Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) has announced the activation of a number of initiatives with ‘500 Startups’, a global venture capital seed fund, to help the region’s rising technology start-up scene. The initiatives are the result of an MOU signed between QSTP’s parent organization, Qatar Foundation Research & Development (QF R&D), and ‘500 Startups’ earlier this year.
As per the MOU, QF R&D is working with ‘500 Startups’ through the 500 Startups MENA Fund, known as ‘500 Falcons’, which achieved a first closing earlier this month. Looking to invest in 100 to 150 companies and keeping a reserve follow-on investment, the ‘500 Falcons’ fund will focus on early-stage startups in the MENA region, MENA diaspora founders, and non-MENA founders targeting MENA countries.
In addition, QSTP and ‘500 Startups’ launched a new regional accelerator, ‘Doha Dojo’, which brings the coveted 500 Startups ‘Series A Accelerator Program’ to the MENA region. The program will run once a year in Doha, accepting a limited number of regional tech-startups that have achieved a ‘product market fit’ milestone in their startup development lifecycle, received funding from ‘500 Falcons’, and are ready to scale up their business.
The first batch of nine companies from across the Arab world will showcase their tech products at a special ‘Investors Day’ organized by QSTP on May 23 at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC). It will serve as an ideal opportunity for participants to build bridges with potential investors from around the Arab world.
Additionally, the ‘Investors Day’ will feature six new startup ‘spinoffs’ from QF’s Research-to-Startup (RTS) program launched earlier this year by QSTP in partnership with Wasabi Global Ventures, Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI), and QF’s Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer (IPTT) office. The RTS is designed to be a smooth launch-pad of startups that leverage technologies developed by research and academic institutes in Doha.
Commenting on QF’s contribution to the ‘500 Falcons’ fund, Dr. Hamad Al Ibrahim, Executive Vice President, QF R&D, said: “Qatar Foundation’s mission to support innovation is the main drive behind our partnership with 500 Startups. I believe this is the beginning of a new era for tech-startups in the region, who will be enabled by this initiative and the expert organizations behind it. We endeavor to create enough momentum to spur progress and empower our youth to excel in-line with the world’s tech entrepreneurship scene.”
Dr. Maher Hakim, QSTP Executive Director, commented on QSTP’s recent efforts, saying: “We are in pursuit of a dynamic and sustainable technology startup ecosystem in Qatar and the wider region. The partnerships with global ecosystem builders, such as ‘500 Startups’ and Wasabi, are part of a strategy to integrate Qatar’s young tech entrepreneurship ecosystem within the regional and global ones.”
“The impact of these partnerships is already being felt as 15 promising tech startups will pitch their ideas and business visions to investors from Qatar and the region in the focused ‘Investors Day’. This event is designed to broaden the horizons and opportunities of local and regional tech-startups.”
The ‘Investors Day’ will also feature a series of side activities to help participants build lasting business relationships. The side events will include roundtable discussion on the status of venture capital and corporate strategic investment and funding in the MENA region, and discussions on exploring ways to further strengthen the innovation ecosystem in the wider region.
To learn more about ‘Investors Day’ and other events and programs visit QSTP’s website: www.qstp.org.qa