurs to successfully kick off with the facilities at hand."

QBIC's flagship Lean Startup Program is an entrepreneurial program, which provides real world, hands-on, learning experience on how to successfully start a business. The 10-week program is based on a business model rather than a business plan, and encourages entrepreneurs to develop a prototype, which needs to be constantly improved, as opposed to going big with the final product at the very beginning. Once the business idea and prototype is refined and developed, entrepreneurs pitch for a chance to be incubated and supported financially by QBIC. Once the startups become incubated, they receive smart financing, coaching and mentoring, office space, and networking opportunities from within QBIC.

"Qatar Business Incubation Centre (QBIC) sees Qatar's entrepreneurs today as the future of Qatari business success and economic growth," says Al Mudahka. "QBIC is here to help new startups and SMEs in Qatar to achieve solid success. In an attempt to develop the local private sector, QBIC is paving the way for aspiring entrepreneurs to realize their ideas and see them grow."

Kareem Chehayeb

Former Columnist & Online Liaison, Entrepreneur Middle East

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