What is the Research to Startup (RTS) program?
The Research to Startup (RTS) program represents an experiment and the first initiative of its kind in Qatar. RTS is dedicated to scaling up early-stage ventures that incorporate technologies which have been developed by researchers at Qatar Foundation. We launched this program in partnership with Wasabi Ventures Global, an early-stage venture capital firm with proven expertise in building startups from research lab technologies, to make these technologies more visible to the entrepreneurial, business, and investment communities around the world.
The RTS program began in April 2017, in Doha. We have chosen 6 technologies and the research teams who developed them, to be included in the program. Our goal is to pair each research team with experienced entrepreneurs, provide an opportunity for them to get to know each other, develop a shared vision for the venture, and then support them with ongoing world-class mentorship, strategic financing, and access to a global network of support. The ultimate goal of RTS is to rapidly scale up the benefits and impact that these ventures, whose technologies have already been proven in Qatar, can have in the world; while strengthening the ecosystem in Doha and advocating entrepreneurism in the Gulf region and across the Arabic speaking world.
We are currently working with our partners to develop the details of our comprehensive Bootcamp program, and will have a public update very soon.
Why was the RTS program created in the first place?
In the past 10 years, QSTP has invested millions of dollars in cutting-edge research that has proven its ability to solve real-world problems within the region. Yet, we believe that some of this research can produce even more game-changing results around the world. This program is designed to bring new problem solvers to the table, ie., entrepreneurs. The RTS runs in partnership with Wasabi Ventures Global which supports market-based solutions that are locally driven, financially sustainable, and have the potential to be scalable globally.
You see this as an experiment. How so?
Anything tried for the first time can be considered an experiment. We believe we have great technologies, which have all been part of real-world solutions with real customers. We believe they should be scalable. However, we will not know we are right until we try. Furthermore, we cannot be certain whether our ventures are attractive to experienced entrepreneurs looking for their next opportunity until we make it possible for them to get to know our people, the technologies, and the ventures. Lastly, we won’t know what customers outside of Qatar think until we ask them. It’s a joint experiment that we will conduct with recruited entrepreneurs, instructors, mentors and investors.
How are you thinking about investment?
The term “patient capital” has become synonymous with investing across early stage ventures in emerging markets. To this end we are prepared to offer $500k in seed funding capital to selected ventures.
Our goal is for entrepreneurs to retain at least 50% ownership of their ventures, as well as an adequate equity pool for the recruitment of key talents. QSTP and the technology transfer office will retain ownership of around 5%, while the interests of the researchers who invented the technology will be represented by QSTP.
Although important, we also believe that it is critical to make “impatient capital” available to these same companies. We will host a private investor gathering in Doha and Silicon Valley designed to align our selected companies with some of the world’s top performing investment funds and foundations.
I’m an Investor. How do I best engage?
Join us for our private investor gatherings in Doha and Silicon Valley, email us at and we will make sure you are invited to these invitation only events.
Who is behind this program?
The RTS program is a partnership between the QSTP and Wasabi Ventures Global. To connect directly with our team, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What exactly is Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP) and Qatar Foundation (QF)?
Through education and research, Qatar Foundation leads human, social, and economic development of Qatar; unlocking human potential, and thus, transforming Qatar into a nation that can be a vanguard for productive change in the region and a role model for the broader international community.
Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is a private, non-profit organization that serves the people of Qatar by supporting and operating programs in three core mission areas: education, science and research, and community development. QF strives to nurture the future leaders of Qatar. Leading by example and by sharing its experiences, QF also contributes to human development nationally, regionally, and internationally. As demonstrated by its diverse and numerous activities, Qatar Foundation promotes a culture of excellence in Qatar and continues to further its role in supporting an innovative and open society, and aspires to develop sustainable human capacity, social, and economic prosperity for a knowledge-based economy.
Click here to see a list of Qatar Foundation entities.
Qatar Science and Technology Park serves as an international hub for scientific and technology innovation, tech-based entrepreneurship and high-tech businesses. It's three main pillars include:
Support tech-based entrepreneurship ventures in Qatar through incubation, funding, training, mentorship, and connection to the regional and global tech innovation ecosystem
Accelerate product innovation within the private sector through programs and grants that encourage new product development, innovation and collaboration with QF’s research institutes
Create an environment that fosters innovation and collaboration by attracting and supporting tenants focused on development of tech-based products and services and the commercialization of scientific research
To date, QSTP has launched partnerships with 500 Startups, European Innovation Academy, and many others. The RTS is a perfect embodiment of the type of partnership that QSTP is eager to launch, operate, and learn from.
