Ooredoo and Qatar Business Incubation Center (QBIC) have announced a partnership that will launch a state-of-the-art “Digital and Beyond” incubator within QBIC’s premises to encourage the creation of a new range of start-ups and technology-focused businesses, as well as a national contest for new start-up ideas.
The one-year agreement, which includes the option to renew every year, will enable Ooredoo to contribute to the development of Qatar’s economy, by supporting economic diversification, new business creation, and encouraging entrepreneurialism. It will also reduce the time to market for new digital products and services in Qatar, and open new business opportunities for Ooredoo in adjacent markets.
Through the partnership, Ooredoo will form a committee to evaluate and select “disruptive ideas” in the digital space, and provide seed-funding for the aspiring entrepreneurs. The first wave of ideas to be assessed will include innovative digital ideas focusing on customer experience, healthcare, education, sport, smart living and other areas.
In addition, Ooredoo will manage a 251 square meter space within QBIC, that will provide a modern working space for these start-up entrepreneurs, called “Digital and Beyond.”
QBIC, founded by Qatar Development Bank (QDB) and the Social Development Center (SDC) is a mixed-use business incubator in the Middle East, with a mission to develop the next QAR 100 million-value companies in Qatar.
Sheikh Saud bin Nasser Al Thani, CEO of Ooredoo Qatar, says: “Ooredoo is making every effort to ensure that Qatar achieves its vision of being a truly smart society, driven by innovation and the ambitions of our younger generation. We believe that the ‘Digital and Beyond’ incubator within QBIC could play a central role for Qatar, creating our own ‘Silicon Valley’ of start-ups and developers, and enabling young Qataris to propel their ideas for new businesses to a global audience.”
Abdulaziz Bin Nasser Al Khalifa, QDB CEO and QBIC Chairman adds: “QBIC and QDB are committed to developing the SME sector in Qatar, and by supporting technology-focused businesses, we will play a major role in offering employment, enrichment and development opportunities for young people. With the support of Ooredoo, we will be able to offer the kind of environment that enables start-ups to grow and flourish, and transform digital ideas into international business opportunities.”
In line with the Qatar National Vision 2030 to build a knowledge-based economy, the Digital and Beyond incubator will empower young people to start and grow a diverse range of companies. It will include three zones designed specifically for start-ups: a community zone for relaxation and regeneration; a collaboration zone to encourage communication and teamwork; and private zones for meetings and innovative thinking.
For QBIC and QDB, the partnership is one of several new ventures with leading industry leaders, as part of a plan to create various sector-specific incubators at QBIC. Both parties will collaborate to support a number of potential start-ups in QBIC’s LeanStartup Program. In addition, the partnership will include coaching, mentorship and a wide range of support services. QBIC will also provide connections to its key partners and affiliates, such as Qatar Development Bank and the Social Development Center, for financing support.
Launch of the first incubation contest
Following the signing of the partnership agreement, Ooredoo and QBIC formally launched the first open competition for young entrepreneurs.
Young people with a creative idea for a new digital product or service can submit their concepts via a special page on the QBIC website or through a link to that page on the Ooredoo website. Selected ideas will receive the support of mentors and business experts, and also access to testing and trialling infrastructure, before the winning entries move on to full incubation at the “Digital and Beyond” zone.
Ooredoo’s support for entrepreneurialism
Waleed Al Sayed, chief operating officer, Ooredoo Qatar says: “Ooredoo has helped to drive innovation and development in Qatar throughout its history, and in recent years – because of the power and versatility of the Ooredoo Supernet and Ooredoo’s support for a range of dynamic smart services – we have played a key role in the growth of knowledge-based enterprises and new start-ups.”
Ooredoo has recently launched a dedicated Business Development & Innovation Department that aims to support the creation and cross-fertilization of an innovation ecosystem where empowered entrepreneurs can pursue their ambitions. The Business Development & Innovation Department will play a key role in the on-going evolution of “Digital and Beyond.”
Ooredoo has supported a wide range of incubation activities and business growth opportunities across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. This includes Ooredoo’s tStart and iStart programmes in Algeria; Start-up Factory in Tunisia, Ooredoo Indosat’s Ideabox in Indonesia; and an ICT innovation programme in Myanmar, as part of its ambitious efforts to foster grassroots innovation through local entrepreneurship.
Ooredoo is also long-term support of the Arab Mobile Challenge, which enables regional teams from across the Arab world to develop mobile apps, which then graduate to take part in the Global Mobile Challenge in Barcelona.