Technology hubs have become central to fostering innovation and development within businesses, providing essential facilities and access to expertise under the same roof for everything from cloud services (opens in new tab) to internet security (opens in new tab).
As technology continues to evolve at an ever-quickening pace, hubs have become the engines driving implementation and ensuring that products and services with genuine impact continue roll out to market.
Businesses have clearly recognised their merits. From Silicon Valley to Qatar’s Technology and Science Park (QSTP), hubs in existence continue to attract attention from major international companies and start-ups alike. And for good reason.
Their success lays in the provision of a full ecosystem, where business growth and innovation go hand-in-hand with research, and where stakeholders with varying areas of expertise can collaborate (opens in new tab) on ideas that create economic value for society.
This ecosystem facilitates the transformation (opens in new tab) of research into technologies, in a way that companies alone typically cannot provide.
Haya Al Ghanim is the Investment Director at Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP).
The advantage for early-stage, tech-focused companies
A research, development and innovation (RD&I) ecosystem can benefit start-ups and digital-led firms in various ways, with access to facilities being one of the most important. High-tech equipment and laboratories play a vital role in technological innovation and, by extension, a company’s development.
Today’s modern business parks offer state-of-the-art office (opens in new tab) facilities specifically designed for forward-thinking innovative companies who may lack capital or seed money to invest in equipment and space they need, as well as access to facilities not readily available.
The core value of a tech hub, however, is in the creative and innovative environment it provides; which extends far beyond the bricks and mortar facilities themselves. Hubs act as networks that allow companies to communicate and collaborate with other like-minded individuals and entities, from research to development and commercialisation.
They offer the opportunity to bring different businesses together for collaborative projects and create communities that share expertise. This diverse mixing pot of ideas, learnings and opinions is optimal for innovation and growth.
Trust the Experts
Some technology hubs are also offering access to additional resources, such as access to research institutes and universities. By allowing companies to have easy and direct access to researchers at leading institutions, tech hubs open the doors to a wide range of opportunities and valuable partnerships. The barriers that used to exist between academia and the business world are now eroding.
A recent event at Oxford University highlighted that universities in Europe are now encouraging their academics to licence their technological breakthroughs and start businesses. This is a two-way street and one we have been supporting in Qatar for years. For start-ups and early stage businesses, this type of environment provides access to a wealth of expertise and support that they would struggle to find on their own.
At QSTP we have established a ‘Research to Startup’ programme that connects researchers with international entrepreneurs who have extensive experience in growing tech start-ups directly via an online platform (opens in new tab). Such connections give researchers the opportunity to better understand if their research has commercial potential.
The programme further connects them with IP experts and investors so that they can secure the investment needed to transform their research into a commercial reality. A study by Endeavor insight found that 33% of founders who are mentored by successful entrepreneurs went on to become top performers and QSTP’s programme helps to effectively bridge the gap between research and venture creation.
We hope to see more and more organisations realising the value of RD&I and invest in programmes for start-ups, making sure that they have the necessary mentorship, networks (opens in new tab) and funding to position themselves at the forefront of business and technological development.
Look beyond business
Countries should implement focused strategies to ensure technological innovation plays a bigger role in society. Technology hubs attract foreign talent and investment and bring together like-minded individuals from across the world. At QSTP, we have already seen close to £1 billion invested by international companies in RD&I projects.
Technology hubs, if developed in the right way, can foster a collaborative and inspirational culture that will be central in shaping the future, not just of individual businesses but of large-scale economies.
Haya Al Ghanim is the Investment Director at Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP) (opens in new tab).
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