What are the exact dates of the program?
The first dates of the program are designated for a bootcamp that will run from 23rd to 28th April 2019. For those entrepreneurs and business plans selected to continue in the program, a two-month program will run from 7th May to 29th June. This will culminate in a pitch competition wherein teams will pitch for admission into a year-long program that will commence in early August and includes $500k in seed funding from Qatar Foundation, one year of housing, and the opportunity to license the QSTP innovation they have chosen.
What are the measurable objectives of the program?
We have designed the RTS program around a desire to see measurable impact and learning across the 4 core themes below. As a learning organization stepping into a new frontier of entrepreneurship, financing, and development - we are taking a learner’s posture to everything we are pursuing.
Our 4 objectives are:
Open proven QSTP innovations to broader market applications around the world
Accelerate the growth and scale of entrepreneurial solutions that are already in the market by working with entrepreneurs, mentors and investors from around the world.
Play a constructive role in fostering ecosystem development in Qatar, and in the broader Middle East.
Further validate Qatar Foundation’s support for primary research in science and education.
How will you measure the impact of the program?
Below are 2 key measurements that we will be tracking over time:
The growth (or decline) in revenue, costs, team size, customer base, and geographic expansion of each venture on a semi-annual basis.
The increase in the flow of investment dollars into the participating ventures.
What is your process for selecting the 6 ventures?
We look for ventures who are already providing a clear and direct benefit to customers and partners and who are positioned to do so at greater scale around the world, and consider those open to exploring with other entrepreneurs any business model innovations that may be necessary to achieve that scale.
What are your specific selection criteria for RTS?
For-profit model: Every venture invited into the program should leverage a for-profit business model.
Market traction: A majority of selected QSTP ventures should have an annual revenue (exact figure to be confirmed at a later stage).
Scalable: We only invite ventures that we believe are setup to scale internationally
Commitment to the Middle East: The leadership of each venture needs to demonstrate to us a clear commitment to innovating in Qatar with the belief that entrepreneurship and innovation may play a powerful and transformative role of improving the lives of the people in the region.
Local teams: QSTP ventures live and work in Doha, and we will only invite entrepreneurs to join them who understand that the first 12-18 months of their work will take place in Doha. After that, ventures are free to go to whatever location in the world best supports their growth.
Beyond basic criteria, what are you looking for?
Logical Path to Achieving the Impossible: We will invite entrepreneurs who challenge our conceptions of what we thought was possible in terms of impact, scale, business models, and growth. Simultaneously, we look for a logical and convincing model to enter the market that matches this unguarded ambition.
True Dedication: We are looking for QSTP ventures whose leadership team demonstrates a clear conviction that they want to see their innovations turned into impactful startups. We are looking for equally committed entrepreneurs to join and work with them.
Strong Beliefs Held Loosely: Although we were looking for entrepreneurs who are obsessed with the problems they are solving and who are very passionate about their models, approach, and technology, we wanted to also ensure that we only selected entrepreneurs who are willing to admit when they are wrong and who have the humility to be coached and mentored. We will select for a mix of confidence and humility.
What is the cost of the RTS program?
The entrepreneurs are not being charged to participate in the program; QSTP will cover all costs of participation for the entrepreneurs selected to participate in the Phase One: Bootcamp and Phase Two: Eight week program.
Are you investing in the ventures?
QSTP is supporting the ventures by paying their costs for taking part in the RTS Phase 1: Bootcamp, and, if selected to continue, the Phase 2: Eight Week Program. Entrepreneurs are investing time to accelerate the participating ventures to better serve markets around the world. There is no cost to the participating entrepreneurs.
What is the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIR) initiative?
EIR supports entrepreneurs who successfully participated in the RTS Phase 1 & 2, bond well with their QSTP teammates, and together develop a compelling vision for how to scale the ventures, will be invited to become Entrepreneurs-in-Residence.
The EIR offers $500K in seed funding, along with subsidized housing and a work visa to selected entrepreneurs, in an effort to continue working with the QSTP teams to scale their venture.
We will learn from their experiences and as a community, help to accelerate the growth of their ventures and increase the scalability of their business models.
Where is the program located?
All events will take place in Doha, Qatar. The exact location is private to respect the time and space of those participating in the program.