The Business Year

Omar Ali Al-Ansari Secretary General, Qatar Research, Development, and Innovation Council (QRDI)

QATAR - Economy

Omar Ali Al-Ansari

Secretary General, Qatar Research, Development, and Innovation Council (QRDI)

Bio

Omar Ali Al-Ansari is the Secretary General of the QRDI Council. As an industrial and manufacturing engineer, Al-Ansari began his career in the oil and gas sector at ExxonMobil and continued in the manufacturing sector to support the development of Qatar’s primary aluminum plant, Qatalum. He then transitioned to working on issues of national strategic importance.

QRDI works on building a strong and dynamic RDI ecosystem in Qatar capable of addressing national imperatives and delivering significant economic and societal impact.
What are the latest developments stemming from QRDI 2030?

Omar Ali Al-Ansari: Our strategy in general was developed because we wanted to increase collaborations in Qatar and between Qatar and other countries in the area of innovation and research. Collaboration is at the heart of building an innovation ecosystem for different entities to work together effectively. The QRDI 2030 strategy was created to enhance those collaborations, and that is the underlying theme of all our latest developments. At the end of 2021, we launched the QRDI Portal to enhance alliances by including many services that all kinds of entities in Qatar can benefit from in the area of innovation and research. We also launched the Corporate Innovation Leaders program to create champions for innovation within our large state enterprises, so that we can have those champions participate in the local economy and society. Qatar Open Innovation program is another major program, launched in February 2022. Through this, we encourage innovators to develop solutions made to the purpose of Qatar and its specific requirements. The aim is to connect innovators with opportunity owners and expand the innovation ecosystem by creating an attractive environment for innovators and innovation-led companies to set up in the country.

The council launched the QRDI Portal in November 2021. What services does this portal provide to the ecosystem?

Omar Ali Al-Ansari: The innovation ecosystem requires many services, and our goal is to provide all those services and increase the number. The first service we launched is infrastructure; right now, on the portal, there are 3,000 pieces of equipment, labs, workshops, and facilities. These have been uploaded by our universities, research institutes, and ministries. For example, a university has a fantastic piece of equipment that others can possibly benefit from as well. When the university uploads information about it, others can now connect to the university and ask to collaborate or share the equipment. This is another example of how we can inspire collaboration and sharing. For example, we have an oil and gas company collaborating with a hospital because the hospital has an MRI machine, and the oil and gas company had mined a rock that it wanted to scan. It later used the 3D printer from the hospital to print it. If we bring greater transparency to all of this infrastructure, just imagine the magic we can all create. Also, it is inspiring for these entities to think of themselves as service providers and generate some revenue, and it also makes the environment interesting for our international partners. If they want to set up an R&D base, Qatar is the place to be, because they can set up a center and not have to buy the equipment. There are already 3,000-4,000 pieces of equipment we all have access to. This is another way we can inspire international firms to invest in our country.

What differentiates Qatari research programs from other international curricula?

Omar Ali Al-Ansari: The main difference is that the country has always had a vision. His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Amir of Qatar, His Highness the Father Amir, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, have always found this to be an important agenda topic, and they were always a strong driver for such an ecosystem. 15 years have passed, and at present, there is Qatar University with 15 research centers, seven to eight partner universities also doing research, and three big research labs, one each for energy and environment, computing, and biomedicine. There is the genomics program and a precision medicine program. Other countries have done these things, but few countries have done this in 10 years. In the last 10 years, the number of researchers in Qatar has grown 15-fold, the number of publications 14-fold, and the number of patents by 14-fold. If this is what we did in a decade, imagine what the next 10 years will look like if we maintain the same type of inspiration, vision, leadership, and commitment.

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