The Qatar Foundation (QF) was established in 1995 by His Highness the Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. It is a private, chartered, non-profit organization with the objective of shifting Qatar from a carbon-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. QF stands by its ‘Three Pillars’ of Education, Science and Research, and Community Development, all with the aim of producing an intellectual investment that will benefit Qatar and the surrounding region for many years to come.
As a result of QF’s investments, there are research facilities popping up left, right and centre in this country, many of which are collaborations with very reputable overseas establishments. Doha also boasts Education City which houses branches of several big name universities like Cornell, Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon to name a few. Also in the works are a new teaching hospital, Sidra, and various institutions set up with the intent of studying certain diseases like diabetes and cancer.
My company was established with a very generous grant from the Qatar Foundation and we are based in one of the research parks in Education City. Many of the businesses that we share this facility with are large companies that have set up smaller subdivisions in Qatar while others, like us, are the only one of their kind. For us little guys and the various research institutions around the country, the question of funding is nearly always on our minds.
When I talk about working and conducting researching in Qatar, many people (incorrectly) make the assumption that we have more money than we know what to do with. Yes, there are some cutting edge facilities and resources here, but that doesn’t mean that people are throwing money at our feet, nor do we have a bottomless bank account. Our budget is not disposable and we can’t dip into it whenever we like, we need to concern ourselves with grants and funding applications just like a large majority of research establishments around the world.
One such opportunity to source funding is the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) which controls several funding programs such as the National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) and the Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP). Each program usually has one ‘cycle’ of applications/awards per year. The NPRP, for example, provides grants of up to $350,000/year for projects that span from one to three years, and is the largest funding body of QNRF. Thus far, it has invested over $345m in 411 projects involving 134 collaborative institutions from around the world. If you are lucky enough to be rewarded an NPRP, many research-related doors may open for you.
Regardless of funding sources, there are also opportunities to present the work being done in Qatar and in collaboration with QF. One such opportunity, the annual QF Research Forum, was recently held at the newly completed Qatar National Convention Centre. This year’s research forum was very ambitious, and a wonderful showcase of the potential impact Qatar may one day have on the global research community.