Fifteen new startups were given the opportunity today to pitch their business ideas to potential regional and local investors during the inaugural ‘Investor Day’ event, hosted by Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) in collaboration with its partner, 500 Startups, at the Qatar National Convention Centre (QNCC).
‘Investor Day’ is the finale of the ‘Doha Dojo’ program, launched earlier this month, and Qatar Foundation Research and Development’s (QF R&D) Research-to-Startup program, announced in January.
Dr. Maher Hakim, QSTP Executive Director, said: “We have incredible talent in the region and it’s an honor for QSTP, in collaboration with our regional and international partners, to be able to provide aspiring tech entrepreneurs with the essential support to realize their innovations and contribute to the expanding startup ecosystem in Qatar and the MENA region.”
QF R&D’s Research-to-Startup program is a collaborative initiative with QSTP partners Wasabi Ventures and Qatar Computing Research Center (QCRI), which aims to provide a launch-pad for startups that leverage technologies developed by research and academic institutes in Doha.
“Investor Day has provided startups which took part in two of our programs with an opportunity to showcase their innovative business products and services, and build bridges with potential investors from across the Arab world,” added Dr. Maher.
‘Doha Dojo’ is part of a wider agreement between QSTP’s umbrella organization, QF R&D, and 500 Startups, a global venture capital seed fund. The agreement aims to nurture the region’s growing technology startup landscape by providing budding entrepreneurs with a stepping stone to bring their business ideas to fruition.
Nine of the 15 startups at today’s ‘Investor Day’ were part of the first batch of companies to take part in ‘Doha Dojo’.
The program, set to run once a year in Doha, brings the coveted 500 Startups Series ‘A’ Accelerator to the MENA region for the first time. It accepts a limited number of regional tech-startups that have achieved a “product market fit” milestone in their startup development lifecycle and are ready to scale up their business.
As part of its agreement with 500 Startups, QF R&D also announced recently that it has joined 500 Falcons, 500 Startups’ MENA Fund, which achieved a first closing earlier this month.
Hasan Haider, Partner at 500 Startups, commented on the MENA Fund saying: “We plan to invest in approximately 100-150 companies, focusing on early-stage startups in the MENA region, MENA diaspora founders, and non-MENA founders targeting MENA. We are always looking for the right partners, and we have found one in Qatar Foundation and its innovation arm QSTP, who will play a key role in helping us achieve our mission.”
Dr. Hamad Al Ibrahim, Executive Vice President, QF R&D, said: “Our partnership with 500 Startups aims to support and accelerate the development of tech startups in Qatar, and it’s making a tangible impact on the local tech ecosystem. The 500 Falcons fund is also a fruitful outcome of the partnership – the fund will be instrumental in giving MENA startups a boost to successfully take their businesses to market. Qatar Foundation’s contribution to the fund demonstrates its commitment to supporting innovation not just locally but across the Arab world.”
‘Investor Day’ featured a series of side activities that encouraged participants to network and establish meaningful working relationships with industry leaders, investors, and fellow participants. A roundtable discussion was held on the sidelines of the event to highlight the status of venture capital, corporate strategic investment, and funding in the MENA region, and to explore ways to further strengthen the innovation ecosystem in the region.