The 31st International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation World Conference (IASP 2014 Doha) was formally closed in Doha following a successful four-day event.
The summit, hosted by Qatar Foundation Research & Development’s Qatar Science and Technology Park, was attended by more than 500 Qatari and international delegates from the government and private sectors.
It underlined the increasingly important role that science and technology parks can offer entrepreneurs in Qatar, the region and around the world to develop their creative ideas and turn them into commercial enterprises.
Hamad Al Kuwari, Managing Director of Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and Head of the IASP 2014 Doha Organising Committee hailed the landmark event, held in the Arab world for the first time, as a great success. IASP 2014 Doha supports the mission of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) to build and develop capacity for creativity and critical thinking through research in education and science, hence the importance of QSTP to promote QF’s mandate.
The conference was also an important milestone highlighting QF’s key role in driving Qatar’s National Research Strategy, by developing Research and Development entities across the innovation value chain. These entities include the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF), three Qatar Research Institutes and QSTP, which serves as a Qatar’s primary incubator to help entrepreneurs plan, launch, and grow start-up technology companies.
Commenting on the successful conclusion of the summit at the Qatar National Convention Centre, Hamad Al-Kuwari said: “QSTP was selected to host IASP 2014 Doha due to its vision to create a vibrant culture of innovation and entrepreneurship – part of a wider and profound transformation of Qatar’s national economy. IASP 2014 Doha has demonstrated that QSTP not only provides local entrepreneurs with the infrastructure, regulatory and financial support that they need, but is also contributing more widely to share its knowledge and best practice with its peers.” “I am delighted by the thought-provoking input of our speakers and delegates, which demonstrated how quickly the challenges facing both science and technology parks and entrepreneurs are evolving every day. The role of these parks and other innovation clusters in enabling success is absolutely pivotal. The importance of collaboration to strengthen knowledge and maximise achievements was succinctly emphasised by entrepreneur ambassador Chad Hurley, Co-Founder of YouTube, and was further emphasised in the plenary sessions,” he added.
Hamad Al-Kuwari concluded: ‘The challenge now is to ensure that the learnings of this week translate into actions that will improve the levels of support provided to start up technology companies, not only in the region but across the world.”
The summit’s final plenary session titled ‘The impact of STPs/AIs today and tomorrow’, included high level innovation leaders from Jordan and the UK looking to the future of economic clusters supporting scientific innovation and technology entrepreneurs.
The final day also saw a special expert panel wrap-up session with speakers Mr Mclean Sibanda, CEO, The Innovation Hub, South Africa; Mr Patrick Whalen, COO, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in the US; Mr David Rowe, Director, Warwick Enterprise, UK; and Ms Carol Stewart, Founding Director & Immediate Past President, AURP Canada.
The lively discussion focused on a range of areas, including the substantial international opportunities to tackle bureaucracy and business restrictions that prevent innovation and economic growth. In the evening, QSTP hosted an exquisite Gala dinner for delegates at Qatar’s iconic Museum of Islamic Art on the Corniche.
As an event, IASP 2014 Doha pioneered several innovative technologies to engage young people in Qatar and enhance engagement among delegates. The summit also deployed Poke near field communication (NFC) technology, whereby delegates could exchange contact details and instantly receive information about the conference by swiping pokenTAGS at key points throughout the QNCC.
On Sunday, many residents across Qatar participated in an online quiz about innovation in Qatar, raising awareness of the resources QSTP can offer technology entrepreneurs in Qatar. On the final day of the event, QSTP awarded exclusive IASP 2014 Doha prizes to the highest scorers of the quiz. On Tuesday evening, IASP’s General Assembly announced that the 2016 World Conference will be hosted in Moscow by Technopark Skolkovo, in partnership with Lomonosov Moscow State University (MSU) Science Park and Technopark Strogino.
The Moscow parks beat bids from Teknopark Istanbul and Utrecht Science Park to host the 2016 World Conference in Turkey and The Netherlands, respectively. Last year, at IASP’s 30th annual meeting in Recife, Brazil, members selected Zhongguancun, China as the host of the 2015 IASP conference. The General Assembly also appointed Jean François Balducchi as the new IASP President, who will take over from Rick Weddle. Balducchi is the Chief Executive of Atlanpole, science park of Nantes in the west of France.