Representatives from Qatar Foundation Research and Development (QF R&D) stressed their commitment to fostering greater collaboration among the nation’s leading stakeholders gathered at this year’s Qatar National Research Strategy Forum 2014.
The forum, which took place from 12 to 15 May at the Qatar National Convention Centre, brought together prominent representatives from key sectors, including academia, government, and research institutes. The four-day gathering provided attendees with an ideal platform to share their ideas, while identifying new ways to address Qatar’s pressing needs.
With the aim of tackling the nation’s grand challenges in the field of research and development, participants attended a series of workshops and discussed pertinent issues within cyber security, energy and water security, as well as healthcare. QF R&D will be producing a report that summarises the findings and conclusions from this year’s forum.
Mr Faisal M. Alsuwaidi, President of Research and Development at Qatar Foundation, emphasised the significance of nurturing partnerships, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030. To ensure the alignment of goals between all sectors, he urged attendees to embark on further collaboration that can advance the nation’s research agenda. He said, “We are focused on exchanging ideas and building stronger relationships with our partners. We promised our partners from the very beginning that the Qatar National Research Strategy will be an interactive process, and that we will meet on an annual basis to advance our goals and priorities, which have been reflected in this strategy. I believe we are on the right track, and I am extremely optimistic that our joint efforts will contribute in important ways to our country’s future.”
Qatar National Research Strategy (QNRS) was introduced in 2012 to guide all research and development investments in Qatar and provides a national framework to align the country’s priorities with stakeholder capabilities and interests. The strategy, which is being implemented by Qatar Foundation’s research institutes, universities, service providers, government, industry and funders, is expected to enhance the cycle of innovation from university research to commercialisation. QNRS represents the first research and development sector-wide strategy in Qatar and defines five pillars or themes to achieve the country’s aspirations: Energy and Environment; Information and Computing Technology; Health and related Life Science and Technologies; Social sciences, Arts and Humanities, as well as enterprise-wide interdisciplinary research and development.
Mr Fahad Al Mohannadi, the General Manager of Qatar Electricity and Water Company (QEWC), underscored the value of synergy among different stakeholders and the positive impact it promises to have on the future of the country. He said, “It is imperative that we start forging close collaborations now, because the electricity and water sector has a direct and substantial impact on the community and economy. Therefore, we need to join Qatar Foundation by putting in place the most effective and sound mechanisms, which will reap tangible results over the coming years. We are confident that if we work hard and excel by contributing our resources to these efforts, we all stand to gain by creating a sustainable future for all.”
In keeping with the objectives of QNRS, stakeholders were especially eager to network and provide information on the progress they have made on specific grand challenges and to highlight the roadmap going forward. Major Ali Al-Kubaisi, Head of the Department of Anti-Economic Crimes at the Ministry of Interior in Qatar, explained, “Cyber security is considered one of the biggest challenges that our nation is facing, especially since some crimes pose a challenge for us to control as we strive to protect the community from the spread of cyber crime. We are currently working on implementing a joint venture between the Ministry of Interior and Qatar Foundation R&D to establish a laboratory that will focus on tackling cyber crime. This partnership will create a critical infrastructure for cyber security, and will allow us to undertake the necessary research to address most of Qatar’s cyber crimes.”
Similarly, Dr Jassim Al Suwaidi, Consultant Cardiologist at Hamad Medical Corporation, underlined the importance of coordinating efforts in medical research to avoid any duplication. He said, “The State of Qatar and Qatar Foundation are making a huge investment to support research, especially in the medical field. Hamad Medical Corporation receives a large percentage of patients and is committed to advancing medical research. For this reason, it is important to coordinate between the various medical entities across the country, in order to achieve the desired results.”
Commenting on the remarkable progress that has been achieved over the last three years, Dr Mark H. Weichold, the Dean and CEO of Texas A&M University at Qatar, said, “What I am seeing here today is a move towards actively and aggressively seeking out partnerships and collaborations so that research institutes can work with industry, universities, and so forth. By having the partnerships and the collaborations that we’re talking about today, I think we can do much to ensure the success of research here.”
In conclusion, the forum succeeded in seeking input from, and strengthening partnerships with national stakeholders, while identifying key action items related to the grand challenges, and aligning behind the plans for each one.
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