Demo Day: A novel platform for Qatar innovators
05 Mar 2017 - 11:57
By Fazeena Saleem | The Peninsula
Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), Qatar’s primary accelerator and incubator for technology development, on Thursday hosted the fourth Demo Day for its ongoing ‘Accelerator Programme’.
Serving as a unique platform for Qatar’s aspiring entrepreneurs and technology innovators, the Demo Day featured six innovative projects relevant to a range of industries in Qatar, including business, tourism and technology. The Demo day was held as part of ‘QSTP Afterhours’ event.
The Demo Day aims to bridge the gap between research innovations and the needs of the market by creating a synergy among entrepreneurs and investors from across various sectors of in Qatar.
“This event has a great impact. It brings three communities together that we are part of. It includes our tenants who are R&D sector and the technology, the technology companies, university students and techpreneurs and the QF community,” Dr Maher Hakim, Managing Director of QSTP told The Peninsula.
“We have multiple programmes and what you see at the Demo day is the result of a three month training and mentorship provided for aspiring entrepreneurs to help them take their ideas to the market,” he added.
QSTP’s ‘Accelerator Programme’ is an intensive three-month programme designed to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with training and mentorship to help them take their ideas to the market. It combines funding and mentoring, setting out three clear objectives or outcomes for those accepted into the programme: create a conceptual prototype, verify commercial viability, and access potential investors.
One of the projects showcased at the fourth Demo Day of ‘Accelerator Programme’ was MAKTAPP, Cloud Solutions which provides any business to have all its information under one platform. It helps to do tasks such as set tasks for a business, upload and save documents to reach easily, organise meetings and programmes, issue invoices and make payments online.
“It’s a good experience for a Qatari like me to come from the non business environment to an business environment. It is challenging, it’s a new experience for me, that’s why I took it up. The MAKTAPP Cloud Solutions is where any business can keep all their details under one platform,” said Waleed Al Yafie, CTO and Founder of MAKTAPP Cloud Solutions .
“We have studied the market and there is a demand for the app in Qatar and outside. With the support of QSTP we will promote the product to get it commercialised,” he added. Al Yafie also said that through the ‘Accelerator Programme’, QSTP provides a great opportunity for innovative ideas to gain momentum and become fully-fledged marketable business ideas.
Another innovative project displayed at the Demo Day, ‘V for Vanity’ a solution for men’s hair problems.
“It’s the only product dedicated to men’s hair problems. My interest in developing the product is a personal story as there are no products solely for men’s hair problems. Most available in the market are unisex products,” said Emad Al Khaja, the inventor of ‘V for Vanity.’ He plans to launch the product to the market within the next three months.
Offbeat Qatar is another interesting project presented during the Demo day. It will benefit people who think that there is nothing to do in Qatar and it’s very boring here. The website offers detailed information about, beaches, deserts, heritage sites and museums, natural places, unique restaurants, souqs and shops.
“Most people say that there is nothing to do in Qatar, but we explore nice things every weekend. So started making a website, and put the content we have overwhelming good response. Within one month we have 1000 unique visitors, 1000 follower on social media. We want Offbeat Qatar to be a place where people can find unique and authentic information about places in Qatar,” said Willem van de Sande, co founder of Offbeat Qatar.
Since the launch of QSTP’s ‘Accelerator Programme’, there has been an increased interest in participation from national innovators and entrepreneurs. The programme’s first cohort received 27 applications, the second 57 applications, and the third cohort an impressive 103 applications. The fourth cohort expanded participation further, and it screened a record 269 applications.
‘Accelerator Programme’ also aims at bridging the gap between research and commercialisation, while facilitating the transformation of inspiring ideas into feasible products that address various market demands. Providing entrepreneurs in Qatar with comprehensive training that helps them turn an idea into a prototype, QSTP’s ‘Accelerator Programme’ is part of Qatar Foundation’s (QF) unique approach to research and development.
In addition to the Demo Day presentations, the ‘QSTP Afterhours’ event displayed companies, food stalls, life-size games. It was an informal social and business networking platform targeting stakeholders of the innovation value chain in Qatar, with a special focus on university students and techpreneurs.